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How to pick the best at home device for you

March 28, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 33 Comments

A recent email from a reader got me thinking about at home treatments and devices and what conditions, if any, they can help with:

“Dear Marta, I have developed deflating upper cheeks/tear ducts. If you look at Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman they have the same problem as well. Flattening cheeks that create hollow eyes. The problem is compounded by redness on my cheeks, but not around my eyes - a reverse raccoon look. I found that Mychelle Pumpkin Renew Cream helps the redness and I use Suzanne Somers microcurrent machine to try to lift and plump the cheeks/eye area.

I know there is a way to stop this because actresses like Rachel Weisz, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Beckinsale do not have this problem. So there has to be an answer. Are there any other products, machines, or treatments?”

Even though it’s hard to resist some gratuitous commenting on celebrities, I don’t have an inside scoop on Rachel Weiz’s cheeks. But I will mention celebrity dermatologists are increasingly moving away from Botox to a treatment that pads the upper cheeks and under eyes with fillers, such as Restylane. As this is injected, it is an invasive treatment and some of us (myself included) are hoping to postpone (perhaps even forgo) anything that involves needles and knives.

Fortunately for us, there have been some real advances in non-invasive treatments. And I mean real advances. In fact, in the past couple of years, they have come such a long way that scaled down treatment machines that can be used safely at home have evolved way beyond the infomercial hoax to things that actually do help.

So here is a rundown of some them and what they do, starting with, of course, cheek plumping.

LED (light emitting diode)

Best for: plumping and firming the skin.

How it works: I would go so far as to say that LED is an anti-aging breakthrough. However, until recently, no one really knew how it did its magic. Recent research suggests that it works by targeting water layers on elastin. Read more on LED

At home: Handheld devices, such as the Sirius Aurora ($149) or Baby Quasar  ($399). Click here for a video comparing the two. These have relatively small light panels that need to be moved across the skin. I find that these are helpful for fine lines. I recently tested a panel called Facial Secret ($330) that I found does a very good job and it certainly makes my cheeks look plumper. You have to do it at least three times a week though. Red (and also amber or yellow light) are used for wrinkles and plumping. It is worth noting that Sirius comes with, in addition to red, blue and green panels for acne and hyperpigmentation respectively.


Best for: face firming and lifting

How it works: By delivering a tiny charge that stimulates facial muscles (I believe that the system was originally designed by doctors to help stroke victims regain movement). Face and neck muscles feel toned - the equivalent of having done bicep curls.

At home: Although I have monthly microcurrent sessions with my esthetician, I’m not a big believer in microcurrent at home. The wands needs to be manipulated to target individual muscles in the face and is best handled by a trained practitioner. I have tested the Suzanne Somers Facemaster and the NuFace and wasn’t all that impressed with either of them. Reader reviewer, Stacey, did like the NuFace, however.  Recently, I have become more intrigued by the potential of galvanic systems at home (see below).


Best for: firming and lifting

How it works: Converts electricity into a direct current so that the electrons flow continuously in the same direction. Based on the theory that light charges repel, the galvanic negative currents encourages the absorption of charged ingredients and so the device must be used with a gel. Leaving this aside, galvanic seems to be most like microcurrent but the devices have a flat surface rather than wands.

At home: The only one I have tried is the Nu-Skin Galvanic Spa and I was initially pretty impressed. Somehow, not enough to keep up with it and the device has been gathering dust for a couple of years. I think that’s because I didn’t like the supplied gel that you are supposed to use with the device.


Best for: wrinkles and fine lines

How it works: Laser basically works by traumatizing the skin so that it turns over cells more quickly. Specifically, fractional laser resurfacing technology uses narrowly spaced micro-beams of laser energy to prompt new collagen growth.

At home: The PaloVia ($445) has FDA approval for around the eye area – although you can safely use it, as far as I can tell, on the rest of the face. I didn’t enjoy the sensation of being zapped or the redness that follows. However, we sent a batch out to reader reviewers and got raves back from Dennis, Gail and Copley. If you are up for it, the PaloVia works.


Best for: firming and lifting

How it works: This is ultrasound and it delivers a focused beam of heat. This micro-targeted and very fast heating of the tissue causes it to be “injured” and the tissue's response is to contract. The result is tighter skin. However, contracted tissues aren’t the body’s only response. It also produces more elastin and collagen. A dermatologist version that I have seen (but never tested) is the Ulthera.

At home: The Truth Vitality Lux Renew is a non-thermal ultrasound and LED device.


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  • November 27, 2016

    by Talia David

    I would love to become a tester, I am basically going to try everything, Im 36, I use to model and I have this unrealistic fear of aging. I have considered the different outlets I am going to use to make my passion a career. Any tips, or anything you would like me to test, I love to. I have considered a YouTube channel linked to the best devices. I have to partners that are both very excited about our new life, doing what we love and hopefully being very successful at it.,

  • October 23, 2016

    by pat

    Hi ime wandering if the galvanic spa for face lift does work ..I need ur help ..I have seen pictures of before and after ,but not sure whether these real or just fake pictures .

  • June 19, 2016

    by Maria

    Hi I like to know what is the best machine to use at home for my skin ?

  • April 21, 2016

    by Chergui

    Hi. I would like to comment about the micro current devices. I'm an RN who has heart arrythmias (irregular heart beats). These devices are not safe if you have arrythmias as it can exacerbate an irregular heart rate. Most of these devices come with warnings telling you not to use them if you have any heart problems. So, if you're thinking about getting a micro current device and have a any type of heart issues, please contact your cardiologist before making the purchase. Hope this helps.

  • February 10, 2016

    by Lori

    What home machine would work on lifting eyelids?

  • January 30, 2016

    by helen

    Hello - what is the best skin lifting device for sagging and hollow skin

  • January 2, 2016

    by mimi

    hi iam 47 y and my face skin is very bad full of wrinkles i need something to survive it

  • November 28, 2015

    by Marta

    Hi Tygra, there aren't really any FDA-cleared lasers for use at home, also they can be a little painful to use. I'd recommend LED and ultrasound. You can see before/after pictures of the effects on crow's feet:
    Note that it can be used around and under the eye, but not on the lids. Here is a link to more information on the device:

  • November 27, 2015

    by Tygra

    Hi I would really like to buy some sort of anti wrinkle machine for my mum who is 53 and still loves to keep up with her appearance. She's been going on about her eye wrinkles and how the creams she has arnt working, so I'd like to buy her something for home which is easy for her to use and that shows good results. I'm 25 and completely clueless about what type to buy her, LED...laser?? I have no idea. Any info would be amazing.

  • August 11, 2015

    by regina

    hi , I am 54 to be a female.. I start with fillers when I was 46 and now it getting addictive.. I went to see if I can make surgery on my lower face and neck but the doctor said it to early.. I am sagging my days ;( Today I am going for another 2 ml filler and tomorrow for juvederm .. Please help me to find the best machine on the marker that would help me with this sagging .. my neck , my cheeks my chine and my bags under the eyes.. I am willing to spend from $500 to 1 k..
    Yes , every one talking now about Uthera machine but which one.. I do not know anything about those machines ;(

  • July 20, 2015

    by Marina

    Used to use sleek cheeks from beautyworks for years. Devise just broke and can't find it anymore as the company is gone. Anyone know how to get hold of one or an alternative.

  • March 2, 2015

    by Jennifer

    I'm an esthetician and used high frequency treatments in my practice, I started switching from my big commercial ones to the Lift Wand which is a portable high frequency machine. It works great and has multiple attachments for different parts of the face. If you want real results, high frequency is the way to go for wrinkles and eyebags. I got mines from Amazon.

  • January 20, 2015

    by Calaghans

    HI there, thanks for having this site. it is good to learn before we purchase anything. I have just turned 40 and although I train a lot, few things I saw on my face which upset me. my lips have gone south west, which are quite smaller, and by the bubble gum I have been dong all my life secretly, have become an addiction and made my lips look all lines... the top, and droopy. As for my eyes, don't even ask, already got the problem seeing well, but they are now drooped. Friends and people say I am worrying for nothing. So my first step was as follows: I purchased Olay machine which you can use with face scrub once or twice a week which flattens the face little spots if you have like mine. What annoyes me I don't know but I keep having spots on my left lower lip non stop white spots. Anhow, if anybody knows whats the problem, please help: so as for my latest, I found Dermawand. I will be honest, I am quite happy! I feel I am using around the lips, they are good the lines, my face, I am not using too powerful number, it comes from 1 to 9. I am using 1 to 3 for now. But, my biggest worry and question is: which one to purchase and what is on the market for home devices: I want a big plumpier lips and around the lips more lifted, about my eyes, I am too scared to play around as I have had opperations. So, that is out of the question to work on sadly, but for generally face plumpier, tired IBS face, I want something to give me the radiance of like oil looking the face. If it makes sense. Also, my black age spots I'm having on one side of my face. So I am googling non stop what home device is good. I am not fan of going to dermotologists. I have already spent a fortune for my broken nose vein! Help please ladies? I'm new here! thanks!

  • December 2, 2014

    by stephanie

    I found a great company that has brand new devices from the US

  • November 12, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Lisa, it is advised to wear goggles to protect the eyes when using LED light, especially blue LED light.

  • November 12, 2014

    by Lisa

    Why do you need to use goggles?

  • August 18, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Tina, the ultrasonic waves will penetrate the skin and as the skin of the eyelids is very thin, it is possible that the waves could penetrate the eyes themselves. Personally this is not a risk I would take. You can use it on the brow bone - about the lid and just below the eyebrow and this may help 'lift' the lids.

  • August 17, 2014

    by Tina


    My main concern is upper eyelid tightening or lifting. I read on your site that you don't recommend the Ultrasonic for the eye area. I read on other skincare forums including where they also sell your Ultrasonic that people have used it effectively for upper eyelids. Also, dermatologists use Ulthera for upper eyelid tightening/lifting. Why can you not use this device for the upper eyelid area? Creams/serums do not work effectively. I have a dermawand (RF) which doesn't really work for eyelid creepiness. Thanks, Lynn

  • August 7, 2014

    by Jane Dominguez

    Hi ---

    Thanks for post. Would love to hear about your results/opinion on the led and ultrasonic comb.


  • July 1, 2014

    by lisa

    Hyi,gals i to am looking for a machine that works on fine lines has a home product,instead of salon ,i am looking for a good home device for under eyes /crows feet i am (41)aaaahh and they are coming lol,no getting away from it i have used all eye treatment serems/creams avaible but cannot see any difference so can anyone anywhere please give me some guidance of home device that truely is worth purchasing for these lines,also my skin is becoming sort of thread veins only slightly here and there so a wonder tool is what i am after by an person who has used and KNOWS it actually Works thanks to you Lisa x

  • December 8, 2012

    by Lisa

    This is great information, I've been looking into getting a led light home device and doing the (tedious) research. By the way, I've just seen a detailed guide (general) about how to choose a led light device, if you'd like to see it it's here:

  • May 8, 2012

    by Ami

    Hello All, I'm new to this site, and have found it extremely helpful! I just wanted to let you know that I had Ulthera done under my eyes about 3 1/2 months ago. I am very impressed! It tightened my crepey skin and it did not hurt at all (again, I only had this done under my eyes). You start to see results over time with the final result after about 90 days, the time it takes for collagen to rebuild. I am so happy with it! ps this was my first procedure so I was very apprehensive.

  • May 1, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Bev, I've been researching and trying out some new ultrasonic devices for at home use. I'll have something to announce very soon.

  • May 1, 2012

    by Bev

    Also, you mentioned Ulthera, which as far as I know, is only done in spas or dermatology offices, is quite expensive depending on area of the face ($1500-3000 per area) and painful as well. Is there a home unit that uses this technology?

  • April 1, 2012

    by Marta

    So we are giving away a PaloVia at home laser device to a lucky True Insider member. If you aren't a member, join now and catch the spring samples collection and be entered to win the PaloVia (the winner will be chosen on April 2, to hurry!)

  • March 29, 2012

    by Oksana

    Thank you, Marta!
    I am striving to be practical as much, as possible with my beauty routine; Sedu, Mia, etc. helps me to "cut to the chase" and look beautiful. Parsimonious - unfortunately not.

  • March 29, 2012

    by Lisa Darty

    Thanks for the roundup of home devices, Marta. I have an LED wand, and a Tuo Viso, but I can't seem to find the time to consisistently utilize either to their full potential. I'd be very interested to hear if the large Facial Secret panel works well for any other TIA community members (I can commit to five minutes three times a week, or even daily, I think). I really like the idea of using a non-invasive therapy like this, particularly if it can be used in conjunction with topical treatments.

  • March 29, 2012

    by Christine

    Thank you Marta! Looks like LED is the way to go, and a visit to a professional esthetician.

    Can't wait for your ultrasonic/LED review!

  • March 28, 2012

    by Marta

    Hmmm Oksana, that is very good to know. I've only tried the Baby Q and wondered if the MD was worth the price. But if you say so - being such a practical and parsimonious consumer - then I am very intrigued indeed!

  • March 28, 2012

    by Oksana

    love BQ MD! visible results, and only x 1/week. worth every penny!

  • March 28, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Connie and kathy, I sourced some brand new devices directly from manufacturers in China (where there is some interesting R&D work being done). I'm trying to find the most cutting edge and most reliable. And when I think I'm there, I'll definitely be calling in for some second opinions from the TIA community.

  • March 28, 2012

    by Connie Bieshada

    I would love to know what Ultrasonic/LED combo you are trying! As a licensed esthetician, I thought I had heard of all the latest gadgets. You are amazing with the technology! If you need a tester....I am all in.

  • March 28, 2012

    by Kathy

    What LED/Ultrasonic combo are you trying out? Is it a new device? Tell, tell!

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