Which popular skincare tools are actually worth your money?

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The skincare industry is thriving and has seen a growth from US$99.6 billion ($139 billion) in 2012 to US$141.3 billion in 2019.

Over the years, all sorts of newfangled skincare products-ranging from botanical serums to magnet masks to tech devices that claim to treat various skin issues – are continuing to enter the increasingly crowded market.

Most of the success of skincare tools can be attributed to excellent marketing.

However, consumers are looking to skincare savvy influencers, beauty community reviews and information online to inform their purchasing decisions, and the products that show proven results will have more longevity in the market.

As skincare gadgets are relatively new to the market, we find out which popular skincare tools could be worth your money.

1. Dr. Dennis gross skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro

This futuristic looking mask claims to stimulate collagen production with red LED lights, kill acne-causing bacteria with blue LED lights, and smooth wrinkles, diminish discoloration, and clear acne with a combination of 100 lights in red mode + 62 lights in blue mode, all in just three minutes.

However, as tempting as that may sound to many people who don’t have the time for an extensive skincare routine to treat various skin issues, this product isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Firstly, there’s also not enough evidence to prove that LED light therapy is more effective than existing treatments like microdermabrasions or chemical peels.

Dr. Marissa Heller, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School recommends seeing a doctor for a diagnosis before using LED light therapy to treat a skin condition.

She also notes that it is vital to see a doctor because you may not know if the skin condition is actually skin cancer or another condition that won't be improved by the device.

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Furthermore, while some customers have experienced positive results with lightening sun spots and diminishing fine lines, many others have yet to see any changes even with continued daily usage.

This is especially the case with acne issues, which can be hormonal or diet related.

There are also some concerns about the fit and comfort of the mask. For instance, it comes in a one-size fits all format, so it might not suit every face shape.

Second, some customers have noted that some components to the mask make it difficult to use it in any other position other than lying down.

Before spending $605 on this gadget, you should consider finding out the underlying cause of your skin issues and see a dermatologist for treatments that have proven to work.

If you still want to try out an LED light facial, you can one done by a professional for about 1/3 of the cost.

Otherwise, proven alternatives like chemical peels are also cheaper done professionally and you'll get a proper skincare analysis as well.

2. Georgia Louise Hollywood EGF micro-needling + ion infusion kit

Micro-needling is a process that involves repetitive puncturing of the skin with microneedles, creating low-grade damage to the skin to induce regeneration of the skin, which can help improve skin tone, texture, and even smooth fine lines.

Research has shown that micro-needling is a simple procedure that is cost-effective, well tolerated, and offers both cosmetic and therapeutic benefits.

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However, according to Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, "over-the-counter microneedling devices aren't effective in treating acne scars, which can potentially be a painful, infection-breeding procedure, so it should only be done by a board-certified dermatologist.”

While professional microneedling and similar procedures can cost more than the Georgia Louise Microneedling Kit, it is possible to find affordable packages in Singapore that cost less than $540.

3. Foreo UFO

Those who use sheet masks would know that you’d have to leave the mask on for at least 10 minutes for the active ingredients to be absorbed into your skin.

For those who lack time, the Foreo UFO is a smart mask device that infuses active ingredients of sheet masks into the skin in 90 seconds.

Using its T-sonic pulsations with warming Thermo-Therapy mode, cooling cryotherapy or LED light therapy modes along with sheet masks, this device combines skincare tech with Korean mask formulas for an at-home facial treatment.

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To use this device, you’ll have to download the Foreo app to sync your device, scan the mask barcode and start the corresponding treatment by attaching your sheet mask to the device then gliding it over your face.

This means that you can only use the sheet masks by Foreo which cost between $15.60 to $31.20 for a pack of six or seven.

If you want to cheat a little, keep the packaging of the sheet masks for the bar codes and use sheet masks from other brands along with the recommended treatment in the app.

While this product doesn’t promise anything out of the ordinary, it’s a great add-on tool to support the sheet masking step in your skincare regime.

4. Facial/massage rollers

Though its use dates back to the Qing Dynasty in 17th century China, jade and rose quartz massage rollers are all the rage right now thanks to beauty bloggers and celebrities who use them, and an increasing interest in natural beauty products.

The cooling properties of these stones are advertised to temporarily calm swelling, while the rolling motion helps serums penetrate the skin and reduce puffiness.

Though some claim that jade rollers reduce fine lines and wrinkles, board-certified dermatologist Laurel Naversen Geraghty says that there’s no scientific evidence that jade rollers can alleviate rashes or wrinkles.

Furthermore, the advertised effects can be achieved with much cheaper cooling compresses or any form of facial massage using fingers when done correctly.

Lastly, facial/massage rollers will not have an effect on inflammatory conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

They might also transmit bacteria onto the skin if they’re not sanitised and applied to clean intact skin.

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5. Clarisonic Mia Smart

If cleansing your face with your hands isn’t doing enough for you, perhaps a cleansing device like the Clarisonic Mia Smart might do the job.

It's a three-in-one waterproof device for cleansing, a firming massage, and makeup blending, depending on the brush head you use.

While you can’t really trust that it has anti-aging effects like it claims, since its main purpose is to cleanse, its sonic vibrations work with your cleanser to flush out dirt, oil and makeup.

There’s also a guided timer telling you how much time you should spend cleansing each part of your face.

You can also pair the device with the Clarisonic app to personalise your cleansing routine.

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Since there are four attachments for firming skin, de-puffing eyes, blending makeup and exfoliating skin, which have to be bought separately addition to the $185 device, the costs start to add up.

However, dermatologists say that using a cleansing brush to wash off dirt and makeup is more effective than using your hands.

Thus, if you’re using this simply as a cleansing device, it could be worth the splurge.

Invest in low-risk skincare tools that don’t exacerbate your skin issues

The irony is that the higher cost devices that claim to tackle various skin problems at once come with higher risks. They may not work as advertised or could worsen your skin if not used correctly.

Gadgets that complement existing steps in a skincare routine like cleansing brushes or sheet masking are lower risk and could thus be worth the investment as they simply work with your existing skincare products to enhance and improve your skincare routine.

You should also do your due diligence before committing to any at-home skincare treatment and find out what works best for your skin.

As we found out above, while facial rollers look harmless, there’s also no scientific evidence backing the positive effects they claim to have and they could even spread germs.

If you have persistent skin issues, your money may be better spent consulting a dermatologist before buying any skincare tools.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.