Is beauty tech worth the splurge for at-home facials? Experts weigh in on LED masks, devices based on TCM technique gua sha, and more
- The global market for beauty devices such as LED masks and cleansing tools is set to hit US$64.5 billion by 2030, one firm predicts, growing 7 per cent a year
- Insiders reveal which are worth investing in, how often you should be using your gadgets and whether they replace the in-salon experience (short answer: no)
There’s never been a better time for the (formerly) humble home facial. A plethora of beauty tech awaits you, from home LED masks (using light-emitting diodes, which work to give energy to skin cells) to skin-needling, ice globes for skin inflammation, and tools to sculpt facial contours and build muscle.
But what’s worth investing in, how often should you be using your gadgets and can they replace the in-salon experience?
The market has greatly diversified from only devices for hair removal, hair styling and teeth cleaning. According to a report by consulting organisation Precedence Research, the global beauty devices market is set to hit US$64.5 billion by 2030, growing 7 per cent a year between 2021 and 2030.
Given you can find gadgets for a brighter complexion (LED masks), lifting and toning (look for at-home microcurrent tools) or a really good clean (a pulsating disc or brush is what you’re after), it makes sense. But which ones do experts think are actually worth investing in?
“I quite like a home LED mask if it is from a reputable company with good engineering,” says Theesan.
“I like the LightStim [device] for anti-ageing and inflammation – you can use it regularly as you don’t have to cover your eyes [and] just use it on areas. Consistency is key as it isn’t as powerful as in-house treatments.”
“For other devices, I don’t mind the NuFace, which uses electrical energy to improve muscle tone and luminosity; once again, consistency is key,” Theesan continues.
“These devices can be expensive, so use them a lot. They are not going to be as powerful as in-clinic treatments but, as a maintenance device, I certainly like them.
To get results, Theesan says, you’re going to need to commit, but you should not expect miracles.
“This has to become your second hobby; you literally have to be dedicated to this yet not overdo it. Finding the right balance is very important.”
Clarisonic was one of the first to foray into the world of beauty tech with vibrating skin cleansing devices that gained a cult following.
The announcement in 2020 by L’Oreal (which bought the company in 2011) that it was closing Clarisonic was met with shock online.
The market for beauty devices has become rather full of late. Clarisonic had competition from the likes of Foreo and SkinGym, and you can hardly move for a celebrity praising their preferred beauty device, from Victoria Beckham and The Light Salon’s Opera LED Mask to Margot Robbie’s go-to Ziip microcurrent face tool.
The devices keep coming, too: Cloud Nine, better known for its hair tools, launched into beauty in April with two devices for the face and body.
The time in which you can expect to see results varies but can be as soon as one session.
“Everyone’s skin and routine is different and unique, so we wanted our ReVibe products to reflect that,” says Laura Proctor, UK group brand and marketing manager of Cloud Nine.
“Blue light therapy for acne-prone skin is gentle enough to be used daily to combat breakouts and reduce blemishes. [With] the Revibe Face and Body Sculpting Device … you can treat the skin to a massage daily to see lifting, firming and improved contour after just a few sessions.”
Cosmetic doctor Dr Naomi McCullum recently added the LED It Glow mask to her Naomi Skin skincare range to “bridge the gap between home and the clinic”.
She invested in researching wavelengths, power and the maximum number of lights required for the device to be most effective.
The lights in a LED mask need to be strong enough to see benefit, so “we designed the lights to be concentrated in the areas that need the most improvement”, McCullum says.
For her, the most frustrating misconception around LED masks is whether they “work”, and if you should use them in place of intense salon treatments.
“There are two ends of the spectrum in the misconceptions about LED. At one end, it’s frustrating to be continually asked even by those who should know, ‘Do they actually work?’ Of course they work. They are well researched and effective. The data is there.
“The other side of the spectrum is those who think that they are going to work miracles and, for example, change your skin as much as say an IPL [intense pulsed light] or an ablative laser. They are absolutely not going to do that.”
So yes, investing in reputable beauty devices is probably worth the splurge, especially if you plan on making a hobby of it. And, really, you could do worse for a hobby – at least this one comes with an afterglow.