It’s no secret that I am skincare obsessed. My mom put me on a cleanse, tone, and moisturize routine at 14 and I’ve been committed to optimizing my skin health ever since—here are the products I use! But aside from how it feels, I’m also really big into fact-checking everything. I love nothing more than going down the research rabbit hole to decipher what ingredients, products, and tools actually work versus what’s just the latest trend. My most recent deep dive? Investigating the best at-home microcurrent device.
I’m a huge fan of microcurrent during my in-clinic facials (if you live in LA, go see Matthew Miller for The Lift facial or Camille Fields for her remodeling face treatment) but I wanted to find a way to extend the benefits of those treatments at home. With so much information (and misinformation) online, I decided to collaborate with my fellow skin aficionado, Camille to test and review six of the top brands in a bid to find the best at-home microcurrent device.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
But first… what is microcurrent?
Microcurrent is a non-invasive facelift using a low-level current of electricity to stimulate the facial muscles like a “workout” for the face. It has been clinically tested as a safe and efficacious treatment both in-clinic and at home to encourage definition, collagen development, and growth of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things).
What are the benefits of microcurrent?
The benefits of microcurrent are instant but just like exercise, the best results are cumulative. About five minutes a day or two to three times a week will help to encourage the muscles over time to stimulate collagen growth. Experts recommend using an at-home microcurrent device in between professional appointments for up-keep and maintaining the best results.
So, if you’re looking to give yourself the best microcurrent facial at home, keep reading for our honest thoughts.
What It Does: In the same way exercise is good for your body’s health, it’s also beneficial for your skin health too. Also known as “fitness for your face,” the NuFace Trinity sculpts, tightens, and contours the face to improve skin texture and tone and to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.
Why I Recommend It: The beauty of microcurrent is the instant results. After just five minutes, you can see a visible difference—skin is lifted, tighter, and just brighter, and glowier overall. I love to use my NuFace right before I have a special event or gathering because my skin just beams afterward. It’s also the perfect primer for your skin before applying makeup. And it’s completely painless. You will feel a stronger pulsation on your neck where the skin is thinner or sometimes around your teeth and if this happens, just reduce the settings on the NuFace. I set it to the highest for the cheeks, temples, and forehead, and down to a one or two around my mouth, eyes, and nose area.
Pros/Cons: The pro is definitely the instant results in a short amount of time—you can physically see and feel how healthy, bright, and tight your skin feels after using this tool. But the con would be that the best results are cumulative meaning you have to use this often to experience long-term collagen growth and facial sculpting. So, if you’re disciplined and willing to put in the daily work, then this is the tool for you. But I will say, even though I don’t use it every day, I still love my NuFace for the instant gratification it always gives me, and, in my humble opinion, that makes it worth it. It’s also one of the more affordable microcurrent brands so it’s a good entry point for those looking to start.
The priming gel is around $48 but a little goes a long way and it also doubles as a hydrating serum. You just rub it into your skin once you’ve completed your treatment, no need to wash it off (which I love!).
What It Does: The main difference between this device and other microcurrents on the market is the shape, frequency, and strength of the electrical currents they use to turn your skin on. ZIIP uses different waveform shapes from soft S-shaped waves to hard-edged building block squares, to produce the optimal outcome for your skin but it’s also the frequency at which they use them, too. The device stimulates muscles by switching from lower frequencies to higher frequencies, increasing circulation, plumping, and everything in between.
Why I Recommend It: ZIIP founder and CEO, Melanie Simon was coined the “Nikola Tesla of facials” by Forbes. She spent 15 years as an aesthetician specializing in electrical facial treatments (with celebrity clients like Mandy Moore, Sarah Paulson, and Eva Mendes) before she created her multi-million dollar beauty empire. ZIIP is the only device that offers both nano and microcurrent waves. Nano-current results are long-lasting while microcurrent offers immediate lifting and sculpting results. This powerful combination helps to create change on a cellular level. The electrical currents are designed to be both direct and alternating which flows back and forth to increase ATP (see our note earlier) which “provides usable energy to skin cells, giving long-lasting results.” Its recommended use is one to three times a week for maximum results.
Pros/Cons: The ergonomic shape of this device is a huge pro for me. I love that the app also comes with so many different facial treatments that Simon personally takes you through (Energize is my favorite for a quick lift). But if I had to list a con, it would also be the app. It can feel like an extra step to set that part up first which is silly because it takes seconds for you to sync the treatment from the app to your device but sometimes it is a barrier to entry for me. I usually like to ZIIP on the weekends when I have more time and can invest in a longer treatment because the payoff is huge! The ZIIP gel is $50 a bottle but you get one when you buy the device, and you don’t need a lot which means it lasts forever—at least six months if you use it often or longer if you only use it periodically. I have been using my ZIIP for years now and I truly believe in this product.
What It Does: If you’ve ever had a workout at FaceGym then it’s very likely you’ve experienced the PureLift in action. Now you can bring their famous Clean + Lift signature treatment home. PureLift’s patented three-wave stimulation uses knuckling motions via the diamond faceted probes to go deep into your facial muscles. These probes perform EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) all over your face which are mild but powerful currents that strengthen your muscle fibers—that means toning, circulation-boosting, and skin firmness in just 10 minutes.
Why I Recommend It: This tool gets the job done! It’s an incredibly powerful microcurrent device that uses high-and-low frequency impulses to activate, lift, and strengthen the facial muscles. I have used a lot of microcurrent devices on the market and this one is definitely one of the strongest.
Pros/Cons: The fact that it is one of the strongest I’ve used is both the pro and the con of this device. I love how deeply it penetrates but you definitely feel it—it’s not painful at all, but it does wake you up! So, my best advice with this at-home microcurrent tool is to start slow. It has several settings so I recommend using the lowest first and working your way up as you get used to it. I have been using this tool for about a month now and I am still on the lower 1-2 settings.
What It Does: Since fine lines around my eyes are my main focus when it comes to anti-aging, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about the FIX Line Smoothing Device from NuFACE. Here’s how it works: you apply the included FIX Serum around areas of focus, then move the device using the signature ‘feathering’ technique: a quick erasing motion. The result is a smoother, tighter appearance around the eyes, mouth, forehead, and nasolabial folds that’s immediate, with increased improvement over time.
Why I Recommend It: The FIX is the 1st FDA-cleared pen-size microcurrent device for cosmetic use—it’s rechargeable so you can truly take it on the go (microcurrent at stoplights, anyone?) The way it works is by delivering bursts of gentle microcurrent energy that helps plump, smooth, and tighten the skin in small targeted areas.
Pros/Cons: The biggest pro for me? It’s fast! Unlike many of the other microcurrent devices on the market, the FIX targets the appearance of fine lines around the eyes, lips, and forehead within three minutes. The main con would be that it’s small, so it’s made to treat small areas—the current isn’t as strong as the Trinity, so if you’re wanting to treat the full face, this is probably not the device for you.
What It Does: This device is like gua sha on steroids. The metal head is shaped to lift and contour to your facial structure as you power up and go over it with microcurrent. The crazy thing about the Essia Wand is that it does so many different things. There are three separate modes—Exfoliate, Moisturize and Lift. Usually, I focus on the Lift mode, which uses electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to stimulate facial muscles, tighten skin, lift facial contours and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Why I Recommend It: This device uses high-frequency, ultrasonic technology and EMS to penetrate the skin by three to five mm. The ultrasonic vibrations from the Exfoliate setting work to dislodge blackheads and other impurities from pores, helping fight off rogue breakouts and inflammation. And the Moisturize mode combines ultrasonic oscillation with an anion (a negatively charged ion) flow to help skin attract and absorb your hardworking skincare products more deeply.
Pros/Cons: I love this tool for how easy and actually effective it is. The Lift mode has the same relaxing feel as gua sha or facial massage, but its effectiveness is truly pumped up thanks to the ultrasonic and electrical muscle stimulation. The Exfoliation mode is a spa-level exfoliation treatment at home, gently “scraping” skin to remove dead layers, patchy skin, blackheads, and clogged pores. The only real con for me is that in order to make the most of this device, you need to use all three modes regularly, which is a commitment that admittedly, I don’t always have time for.
What It Does: Much like the Trinity for your face, the NuBODY at-home microcurrent tool is a toning device that visibly helps to firm the skin and appearance of dimples on your body. The microcurrent technology is specially designed with four treatment spheres for a stronger, more targeted delivery of the microcurrent to larger, denser areas like the thigh and butt.
Why I Recommend It: I wanted to specifically target some stubborn cellulite on my thighs and to tone the skin at the top of my knees where the skin is starting to sag. I definitely notice a difference after using it—skin is smoother, tighter, and firmer. I use it at night to help treat fluid retention and it seems to help with that, but my cellulite also feels more visible at night after sitting down all day for work.
Pros/Cons: This is another tool that does show visible results after one use but is definitely best when used over time. Yes, it works and you can see the difference but it does take time and commitment with regular use. So, if you commit to the time you’ll be pleased with the results.
What at-home microcurrent tool do you love? Share it with us below.
This post was originally published on April 2021, 2021, and has since been updated.
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