Author: Dr Catharine Denning Category: Beauty Product Reviews, Beauty, Tools, Treatments

Dr Catharine Denning shares her views on skin care devices to use at home

Lockdown presented many problems for those who relied on in-clinic help to keep them looking healthy and groomed. Personally, my beloved hairdresser was the first person on my list to call when we were given the all-clear to resume beauty treatments. I’m lucky that because my day job consists of taking care of people’s faces, I have retained a certain degree of access to professional level in-clinic skin treatments. Put it this way, I’ve spent most of this year shedding like a snake from retinol peels, taking advantage of not being seen by anyone other than my dog and my husband (poor bloke).

On the other hand, I did miss having access to injectables and in-clinic cosmetic skin device treatments. As a result, I’ve made a huge leap into trialing as many at home alternatives as possible to help bring back my glow in lieu of being able to see my favourite aestheticians. I’m a discerning shopper at the best of times but particularly when it comes to anything that claims medical or scientific benefit so semi-expected not to be particularly impressed. Here’s what I’ve found from a medical viewpoint, I hope you find it useful.


How it works: The proposed idea behind LED therapy is that different wavelengths of visible (non UV) and near infrared light reach varying depths in the skin to target different skin concerns. Red light and near infrared LED technology was originally developed by NASA to help promote plant growth in space. It was used clinically initially in military medicine to help promote wound healing, in recent years it has become more and more popular by skin experts and patients alike for age prevention, inflammation and acne. It also gives you a rush of feelgood factor after you’ve use it as studies show it is likely that red and near infrared wavelengths may stimulate your happy hormones. There is still some work to be done around the research into cosmetic uses of LED however the existing studies are very promising for giving the skin some glow and reducing fine lines and redness.

On a budget: LightStim* (greatest LED density I can find, is handheld, so it’s good for the neck, decolletage and hands as well as face), or CurrentBody Skin LED Therapy Mask* (not as strong as Lightstim but easy to use, light weight and mobile but harder to use on non-facial areas).

Blow the budget: Dermalux Flex* (professional strength but expensive)


How it works: Radiofrequency (RF) therapy, is a nonsurgical method of tightening the skin. The procedure involves using energy waves to heat the deep, dermis, layer of the skin. RF waves heat the deep layer of the skin to between 122 and 167°F (50–75°C) causing some controlled injury and therefore stimulates fibroblasts to make collagen and elastin, tightening and plumping skin to improve fine lines and minor skin laxity.

The clinical data around this technology for cosmetic use at home is largely using small data sets and patient satisfaction as evidence which isn’t necessarily as reliable as other types of study but by no means should be discounted. There is a lot of evidence and safety around in-clinic use of RF however which is hugely reassuring even if they are using more powerful energies. It’s something that I’ve incorporated into my own home routine and have enjoyed the plumping and minor ‘lifting’ results I’ve noticed.

On a budget: NEWA


How it works: Microcurrent devices are a lesser-known entity in the doctor’s clinic however high street salons such as Facegym and various home devices have sparked a popularity in this technology as a way to lift and contour the face. It works by sending a small electrical current (10-500 microamps) into the muscles of the face to help tone them (a bit like a facial workout). There aren’t really any clinical trials associated with this type of technology for facial ageing. The logical reason as to why one might get lift and toning of the face is similar to why our muscles get bigger after we work out.

Microscopic damage to muscles (that a current might cause) leads signalling for that muscle to build more fibers to strengthen it would cause a bulk in those muscles. Running current through muscle cells supposedly also increases cellular ATP production leading to greater protein synthesis (helpful in building muscle) as well as increased water uptake which would explain any immediate swell you might get following use of microcurrent. Either way the short term results of at home microcurrent devices are popular and not to be underestimated, whether we have a scientific explanation for it or not. The longer-term effects will remain unknown until clinical data is available but if used regularly it seems microcurrent helps with lift, tone and contouring of facial muscles leaving a nice plumping aesthetic at least for a day or two.

On a budget: Foreo Bear* and NuFace Trinity*


How it works: In-clinic microneedling is hugely popular for the treatment of fine lines, facial scarring and improving skin texture and tone. It works by introducing controlled injury to the dermis to release growth factors and upregulate fibroblasts inducing collagen and elastin production. There is a fair amount of data around this technology and is well supported in the medical field to make a marked clinical and cosmetic difference in wrinkle reduction, scar minimization and pigment reduction. Would I recommend this as an at home treatment, in a word, no. For two reasons, firstly, clinical rejuvenation effects from microneedling require a needle penetration of minimum 0.5mm, use of such needle depth is not safety approved for at home use (0.15mm is the deepest dermaroller available for use at home). Secondly the in-clinic devices I would recommend using would be a pen style device (Skin Pen) rather than dermaroller style. Dermarollers are difficult even for a professional to use well without creating tracks and micro-tears in the skin. To be able to perform a dermaroller on oneself with good effect would be very difficult. These devices also should never be reused, for sanitary reasons but also, they are designed for single use only as the needles bend and blunt quickly after they’ve pierced the skin. Logistically at-home disposal is difficult too. When being disposed of legally, it should be done so in a clinical waste ‘sharps’ bin (which I doubt many people have lying around).

Budget or no budget, wait until you can get to your facialist for this.

Are any of these at home gadgets going to replace in-clinic treatments, unlikely. Unless licensing in the UK changes significantly, the strength of treatment delivered in clinic won’t legally be equivalent in a home-use device. They certainly have a place for when we can’t see our favourite skin specialist or for elongating and optimizing in clinic results, and I’ve enjoyed using some of these devices with some lovely results.

Dr Catharine Denning, Advanced Aesthetics Doctor and Medical Director at Clinic One Point Six

To see our Instagram Live videos with Dr Catharine Denning discussing beauty devices to use at home click HERE


*Affiliate link – our affiliate partnership with CurrentBody is not endorsed by Dr Catharine Denning

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