Beauty insiders and celebrities have long been touting the benefits of microcurrent facials. You may have heard stories about how the treatment produces impressive (and nearly instantaneous) results when it comes to fighting signs of aging.
And while normally, you would have to take a trip to the spa to see if the rumors are true, a number of at-home microcurrent devices have been popping up across the beauty space, allowing people to try it right from the comfort of their own homes.
The thing is, these devices can be pretty pricey. So to see if they're actually worth the purchase, we consulted two top aestheticians to learn more about how the treatment works and which at-home options will actually provide results.
How does microcurrent technology work?
Microcurrent devices use low-level electrical impulses to stimulate the muscles in the face, says Lara Kaiser, an aesthetician in New York City.
The treatment also stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), Los Angeles-based celebrity aesthetician Gina Mari adds. Essentially, you're stimulating "food" for the cells to allow them to work more efficiently. "What we always want to do when we're working with any type of technology when it comes to skin care treatment, is that we want to work on the cellular level," she adds. "We want to stimulate the cells, we want to feed the cells and get some activity happening there."
What are the benefits of microcurrent?
Microcurrent facials can help to lift and tighten the muscles in the area and stimulate collagen and elastin, helping your skin look smoother, brighter and more rejuvenated. Kaiser likened it to "a Pilates class for your face.”
"You'll get a nice lift," Mari says. "It's great for women like my age, where you're starting to maybe get some jowling activity on the lower face. It's great for the neck, great for around the eye area." It's also a good anti-aging treatment for people who might be reluctant to try more invasive options, like Botox or fillers.
But it's not just for aging concerns, Kaiser adds that she also uses it on patients who are struggling with acne. "That cellular energy helps accelerate healing."
Are there any risks?
While it may sound uncomfortable, the process should be pain-free. Because you're dealing with electrical currents, people who are pregnant, have epilepsy, seizures, or any electronic-implanted devices like pacemakers or cochlear implants or metal braces should steer clear of the treatment, Mari says.
Do at-home microcurrent devices really work?
Typically, the microcurrent machines that are used during professional treatments are larger and have a higher current than the at-home devices, Mari says. But while they're less powerful, that doesn't mean you won't still see the benefits.
Let's take it back to the exercise comparison. Even if you're seeing a trainer once a week, you're still going to have to do some workouts on your own to see results. This is the same idea, Kaiser says. She recommends at-home devices to her clients as a way to maintain results between appointments. They're also good to have on-hand in moments when you feel like your complexion needs a little boost before a big event or Zoom call.
How to use an at-home microcurrent device
And as much as we'd like a quick, one-and-done solution for all of our skin concerns, you shouldn't expect that from this (or any skin care treatment, really). The results are temporary, Mari says. Typically, when starting out, you can expect the results to last a couple of days. "You will see longer-lasting results with more consistency," she adds. And the more comfortable and confident you get with using the tool, the better the results will be.
According to Kaiser, the device can be used every other day. Once again, just like a workout, "you want to give your muscles a day off here and there," she says. The amount of time that you use it for depends on the device, but typically, it's around five to 10 minutes — many have a set timer to let you know when it's done. Most devices also come with conductive gel that you apply before the treatment. Though some TikTokers have said they use different products like aloe vera or water, Mari advises against it.
"You're un-intensifying your treatment by not using the proper products to go hand in hand with that," she says.
Here, some expert-approved and top-rated options to consider.
Best microcurrent devices
Nuface's microcurrent device is arguably the most buzzed-about and most-recommended product in the category — and it was a top pick from both of the experts that we spoke to. To use it, Nuface suggests applying the included Nuface Gel Leave-On Primer and then gliding or holding the device over the natural contours of the face "for an instant, visible lift."
Shop TODAY Editor Julie Ricevuto says that she loves her Nuface Trinity device. "I always see a difference when I'm dedicated to using it," she says. "Plus, it's a relaxing way to end your day with a mini spa-like moment while watching TV before bed. It doesn't feel like a chore!"
Nuface's range of microcurrent devices has also garnered a fan base on TikTok, with videos featuring the products racking up more than 110 million collective views.
If you're unsure if you're ready to commit to buying one of the bigger devices, a targeted microcurrent treatment tool is one way to test the waters. Say you have deep 11 lines between your eyes, crow's feet or wrinkles around your mouth that were causing concern, NuFace's smaller device could be a good place to start to address those, Kaiser says. Though, she added that once you start seeing results in one area, you're likely going to want to tackle other spots on your face, like your jawline or forehead — and that will be harder to do with a smaller tool.
The mini version of Nuface's popular tool is a favorite among multiple Shop TODAY staffers, including myself. I find that when I remember to use it regularly — keeping it by my bed so I can do it at night while I watch TV or read is helpful — I notice a difference in the overall brightness in my face and my skin feels tighter.
Shop TODAY Editorial Director Adrianna Brach says that she's been using the gadget about once a week for the last five years and added that it's "one of the better beauty tool investments I've made." "It's so easy to use and I love that I could use it while watching TV on my couch and then see results so quickly," she says.
Created by aesthetician Melanie Simon, ZIIP Beauty's microcurrent device also came recommended by both experts. "The cool thing about the ZIIP Beauty is that it comes with an accompanying app where she actually talks you through each treatment setting," Mari says. There are how-to videos for multiple types of facials and targeted treatments.
While the PureLift Face is a pricier option, Kaiser calls it her "favorite," saying that she loves the results. It features Triple Wave Patented EMS Technology, using varying frequencies, which according to the brand, can target different layers of the skin and muscle. Just apply the conductive serum gel and go.
This mini version of Foreo's bestselling facial device is designed to target early signs of aging. It has six microcurrent levels and features a unique Anti-Shock System that scans and measures your skin’s reaction to the current and adjusts its intensity for your comfort, the company says. While the brand notes that this version is good for younger skin, you can also get the full-sized model, which is made to address fine lines, wrinkles and facial sagging.