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Microcurrent Therapy Devices: Yay or Nay?

A woman sitting cross legged in front of a colorful background, using a microcurrent device

So apparently this is a thing now; we're all low-key electrocuting our faces in a desperate bid to stave off resting bitch face for one more year. For me personally, there's a constant battle between side A of my brain that tells me that ageing is not a medical condition to be aggressively treated and side B of my brain that looks in the mirror and says, "wait...what!? What is that skin doing down there!? This is not where my jawline is supposed to be."

For the most part I make sure that Side A wins the battle, but every now and again, I let side B win a round or two and I delve into the wild world of sleek and craftily-marketed beauty devices.

Microcurrent devices are popular, and back in August on my last visit to the states, I used my 51st birthday as the perfect excuse to purchase this refurbished NuFace mini micro current device from Nordstrom's website. I hasten to add that neither Nordstrom nor NuFace is sponsoring this post, but you will find some affiliate links in this post should you decide to click through. Hey...the economy is lying in a smouldering heap and your girl's still gotta eat.

Hop right to it:


The Skinny on Microcurrent Devices

Microcurrent devices work by delivering a low-level electrical current to the muscles of the face. It sounds scary, perhaps even ill-advised, but it's actually pretty innocuous when you're doing it. But we'll get to that in a minute. The promised end result is a relatively non-invasive tightening of the muscles under the skin, providing a tighter, more sculpted face while also reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. While there is not yet a lot of longitudinal data to back up the efficacy of microcurrent facial devices, They are tested, regulated, and considered relatively safe.

I chose the NuFace mini device because it's a good size, it was reasonably priced (remember mine is refurbished), and most importantly because it's an FDA-approved medical grade device. Because let's be real, the thought of delivering electrical impulses directly to one's face should absolutely give one pause. I figured if I was going to try this, perhaps I would get a good one and refrain from getting one off of Ali Baba or Wish or some other cut rate site that for all we know, might trade in counterfeit devices that have a leaky, glowing uranium core.

Photo of the back and front of the Nuface microcurrent device, along with a tube of the condictivity gel

How I Use My NuFace Mini Microcurrent Therapy Device

While I thought I would initially make this a video post, I realized pretty quickly that watching someone use a microcurrent device is the entertainment equivalent of watching paint dry. Nevertheless, if you want to see the NuFace micro current device range in action (with better production value than I would ever be able to spring for), I suggest visiting the NuFace YouTube channel, where you can watch the various techniques for recommended use. I generally use the above technique every time, with a few more of their "advanced" moves thrown in if I have time to spare.

Prepping the skin

One thing that is definitely worth mentioning here is the importance of prepping your skin before using the device. Oil interferes with the conduction of the electrical impulse generated by your device, interrupting its journey to the muscles beneath the skin. Because the skin is naturally a protective barrier and has its own supply of oil, just plopping your microcurrent device onto your skin and turning it on will will not yield the results you want. It may also be pretty uncomfortable.

With any microcurrent treatment, you want to wash your face with an oil free cleanser first; preferably one that has a clarifying quality to it in order to remove as much oil from your skin as possible. After that, you will apply a conductivity gel. While most microcurrent device manufacturers will try and sell you their own brand of conductivity gel, this is not a necessity, and in fact can often be quite expensive. Gels made by device manufacturers often have some nice skincare ingredients in them and come with a claim that they can be left on after the treatment. That said, I often find that these gels, when used in the amount you need to get good conductivity, do not do well under other products or under makeup. I have found that even if they are designed to be left on the skin after the treatment, they often peel off, taking with them whatever else you may have put on top.

That said, if I am using my device right before bed, I do tend to opt for a leave-on skincare conductivity gel, then just add some moisturiser over it before calling it a night. For this I use the NuFace gel for its skincare properties. However, if I am going to be going out and about and do my treatment earlier in the day, I opt for simple clear ultrasound gel, which can be easily rinsed off afterwards. Ultrasound gel tends to be slightly thicker so not only do you get a more even application (and a more comfortable treatment) you can get away with using less product, making it definitively the most cost effective option.

Whatever you decide, the most important feature to look for in a conductivity gel is that it is water based and contains no oil based additives of any kind. Below are some of the options that are out there.

Does Microcurrent Therapy Hurt?

Everyone is different, so while I can't answer that definitively for everyone, the short answer is no. If I prep my skin correctly and use enough conductive gel, I don't really feel it at all, even on the highest setting (which is all I really use). Sometimes I feel a bit of a "biting" sting at the edges of my face, on thinner-skinned areas, or if I wander into my hairline a bit too far with my device, but it really doesn't bother me. Some people claim to feel a slight twitching under the skin. I feel this over certain areas of my face, but generally it feels like I'm rolling a cool metal ball over my face (because I am). If you follow the instructions, use the correct products and pay attention to the sensations you are experiencing, you will be absolutely fine. I believe in you.

Does Microcurrent Therapy Actually Work?

Everything written on microcurrent therapy points to it working best when done on a regular basis. I began using my device in September, had about 10 days off while I was travelling, and have missed chunks of several days here and there. I can attest to the fact that you do need to use it on the regular to get the best results. Sometimes when you're really tired at the end of the day it can be pretty easy to tell yourself you'll just do it tomorrow. Or just not do it at all.

That said, after the first few sessions, I definitely noticed a difference in my skin. If felt tighter, had more of a glow to it, and looked subtly more defined. I did not get the dramatic results that you see in some of the adverts, but I definitely do see a benefit. So to answer the question at hand...yes. Yes, microcurrent treatments do work, but be prepared for the results to be subtle. Although admittedly, when I finally did put these photos together in one place, to my delight the results were better than I had initially thought. Imagine what I could do if I actually remembered to do it every day.

And now for the unadorned, terrifying test subject mug shot photos; no makeup, insta-filters, botox or fillers. To be clear I have done some light botox in the past, but it's been over a year now. Both of these sets of photos were taken immediately after using my NuFace mini device. Please excuse the terrible lighting in the more recent photos; the week one photo was taken in Florida, and week six is in Scotland. It starts getting dark at 3:30 in the afternoon these days in Scotland. Don't get me started.

My Results with My Nuface Mini Microcurrent Therapy Device

week one

A woman's before photo at the beginning of her microcurrent journey, taken from three different angles

week six(ish)

A womans six week progress photo after regular use of her microcurrent device, taken from three angles. There is a noticeable lift in her jawline and cheekbones

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