The industry of at-home beauty devices has been significantly expanding in recent years, starting from $36.74 billion in 2018 to an estimated growth at a CAGR of 18.8% during the forecast period from 2019 -2027, according to a 2020 report published by Business Wire. Although many consumers are aware of the fact that these handy at-home tools are probably not as efficient as the sophisticated machines used in clinics, they still seek these devices for their safety, relatively low price tag, and most importantly, efficiency. “All at-home kits and devices are required by law to be less effective and abrasive than anything carried out in a doctor’s clinic for safety reasons, so none of them will ever be as safe or as effective as an in-clinic treatment carried out by a trained therapist,” explains Dr. Imaan Joshi BSc, MBBS, FRACGP. The market of skincare at-home devices has been also recently expanding due to the increased demand for cutting-edge skincare devices, with the industry being estimated to advance at a compound annual growth rate of 26.1% from 2022 to 2030. In this guide, we will give you a brief view of the three industry-leading, non-invasive skincare producers ( LED (light-emitting diode) light, radiofrequency (RF), and microcurrent treatments), as well as the best strategies you can employ to ensure you get the maximum benefits of your at-home sessions.
LED Light Therapy: Boosting Collagen Production with NASA’s Wavelengths of Light
LED (light-emitting diode) light therapy is one of the most effective non-invasive, generally safe cosmetic procedures that has been shown to improve visible signs of aging (e.g., fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin) and other skin concerns caused by bacterial growth (e.g., redness, inflammation, and acne). This revolutionary NASA-developed technology makes use of the visible light spectrum that encompasses all colors, going anywhere from blue to red lights, which resembles the two ends and then the infrared light thereafter. The benefits gained from the treatment depend on the wavelength and how deeply it penetrates into the skin. For example, for those seeking to stimulate collagen production and reverse common signs of aging. red light therapy would be the optimal choice. On the other hand, blue light therapy is the best option for reducing skin inflammation and treating mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne. If you are using LED face masks or other LED light therapy tools at home, you will be able to see faster and more noticeable results of your sessions by following a proper routine, as shown below:
Cleanse Your Face
LED light therapy will not work as intended if the face has oils, dirt, makeup residue, and other products that can interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment. Sunscreens, which are supposed to block harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) lights, can especially block LED lights from penetrating the skin. It is thus crucial to thoroughly cleanse the face just before directing the LED light device to the skin.
Apply Topical Retinol (Red Light Therapy)
Retinol, an over-the-counter form of vitamin A, is one of the best ingredients to apply in the preparation of red light therapy. “These treatments [red light therapy] do offer modest improvement, especially when combined with anti-aging creams that include retinol,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D, the director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology. Once you wash your face with a gentle cleanser, pat your skin completely dry and apply the topical retinol, then wait for a few minutes to allow the product to fully absorb before starting the session.
Apply Topical Vitamin C (Red Light Therapy)
Vitamin C is another ingredient that you may want to include in your preparation for red light therapy, as according to a few clinical studies, applying vitamin C on the face and neck in a consistent manner can help reduce the appearance of fine and coarse wrinkles and improve the overall feel and appearance of the skin. You can combine vitamin C and retinol for even more maximized anti-aging results. “There's no problem with using both retinol and vitamin C as part of your skincare routine,” says Azadeh Shirazi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and host of the podcast More Than a Pretty Face. Shirazi highly encourages using this combo for those seeking to “age gracefully,” referring to them as a "power couple."
Add Green Tea To Your Skincare Routine (Red Light Therapy)
As traditional and unusual as it might seem, scientific evidence of green tea boosting the anti-aging benefits of red light therapy does exist. A 2009 study found that combining green tea-filled cotton pads with red light therapy resulted in reduced wrinkle levels and rejuvenated skin. Interestingly enough, placing green tea-filled cotton pads one time a day for twenty minutes on the skin before undergoing the treatment significantly accelerated the therapy’s results, with the previously realized results in ten months of light treatment being realized in only one month.
Apply Products Containing BHAs (Blue Light Therapy)
When using blue LED light at-home devices, it is best to opt for creams containing beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to enhance the effectiveness of the acne phototherapy treatment. salicylic acid and its derivatives are the most common forms of BHAs found in skincare products and can help reduce redness, acne, whiteheads, and blackheads by exfoliating the skin. You can also wash your skin with a salicylic acid cleanser before applying the cream to further maximize the benefits of blue light therapy for reducing inflammation and fighting acne.
Radio Frequency (RF) Skin Tightening: Heating the Face To Reverse Signs of Ageing
Radiofrequency (RF) skin tightening is a painless, non-invasive cosmetic procedure that involves using electromagnetic waves to heat the skin, resulting in increased collagen and elastin production, as well as improvement of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “Radiofrequency is a low-energy form of radiation and the way it works to improve wrinkles, fine lines, and skin sagging is basically heating the deeper layers of the skin to trigger fibroblasts that make collagen, leading to skin-firming and skin-smoothing effect,” says Dr. Andrea Suarez, a board-certified dermatologist and skincare expert based in Houston, Texas. “It has been shown to have a slimming effect and actually trigger fat loss, so around the jaw area, using radiofrequency treatment can help in facial contouring. It is really a satisfying procedure to have done for many people because you almost immediately appreciate about a 10% improvement, and you continue to gain improvement roughly 3 to 6 months after the treatment.” Suarez says that compared to professionally done radiofrequency treatments, at-home RF devices are a more cost-effective and safe option for those who do not want to get the procedure done for “$1,000-$4,000,” depending on the area. In fact, one randomized controlled trial showed “decent” improvement in forehead wrinkles with an at-home radiofrequency device. Another study showed improvement in skin elasticity and skin wrinkling. There are two simple main steps you can follow to get the best results from your RF at-home sessions, as seen below:
Have A Freshly Washed Face
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser prior to the treatment to get rid of any oils, dirt, and makeup that may hinder the efficiency of the session. It is also important not to use too much pressure or vigorously rub the skin while cleansing the face after the session while making sure to wash with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water.
Apply A Conductive Radiofrequency Gel
Applying a special radiofrequency conductive gel before using the RF device will ensure you gain the maximum benefit from the session. An RF conductive gel is basically a gel specifically made to increase the response and clarity of the treatment probes when coming into contact with the treated area. In other words, it serves as a medium for RF waves and facilitates their penetration to both the upper and deeper layers of the skin. Another benefit of radiofrequency gels is that they can have a chilling and lubricating effect on the skin that keeps it protected during the treatment and thus gives a more comfortable RF session and seamless outcomes.
- Important: The RF conductive gel needs to be water-based instead of oil-based to yield the intended results because water is what conducts the radiofrequency current and delivers it into the deeper layers of the skin.
Microcurrent Therapy: Working Out Rarely-Used Facial Muscles
The origins of microcurrent treatment trace back to the early 1900s when it was not particularly a topic of interest for aestheticians, and now, the technology has developed into a safe and effective cosmetic procedure that ‘trains’ or stimulates facial muscles through the application of low-grade electrical currents to the skin, giving a more toned and sculpted appearance. To ensure you get the most out of your at-home microcurrent sessions and see quicker face-lifting results, you will need to stick to a certain routine that helps microcurrent reach and stimulate the targeted facial muscles. Below is a simple three-step routine to maximize the benefits of the treatment:
Wash Your Face
Since microcurrent essentially works through water, having oils on the skin can hinder microcurrent from reaching the facial muscles as intended, thus reducing the efficiency of the at-home microcurrent device. This makes cleansing the face prior to the microcurrent session a crucial step to benefit from the treatment as oils on the skin can significantly reduce its effectiveness, as explained by Indiana-based licensed master esthetician Christine Byer, “Fat and oil will occlude and dampen a current.” She adds that when people receive microcurrent treatment at clinics where they have “snappy” machines, patients tend to “feel it more through the forehead because we have less of a fat pad to absorb the current. That is why you feel it more in certain areas; because there is no fat in certain areas on our faces.” you should thoroughly wash your face with a gentle cleanser right before you start your at-home session to get rid of any oils, dirt, and makeup that can not only block currents from penetrating the skin but also lead to impurities infused deeply into the face as you start using the device.
Apply A Conductive Microcurrent Gel
Applying a conductive microcurrent gel is an essential step that helps conduct electricity during the session. The gel should be free of any oils that may block the current and is preferred to contain beneficial ingredients like antioxidants and hyaluronic acid since microcurrent therapy does not just stimulate facial muscles but also pushes the ingredients applied on the face into the deeper layers of the skin.
- Pro tip: Do one area of the face at a time to avoid the conductive gel drying up and to achieve better results.
Apply Products Containing Hyaluronic Acid
Microcurrent works more effectively on a hydrated face because the technology needs the conductivity achieved through water to reach and stimulate the facial muscles. This makes it favorable to apply a water-based serum containing hydrating ingredients. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a preferred ingredient to look for in serums as it retains water in the skin by acting as a biological humectant, which makes it an excellent topical moisturizing ingredient to apply in preparation for microcurrent sessions.
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