Home lasers, LED masks, and zit-zappers have been around for a few years, but they really came into their own at the beginning of the pandemic, when we were unable to visit dermatologists and aestheticians for our usual treatments.
Home devices often mimic the ones we find in clinics but at a much lower level of power since they’re in the hands of amateurs. That means that they may need to be used frequently and for a long period to show results. For example, it’s recommended that the Tria, one of the original personal lasers, be used five days a week for 12 weeks, which is a commitment lots of people won’t stick with.
The evidence base is also a little shaky. “What’s required from a regulatory perspective for a device to be approved for at-home use is the lowest bar of safety only,” explains Dr. Shannon Humphrey, founder of Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology. “The vast majority of these are probably safe, but they really have no substantial evidence for efficacy. In my personal opinion, the claims most of them make are marketing, not scientific in nature.”
That said, the theory behind these devices is sound—microcurrents do stimulate muscles and LED light can calm acne—and when you’re at home not doing much of anything, you might as well be improving your skin. Dr. Humphrey believes there’s an opportunity for a brand to bring an at-home device to market with the solid clinical trial data to prove it works. But in the meantime, she says, there’s probably neither benefit nor harm. “I believe the concept of self-care and wellness matter,” she says. “Patients ask me about devices a lot, and I say, if it’s not hurting and you feel like it’s helping you, then maybe there is a place for it.”
As a side benefit, after giving ourselves a little laser or microdermabrasion at home, we can conceal any redness or irritation more easily than if we were working from the office (“sorry, no Zoom camera today, my wifi is playing up”).
Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro
LED light therapy is a relatively common treatment: Blue light is said to destroy the bacteria that cause acne, while red supposedly boosts collagen production for firmer skin with fewer lines. This peculiar-looking mask combines both colours of LED and is meant to be used for three minutes a day for 10 weeks, though the brand says you’ll get visible results in two. It was developed by dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, one of the first people to create an at-home chemical peel.
Flawless Dermaplane Glo
Dermaplaning is an in-salon procedure that uses an ultrasharp blade to remove a layer of skin from the face, leaving it looking smoother and without the peach-fuzz hair that can sometimes make the complexion look dull. This Japanese steel at-home version has a safety guard to prevent nicks and cuts, and an integrated LED light so you can see exactly what you’re doing.
Meejee Facial Cleansing Massager
The original cleansing brush, the Clarisonic, went out of business earlier this year, but this device fills the gap, and then some. Instead of brush heads that have to be changed periodically, this has silicone bristles that will last and last. Sonic pulses supposedly dislodge dirt from deep inside pores, and the reverse (non-bristled) side of the device is a massager that is said to help reduce signs of aging. BPA-free, cruelty-free, ethically sourced and vegan, the brand has a partnership with PlasticBank that means 100 plastic bottles are stopped from entering the ocean with every purchase.
PMD Personal Microderm Elite Pro
Forget the conventional scrubs and acids. This device whizzes away dead skin cells and has a mini vacuum to suck them up. It can even be used for blackhead extraction and has an additional cap for body exfoliation. It comes with a range of exfoliating discs so you can customize the experience for sensitive skin. To replicate the experience of an in-salon facial, follow up with a hydrating mask.
Reduit Spa Gold
This is based on the theory that most skin-care ingredients are too large to penetrate skin when they’re delivered via a cream or serum. Put a hydration or cleansing skin-care pod into the hand-held device, and it will turn them to vapour so that the ingredients can be better delivered to the skin. Each pod is just a little larger than a toonie, contains 40 applications of skin care, and is recyclable.
ZiipOX + Crystal Gel Kit
A nanocurrent device, this is intended to stimulate collagen and elastin for brighter and suppler skin. It comes with a conductive gel to help it glide more easily over skin and is operated using a phone app with nine different settings, each for a different skin concern.