The bottom line with microcurrent and what it does (and doesn’t do) for your skin

There are a dizzying array of anti-aging devices on the market these days.

From LED masks, to hand-held radiofrequency, sonic vibration and even ultrasound gadgets, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Among the biggest-selling home beauty tools are microcurrent devices.

The makers typically assert that using microcurrent on your face regularly can both tone and lift the skin by stimulating your facial muscles and even help trigger the production of collagen and elastin – both essential components to the health and volume of your skin.

The devices are designed to release a gentle (micro) electric current through your skin to build the muscle, adding volume.

How does microcurrent work?

The theory behind increasing the production of collagen and elastin in your skin is less clear, but there is some logic in the idea that by exciting and energising our skin cells and giving our muscles a workout, thus causing increased blood and oxygen flow to our skin, that this could theoretically help optimise the conditions for improved cell productivity.

While there isn’t a huge amount of evidence to back up the theory, there is a recent but small Austrian study that looked at the impact of microcurrent on burn wound healing which found it did indeed increase blood flow to the skin and was suggested as a promising treatment support tool.

These findings are backed by a 2018 study from a hospital Kuala Lumpur which reported accelerated wound healing among patients who were treated with microcurrent.

Another small study, published in the Journal of Physiotherapy, found that the use of microcurrent over 10 days did increase firmness on the skin’s surface but there was no notable effect on wrinkles.

That said, the microcurrent sessions lasted 30mins at a time which is quite a bit longer than the few minutes of daily treatment recommended by most at-home device makers.

What does microcurrent actually do for your skin?

In my own experience, I find microcurrent devices do help keep facial muscles toned and are particularly helpful around the jowls.

But I believe they are best used on a preventative basis and if you already have more noticeable sagging around the jowls, then it’s likely to only deliver a subtle benefit.

For the current to flow optimally into your skin you ideally need to use a water-based conductive gel or serum on a clean face and avoid using anything oil-based before treatments.

Most of the better-known devices sold include gels but they can be expensive to reorder on their own. A water-based hyaluronic acid serum or aloe vera gel can do the job just as effectively and for a fraction of the price.

Microcurrent devices are thought to be safe but should be avoided if you’re pregnant, wear a pace maker or suffer from epilepsy.

What are the best devices?

With the technology being fairly standard there isn’t a huge amount to separate the different microcurrent tools so it’s best to choose one to suit your budget but also consider comfort as the current can be felt more strongly from some devices than others.

From my own experience, the ZIIP devices (which also uses smaller nanocurrents) are the most comfortable, but they are at the more uncomfortable end of the price range!

I recently started trying out the new ZIIP Halo model and love it. You can just feel a very gentle current when using it, yet it does deliver results in terms of lifting and working those muscles.

The Foreo Bear is also reported to be comfortable by users due to its built-in ‘anti-shock’ sensors that adjust the current on contact with your skin.

I’ve rounded up some of the anti-aging devices I recommend here with discount codes where available.

A simple water-based hyaluronic acid serum, like this one from The Ordinary, (2%HA plus B5 serum) makes for a good alternative to the more expensive gels sold by microcurrent device makers.

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