Beauty Why a Microcurrent Facial Is the Key to Sculpted Cheekbones Spoiler alert: That fancy device might be worth the investment. By Audrey Noble Audrey Noble Twitter Audrey Noble is NYC-based contributing beauty commerce writer. She covers all things beauty, hair products, and makeup. InStyle's editorial guidelines Published on May 26, 2023 @ 11:23AM Pin Share Tweet Email In This Article View All In This Article What It Is How It Works Benefits Drawbacks What to Expect Treatment Options Cost Beauty TikTok loves a good, high-tech facial tool — and few have been more popular than microcurrent devices. They're an easy way to get more definition, a sculpted look, and taut, smooth skin. (Plus, it's an efficient way to pass the time while catching up on Vanderpump Rules). And that's the beauty of microcurrent. But if you're not entirely sure what it's really doing for your skin, you're not alone. Here, everything you need to know before you spring for an amped-up facial or at-home skin-toning device. What Is a Microcurrent Facial? "A microcurrent facial uses a low-voltage electrical current to stimulate facial muscles, creating a more lifted, toned, and tightened look," says Jeannette Graf, MD, board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Getty Images How Microcurrent Works "The idea is that muscle contraction helps to lift and sculpt the face, particularly the jawline," says Hadley King, MD, a New York City-based board certified dermatologist. "But there aren't a lot of scientific data to support the anti-aging claims." In other words, adjust your expectations accordingly — and don't expect your microcurrent facial or at-home device to deliver the same skin-smoothing benefits as, say, an in-office treatment. That said, microcurrent facials may still offer some perks, especially if you start using them sooner rather than later. "These devices are often recommended more for 'prejuvenation' and maintenance, because the results are likely to be modest," she says. "Some research also suggests there could be anti-inflammatory effects and a boost in circulation." The Benefits of Microcurrent A microcurrent facial can help in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, stimulating collagen production, and improving muscle tone to define and sculpt the face, says Dr. Graf. Plus, she adds, it can stimulate blood circulation to give you a more radiant complexion. To keep those results going, be prepared to get a microcurrent facial or use your device regularly. "The results may be modest, and theoretically the microcurrent stimulation needs to be done regularly over time for more lasting results," Dr. King says. The Downsides of Microcurrent There aren't any known risks to your health, says Dr. Graf. But there are a few people who should avoid booking this treatment, such as those who are pregnant or have active, inflammatory-related skin concerns (see: acne). The same goes for people who have heart conditions or facial metal implants. And if you just had a Botox or filler injection, you should wait about two weeks before getting a microcurrent facial. What Happens During a Microcurrent Facial Good news: There's little to no prep involved. Dr. Graf recommends coming to a treatment with a clean face and not wearing any jewelry, as that might affect the microcurrent. She also recommends stoping any use of retinol or harsh peels a few days before treatment. The treatment itself is pretty straightforward. Your practitioner will first cleanse your skin thoroughly before applying a conductive gel layer on the skin to act as a barrier for the current. Next, they'll use a microcurrent machine that powers two wands, which are charged with electro-current, that they then glide on the face to lift the desired section. This is then repeated on different areas of the face. If your pain tolerance is low, you're in luck: Dr. Graf says that this treatment won't hurt. "Microcurrent facials are quick and painless," she says. "They usually take roughly an hour, and you’ll only feel the cold wands gliding along the skin and the gentle pulses." Afterward, focus on being gentle with your skin, as it may be more sensitive than usual. Be sure to use nourishing and non-irritating ingredients that are also hydrating, says Dr. Graf. At-Home Devices vs. In-Office Treatment You can also give yourself a microcurrent facial with at-home microcurrent devices. The primary difference between the two, says Dr. Graf, is in their power. "At-home microcurrent facials are less powerful than professional ones," she explains. "If you have visible sagging and fine lines and wrinkles, a professional-grade treatment may be necessary to make a noticeable difference. But those with no signs of aging who just want to use it as a preventative measure or to sculpt the face more may like to use an at-home tool. The two can also be paired together for maximum maintenance and effects." For at-home devices, Dr. King likes SolaWave, since it offers a combination of red light therapy, microcurrent, facial massage, and therapeutic face warming. "This combination may help to stimulate collagen production and muscle contraction, reduce puffiness, and enhance penetration of topical skincare ingredients," she says. Other devices she recommends include the Tripollar Stop VX, which delivers targeted radiofrequency energy to stimulate collagen production and target signs of anti-aging, and the beloved NuFace Trinity Facial Tonight Device, which is cleared by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to stimulate facial muscles. How Much It Costs A microccurent facial can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 for a single treatment, although it varies on where you live and your provider. If you're opting for an at-home device, those tools are about $300 to $500. While spending that much on a tool is a splurge, it might be worth the investment since these tools can be used for years on end, says Dr. Graf.