Skin care used to be simple: Clean hands, wash face, apply moisturizer, the end. Now? Not so much. But just as we've collectively become comfortable incorporating essences, toners, serums, oils, masks and more into our routines, a new category of skin care has bubbled to the surface — and it just may be the most confusing one yet. We're talking about the growing-by-the-second sector of at-home skin-care devices. From low-tech, Eastern traditions like jade rollers and gua sha stones that have recently become commonplace in the West, to space-age-looking LED machines, the gadgets that were once left to the skilled hands of dermatologists and estheticians have begun vying for a place on our vanities at rapid pace. Below, we break down exactly what you need to know about each type of tool, including which ones deserve a spot on your bathroom shelf.
FACIAL MASSAGING TOOLS
Some of the most popular at-home skin-care tools on the market, including facial rollers, massaging wands and gua sha stones, are also the simplest. Despite their varying shapes — rollers look like miniature paint rollers, massaging wands tend to be cylindrical and gua sha stones are flat with curved edges — all three are based on essentially the same premise: Use them to massage the face to relieve tension, boost circulation, reduce wrinkles and lift and de-puff the skin.
Many facial massaging tools are also rooted in ancient traditions. There's evidence, for example, of jade rollers having been used in beauty rituals dating as far back as seventh-century China, and gua sha has origins in the ancient medical traditions of China and Southeast Asia. Similarly, some massaging wands, like the facial massager, which is made of wood and Kansa metal comes from Ayurveda, India's traditional healing system. Many of these tools are made out of Insta-worthy jade or rose quartz crystals, but the reason for that goes way beyond the 'gram. Many believe the stones have healing properties that can be transferred to the skin.
THE PROS AND CONS OF AT-HOME FACIAL MASSAGING TOOLS
While there are very few downsides to using any of these manual facial massagers, Jordana Mattioli, a medical esthetician at CompleteSkinMD in New York City, says they're far from being complexion magic bullets. "Any type of light facial stimulation is going to help increase circulation and sometimes reduce puffiness, which can make skin look better," she says. "But the results are only temporary."
Mattioli likes to use facial massagers on clean, dry skin, but other skin-care pros advise using them with your favorite serum or face oil as a way to avoid skin-tugging friction and help with product absorption. Regardless of how you choose to use one, Mattioli recommends keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer for an extra cooling effect, and spritzing it with alcohol before and after each use to get rid of unwanted bacteria.