When you write "skincare units" to Google, you are confronted with an assault of various gadgets designed to be firm, smooth and thin.
From $ 500 age-deficient lasers that you can use in your own home, to egg-shaped radio frequency skin tension devices, to millennial pink eye massagers – that's a lot to take in.
But apart from the sometimes steep price points and the other worldly appearance, the question we all want to know is: do these products actually work?
Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple.
As you may have guessed from my previously described Google-powered descriptions, there are lots of different skin care products, so there's no clear cut or no answer to whether they're really "worthy" or not.
But if your only knowledge of skin care products revolves around a Clarisonic (the best known skincare unit) you have the good fortune!
Today, we do a deep dive in all skin care products.
We are going to take a journey through the history of skin care, so I put out the big categories of skin care units and the benefits (or disadvantages) for each.
We should also talk about FDA regulations on skin care products, and ultimately why should you (or shouldn't) add a skin care unit to your beauty routine.
I hope you have an extension cord at your fingertips because we study all the way into skin care units!
What exactly is skin care and what do they do?
Skincare units are a large, overall category that includes all electrical appliances intended for your skin.
This category includes hair removal tools, mechanical exfoliators, facial massagers, rotary makeup brushes and much more.
In general, these skin care products are created as an option for the home to the procedures you would receive at a dermatologist's office or spa – saving time and money (not to mention the convenience of doing things in your own home).
The history of the Skincare units
How far back does the history of skin care units go?
Well, it depends on what you consider skin care.
The Clarisonic, otherwise known as the unit most women think of only when they think "skin care units", invented in 2001 by David Giuliani, the same man who invented Sonicare toothbrushes (meaningful, right?).
While Clarisonic did not originally pick up steam, it became massively popular after Oprah presented it on his favorite episode of 2007.
Shortly after Clarisonic's seemingly overlapping success, many competitors launched similar products.
But skincare units remained before the 21st century … they were just not perfect yet.
In the 1930s, the Italian doctor Dr. M. Matarassoa invented a "skin care unit" that used carbon monoxide to freeze the patient's freckles with a sharp needle – ouch!
Today, the popularization of skincare treatments in the office – from laser hair removal to the vampire facial – has led to more home appliances being created for women who want salon level results in their own home.
If you take a gander at Ulta's "Skin Care" section, you'll find 96 products ranging from a $ 35 Proactiv Hello Kitty brush kit to a $ 325 gold NuFACE Trinity unit kit.
The different types of skin care products and benefits for each
Should the skincare list in the introduction make your head spin like a Clarisonic brush?
It's okay, you're not alone!
There is a wide range of skin care products, and the easiest way to break them down is the actual technology used to deliver the desired results.
Here is a decline of what's out there, what works and what doesn't – and why, as well as some recommended devices!
LED stands for LED.
These infrared lamps are emitted in different wavelengths and spectrum for different skin care benefits.
For example, red light promotes circulation and blue light kills bacteria.
Some of the most popular LED products on the market are acne masks and hand-held anti-aging devices.
The Tria Positive Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light helps clear up acne in a flash! Soft and effective on all skin tones, this FDA-cleared device provides an effective dose of bacteria, eliminating the blue light deep within the skin to eliminate acne.
This Forex UFO Smart Mask Treatment sets the power of LED light therapy in your hands with three directional photo facials in a home unit. Enjoy a painless, UV-free treatment of light therapy, as red, green and blue LED wavelengths easily rejuvenate your skin.
I love personally NuFACE Trinity Wrinkle Reducer for focusing on fine line and wrinkles. It provides a precise combination of red, yellow and infrared light that penetrates different depths of the dermis.
One thing I do not recommend? Strialite stretch mark LED treatment.
Stretch marks fade on your own with time, but it is unlikely that a product will be able to speed it up – save your money!
IPL stands for intense pulse light.
IPL is a powerful, visible, wide-spectrum light pulse that can be used for hair removal, dark spots, pigmentation, redness and broken blood vessels.
In the case of home appliances, IPL is mostly seen in hand-held anti-aging tools and hair removal devices.
No, this is not your favorite FM station!
Instead, radio frequency uses an electric current to heat layers of skin tissue and stimulate new collagen production (a life support for anti-aging).
Stimulated collagen production will help increase skin elasticity, making it tighter and harder and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
You are probably most familiar with skincare lasers.
Lasers are sources of high intensity light that can focus on small areas.
The beam can gently ablate and / or vaporize skin tissue to treat fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, scars, acne, uneven texture, dark circles or puffiness.
Lasers can also seal blood vessels, remove unwanted hair and remove unwanted tattoos.
I offer a variety of skin care products on my side, each with different purposes! As you can see, Tria is one of my favorite brands.
The Tria hair removal Laser Precision Removes easily unwanted hair with permanent results. The ergonomic design is perfect for sensitive, hard-to-reach areas such as bikini line or forearms.
The Tria Age-Defying Eye Wrinkle Correcting Laser works by using thousands of microscopic laser signals to penetrate the sensitive eye area for noticeable improvement of fine lines and wrinkles. It helps to facilitate natural collagen and elastin production for lighter and more youthful eyes.
The Tria hair removal laser is the only FDA-cleaned hair removal laser for home use! If you don't want expensive spa visits for hair removal, this is the device you need. This laser reduces hair by up to 70% in just two uses. When the hair returns, it is much thinner and finer and lighter, which occurs between two and three months after treatment.
The Tria Age-Defying Laser is an FDA-cleared fractional laser that treats multiple signs of aging on the entire face. Designed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, Age-Defying Laser uses the same technology as indoor professional treatments. Stubborn wrinkles smoothly smooth!
Hi-frequency is one of my favorite techniques.
I like to think of it as a "classic" when it comes to skin care products because it has existed longer than many of the other techniques and most beauty professors are trained with high-frequency tools in the beauty school.
You might recognize a high-frequency tool if you saw one: it looks like a stick with a bubble in the end.
That bubble is the electrode, which produces argon gas and emits a small electric current.
This stream, and thus the high frequency tool, helps generate oxygen, kill bacteria and calm inflamed skin.
As you may have guessed, this high-frequency tool is good for acne.
The Hi-Frequency technology is also used in anti-aging devices as the tool can help increase collagen production, fade dark circles and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Microcurrent technology is another of my favorites – you see results fast and it is definitely a good choice for the money!
Microcurrent technology works to stimulate facial muscles and stimulate soft, soft waves through the skin and tissues.
The result? A toned and lifting look on the skin.
If you want to buy a microstream product, I love it NuFACE Trinity.
The Trinity is probably one of the most effective skin care products out there, you will not feel that you have wasted money with this one!
The Trinity works to mimic a facelift, using the micro-current technique to lift and tighten the skin.
It is recommended that you use it approximately three times a week.
If you are looking for an anti-aging wrinkle solution, I would definitely recommend it.
Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston and Miranda Kerr are all fans.
I also highly recommend REFa CARAT FACE.
It really feels like you're getting a facial at home! The design replicates the deep "grip and glide" kneading sensation that an aesthetist can include as part of a professional treatment.
Bonus: It is waterproof and can be used in the waist, forearms, inner thighs, neck and chest as well.
Surprisingly, the sonic technique is what is used in the Clarisonic products (and in its competitors' products).
As I mentioned earlier, the sonic technique was actually designed by the inventor of sonic toothbrush.
As your favorite sonic toothbrush, sonic facial cleansing brushes use oscillatory movements at a sonic speed to deeply clean the skin.
The fast moving brushes (Clarisonics have a frequency of over 300 movements per second) can help you clear the skin from debris and dirt, plus provide deep peeling.
If you are looking for a more serious exfoliation in your routine, I definitely recommend the classic Clarisonic.
Just make sure you don't go overboard.
Just like regular exfoliation, it is better in moderation – especially when you have a powerful exfoliator tool.
A sonic product that I would advise against? Dermaflash 2.0 LUXE face exfoliator.
There are safer and cheaper ways to get rid of fresh fuzz on your face, and for exfoliating, the classic Clarisonic knows best.
I LOVE too Foreo Luna Mini 2. The T-Sonic pulsation removes dirt, oil, makeup residues and dead skin cells for super clean skin.
It comes with eight adjustable intensities and the brush is made of silicone, so you do not have to worry about irritation.
Woods lamp sounds like something from a fairy tale, but it is also known as an ultraviolet light sample or a blacklight test.
As the name "blacklight test" suggests, it is used to examine the skin and detect bacteria or skin color changes.
The test is generally done by an aesthetist in a dark room, where they hold the lamp about 4-5 inches from the face while studying your skin.
After analyzing your skin, the aesthetists can make recommendations on products and services that your skin may require.
Doctors can also use Woods lamp to diagnose bacterial and fungal infections such as Ringworm (also known as tinea).
You can buy your own lamp at home, but you have to learn how to read the results yourself!
A more modern (and intuitive) update to the Woods lamp is mobile apps that help you diagnose your skin and keep track of how it reacts to certain things.
While some are more focused on acne (like Pimmento), skin Vision is an app that is about helping people discover skin cancer.
It's amazing what technology can do for us, right?
Massage or Vibration
A facial massage sounds good, but what can it really do for your skin?
Well, that's where massage and vibration tools come in.
These devices usually help to treat puffiness and to help your products penetrate your skin deeper.
Like sound tools, vibrating face devices can also help loosen debris from your pores with their fast vibrating movements.
If I had to recommend a massage or vibration product, I would say go to Forever Iris Illuminating Eye Massager to reduce puffiness, bags and wrinkles around the eye area for a more youthful appearance.
Spin or Rotate
You may have seen rotating or spinning makeup brushes on Instagram.
Spinning / rotating technology is usually used in brushes that rotate or rotate a certain number of times per second clockwise or counterclockwise.
The brushes generally have several speeds and are rechargeable or battery powered.
These brushes can help give your leap deeper clean their desire.
They can also help the products penetrate deeper – whether it is a serum or a toned moisturizer.
Cryotherapy and thermotherapy (cold and hot settings)
You may have tried cryotherapy in a salon (brr!), But there are also home tools that are made to mimic the results you get from freezing or warming your skin.
Most home care tools will have both nice and hot settings.
The cool setting is useful for shrinking your pores, reducing redness / puffiness and tightening skin appearance.
On the other hand, the warm position can help open your pores to help the products penetrate deeper.
As an added bonus, the heat on your face is also super relaxing!
Wooh! We have just gone through many different types of technology.
You may be wondering which technology is best for you and your skin, but I'll give you a little secret: the best tools are, in my humble opinion, those that combine multiple technologies together.
I think the tools that combine several techniques are generally in the sweet spot – priced relatively inexpensively and with noticeable results on your skin.
A good example of a versatile product that gives you big money for your money is Alana Mitchell Eye & Lip Device – It uses vibrating technology and thermotherapy for the sensitive eye area.
If you are on a faster budget, a product with just one technology can be cheaper.
Maybe you are interested in a massage product or a spindle brush?
These products will typically be cheaper, but beware of markings.
You should definitely not pay $ 200 + for a spider brush without any other features.
I suggest you spend about $ 50 on a spider brush.
Not only is it a great starting product in the skin care sector, but it will definitely help to clean your face better than just using your hands or a washcloth.
Are skin care products approved by the FDA?
When you think about what to put on your face, chances are you would like to know if something is approved by the FDA.
Unfortunately, if you have read my blog before, you may know that the FDA does not regulate the beauty industry much because it is difficult to prove that the products work in the beauty industry.
This is why you must be extra diligent when doing research on what you add to your routine.
Some skin care products are FDA-cleared, but not FDA-approved, as Tria hair removal laser.
Here are definitions of "cleared medical devices" and "approved medical devices" from The FDA website:
Cleared medical equipment: These medical devices are those which the FDA has decided to be substantially equivalent to (similar) to another legally marketed entity. A pre-notification notification is called 510 (k) and must be sent to the FDA to review and provide approval.
Approved medical devices: Approved medical devices are the devices approved by the FDA for a PMA (PMA) approval or a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) program. This review and approval process is for Class III medical devices (those with the highest risk) and involves a more thorough examination than the 510 (k) review process.
Essentially, since most skin care products are not considered "high risk" by the FDA, they are not adequately regulated to be officially approved.
Clearing means that the FDA has decided that the unit is equally large for other products on the market and they are not aware of any inherent dangers or reasons for not allowing the product to be on the market.
Bored of FDA jargon yet? Me too.
To summarize, The FDA does not spend much time regulating the beauty industry, and it applies to products and devices.
The lack of FDA approval on devices is not because the units are not sufficiently secure. It is that the FDA has "bigger fish to fry" and does not feel the need to test each skin care unit out.
Just as you would with other beauty products, you should always do research before using a new device.
Should you use skin care products?
Personally, I think there are two categories of people who should consider buying a skin care unit: those who are already going to the dermatologist / salon for skin care products and those who have skin care problems that their current routine does not alleviate.
For example, if you get face lift half-time regularly, you might want to buy one NuFACE to use at home (and save some $$$).
Or, if you get monthly facial treatments to help you detoxify your skin, you might want to have an alternative at home (like a Clarisonic) instead.
As for the latter statement, if you struggle with wrinkles and look to take the next, more serious step towards anti-aging, a skin care can be right for you.
As with all purchases, you should definitely be concerned with getting the best possible price and checking all product reviews to see which other users would say about the product.
If you want a clue, Tria is one that I have always known to give good results with their products – and their products are relatively affordable to start!
Other brands, such as Clarisonic, have patented parts of their technology.
However, most of the technology that we highlight in this article is not patented and it is therefore easy for brands to make competitor products that are not so different from each other, which means that you as a consumer can find a better deal.
The technology has taken the beauty world by storm – but the electrically driven rain does not wash off the skincare staples.
While rotating exfoliating brushes and heat-exchanging acne tools can be your skincare routine need – you should not use a device that replaces your reliable moisturizer, cleanser and toner.
Personally, I think the skin care units that give you the best for your money are the ones that can complement your usual routine (and those with multiple techniques that I mentioned earlier).
For example, a vibrating eye device that you can use with your eye cream or a face brush that you can use with your favorite cleanser.
In the end, you will probably never "need" a skin care unit to improve your routine, but you may be interested in one because of its time / money value – or maybe just because you think a vibrant facial massage is fun!
And to be honest, they are fun – just like skin care and beauty should be!
Do you have a favorite skin care device? Why do you love it? I would love to hear about your skin care experience in the comments below!