Electrodermal Stimulation: The Science of Microcurrent Therapy and its Effects on facial muscles

Electrodermal Stimulation: The Science of Microcurrent Therapy and its Effects on facial muscles


For centuries, societies all around the world have emphasized beauty and youthfulness, albeit each in its own way. However, the aspiration for radiant skin has proved to be a catalyst for the success of the skincare industry. One only has to pick up some form of media to see that the ideal beauty standard is youthful-looking skin that is firm and clear. However, in real life people get acne, their skin sags as they grow older, and the skin loses its luster. This creates an unconscious societal pressure on people from all demographics and age groups to seek treatments and products to help them achieve that perfect skin.

Another factor is the accessibility of information and technology which empowers individuals to seek treatments suited to their needs and wants. Social media influencers also play a vital role in this through their information on treatment options, product reviews, and skincare tips. Moreover, healthy skin has always been synonymous with high energy levels and a positive outlook on life, which further leads to people seeking beauty treatments as they want to project a sense of well-being and confidence. Moreover, skincare has enabled people to relax and prioritize their physical and psychological well-being at the same time.

This growing demand for cosmetic products has led to the skincare industry witnessing and admiring a surge in the array of choices available to the public: serums, creams, facials, and different procedures, the industry caters to each individual's needs and preferences as they seek radiant skin. One such treatment is electrodermal stimulation. As the name suggests, the treatment involves the use of electric currents to stimulate the skin to produce desired effects. These currents are so weak that they are barely felt, thus the term “microcurrents” is better suited to describe them. The non-invasive, effective method has gained significant acclaim and attention due to its sought-after effects: improving skin tone and texture, stimulating facial muscles, and promoting overall skin rejuvenation. Of all the methods to carry out electrodermal stimulation, the most common and effective method is the use of microcurrent therapy.

This technique may cause a slight sense of alarm when first mentioned to people, however, it is highly a popular method of promoting skin rejuvenation due to its natural approach. Instead of needing incisions or requiring the application of harmful chemicals to the skin, this technique uses the body’s natural bioelectricity. It stimulates facial muscles by mimicking the body’s electrical signals and works harmoniously with the body’s natural processes: promoting blood circulation, aiding in lymphatic drainage, and enhancing collagen and elastin synthesis. This allows subtle and gradual improvements which culminate in a more refreshed appearance. However, it is crucial to understand electrodermal stimulation and its workings in detail.

Understanding electrodermal stimulation:

Electrodermal stimulation, which is also known as microcurrent therapy or non-surgical facial toning, is a technique that uses weak electric currents to promote muscle toning and hence aids in skin rejuvenation. The procedure is performed using a special hand-held device that can generate a range of currents and move around the face, enabling it to target different areas with different voltages of the current as needed.

When the currents are applied, they cause muscles to contract and relax in a regular rhythm. These repetitive contractions and relaxations cause a phenomenon known as “muscle regulation”. This just means that the muscles are re-educated to regain their former tone and strength. By stimulating the muscles this way, the procedure leads to the lifting of sagging skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improving facial contours. Some other advantages of electrodermal stimulation that will be elaborated on later include improved lymphatic drainage, enhanced blood circulation, and boosted collagen and elastin synthesis.

A crucial aspect of electrodermal stimulation is the mimicking of the body’s bioelectricity. Our body is a constantly working machine that is kept running smoothly by numerous physiological processes (e.g. cellular activity and muscle contractions), which are controlled by the electrical signals our body produces itself. Electrodermal stimulation harnesses this innate electricity and replicates it by delivering weak electrical currents to the body. These currents, within range of the body’s natural electrical signals, are designed to be comfortable and well-tolerable for users. Moreover, mimicking the bioelectricity also ensures that the currents are recognized and processed by the physiological systems in the body. The tissues and systems in the body have evolved to respond to specific electrical impulses in specific ways, therefore microcurrent therapy can effectively engage the natural processes and work harmoniously to create the desired results.

Now we are aware of the mechanism of electrodermal stimulation and the need to tone and re-educate the facial muscles. However, the purpose of facial muscles and how it intertwines with facial contouring and sagginess still requires elaboration.

Facial Muscles: The Science Behind Them

Our leg muscles carry us to places, our arm muscles allow us to move our arms and carry our things, our neck muscles let us move our head to look at the world around us, and the face muscles? The facial muscles have a crucial role in our everyday interactions: they let us express emotion, and convey messages and they support the structure of our face. The face consists of approximately 43 individual muscles, which form a complex network crucial to allowing us to exhibit a wide range of facial expressions and movements. Each of the muscles in the skin is connected to the other muscles and the skin layer itself through a network of tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. This is what enables our face to portray such a wide range of emotions through simple contractions.

The facial muscles are broadly divided into two categories: superficial muscles, which lie just beneath the skin surface and are the muscles responsible for facial expressions, and deep muscles, which provide support and structure to the face.

The superficial muscles are what give us the ability to convey our emotions, from happiness to sadness and from disgust to envy. Key superficial muscles include:

  • Orbicularis oculi: these encircle the eyes and control our blinking and squinting.
  • Frontalis: This raises the eyebrows and creates forehead wrinkles.
  • Zygomaticus major and minor: these are responsible for smiling.
  • Orbicularis oris: This encircles the mouth and is responsible for our ability to speak, pout and smile. This may be classified as a deep muscle too.
  • Buccinator: This muscle, located in the cheek area, helps in chewing and blowing, and is also important for maintaining the shape of the cheeks.

On the other hand, our deep muscles are less important for facial expression but are significant in maintaining overall facial aesthetics. Some of these are:

  • Masseter, temporalis, and medial pterygoid: all three are involved in jaw movement and chewing.
  • Platysma: this extends from the neck to the lower face and helps in facial expressions and jaw movement.

The condition and tone of these muscles greatly affect facial appearance. While they can be delayed, the effects of factors such as stress, repetitive facial movements, gravity, and environmental damage cannot be put off forever, and eventually, they lead to muscle atrophy, loss of elasticity in the skin, and weakened muscle tone. All these effects combine to cause wrinkles, sagging skin, and the subsequent appearance of a tired, less vibrant face.

This dynamic nature of facial muscles is also a blessing in disguise, as it enables targeted interventions to improve the skin. Electrodermal stimulation delivers faint electrical impulses that are within range of the body’s electrical impulses, and this can aid the facial muscles to contract and relax rhythmically, which leads to what has been described as “muscle re-education”. By toning the underlying muscles, the therapy lays the foundation for firmer, healthier skin. As the muscles regain their former strength, facial structure is improved. Additionally, the option of targeting specific regions on the face also aids in the correction of asymmetry: the precise adjustments to skin tone with the therapy results in an improvement in facial harmony.

Now we will focus on the benefits of electrodermal stimulation; as an alternative to invasive aesthetic procedures, as a booster of facial rejuvenation, and as a way of augmenting skin hydration and tone.

 Benefits of Electrodermal Stimulation:

Electrodermal stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that has revolutionized the skincare industry. Unlike other treatments, this procedure has many benefits that make it a suitable choice for a variety of users.

  • Gentle on the skin:

Many users are reluctant to opt for aesthetic treatments as they use harsh chemicals to prepare and enhance the skin, or because the processes require surgery. However, electrodermal is a one-of-a-kind procedure in the skincare industry as it is extremely gentle on the skin. This makes it a go-to choice for many users.

  • Noninvasive procedure:

The risk of infections during or post-procedure is a key concern for many people who opt for skin care procedures. However, one of the most appealing aspects of electrodermal stimulation is the safety it offers. Surgery of all kinds, no matter how small, comes with a list of possible risks. These include scarring, anesthesia-related risks, and unfavorable outcomes. Electrodermal procedures have no such risks which makes them a highly attractive option for users.

  • Minimal downtime:

As the procedure does not require any type of surgery or incisions, it is the perfect choice for users who desire to incorporate an effective skin treatment into their schedules without having to spend time waiting for their skin to heal.

  • Reducing sagginess:

Many natural factors that affect facial muscles, such as loss of muscle tone, breakdown of collagen and elastin, and gravitational effects, are factors which the skin cannot be completely shielded against. Therefore, everyone has to confront the issue of sagging skin sooner or later.

Electrodermal stimulation aids in reducing sagginess by toning facial muscles, which has already been discussed above. Moreover, it also enhances blood circulation to the skin. This is particularly helpful as the increased blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen to skin cells, therefore optimizing cellular activity and rejuvenation. This leads to improved skin vitality and health, which contributes to a healthy complexion.

  • Synthesis of collagen and elastin:

The synthesis of two of the most vital structural proteins, collagen, and elastin, is also boosted as a result of the enhanced blood flow, amplifying skin firmness as a result.

  • Lymphatic drainage:

Lymphatic drainage is the process that enables the body to cleanse itself of the toxins and waste generated by cellular processes. The accumulation of lymphatic fluid and waste products is a lesser-known culprit in acne breakouts, facial puffiness, and dull complexion. The application of microcurrents to the skin facilitates lymphatic fluid movement and thus contributes to a clearer complexion and a more sculpted appearance.

  • Increased absorption of skincare products

The application of electrical currents creates temporary openings in the skin barrier, which allows the skin to absorb any creams, serums, or moisturizers to penetrate the skin easily. This maximizes their effect and thus results in more hydrated and nourished skin.

  • Subtle and gradual improvement:

The effects of surgical interventions are instant and might be viewed as drastic and sudden. However, the effects of electrodermal stimulation are gradual and culminate over time to result in a more natural outcome, which acts as a subtle way of improving the skin.

  • Complementing other procedures:

Those with an array of skin problems might be advised to use electrodermal stimulation along with other processes such as chemical peels. This is extremely safe and enhances the effects of both treatments even further, helping create a personalized plan that can be tailored to suit individual needs. Electrodermal stimulation is a flexible treatment that can be integrated with other procedures to provide users with a range of potential options to receive their desired results.

All the above-mentioned advantages make microcurrent therapy an ideal option for those seeking aesthetic treatments. However, this efficiency is not only user-backed but it is also supported by clinical studies and research.

Effectiveness of Electrodermal Stimulation:

This section will deal with research and clinical studies that have made scientists confident in approving the use of electrodermal stimulation.

  • Journal of Drugs in Dermatology:

To examine the effects of electrodermal stimulation on muscle toning, a clinical study gathered 20 female participants. After a series of microcurrent treatments, the participants reported significant improvement in muscle tone, along with a more lifted appearance. Therefore, the researchers concluded that the treatment can effectively re-educate the muscles and lead to visible improvement in muscle tones.

  • Aesthetic Surgery Journal

This study evaluated the impact of microcurrent therapy on skin laxity and facial aging. The 93 participants of the study received electrodermal stimulation treatments over a period of 12 weeks, after which they assessed a variety of parameters, including wrinkle severity, skin elasticity, and overall facial appearance. Visible improvement in skin appearance led to the study concluding satisfactory results.

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

This study, designed to investigate the influence of electrodermal stimulation on collagen production in a group of 40 participants, measured collagen levels in the skin before and after the treatment. Results showed a significant increase in collagen synthesis and concluded that microcurrent treatments improve skin elasticity and firmness.

  • Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery

This study carried out microcurrent therapy on a group of 25 participants to measure its impact on elastin synthesis, measuring elastin levels before and after the procedure. It too, concluded with a positive result: microcurrents boost elastin levels which improves skin rigidity.

  • Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy

A study published in this journal highlights the impact of microcurrent therapy on improving blood flow. A group of 30 participants were given a series of microcurrent treatments and their skin blood flow before and after the procedure was measured. The result showed that microcirculation is boosted as a result of electrodermal stimulation and this leads to optimized cell rejuvenation.

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology published a clinical study on the synergistic effects of microcurrent therapy and facial massage in a group of 50 participants. The participants received a 6-week treatment of microcurrent therapy and facial massages, at the end of which there were significant improvements in skin hydration, firmness, and overall appearance.

All these clinical studies have successfully shown microcurrent therapy to be a new trailblazing treatment that can potentially revolutionize the industry. Like everything else, however, there are safety measures that need to be considered with it.

Safe Usage and Precautions: 

When it comes to microcurrent therapy, safety is of utmost importance. While generally safe, the technique involves handling electricity within a particular range that requires proper knowledge and expertise to ensure user safety.

The procedure requires a thorough assessment of the individual’s skin concerns, conditions, and medical history. This identifies any specific precautions that need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, skincare professionals can determine the specific intensity, frequency, and duration of the treatment based on individual factors whereas they are also knowledgeable about the placements of the electrode rods used for the treatment. They can also adjust the treatment parameters according to the user's comfort level if needed. All these factors show that it is better to receive treatment from skincare professionals instead of opting to do it yourself with home-use devices.

The following are some of the safety considerations and precautions:

  • Contraindications: Some users may have specific conditions that make it risky or unadvised to receive microcurrent therapy. These include:
    • Pregnancy
    • Pacemakers or implanted medical devices
    • Open wounds or infections
    • Active skin conditions such as eczema
  • Sensitivity and discomfort: Users with heightened skin sensitivity or mild skin allergies might suffer from discomfort. It is crucial to communicate any adverse reaction to the skincare provider to ensure appropriate adjustments are made to the treatment plan.
  • Eye protection: One must never perform electrodermal stimulation in the region around the eyes or close to the eyes. Moreover, one should wear eye protection such as goggles to prevent accidental exposure to electrical currents.
  • Hygiene and cleanliness: The skincare provider should adhere to strict hygiene protocols. This includes:
    • Sanitizing the equipment
    • Cleaning the rods
    • Ensuring a safe and clean environment for the clients

 There are a number of at-home anti-aging skin devices available in the market. The EvenSkyn Lumo is one of the best anti-aging device available. It is a premium anti-aging and skin-tightening device that provides professional quality skin toning and lifting microcurrent in the form of electrical stimulation. The Lumo device has a 4th mode that uses Electrical Muscle Stimulation to provide the user with a "microcurrent facial", which helps to tighten up the skin by firming and stimulating the muscles of the face and neck. It is is loaded with cutting-edge technologies to provide users with a professional quality experience at home. Lumo device has also been approved by FDA. However, it is always recommended to consult a dermatologist before using any such device.

All in all, electrodermal stimulation is a revolutionary technique with numerous benefits for the skin. Not only does it satisfy the increasing demand for noninvasive aesthetic treatments but it is also a promising prospect for individuals looking to enhance and rejuvenate their skin.


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