The last time I had a facial outside of my own home was YEARS ago.
In the past, we'd have to go to a spa or salon to get a deep cleanse or to pamper our skin. These days, at-home beauty devices allow us to achieve the spa-like results from the comfort of our own bathroom. I love that I can pamper my skin and then go to bed immediately, instead of having to take public transport in a sleepy stupor, and then having to wash all my time and money down the drain because pollutants would have dirtied my skin during the ride home.
The camps of beauty devices are probably as divisive as those of the whole celery juice moment. Some people don't get the hype, others have pledged their lives to drinking it forever having seen the results it has had on their health and overall well-being.
Some people advocate that the only thing that should touch our face should be our hands. On the other hand, thousands of dermatologists, aestheticians, and regular people like you and I, have seen positive results from the use of beauty gadgets. I'm a NERD for beauty devices. @[email protected]
Here are the top beauty devices I use to cleanse, calm, and soothe my skin.
Just to let you know, my skin is:
- Prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring
1. Facial Cleansing And Exfoliating Device
I'm a firm believer in using something other than your fingertips, preferably a proper, gentle cleansing device for a bit of extra cleansing. Consumers are spoilt for choice these days with the plethora of options available in the market these days. I think it's important to use the right one for your skin as otherwise they can actually push makeup and environmental pollution deeper into the pores and cause more skin problems.
When used properly, a good cleansing device can deep clean the pores, stimulate better circulation and improve lymphatic drainage. But it has to be gentle. Not being gentle will make your skin mad, and the reaction won’t be good.
However, years of religious use of the old style type of cleansing brushes actually ended up doing more harm than good to my acne-prone skin. So I went back to using good ol' hands, but never found it quite as efficient as a cleansing device. When I used a toner, I always still saw dirt stains on the cotton pad.
Here are the various cleansing devices I've tried:
- Clarisonic Mia 2
- Philips Visapure (review)
- Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush (review)
- Foreo Luna Mini 2 (review)
- Nuskin ageLOC LumiSpa (review)
Then I discovered Foreo Luna Mini 2, which was my workhorse for 2 years but had its limitations, and currently I'm LOVING the Nu Skin ageLOC LumiSpa!
Being able to compare the Luna Mini 2 and LumiSpa side by side makes it easy to see which is the obvious champ in cleansing, massaging and exfoliating. I always feel that there's still a tiny bit of tacky residue on my skin after Foreo, but with the LumiSpa, my skin feels absolutely thoroughly cleansed without the dryness.
Also, the LumiSpa device is more affordable than the Foreo. Get 30% off retail price when you join as member (at no cost!).
How to use ageLOC LumiSpa:
Wet your face, apply face wash on your fingertips and briefly massage it on your skin. Turn the LumiSpa on and start with one area of your face.
2. Blackhead Digger
HAHAHA! It is more known as ultrasonic face scrubber or pore cleaner but a Blackhead Digger is what I see the this device as. It's essentially a shovel for your deeply buried blackheads.
Initially, I was weirded out by the idea of using a metal spatula to scrape away my blackheads and congested pores. But it's actually effective, not weird at all, and incredibly satisfying. Faciliasts around the world use it all the time. I didn't know this was the device that the facialists used on my skin because I was too scared to look, until I used it on myself and recalled the sound! It sounds scarier than it really is.
How it works is that high-frequency vibration cause cells to start 'talking' to each other, and your pores open wide, so dirt and debris are gently vibrated and scrubbed away. Pores appear smaller and, in turn, your skin looks smoother and brighter.
After cleansing your face with the above LumiSpa cleansing device, make sure your face is still wet when using this device. You don't want to drag this over dry skin - it will damage your skin!
People with sensitive skin might look a bit red afterwards but your skin will return to normal in no time. The redness on mine usually lasts no more than 10 minutes. I wouldn't recommend using it everyday as your skin needs time to heal. I use it 1-2 times a week, with the other nights spent on chemical exfoliation.
How to use ultrasonic face scrubber for acne:
Make sure your skin is constantly wet while using the ultrasonic face scrubber device. If you're not exfoliating at the sink, have a spray bottle with you so that you don't have to keep running back and forth to the bathroom. Apply light to medium pressure on the areas of concern, depending on how deeply congested your pores are. It is quite satisfying to see the water spray like mini fountains and all the gunk you manage to dislodge from your tough oily pores.
3. High Frequency Machine
This miraculous product I discovered early this year! If you have oily, acne prone skin with easily clogged pores, you should definitely try this.
When I used to go for facials, the facialists would use these scary-sounding zapping machines on my acne (even scarier than the ultrasonic face spatula!). My facials would always take a long time since I had so many pimples but I loved this acne-zapping part most coz it would make my acne dry up so much faster and pores appeared smaller.
It works similar to the Blackhead Digger, in that it uses high frequency which produces a spray of oxygen molecules that penetrate deep into your pore or zit so it cleans out all of the toxins. It can also help with enlarged pores, so if you use it regularly you'll feel like your pores appear smaller.
Once again, I need to emphasize that our pores can't actually shrink, however high frequency is going to make the skin softer and smoother.
It cleans out all of the crap in my pores and controls the extra oil production. The reason we get blackheads is because oil is trapped in the pores with dirt so if we can keep your pores cleaned out and as smooth as possible, our pores will appear smaller and our face will look clearer!
I found that this High Frequency Device is so much more than just an acne-zapping tool. High frequency can help with acne, enlarged pores, aging skin, clogged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, puffy eyes, under-eye circles, thinning hair, cellulite and lymphatic drainage.
The one I bought comes with six electrodes (heads), each targeting different skin concerns. My favorites are the bulb (to annihilate my zits), mushroom (for overall sebum production balancing), horseshoe (to lift the saggy skin on my neck).
You will find either an orange or a purple colored gas inside the tube. The orange is great for stimulating hair growth and anti-aging, and the purple provides an anti-bacterial effect which is great for killing P-acne.
The results I got from salons were quicker but due to infrequent treatments the results were short lived. The home kit might not be as strong as those at salons and clinics but that doesn't discount its efficacy. In fact, having a home kit makes regular and consistent treatment possible, which is key to treating recurring acne like mine.
How to use high frequency machine for acne:
Make sure your skin is completely dry. Attach the electrode (I always use mushroom first) to the probe and clean it with an alcohol wipe. Turn the device on and ground it with your finger before placing the electrode on your skin. Remove your skin and move in circular motions across your skin with the mushroom electrode. Then I would change to the bulb head for targeted areas like pimples and blackheads, and later other heads according to my skin concerns at that moment.
While zapping acne, chant 'die! die! die!' LOL
I suggest staying away from chemical exfoliants when you’re using high-frequency machines. I would use this right after cleansing with ageLOC LumiSpa and end with a basic moisturizer. We have to be extra cautious and take baby steps when it comes to sensitive skin.
This is not a tool for someone who is pregnant or nursing. Avoid wearing earrings or piercings while using this device as you CAN get electrocuted.
4. Acne Patch
My BFF at the peak of my acne breakout was the acne patch, or rather, PATCHES. I remember having 23 patches on my face one night. Those were dark times.
Acne patches or stickers are small, circular hydrocolloid bandages that absorb toxins and fluid from the pimple to dry them up more quickly. They're good for pus-filled bumps and whiteheads. All you have to do is stick them on cleansed and dry skin. It is so satisfying to see the transparent patch turn white and grow in size, and when you remove it, the once swollen pimple is now flat and drained of pus and toxins.
I usually leave the pimple patches on overnight, but sometimes I'll wear them during the day too, mainly to prevent my itchy fingers from picking at my zits. At the same time, pimple patches protect the pimple from external bacteria and sun exposure, giving it a more sanitary environment for healing.
Naturally, I have tried over ten different brands of acne patches. The Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch is great.
5. Rose Quartz Gua Sha Ban (刮痧板)
If you're tired, you gua sha.
If you feel a cold coming, you gua sha.
If you need to relieve sore muscles, you gua sha.
If you want a facelift, you gua sha.
If you have a headache, you gua sha.
If you want a detox, you gua sha.
Gua sha (刮痧) became really trendy in the Western part of the world in 2019, but I've known it for as long as I can remember. It is a very common East Asian healing and detoxing technique, where a gua sha ban 刮痧板 (ban = tool/board) is used to 'scrape' the skin to relieve pain and tension in muscles and joints.
Some people get scared by internet pictures of red and bruised backs from gua sha. But of course you don't do that to your face! Facial gua sha is much more gentle and is meant to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Back gua sha might hurt, but facial gua sha should feel relaxing. A gua sha facial uses skin-scraping massage therapy on specific parts of the face to help dislodge stuck toxins and waste from congested skin.
Facial gua sha benefits:
- Draw out stagnation in problem areas to help generate metabolic repair
- Contour and shape the face
- Improve circulation and blood flow
- Relieve muscle tension
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles with regular use
- Instant face lift
- Eliminate puffiness
- Helps with acne by draining excess sebum and dead skin cells
Because gua sha works with the epidermis and dermal layers underneath, it has the potential to help clear chronic blackheads, whiteheads, and prevent hormonal breakouts.
My dad had one from buffalo horn, which was perfect for the back. For the face, I would recommend a rose quartz one that is made of better quality stone. There are others made from jade, amethyst, tiger's eye, but for gua sha, it is more about the technique than the crystal of choice. Then again, don't be too extreme with the money-saving. I have tried a cheap plastic one and it did not feel good at all.
Gua Sha isn't an acne treatment per se, but it is a method used in preventing acne. Gua Sha will help in clearing clogged pores and controlling acne. If your acne is caused by oily skin, using Gua Sha can increase skin moisture, reducing oil production and improve blood circulation, which can affect and improves your skin condition
How to gua sha for acne
Definitely use a facial oil when performing facial gua sha! Never use on dry skin. The reason for oiling is so the scraping massage is frictionless. After cleansing your face, apply a moisturizer or facial oil to give your skin some slip.
If you are acne prone, try the Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil. Besides providing slip for gua sha strokes, it contains BHA that penetrates into pores to gently exfoliate and remove sebum. Tea tree oil and black cumin seed oil have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to support clear skin and licorice helps to reduce redness, and milk thistle and cucumber seed oil calm and moisturize the skin. Stimulating blood flow and lymphatic drainage could potentially help acne heal as well.
I am currently loving the Timeless Squalane Oil, which contains 100% squalane oil and is very light weight oil and hydrating. It doesn't break me out like rosehip oil does. And it's super affordable!
If you can't get hold of Timeless, you can try The Ordinary Rosehip Oil, another popular and affordable option. Seriously, if your skin isn't sensitive, any oil will do.
Warming the oil between your fingers prior to placing it on your skin will help activate the oil and allow it to penetrate the skin better. Then lightly glide a crystal tool made of jade or rose quartz, in upwards and outwards motions, starting from the centre of the face.
If you have severe cystic acne or are breaking out, avoid gua sha as the encouragement of blood flow might increase inflammation in the body and further agitate your skin.
This video provides a pretty good demonstration of facial gua sha.
6. Jade Roller
Similar to the rose quartz gua sha tool, a jade roller's movement stimulates circulation, the pressure relieves tension and the action itself will aid lymphatic drainage. I always keep this in the freezer and gently roll it over any pimples to calm the inflammation or over my eyes to depuff them.
Always use upwards motions and don't press too hard. I would say the pressure applied with the roller should be even less than that used for facial gua sha. Just graze over the skin. The cooling effect feels great on the skin, especially on acne.
It's also a treatment that's meant to stimulate collagen production and restore plumpness to the skin which is reduced with aging.
7. Sterile needles
When I was less uneducated on facial hygiene, I used to use one of those tools from a pimple popper tool kit to extract pimples. Now I reserve that for the extraction of blackheads and only use sterile needles to gently prick at a ripen pimple to release the pus, and quickly seal it with an acne patch.
Do not use rubbing alcohol as a toner for your skin! Applying rubbing alcohol on acne as a means to kill acne is one of the 17 worst skincare advice I received. If you feel you need to disinfect the area, quickly swipe some rubbing alcohol over the wound then pop it, if you need to.
What I recommend is getting these disposable sterile needles that are so cheap and so hygienic you don't have to hover them over a flame or clean with alcohol. They have much smaller tips than traditional pimple extractors, thereby reducing the size of the extraction.