At-home skincare tools that actually work, as rated by a dermatologist

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Dr. Shreya Andric is a dermatologist based in Sydney. She is passionate about skin health and her mission is to educate the public on how to care for their skin, and also clear up the vast amount of misinformation out there on this topic.

While Dr. Andric has independently chosen the products that appear in this article, she does not receive revenue from the links. Some of the links may return revenue to Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.

Dr Shreya Andric is a Sydney-based dermatologist on a mission to educate people on how to look after their skin. Photo: supplied.
Dr Shreya Andric is a Sydney-based dermatologist on a mission to educate people on how to look after their skin. Photo: supplied.

The rise and rise of at-home skincare

Over the last 18 months, we have seen a rise in the use of at-home beauty tools. This is likely secondary to the pandemic, extended lockdowns, as well as influence from social media.

During lockdown periods there has been a lot of uncertainty as to when salons and clinics will re-open and people obviously have more time on their hands. This along with Instagram and TikTok videos has led people to experiment at home to try and recreate in-salon treatments.

So the question is — what works, what doesn't and how safe are these tools and devices?

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Blue/Red light LED devices

Blue light has been shown to be effective at killing bacteria (P. acnes) that hide in the pores and can cause acne. Therefore, it is helpful in treating acne-prone skin and breakouts.

Red light has been found to be anti-inflammatory. There are also claims that it can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen and elastin production.

These devices can be effective but we need to keep in mind that there is still some UV light absorbed and there have been reports of it triggering or worsening pigmentation, such as melasma.

You should ensure you choose a device that has adequate eye protection; Neutrogena recalled their home LED masks in 2019 as there were concerns they were potentially causing eye damage.

The Omnilux Contour FACE is a safe and effective option.

Omnilux Contour FACE, $605
Omnilux Contour FACE, $605

Quartz or jade rollers

These are used essentially to massage the face. Facial massage, in turn, increases circulation and aids in lymphatic drainage. They can also temporarily address puffy eyes and provide a bit of relaxation to your skincare routine.

I don't think these are a necessary addition and they certainly aren't going to be providing any long-term benefits, but if it makes you feel good then why not?!

Powered cleansing brushes

These tools are designed to provide a "deeper cleanse", however, I’m not convinced that they do much more than your regular double cleanse would do.

Overuse of these can result in broken capillaries, excessive dryness, irritation, redness and sensitivity. If you were to choose one, I would lean towards one with a silicone head rather than an actual brush head as it will be easier to keep clean.

Mount Lai De-Puffing Jade Facial Roller, $55 from Sephora
Mount Lai De-Puffing Jade Facial Roller, $55 from Sephora

LED Gel nails curing lamps

LED lamps still emit UV rays, which increase your risk of skin cancer, however, use of these lamps is for a short period of time every 1-2 weeks.

There has been a study done which found that the level of UVA exposure associated with a gel manicure probably isn't high enough to increase your risk of skin cancer, however, there isn't any harm in applying sunscreen on the hands (20 mins prior to use) or wearing fingerless gloves when using these machines.

At-home microdermabrasion kits

Microdermabrasion is a form of physical exfoliation, which gently removes the thicker, uneven outer layer of skin cells, creating a smoother appearance to the skin.

I am generally not a fan of physical exfoliation as it causes micro-injury to the skin which can therefore result in inflammation, acne, and make infection more likely.

That being said, these kits are safe, mostly because they act more superficially compared to in-clinic tools. Some kits have reusable tips and I would make sure that these are being cleaned well in between treatments and replaced after 4-5 uses as they can otherwise introduce bacteria into the skin.

These at-home kits can be effective at maintaining the skin in between more "heavy-duty" in-clinic treatments.

I would advise using once a week max as using them too frequently can leave the skin feeling sensitive and irritated.

PMD Beauty Personal Microderm Classic, $239 from Adore Beauty
PMD Beauty Personal Microderm Classic, $239 from Adore Beauty

Microneedling devices/Dermarollers

In-salon microneedling can help to improve pigmentation as well as skin texture by creating micro-injury to the skin with small needles that can penetrate up to 3mm.

At-home dermaroller devices will definitely not give the same result as an in-salon treatment, however, I think they do have a role in aiding in penetration of skincare. According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, "a microneedling device is generally higher risk if it claims to treat any skin condition, such as acne scarring and/or claims to penetrate the skin".

When using these devices at home, it is important to choose one that has needles less than 0.5mm in length and to thoroughly clean your skin and disinfect the device prior to use. You should also avoid if you have cuts or abrasions on the skin, active acne, or any other skin condition which might predispose you to injury or infection.

These should be used max 1-2 times per week and care should be taken around the eye, the nose, and the upper lip.

Mukti Organics Microneedle Dermal Roller, $59.95 from Adore Beauty
Mukti Organics Microneedle Dermal Roller, $59.95 from Adore Beauty

Final thoughts...

It is important to be aware that the majority of these tools do not require TGA approval and there isn't a whole lot of scientific evidence when it comes to efficacy.

When using tools at home, it is important that they are properly cleaned to minimise chances of infection and also not to overdo it as sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

Microdermabrasion and microneedling will always be more effective in a clinic where more "heavy-duty" tools can be used. This can mean more downtime, however, which may not be ideal for everyone.

I would look at at-home treatments as extending the time between or maintenance in between in-clinic treatments.

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