Has the gua sha stone left you wanting more? It's a brilliant sculpting tool for on-the-go, but what if we told you there's another contraption that improves texture, tightens skin and lifts the face? Meet microcurrent facial devices - a handheld tool that disperses tiny electrical currents.
Applying a buzzing device to the face might raise an eyebrow or two. But the idea is not too peculiar for skincare enthusiasts, at a time when LED face masks and hair removal devices are readily available for home use. We asked Dubai-based dermatologists everything you need to know about incorporating microcurrent devices into your skincare routine.
How do microcurrent facial devices work?
Through a set of metal spheres or probes, these devices deliver low-level electrical currents to the skin. "They operate based on the principle of microcurrent therapy, also known as microcurrent electrical neuromuscular stimulation (MENS)," explained Dr Radmila Lukian, dermatologist and anti-ageing specialist, and founder of Lucia Clinic, Dubai.
This stimulation mimics the electrical activity of our skin cells from the outside, with the aim of rejuvenating blood flow and collagen, as well as toning the muscles. Over time, consistent use of the device will result in a subtle, yet noticeable lifting of the face, says Dr Neetu Chaudhary, dermatology and aesthetics specialist at Medcare Medical Clinic Centre, Dubai.
Both experts note that this facial lift cannot be compared to the surgical lift carried out in a doctor's office. What the latter entails is far more invasive, says Dr Lukian, involving procedures to tighten and reposition the skin and underlying facial tissues.
Instead, it'll be helpful to label the microcurrent device as a tool for maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin. "All the changes you'll see are temporary - the lifting, tightening and improvement in skin texture. We're ageing every single day, so our skin's not going to look the same after, say, 10 days. Applying microcurrents is similar to giving your face a workout, where consistency is important," said Dr Chaudhary.
Who can use the microcurrent device?
It's a portable, lightweight gadget for anyone looking to add an extra oomph to their skincare routine. If you want to combat sagging, textured skin, a tired appearance, along with fine lines and wrinkles, then a microcurrent device could give your existing skincare products a boost.
"The most important part of your skincare routine is the routine itself. A microcurrent facial device only provides additional support, but together, they can yield better results," said Dr Chaudhary.
However, given that the device generates currents, our experts caution certain users from picking up the tool without consulting their dermatologist. Dr Lukian said: "Individuals with medical conditions such as epilepsy, pacemakers, heart conditions, implanted defibrillators, metal implants, or pregnant women, should refrain from using microcurrent devices."
This also applies to those with open or active skin lesions, such as acne, and patients with fillers and other facial surgery, added Dr Chaudhary.
How do you use a microcurrent device?
Putting it to use is quite simple. Begin with a cleansed canvas, free of make-up, dirt or oil, to which you'll need to apply a conductive gel. This special gel is essential for the currents to pass through. Dr Chaudhary recommends an aloe vera- or cucumber-based gel over serums that can be too harsh.
"Create upward and outward strokes to lift the skin. Focus on one area with a few passes, then move on to the next," she added.
The zaps can feel like an uncomfortable tingle on the skin, so it's best to start with the lowest intensity level. Building tolerance slowly will allow your face to recover in between sessions. Experts advise carrying out a session once or twice a week, then gradually increasing to three times.
"The duration of use typically ranges from five to 20 minutes per session, depending on your device and needs. Follow the specific instructions provided with your device for optimal results," advised Dr Lukian.
Make sure to follow up with a hydrating moisturiser or serum and then the rest of your routine per usual. Skip any aggravating exfoliating agents and actives like retinol on the day.
Below, we've listed Dr Lukian's recommended microcurrent devices, along with some of the best-rated products on Amazon. Enjoy up to 20 per cent discounts on some of them, thanks to Amazon's ongoing sale on personal care. Get a Prime membership before you shop for free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: NuFACE Mini Starter Kit
- Compact yet targets large areas, like the jawline, neck and cheeks
- Reviews report a more defined face and improved skin texture
- Three levels of intensity
- Comes in a carry pouch with the conductive gel
- Some reviewers found the gel ineffective
NuFace is a well-known contender in the market, and it's one of Dr Lukian's best picks for effective facial toning and lifting. She said: "They offer devices with different attachments for various areas of the face and body, and their products are praised for their quality and adjustable intensity settings." We've picked the brand's mini starter kit that consists of a petite microcurrent facial toning device and a gel primer to go with it. Initially, the tool is only meant to be used fives minutes a day, for five days a week. The NuFace Mini is also FDA-approved for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It easily glides over the neck, jowls, cheeks and forehead, across three levels of intensity. Per reviewers, the battery lasts for months on end, so it's an excellent tool to bring along on trips. They report significant difference in the tightening of the jawline and the texture of their skin. The small drawstring bag it comes in is a perfect fit for the purse, they add.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh67.54 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best All-Rounder Device: TheraFace PRO
- Microcurrent ring for building collagen and strengthening facial muscles
- Three levels of intensity
- Comes with LED light and percussive therapy attachments
- All-rounder skincare device
- Includes the cost of additional treatments besides microcurrent
Therabody's facial counterpart is a slightly larger microcurrent device with various treatment attachments, including LED light and percussive therapies. This six-in-one device packs the benefits of several skincare add-ons, which can be carried out in combination by simply swapping the heads at home and at no additional cost to you. TheraFace Pro tones facial muscles and promotes faster healing with the microcurrent ring; reduces wrinkles, acne and pain with the LED red, blue, red and infrared light rings; relaxes muscles using percussive attachments; and cleanses the face with a brush head. Despite the many treatments, you can still tweak the intensity to your liking for each, across three levels. It comes with the gel, too. According to the reviews, everything comes neatly packed in a bag.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh142.09 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best for Intensity: Foreo Bear Microcurrent Facial Toning Device
- Small, palm-sized and ergonomic
- Uses T-sonic pulses alongside microcurrents to relax the face
- Five levels of intensity
- 90 uses per charge
- Additional safety systems
- Needs phone app to control the device
- Comes without the serum
Dr Lukian highlights Foreo Bear's compact, user-friendly range of microcurrent devices. These use T-sonic pulsations, cleared by the FDA, to exercise over 65 muscles in the face and neck. Combined with microcurrents, the device increases cell renewal, enhances product absorption and introduces a healthy glow. With its anti-shock system, you don't have to worry about accidentally turning up the intensity, as the tool scans the skin beforehand to measure its resistance to electricity. The Bear can be used 90 times before it runs out of charge, and goes up to an incredible five levels of intensity. What stands out for most reviewers is the ease of use, since the device comfortably fits into anyone's hand, shaped like a soap bar. Note that no primer comes with your order, but buyers do prefer aloe vera gel. The only caveat is that the device turns on and off via the app on your phone.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh75.47 for 12 months with select banks. Get 10 per cent off with the code 'CB10JUN' when you shop with Citibank.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers two years of warranty.
4. Best Portable Device: SolaWave 4-in-1 Skincare Facial Wand, Lilac
- Four treatments in one: red light, microcurrent, warmth and massage
- Swivel head passes over smaller areas
- Targets blemishes, toning, dullness and puffiness
- Compact for toiletry bag
- No adjustable intensity
- Takes 120 minutes to charge
Modelled after a shaving blade, this facial wand by SolaWave is a slimmer, compact version of the TheraFace Pro. The tool combines four non-invasive skincare technologies: microcurrent therapy, red light therapy, facial massage and therapeutic warmth. With the rotatable flat head, the wand glides over smaller areas easily, like the under eyes and upper lip, note reviews. Use the red light to target dark spots and fine lines, while the facial massage uses vibrations to de-puff the face. Therapeutic warmth can be used to prime the skin before any topical skincare products to promote absorption. It gives you an hour of use on a single two-hour charge. This is not a bundled purchase, so its activating serum will have to be bought separately.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
5. Best for Topical Skincare: Panasonic EH-XT20 3-in-1 Face Lift Microcurrent Device
- Uses microcurrent with cold and hot therapy
- Meant to be used with skincare products for absorption
- Cold mode tightens skin, while hot mode boosts ingredients
- Auto mode switches between moisturising and cooling for daily use
- Can be bulky
- No adjustable intensity levels
Panasonic's microcurrent device is the biggest on this list, deserving a permanent spot on your bathroom counter. Its flat triangular head works directly with skincare products, so as to enhance their absorption. Switch between three modes to tackle different skin concerns: purifying mode extracts dirt from your pores using a cotton pad attached to the head; warm moisturising mode increases penetration of active ingredients; and cooling mode tightens the pores. All facial treatments are carried out with microcurrent technology. Reviewers notice how their cheekbones seem more defined, and skin firmer. Most commend the cooling mode for toning facial muscles.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh69.45 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh52 and two years for Dh73.
6. Best for Anti-ageing: DermaWand Anti-Aging System
- Pen-like form factor for tracing fine lines and eye area
- Adjustable intensity
- Glides smoothly over skin
- Helps with firmness and glow
- Wired device
The DermaWand can be held like a pen to better target crow's feet, laugh lines and sagging skin via its small surface area. Its technology sends microcurrent impulses to the skin at 100,000 cycles per second to increase the natural temperature of the dermal layers. This stimulation increases blood and oxygen circulation, which in turn shrinks pores and lifts the skin. Control the intensity by twisting the cap at the back of the device. Reviews add that the wand has reduced the appearance of dark circles as well. Loyal users return to make their second and third purchases. They notice tightness around the eyes after use and find the tool to glide smoothly across the face. A potential drawback is the absence of a power button - the device turns on when plugged in.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh50.81 for 12 months with select banks. Get 10 per cent off with the code 'CB10JUN' when you shop with Citibank.
7. Best Compact Device: Foreo Bear Mini Microcurrent Facial Device
- Super lightweight and compact
- Fitting for smaller faces or targeted areas
- Three intensity levels
- Noticeable tightness after use, per reviews
- Foreo serum is expensive and must be bought separately
For the ultimate mini model, check out Foreo's Bear Mini microcurrent device. Compared to the full-sized version, the smaller Bear is reserved for targeted areas, such as the jawline or double chin. It still features a dual spherical design for optimal skin contact. Everything about this device works just as well as the bigger tool, from the T-sonic pulsations to the anti-shock system. The only difference lies in the intensity levels, where the Bear Mini offers three instead of five. Reviewers say it's more suitable for people with smaller faces. Once again, you need to register on the app to activate the device. Reviews also urge using a compatible serum to reduce the stinging.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh57.97 for 12 months with select banks. Get 10 per cent off with the code 'CB10JUN' when you shop with Citibank.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.