Do At-Home Beauty Devices Really Work?

As everything in our lives turns digital, it’s no surprise that our blemish and anti-aging lifesavers now need to be plugged into an outlet. Technologies such as acne-treating blue light therapy and wrinkle-eliminating microcurrents have made the leap from the doctor’s office to the convenience of our homes in recent years. But do at-home gadgets offer results comparable to those you’d get from the derm? We put five of these products to the test, plus consulted top dermatologists to find out if these pricey products are worth the splurge.

ClarisonicThe Clarisonic
The Clarisonic ($119-199, oscillates 300 times per second to make face washing easier than ever, removing impurities such as dead skin and makeup on the skin’s surface more effectively than cleansing with hands or a manual brush. This allows serums and creams to get through that invisible barrier of dead skin.

What Our Tester Says
“This product has seriously changed my skin. After using for a month, my skin is smoother than ever before. Because I have such sensitive skin, I’ve always avoided anything that cause friction on my complexion. (Any scrub I’ve ever tried has burned and caused red blotches all over my skin.) But the Clarisonic is gentle and has actually done the reverse — my skin is more even toned and redness is at an all time low.”

What The Experts Say
“Clarisonic works via rapid repetitive yet gentle movements that translate into purified, healthy skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Julie Karen of the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York. Dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco is also a fan. “It addresses a multitude of skin issues like ingrown hairs, acne, dull skin and clogged pores,” she says.


Riiviva Microdermabrasion
This at-home device ($299, polishes the skin with a diamond tip that vacuums away loosened skin cells on the surface, just like an in-office procedure. “Microdermabrasion is a procedure that helps to mechanically exfoliate the damaged top layer of skin leaving behind healthier skin and stimulating cell renewal,” says Dr. Karen.

What Our Tester Says
“I have been using the device twice a week for about five minutes for the past two months and my skin has gradually gotten smoother, but the results take much longer than an in-office treatment. Last winter I received a microdermabrasion treatment at Dr. Amy Wechsler’s office in Manhattan and my skin was instantly smooth and had a subtle glow. The Riiviva does get you there, but it takes longer to see results.”

What The Expert Says
The device does improve skin, but the results aren’t as immediate as the microdermabrasion a dermatologist does. “Using a device like this gets you there faster than an exfoliating wash but slower than an office procedure,” says Dr. Fusco.

Tria blue light

Tria Skin Perfecting Blue Light
The Tria ($245, is a blue light handheld device designed to reduce acne breakouts by eliminating the bacteria deep within the skin. “Blue light has several benefits in the treatment of acne,” says Dr. Karen. “Acne-causing bacteria are very sensitive to blue light. Specifically, the acne causing bacteria, P. acnes, produces light-sensitive porphyrins which selectively absorb blue light. Therefore, when blue light illuminates the skin, the porphyrins get activated leading to rapid and selective destruction of the bacteria.”

What Our Tester Says
“For the past month, I’ve been using the device five minutes daily in the evening. After cleansing, I touch the illuminated end to skin and glide all around my face, focusing on my chin since that’s where most of my blemishes form. Since using the treatement, I’ve experienced fewer breakouts, but the problem didn’t disappear completely.”

What The Derm Says
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank of the 5th Avenue Dermatology Surgery & Laser Center explains that the Tria is a very mild treatment, so to see results would require continuous use.


LightStim LED Light Therapy
LED light is so effective in diminishing wrinkles because it jumpstarts the production of collagen. The LightStim LED treatment ($249, combines amber and red light to reduce fine lines. Although low-intensity, over time the device should produce firmer skin.

What Our Tester Says
“Holding the glowing red LED wand to my skin was so easy and painless (no heat! no zap!), it seemed almost too good to be true. But the time commitment involved discouraged me. The gadget’s head only covers about one tenth of the face at a time, which means it would take 30 minutes of nightly treatment, five to seven times a week for eight weeks, to get the recommended LED dosage. I guess I could use it while I watch TV, but it seems like a lot of hours to spend holding a contraption against my face.”

What The Expert Says
Dr. Karen sees LED technology as promising. “LED is low-intensity energy that stimulates cells,” she explains. “Red light penetrates into the dermis where it stimulates cells that produce collagen and elastin.”



The NuFACE line of devices ($175-$325, uses microcurrent technology to give what they call a “5-minute face lift” by sending low-level waves through the skin. Dr. Karen explains, “Microcurrent facial toning acts on a cellular level to stimulate energy production (ATP) that drives collagen and elastin production.”

What Our Tester Says
“The ‘shocks’ are scary at first; I thought I was getting electrocuted. It’s prickly, but manageable. After one week, I saw some results. My skin feels tighter, brighter and firmer. I may have even seen some forehead wrinkles slightly disappear.”

What The Expert Says
Dr. Fusco is a fan of this one. “This technology is used by spas and aestheticians during facials to attain a younger looking appearance. For the cost of one or two of such spa treatments, you can buy one of these devices to improve facial contour and tone,” she says.

Read more: Can This LED “Time Machine” Give You Ageless Skin Like Michelle Williams’?