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Tool Up With the Best At-Home Device For You

at-home skincare device
December 23, 2014 Reviewed by Marta 46 Comments

At-home anti-aging devices are really coming of age. Technologies such as microcurrent, microdermabrasion, ultrasound and LED light therapies once used to be confined to the doctor or esthetician’s office. Not anymore! Scaled down tools are increasingly available and reliable. Don’t expect the performance you’d get from a professional machine, but with patience and dedication, regular use will produce great results. That’s the good news. The problem is that there are so many technologies and devices to choose from. Here’s how to tool up and select the right device for you.

Laser

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.

Best for: Smoothing wrinkles and fine lines

At home: Unfortunately, the FDA-cleared PaloVia has been withdrawn from the market and is no longer being made. At this time we have not found an alternative to recommend.

LED (light emitting diode) therapy

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 worked its magic. Recent research suggests that it works by targeting water layers on elastin. Read more about LED. The most common is red LED and this is best for wrinkle repair, while blue is for acne. There’s also infrared, yellow and amber LED as well. The effects of LED are cumulative and reward those willing to put in the time for regular use (three to five times a week).

Best for: Smoothing out wrinkles, plumping the skin, calming rosacea

At home: If you want to keep it simple, then a good choice is the FDA-cleared Baby Quasar Plus ($399). Four wavelengths of light are used: 610nm, 630nm, 660nm, and 850nm. This ranges from amber to infrared light, and the size of the device head covers the periorbital area.

Red and blue LED light are incorporated into the FDA cleared Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279 in the shop), which also features ultrasound (see more on this technology below).

Microcurrent

Microcurrent uses a subsensory electric current that delivers a pulse to the facial muscles and stimulates them and the surrounding tissue. The theory is that microcurrent improves the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical in muscles that provides energy. It’s supposed to increase elastin by 48% and collagen by 14%. The effects are cumulative and the muscles are purported to “remember” where they are supposed to be (e.g., lifted, not sagging). Read more about microcurrent.

Best for: Firming sagging skin

At home: In my experience, at-home microcurrent should be kept simple and easy to use. Truth Rejuvenate lives up to this with two metal probes that are neither too big nor too small, and they comfortably and effectively sculpt and tone the face.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a form of exfoliation that removes the top layer of dead skin cells and uneven, thicker layers of skin. Professional machines use crystal and diamond microdermabrasion tips. The crystals are sprayed and the machine follows by vacuuming them.  The suction or vacuum action also serves to pull the skin closer to the sandy disc in order to abrade the skin and remove dead cells. Home devices do not spray and use crystal or diamond tips; however, unlike with professional machines, the amount of suction cannot be controlled.

Best for: Fine lines and mild sun damage

At home: The Personal Microderm System ($179) has crystal discs that exfoliate with options for gentle and moderate. The Riiviva Microderm Device ($299) is an at-home microdermabrasion kit equipped with medical-grade, diamond-tip technology. 

Radio frequency

How it works: High frequency radiowave technology used to be best known as systems such as Thermage. These used high temperatures, were very painful and not terribly effective. New versions of this technology include the Pellevé Wrinkle Reduction System, and they cause heat to build up where the skin and fat layer come together. Enough heat is required to cause a process called denaturation — collagen fibers contract, and because they believe they are undergoing a trauma, they start stimulating new collagen.

Best for: Firming sagging skin

At home: For denaturation to take place, the operating temperature needs to be 41°C or more. At-home devices do not reach that temperature and consequently, in my experience, don't work. Examples are Silk’N FaceFX, and Dermawand.

Ultrasonic

How it works: First of all, ultrasound (ultrasonic) is high-frequency sound waves, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz. This cannot be heard by humans. As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head into the skin, they cause the vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. This vibration leads to the production of heat within the tissue. With a handheld home device, this heat does not become very intense. The temperature rise in the surrounding tissue increases oxygen to the cells and aids in the removal of waste. The skin should feel instantly energized, rosy and firm. Read more about how ultrasonic works. A dermatologist version that I have seen (but never tested) is the Ulthera; however, this machine uses heat for micro-targeted and very fast heating of the tissue that causes it to be “injured” and the tissue’s response is to contract.

Best for: Firming and lifting

At home: Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279 in the shop) is FDA-cleared for the treatment of facial wrinkles and acne. It is a handheld at-home device combining ultrasound technology with red and blue LED light therapy

Note: This article was last updated on December 23, 2014.

  • June 3, 2017

    by Patty

    Hi. Can you please give me your advice on this product ? It has LED ,microcurrent and ultrosound. In what order should I use them , with product or serum ? Thanks.

    http://bbsalonequipment.net/Goods.asp?id=48794

  • April 20, 2017

    by Marta

    Hi Valerie, for sagging skin I still think ultrasound is the best technology available. The Truth Vitality Lux Renew is my product and I still think it has been beaten.

  • April 14, 2017

    by Valerie

    Hello it is now 2017 if u where going to buy one single item to help lift sagging skin which would you choose of all products now avaiable. Thanks Valerie

  • September 3, 2016

    by Marta

    Hi Vero, Nu Face is microcurrent and works at the muscular level and so won't help dark spots, but may help with fine lines. So LED is probably a better bet given your concerns.

  • September 2, 2016

    by Vero

    Hello Marta. What do you think of the Tria Laser since this article came out? Was considering Tria vs LED vs Nu face for sun spots & fine wrinkles.
    Thanks

  • May 12, 2015

    by Marta

    Hi Karen, we are no longer selling any microcurrent devices

  • May 12, 2015

    by Karen

    Hi Marta.
    On 9/16/13 you said you liked the Myotone Facial Toning System, which is a micro current device, and was alternating it's use with the Lux Renew. In your article "Tool Up With the Best At-Home Device for You" written 12/23/14, you did not mention it. Have you changed your mind about it? You did say that the Truth Rejuvenate is a microcurrent device. I was going to get the Truth Vitality Lux Renew and Myotone like you said you were doing in September 2013, but now I am more confused than ever. I am 58 and have fine lines and sagging skin. Please advise. Thank you!

  • January 2, 2015

    by Marta

    Hi Alina
    I wouldn't go so far as to say I advise against derma rolling. I would only do it with a professional. Not to myself. As far as massaging goes, this may be relaxing or enjoyable but it won't have any anti-aging effects.

  • January 1, 2015

    by Alina

    Hi Marta, I know that you advise against derma rolling and I completely agree that I would never use something that pierces my skin in an attempt to make it better. However, I have come across a product called Slim Cera Roller, a stainless skin roller that does not have needles, but simply purports to massage the skin with a set of rollers on its surface. It is manufactured in Japan and allegedly a success product there. Have you, or any of the ladies who follow your website, come across it and do you recommend it? Thanks for any insights!

  • December 24, 2014

    by Michele Watson

    Hi Marta

    I would purchase your LED only device - especially if it had far infrared as well!

  • December 23, 2014

    by Jessica

    Has anyone tried a high frequency device? I used to get facials where the woman would use this at the end. It was a glass wand filled with blue light, kind of like the derma wand but much more effective. I have been considering purchasing one of these for at home and wonder if anyone has any experience or wisdom to share.

  • December 23, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Tammy, galvanic is closest in frequency to microcurrent. I have tried the NuSkin (albeit a long time ago) and have found microcurrent better.

  • December 23, 2014

    by Tammy

    How does a galvanic device compare to these? I was looking at the NuSkin Galvanic Spa. Thank you!

  • August 29, 2014

    by Gale

    Ok so there's a lot of information here, but now I'm really just more confused. In a nutshell, what's the best anti-aging device? What's the best for the money? It sounds like Quasar MD might be, but I really never got that information. Thanks.

  • July 31, 2014

    by marta

    Hi Terri, you raise a good point. We stopped the Sirius because there were some reliability issues. Facial Secret, the panel, is no longer being manufactured. I am developing an LED only and will look at optimal sizing - so thanks for the prompting. In the meantime, the best LED only is made by Quasar MD, although the panel is very small (note that you will achieve a larger radiance by holding it an inch from the face. http://www.truthinaging.com/baby-quasar-red-led

  • July 31, 2014

    by Terri Batchelor

    Hi Marta,
    I have been using the Ultra Renew Plus for I believe close to a year now. While I
    find using all three modes is great, I don't care much for the limited amount of coverage with the red light. I use it alone as well after using all three modes for
    30 minutes, because I believe for me it takes at least that amount of time to get
    a good session on my face, neck and décolleté. As far as the Ultra Renew Sculpt, while you get a bigger area along the outer edge, you still have the panel in the middle and I would like to find something that's 100% light as I already use the above mentioned device, so it would be an added addition to the tools I currently
    use. So actually my question I have is what happened to the Aurora LED device? Your review sounded like this would be an outstanding light device for covering more area and less tedious to boot. You had also mentioned a light panel, which I also did not find available in the shop. The price was much less expensive as well than the alternatives currently available. Is this an over sight on my part, or is there a reason you no longer carry these lights in the shop?
    Thank you,

    Terri

  • June 25, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Emma

    I think that laser is best for wrinkles, LED is also good for wrinkles but does offer some firming/plumping, ultrasound - in my experience - is best for firming.

  • June 24, 2014

    by Emma

    My problem is the lines from the sides of my lips down to my jaw and I can see some jowls in-training. To forestall sagginess and firm it up, which would be best--laser ultrasound or LED?

  • June 15, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Sally, none of the devices you mention are laser. Quasar is LED, NuFace and Myotone are microcurrent. The Quasar has red light only. NuFace and Myotone do not have LED lights. If you want to use red and green LED light, look at the Ultra Renew Plus or the Truth Renew. In any case, all of these are safe for every skin tone.

  • June 14, 2014

    by sally

    Dear Martha,
    I ave dark skin I am East Indian. Please advice Can i use the Quaser, Nuface or Myotone I would like to use the red green led/lights.

    I heard that dark skin should not use lazer.
    Thank You.

  • April 25, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Susan

    The difference between the two devices is as follows:
    Ultra Renew Plus - LED (red, blue, green), ultrasound, ionic+ and ionic-. All 3 modes may be used at the same time
    Truth Renew - LED (red, blue, green), ultrasound. The 2 modes cannot be used at the same time
    Although Nu-Face and ionic technologies are not exactly the same, they are similar and so you could get away with the Truth Renew.

  • April 25, 2014

    by Susan

    I am deciding which ultrasound device to get, Ultra Renew Plus or Truth Renew (I already have a NuFace). I am 52. Any advice? Thank you!

  • March 20, 2014

    by Terri Batchelor

    I have been using the Ultra Renew Plus for several months, and scan honestly say
    I can truly see improvement in plumping as well as a reduction in redness. Not ready
    to comment on the firming as of yet. I'm going to keep patient to see if there's future improvement in that area. I am looking forward to adding the Myotone to compliment the current treatment , provided I'm ever fast enough to get my hands on one before their out of stock again. It appears they don't stay in stock more than a couple hours. Looking forward to seeing whether their as effective, as they are popular.

  • November 25, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Linda in the ultrasonic section above, I say that this is "best for firming and lifting" and that "Ultrasonic is the best thing I have found so far for counteracting sagging skin". I would really recommend the Ultra Renew Plus - but in the interests of full disclosure, you should be aware that Truth In Aging makes this device. I hope this helps.

  • November 25, 2013

    by Linda

    Is it possible to recommend the 'best' system for firming and tightening the
    skin???
    It's hard to select the right unit for that problem from all of the above.
    Since I can only purchase one unit, I'm looking for the optimal unit for tightening,
    firming, lifting the facial skin….
    I trust this site for its 'Truth' in recommendations…
    Thank You..
    Linda

  • October 14, 2013

    by Marta

    Lifecell was reviewed here: http://www.truthinaging.com/review/dept-of-daft-lifecell-a-cream-fit-for-kings
    Along with their marketing tactics:
    http://www.truthinaging.com/review/lifecells-dirty-marketing-tricks
    I haven't tried those devices Linda, but as you have I'd love to know what you think of them

  • October 14, 2013

    by Linda

    I have the Connie Stevens and Rita McQueen Time Machines. They are galvanic. What do you think of these machines? What is the best home device that really works? What do think of Lifecell? Thank you.

  • October 8, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Annie, in general it is safe to use the device if you have had fillers. However, we always say that you should double check with the doctor who carried out your procedure.

  • October 7, 2013

    by annie

    Hi, was wondering how the Ultra Renew Plus would affect a face that has been injected with fillers. I'm considering purchasing this unit. Thanks

  • July 23, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Sogul,

    Yes, you can absolutely switch between the different colored lights

  • July 23, 2013

    by sogol

    hi,
    i would like to purchase the Ultra Renew Plus. Can I switch between the green and red as sagging and pigment are both concerns.
    thanks

  • April 21, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi J.Susan, I have tried the FaceMaster and did not have this sensation. I do think that some people are more sensitive to current than others. I have had microcurrent treatments (at a salon) for 10 years and, if anything, it improves rosacea.

  • April 21, 2013

    by J. Susan Nugent

    I recently purchased the Facemaster Platinum and used it for the first time (=Day 1). I followed the DVD exactly and started around my eyes first with the intensity setting at 3. The zapping electrical current was uncomfortable so I turned the setting down to 1; I still felt the current, and on a psychological level it felt intuitively "wrong", so I stopped for a few minutes and tried again with a lighter touch barely making contact with the skin. The zzztttt-zzztttt sensation from the electrical current was bearable on the absolute lowest setting so I continued using the hand wands on the rest of my face as instructed. When I was working around my temples and the middle of my forehead I felt a twitching along the center (crown) of my head from front to back...it was a little startling but didn't hurt; again I had a "this is not right" psychological reaction so I stopped and decided to surf the internet to find out if anyone else has had similar experience using the Facemaster or other microcurrent home systems? So far I haven't found any posts mentioning the zapping sensation even when the unit is on the lowest setting (PS: I also just sent an email to the Facemaster contact, so hopefully I'll have an official answer Monday). Do any of you experienced Facemaster users have advice to share on this subject?

    I also wonder if its ok to use microcurrent devices around skin that has mild rosacea (i.e., will it help make rosacea less notacable or will it make it worse)?

  • March 23, 2013

    by Michele Watson

    Fantastic Marta!
    What I also love about forums is the sense of comraderie and that I learn so much!

  • March 22, 2013

    by Terri Sacco

    I have both the Ultra Renew and the Ultra Renew Plus. I use the Plus at the vanity with ultrasonic, ionic +, and red led (and the renew gel) because I find I need to concentrate in the mirror on keeping it firmly pressed on my skin for the best benefit. I keep the original at my home office work station where I use the red LED for lip and eye crinkles after applying AQ Eye, Mad Hippie Vit C, and the latest in my arsenal Arcona Peptide Firming Complex . Both devices work great but it is a cumulative process so don't get discouraged and keep at it no matter which device you use.
    Terri Sacco

  • March 22, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Michelle, it will definitely help crepey necks. That's my next personal project in fact.

  • March 21, 2013

    by Michele Watson

    Brilliant review Marta and what a great discount!
    Would this work on a crepey (not sagging neck?) showing signs of ageing there...

  • March 21, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Aga, BQ seems to be the most powerful and SA and UR are about the same. There's a link to the NuFace review in the article: <a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/treatments/microcurrent-device-face-off-and-the-winner-is%E2%80%A6" rel="nofollow">http://www.truthinaging.com/treatments/microcurrent-device-face-off-and-the-winner-is%E2%80%A6 </a> The Sculpt is not based on cavitation, which uses intense heat to melt fat cells. It is simply 1Mhz ultrasound.

  • March 21, 2013

    by Aga

    Marta, re LED (red) - how does Sirius Aurora compare with BQ and Ultra Renew? It seems to have the largest treatment area of the three but I'm not sure about the "strength", could you comment on that, please.

    Have you had any chance to look at NuFace Trinity (microcurrent function)? It seems to get better reviews than the older version. And it looks easy to use, no need to manipulate wands.

    I'm looking forward to your Ultra Sculp, is it based on "ultrasonic cavitation"?

  • March 20, 2013

    by Barbara

    Marta, thank you for explaining the differences among the at-home devices. I used Suzanne Somers Facemaster several months ago and had to send it back. It gave me headaches and nothing else.

  • March 20, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Tina, I think you will be fine. LED is not the same as UV (sun) light

  • March 20, 2013

    by Asya

    I am very happy with my Ultra Renew Plus. After some initial problems (the first device didn't work properly, but TIA replaced it promptly) I have been using it regularly and after every session I do notice more plump and fresh looking skin (must be the ultrasound). In any case my scepticism has been vanquished and I am a happy user.

  • March 20, 2013

    by Tina

    I have tattoo'd eyebrow and eyeliner. Are the LED devices ok to use? I am concerned the tattoos will fade with light exposure from LED just as they do with sun exposure.

  • March 20, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Courtney, red led light is best for rosacea in my experience.

  • March 20, 2013

    by Nell

    Marta, thank you so much for that thorough analysis of at-home devices. It's very helpful for people like me who have been confused by all the options available out there!

    As for me, I'm still hoping to find the Ultra Renew Plus back in the Shop. Any word about when that might be? :)

  • March 20, 2013

    by Courtney

    Please address which device would be most effective in reducing the "redness" associated with rosacea. In that many baby boomers are entering menopause years, rosacea is becoming prevalent and of course, problematic when dealing with hot flashes/flushing. Thank you for being so candid about your own rosacea. In looking at your photograph, it gives one hope.

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