There was a time when ‘at-home’ beauty conjured up images of an ‘80s teen movie makeover sequence. A gloopy green face mask here, a strip of wax there, plus or minus a cursory blob of toothpaste on a pimple. Serious results were for those with the time, money and inclination to place themselves under the critical eye of a dermatologist but now that’s all changing. Thanks to a raft of new launches, you don’t have to set foot in a Harley Street doctor’s office to get clinical-grade skincare. This fresh crop of souped-up skincare devices mean you can get professional-looking results at home for a fraction of the price of a repeat appointment.
From ZIIP, a handheld device that uses nanocurrents to revitalise the complexion, to Radara’s ingenious ‘microchannelling’ patches, at-home skin treatment technology is moving at a rate of knots. Of course, at-home beauty devices are nothing new. Most of us have had a dalliance with DIY hair removal (be that with an epilator or, for the truly adventurous, IPL), or maybe you had one of those old-school facial steamers. The difference now is that the results of this new breed are rivalling – and in some cases, outperforming – their in-salon counterparts.
Some of the brands making the biggest waves are smaller names, too. Take Sonulase for example: Cult Beauty just took them on after witnessing the buzz their cleansing brushes generated Stateside. Now, Clarisonic's oscillating, deep-facial cleansing brushes were BIG news a few years back – they were something of an industry disrupter and spawned countless copycats. But Sonulase has taken things a step further – not only do the motorised brushes sweep away dirt and oil from the skin, they also pack an LED punch. You can choose from the Acne-Fighting LightBrush Blue (£180), which has antibacterial blue light, or the Age-Defying LightBrush (£180), which uses rejuvenating, anti-ageing red light. Over time, in addition to superior cleansing, they’ll help tackle acne and fine lines respectively. Fusing a deep clean with an LED hit? That’s a hand-held facial right there.
Then there’s the technology that's positively space-age. Nanocurrents might sound like something from the Starship Voyager but actually, these tiny electrical currents offer powerful skin rejuvenation. Nanocurrents can stimulate lymphatic drainage (your body’s natural detoxification process), increase circulation, heal damaged skin tissue and boost collagen and elastin production – both of which massively drop off with age. "At a cellular level, nanocurrents stimulate the cell to create a large amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), known as the 'energy of life'. ATP stimulates a number of processes including muscle contraction and collagen and elastin synthesis," explained Rabbia Aslam, Clinical Director at HC MedSpa. "It also means your skin will be more receptive to any serums applied afterwards. You’ll see a significant impact after just one treatment, and the results will get cumulatively better."
ZIIP has harnessed the power of nanocurrents in its incredibly stylish handheld device. Using a special iPhone app, you programme the ZIIP either to combat acne bacteria, refresh tired skin or tackle dark circles – and yes, there are options for sensitive skin. Need a hydration hit? Try Radara. They’ve managed to do something pretty unique here, in that they’ve got the technology ready to use at home at breakneck speed: lots of clinics are only just beginning to get to grips with the practice themselves. Essentially, microchannelling works by creating countless tiny holes – smaller than a pinprick – in the skin, totally painlessly. The Radara patches create these channels, then flood the skin – and in turn, deeper layers of the epidermis – with a surge of hydrating hyaluronic acid. The result? The potency of the HA serum is almost doubled, and skin is left plumper, softer and with greater elasticity. The under-eyes patches have an instant effect, making them perfect for countering the effects of one late night too many, but results will also improve with cumulative use. Just want smoother skin, fast? Neo Elegance, who supply professional equipment to top facialists all over the country, is launching a High Tech Exfoliator that allows you to perform at-home microdermabrasion with tiny microcrystalline particles.
Then, Samsung (who you might normally associate with TVs and smartphones) has two very advanced offerings coming into the mix this year. Presented at The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas back in January, details of the exact functionality of both are still slightly under wraps, but here’s what we know so far. The Lumini is a handheld device that will scan your skin for problems before they arise – simply give your face a once-over with the device, and it will analyse your skin using an algorithm. It sends this info to a corresponding app, which will translate it into data you can understand, helping you spot fine lines and pimples before they come to the surface. It’ll even give you skincare advice and hook you up remotely with a dermatologist, should you wish. The S-Skin, on the other hand, is another microchannel patch (like Radara) but with the added benefit of a separate device that scans the skin to assess hydration, inflammation and melanin levels. Once the device has 'read' your complexion, it can deliver a more bespoke skincare treatment using LED.
It’s worth noting that these devices will need to impress consumers – and not just clinical trials – in a big way if they want to achieve longevity and sidestep the ‘Clarisonic effect’ (as it’s dubbed in the industry). The motorised cleansing brushes were immensely popular and the brand was snapped up by L’Oréal – yet in 2016, just five years after they hit the media and went mainstream, a wave of redundancies broke. According to the company website, they’ve sold over 15 million brushes since 2004 but failed to meet their sales expectations in the first half of last year. It may have something to do with the fact that once you own a Clarisonic, it’s hard for the brand to squeeze much more money out of you. With an initial buy-in of around £125-£199 for the brush, even if you replace the brush head every three months as per the company’s advice, Clarisonic really only makes another £84 a year from you. Spent £200-odd on a cleansing brush? Yeah, it’s gonna take a lot for you to want to upgrade, even after a few years – I’ve had one since 2010 and it’s still going strong.
Of course, new beauty trends are always emerging (I’d be out of a job if they didn’t) and so a new hot young thing on the market is inevitable. However, by making tried-and-tested, dermatologist-approved treatments like LED and nanocurrents available to the masses, these brands might be onto something. By cutting out the clinician middleman, and scaling back the financial and logistical exertion required, consumers might be more likely to invest – especially in a device that does something Mother Nature can’t.