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Microcurrent device face off- and the winner is….

November 15, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 35 Comments

….Well, it’s just not that clear cut. I’m sorry. I know this is frustrating. Believe me, it is for me too. I am the owner of a NuFace ($250) and the Suzanne Somers FaceMaster ($130) and after a month long side-by-side test I’m not in love with either of them and there is no clear winner. If I had to take just one to a desert island it would be the Baby Quasar (just joking). Really, if I absolutely had to choose just one microcurrent device it would be the NuFace.

The thing is that that they are really so different that an ideal scenario is to use both. This is indeed what I have ended up doing. About half way in to a month long test, I quit the side by side test and started to use each device for what it seemed best suited for: NuFace for the cheeks, jawline and forehead and FaceMaster for around the mouth and eyes.

I tested each microcurrent device for four weeks, three times a week, playing around with settings and with lotions to use them with. They both come with “conducive “ lotions that are supposed to prevent the microcurrent from tingling uncomfortably and to, supposedly, deliver antiaging ingredients to the skin. I reviewed them in my interim post. In the end, I opted for a pure hyaluronic acid and spritzed with Caudalie’s (very nice) 100% Grape Water. Here are the pros and cons of each, in my opinion:

NuFace

Pros: A sturdy device that delivers a consistent current. Although the current control dial (a wheel) doesn’t seem to be especially sensitive. I used it set at about mid-way most of the time. NuFace did a good – by which I mean noticeably lifting and firming – job on the jawline and cheeks, and to a lesser extent the forehead. Certainly, enough for me to continue using the device now that my test has finished.

Cons: The main drawback is that NuFace has two large metal balls that you are supposed to “glide” over the face. They are too large, unwieldy and don’t allow for subtle manipulation.  The instructions stipulate that you cannot use NuFace within the labial nasal lines, the eye area or throat.

FaceMaster

Pros: $100 cheaper than  NuFace. Controls are very sensitive and allow multipe techniques. The hand held prongs allow for manipulation. It can be used around the eyes and the mouth. It does produce visible results around the eyes in particular, but is less effective than NuFace for cheeks, jaw, forehead.

Cons: The downside of being able to manipulate the prongs is that in the wrong hands they could pull muscles in the wrong directions and do more harm than good. As I said at the outset of this exercise, any old fool can hold an LED light, but microcurrent requires some skill and experience.

My biggest gripe with FaceMaster is that I experienced some very odd, almost scary sensations. When I use it around the lip area, I noticed a strong bitter taste. At certain points – side of nose, for example – I got a sensation traveling up a nerve all the way up my cheek. A couple of times using it above the eyebrow, I got a strong tingling sensation on the top of my scalp. I experienced these several times, on different days and using multiple – even very low – settings. I have never encountered sensations in the nerves when having a professional microcurrent treatment.

Related posts: I've finally found a microcurrent device I like - the Mytone. Read my review of Mytone

  • October 3, 2013

    by Joan

    Can anyone suggest what works best to tighten a neck which is beginning to sag? Thanks!

  • June 10, 2013

    by jennifer

    Hi, there are soo many products that promise to lift and tone the face. I want to know what actually works. I'm tired of buying products that don't work. HELP!

  • February 22, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Stella, I'm a bit of a loss here too. I can't imagine why the device should make you look gaunt. Microcurrent should do the opposite. I'm not a big believer in these at home microcurrent devices (the salon versions are very good though). Perhaps you should consider some of the other technologies - here's a round up: http://www.truthinaging.com/treatments/how-to-pick-the-best-at-home-device-for-you

  • February 22, 2013

    by Esther Busuttil

    I do have the Nuface microcurrent, for at least 3 months now, I had stopped using as my face has become a bit gaunt from it...it looked thin. I just started using it again last week mostly on my forehead as I had seen some good results in my fine lines and expression lines there...however i would lift up the corners of the mouth an cheeks a little bit with it :( Can someone help me and tell me a way i can do this without gaunting my face?? Maybe use it twice a week there, or use different strokes...I am really lost here....I need some face fat and this Nuface kills it just by trying to glide it across my cheeks towards my hair line....martha would be great if I can get your expert opinion :) Stella

  • January 22, 2013

    by geny

    I wondering to buy one of these devices, I am
    49 years old and noticed a little sagging in my neck and I would like a more firm jawline, I so confussed about the masterface or nuface, is there any new device that performs better?
    Thanks .

  • February 15, 2012

    by Gailr

    Does anyone know how many microamps are delivered in the facemaster/

  • February 8, 2012

    by oksana

    Nuface has recently come out with Trinity, a device that has an option of interchangeable heads (not available yet) - for red and blue LED lights. what a great idea!

  • February 8, 2012

    by oksana

    Nuface has recently come out with Trinity, a device that has an option of interchangeable heads (not available yet) - for red and blue LED lights. what a great idea!

  • May 3, 2011

    by natalie

    LOVE this site! Does anyone know where I could find a place that does a good microcurrent face-lift in the Virginia area? You say the Mansard one is good....are there others? I really want to try this out to help my saggy jaw line! Thanks -- Natalia

  • April 18, 2011

    by Jina

    Hi Marta

    Thank you for your response will be stretching out my appointments to weekly for first 3 weeks then monthly. Look forward to the treatments.

    Regards

  • April 17, 2011

    by Susan

    You're right, Marta. After I entered the above, I visited the web site again to make sure I had it correct. The doctor who designed the machine speaks of it as microcurrent.
    Rushed to church, then have been gardening on the FIRST sunny day Portland has seen in ages. So I forgot to amend my previous statement. Thanks for clarifying.

  • April 17, 2011

    by Marta

    Ah Jina, I am so glad you asked this question. I think you should find another esthetician - although this isn't the first time I have heard this recommendation. Once a week for three weeks and thereafter once a month should suffice. That's what I did and my esthetician, Ildi Pekar in New York, says that there is a law of diminishing returns and that the only thing all those sessions is doing is emptying money from your account to someone else's.

    Susan, Facemaster uses the word micro-current on this page of its website several times: http://www.facemaster.com/InsideFM.aspx. Right at the bottom it says it uses wave with microcurrent.

  • April 17, 2011

    by Susan

    Hi Marta,

    Thanks for your response. I had the same thought about muscle atrophy, but as I said earlier, I'm not the pro.

    I emailed Facemaster.com yesterday to ask them the type of current used and I'd like to share with you and your readers FM's quick response, which I appreciated:

    "Our FaceMaster Platinum utilizes a bi-phase, symmetrical square wave at various frequencies (between 0.5Hz and 5.0Hz) depending on the treatment mode.

    It is not galvanic (we use an alternating current), and it is similar, but different than faradic (we use a symmetrical wave).

    The output current varies between 20 microAmps and 200 microAmps depending on the devices intensity setting.

    Thank You,
    FaceMaster Customer Service"

    On FaceMaster.com, there isn't a statement that the machine utilizes microcurrent. (I'm not certain you used the most current model, as it costs around $228.) It uses "wave technology." However, the stated microAmps output is 20-200, which seems in line with microcurrent.

    Well, I'm finished beating this topic, but the discussion has helped determine my course. :-)

    Thanks so much.

  • April 17, 2011

    by Jina

    Hi Marta,

    I have booked for a series of micro current in May. 3 every 2 days apart for 14 days, then 2 a week in the last 14 days of this phase. That's 10 treatments a month. Then esthetician recommends 1 a month for up keep. What product do you recommend, if any should be applied during the micro current to maximise benefit? Also, with the knowledge you have is it worth investing in home devise in between monthly visits?

    Regards

  • April 17, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Susan,
    I'm not sure I agree with all of Chelsea's comments. Firstly, I would agree that the current "travels" to some extent. However, the the salon devices tend to use wands that are manipulated carefully by the operator. The way they move around the muscles is part of their skill and will contribute to the effects of the treatment.

    I have never heard of atrophy of muscles due to stimulation or exercise. The opposite is more likely. Unused muscles atrophy. In fact, microcurrent was initially used to help stroke or Bell's Palsey patients - the electronic pulses rehabilitate the muscles.

    Now, I do think that there is the issue of the strength (or weakness) of the current. NuFace proponents say that "true" microcurrent should be less than 500 microamperes (Ua). FaceMaster detractors say that it delivers more current to get a quick result. The technical specs aren't disclosed. But I can say that my experience of using both was that FM definitely seemed to have a stronger current - and not necessarily in a good way.

    Galvanic and microcurrent are essentially the same thing. The key factor for all these devices - especially at the professional level - is the frequency used. Professional machines use specific frequencies and the manufacturers would claim that the precise frequency is critical.

    In the end, I'm not sure that debating the merits of at home devices is all that worthwhile. They are not a patch on the salon devices and I have come to the conclusion that microcurrent is best left to professionals.

  • April 16, 2011

    by Susan

    Chelsea,

    When I first received a professional Mansard microcurrent treatment, the esthetician applied it to the right side of my face first. Before moving to the left side, she handed me a mirror for a peek at the results. I looked as if I had had a mini-facelift.

    The effect after two years is not so marked, as having the facial regularly keeps me lifted. Yet my eyes always look lifted after a treatment.

    I'm sharing this in response to your comments above. You sound as if you're a professional and know what you're talking about, whereas I am not trained or educated in the field. I don't want to possibly encourage anyone to consider using the FM if it would ultimately do damage.

    I went to FaceMaster.com. The claim is made that the current is micro. Considering your statement and FM's claim and my experiences with professional microcurrent machines has left me somewhat confused and uncertain.

    Marta, are you able to shed some light on this?
    (I see my esthetician this coming week, and I'll ask for her thoughts on the matter.)

  • April 16, 2011

    by Susan

    I have been getting Mansard microcurrent treatments religiously for the past two years. I've spent approximately $3000 for this treatment. It has been money well spent, but the home machines look very attractive for this reason, yet I have refrained from purchasing one.

    For her 64th birthday, my girlfriend received the FaceMaster from her generous sister. My friend is the type who takes no notice of people's looks or if they've improved or gotten worse. She just doesn't notice. As a labor of love, only, is she diligently using the FM.

    She generously invited me to take a spin on it last Friday. I jumped at the opportunity.

    I definitely felt the current. Yow! Turning it down to the lowest degree, it was still too strong to use around my eyes.

    However, the effect it had on sculpting my cheeks was simply remarkable! The lower half of my face was picked up and redistributed. So much so, that my non-observant friend saw the difference and was excited over it. It really was remarkable!

    I like the feathering phase, and the pulse was almost undetectable--I could use it everywhere. If one used the machine only for this feature, it would be worth the cost, as the current does help push in product. It helped smooth my skin's texture and perked it up.

    Were the results marked enough to make spending 30 minutes most days using the machine worthwhile? Yes.

    Of course, the machine is primitive compared the professional ones, such as the Mansard, which is probably one of the reasons the current is felt. At least, I knew I was receiving current.
    :-)

    When I think of the money I would be saving and the results I did in fact see with my own eyes, I feel motivated to plunk down the $228 for it.

    Thanks for allowing me to share the results.

  • April 1, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Debbie B, I found that sodium hyaluronic gel works. I think aloe would too - just has to be thickish.

  • April 1, 2011

    by Debbie B

    Is there some other product that can be used with the Nuface instead of the conductivity gel that comes with the Nuface? Would pure aloe vera gel work?

  • January 19, 2011

    by debbie rawls

    I have to say I have been using the baby quasar (red) since last April...and I really love it. my pores seem smaller and my complexion looks clear.... it does nothing for the deep wrinkles but does seem to lesson the fine lines. I couldn't do without it now :)...would love to try the micro-currents

  • January 2, 2011

    by RA

    Marta, How come you did not test ReFa Platinum Electronic Roller?

  • December 7, 2010

    by chelsea

    Hi Marta - you seem to be missing a key piece of information that is fueling your "review"... micro-current TRAVELS, so even if you are not using the NuFace directly under your eyes or lips, the current is still traveling to that area and treating it. also, there seems to be an overall misconception of what microcurrent actually does. it stimulates cellular production of elastin and collagen, increases circulation and penetrates product deeper. it does not exercise muscles. facemaster advertises contracting and sculpting muscles to a point where i would believe it's actually galvanic and not microcurrent. stimulating or exercising the muscles after long periods of time can lead to atrophy.

  • November 19, 2010

    by Bev

    Thanks for your review Marta. I'm still happy with my Facemaster, and will continue to use it. However, when it breaks, I'll consider the NU face.
    I think these really do help keep you looking fresh and perky. I recently went about 2 weeks without using the Facemaster and could see my face starting to droop and slide south...just one use of the Facemaster and I'm back in business! I'll have to look into and perhaps save up for the baby quasar as well. Until then I'm happy to be doing the ybf test for the 40-somethings.

  • November 18, 2010

    by primrose krasicki

    Hi all I read with interest,also I do love TIA . So Marta's review on Nu face and FaceMaster was great . I took the "punt"on nu face expecting lets find out will it work or not.To my amazment it does work and Im happy after three months usage.As its not as strong as a salon device such as CACI ,it still works. And its not a plastic surgeon treatment. I still want to get onto the baby quasar (red).My dermatolgist is of the opinion that home products are fine,if used with care.Also she pointed out to me that their lower power can be better than stronger salon ones.Sure you get results but be aware of possible over usage can occur sometimes . Having written all the above she is also VERY cautious of too much chemicals often seen in various commercial facial products.SO its horses for coursesfor all .But I do love my NU Face . Best regards Primrose, Australia 19/11/2010

  • November 18, 2010

    by Gaye

    I've been receiving truth in aging e-mails for several months now and I just had to let you know I love the new look. I also value the research and testing done by all of you. Skin care is my passion and this is by far the most helpful and detailed information I have come across. Your honest evaluations are great and much appreciated.

  • November 18, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Cyndie, FaceMaster is coming your way - please email me at samples@truthinaging with your shipping address (FaceMaster in the subject line). As to your other question: I would go without new shoes before giving up my salon microcurrent. I've been having monthly sessions for about eight years and without them probably would have succumbed to Botox by now.

  • November 18, 2010

    by susanne olson

    would a laser treatment really lift sagging skin and be worth the steep price?

  • November 17, 2010

    by Cyndie

    I would like to try the Facemaster and give you feedback as well.

  • November 17, 2010

    by Cyndie

    Marta,

    Did you get better results from spa microcurrent treatments?
    Thanks for your insightfull information.

  • November 17, 2010

    by marta

    Yes Kathy, I most certainly would. Email me at marta@truthinaging.com with your address.

    If another worthy wants to try FaceMaster give me a shout.

    Hi, Susan, I did try NuFace on my neck, but only the sides. Not sure it did much though.

  • November 17, 2010

    by Kathy

    Would you like to loan your Nu-Face to a worthy reader for another opinion and a nice long review (hint, hint) ???

  • November 17, 2010

    by Susan

    Marta,

    Did you use either of these products on your neck? If so, what were the results?

    Thanks!

  • November 16, 2010

    by Mark

    Thanks Marta - it seems maybe I should just save up for the Baby Quasar and wait for better technology on the microcurrent products.

  • November 16, 2010

    by marta

    Yes Jaysie, the FaceMaster is more like the pro machine with its prongs.

  • November 15, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Marta - Thanks for your eagerly awaited review; really helpful as far as what areas are best served by each device. Is there any similarity of either NuFace or Face Master to the device used by your esthetician, i.e., does the pro machine have prongs or a different application?

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