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Don’t Try These 5 Trendy Skincare Gadgets at Home!

Posted on: December 2nd, 2019 by Kristen Chang

Take a little cruise around Instagram and YouTube, and it’s easy to catch “DIY fever.” Women with perfect skin tout the benefits of one hot consumer “medical” treatment device or another. You can also watch demos showing how to use them. You might just come away feeling empowered to purchase one of these gadgets and treat your own skin at home.*

Before you do this — please, give it some serious thought! The unfortunate truth is that, if a skin-treatment gadget is intense enough to be effective, it’s also potentially damaging unless in the hands of a trained professional. Then, you may wonder, how can there be so many influencer endorsements? And what about the hundreds or thousands of favorable user reviews on Amazon or other shopping sites?*

Keep in mind that influencer promos are commonly purchased outright or incentivized with free products. You should also question the authenticity of user reviews, many of which are paid or computer generated. In fact, the problem of fakes has reached disturbing levels, giving rise to services like Fakespot — designed solely to help weed out suspicious reviews!*

This is not to say that it’s impossible for an influencer or DIYer to see some genuine, positive results with one of these gadgets. But, how lucky do you feel? Are you willing to waste a lot of time for nothing? Or risk damage to your face? Board-certified dermatologists, advanced practitioners and licensed aestheticians at California Skin Institute have a wide array of knowledge and years of experience in skincare. Better to trust your skin to a professional, especially when it comes to any of these five types of home-use devices:*

1 – Microneedling Derma Rollers

Professional microneedling for acne scars, uneven pigmentation and wrinkles has created celebrity and social media buzz, in turn, spurring various DIY roller gadgets to flood the market. At its clinical best, microneedling works by gently driving dozens of tiny needles deep enough into the skin to cause microtrauma, stimulating collagen production and other natural healing processes. At consumer grade, DIY rollers can span from ineffective to permanently damaging.*

Why Not to DIY

There are multiple ways home microneedling can go wrong. If you’re lucky, you’ll purchase a roller that’s simply ineffective because of needles too fine and blunt to penetrate the skin. Although you’ll see none of the benefits of microneedling, you may enjoy a sort of pleasant, prickly massage. Even with these gentler models, however, some users report scratching up their skin due to faulty, uneven needle lengths.*

If you do choose a device that’s sharp enough to penetrate your skin, home rollers have needles too fine and — at just .2 to 1 mm long — too short to deliver exciting microneedling results. Yet they can potentially introduce bacteria, fungi or viruses through the broken skin, according to health organizations like the Hong Kong Consumer Council. They can also trigger issues like acne, herpes, psoriasis or rosacea. The home-roller design makes proper sterilization difficult, which only magnifies these risks, leading the FDA to take steps towards regulation.*

See a Pro Instead

Clinical microneedling uses sterile, medical-grade stainless steel needles that can penetrate skin deeply enough to stimulate plumping and smoothing. With the MicroPen device, for instance, your treatment provider uses the more focused head of 12 adjustable needles to customize treatment depth according to the contours, needs and condition of your skin. They can also use the device to deliver nourishing serums and other treatments deeper into your skin to boost skin radiance and results.*

2 – Home Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion removes dead and dying cells on the skin’s surface, stimulating new cell production and revealing smoother, fresher-looking skin. Traditional professional devices use sand-like crystals to buff the skin, then vacuum away the dead cells. Some newer types exfoliate with tiny metal brushes or a tip covered in diamond dust. In all cases, microdermabrasion can make a great alternative for anyone who wants significant cell turnover using a mechanical method, rather than a chemical or laser one.*

Why Not to DIY

Some facial scrubs can irritate the skin if you’re not careful. Home microdermasion devices, which normally use crystals, take exfoliation risk to the next level. Despite a less intense vacuum and crystal load than clinical devices, home gadgets still receive user complaints about raw, irritated or “torn up” skin. Some DIYers have ended up with an infection due to improper sterilization, or a web of broken capillaries. Additionally, amateurs are more likely to lodge some of the loose crystals in their eyes. For physical exfoliation at home, you’re best off keeping it light with a mild facial scrub, gentle buffing sponge or soft brush.*

See a Pro Instead

When you go to a professional, they have the expertise to assess your skin for risk factors. They can then proceed with correct sterilization, the best device and the optimal, customized approach. If you have more resilient skin, they may recommend traditional microdermabrasion with crystals. It’s an excellent choice to even out and brighten your complexion, address fine lines and soften rough patches.*

Alternatively, DermaSweep microdermabrasion by California Skin Institute’s licensed clinical aestheticians may be the best option for you. It works similarly, but uses tiny, patent-pending bristles that can be adjusted to the needs of different parts of your face. Its lack of crystals makes DermaSweep ideal for treating crow’s feet and other skin surrounding the eyes. Plus it double delivers, by simultaneously infusing serums into your skin for enhanced improvement to dull, blemished or sun damaged skin.*

3 – Acne Extraction Tools

There’s something so satisfying about popping a pimple! No matter how great it may feel, we’ve all heard repeatedly since adolescence that popping is a no-no. Don’t do it if you want to avoid a new outbreak, as well as infection, pocking and other unsightly scars. “But, wait a minute,” you may say. “Dermatologists perform ‘extractions’ all the time. Why can’t I just purchase the tools and do it myself?”*

Why Not to DIY

Whether you pop pimples with your fingers or use extraction tools, the result can be the same. If you don’t prep your skin and sterilize the tools correctly, you risk introducing new bacteria and problems to your skin. At the same time, you can push existing bacteria further down into your skin. This can worsen inflammation, leading to deeper scarring and more breakouts! Plus, the act of forcing out the contents of a pimple can cause your skin to tear, leaving a lasting mark or divet.*

See a Pro Instead

Performed correctly by a trained expert, acne extractions can work on both whiteheads and blackheads to relieve pressure, expedite healing, avoid future breakouts, and minimize scarring. A California Skin Institute professional will know how to keep the entire procedure sterile to avoid infection. They also have the expertise to first analyze and identify the direction of each pore, then properly apply the tools accordingly. They can thereby employ a drainage technique that requires less pressure to each pimple, thus reducing the chance of scarring and bruising. Regular professional extractions can not only rid you of existing pimples, but for some can also help keep chronic acne under control and your complexion clearer.*

4 – Hair Removal Devices

Tired of waxing that upper lip? Eager to toss out your razors? There are dozens of home devices on the market right now that are supposed to remove hair permanently. The majority use intense pulsed light (IPL) or electrolysis.*

Why Not to DIY

Even when talking about powerful clinical-grade devices, IPL is normally used to even out skin tone and treat broken capillaries, not to remove hair. Some of these IPL devices are capable of preventing hair regrowth by heating hair melanin (pigment) to the point of killing the root cell. At the DIY level, however, IPL gadgets tend not to work because they lack the strength. Just the same, they can be strong enough to cause blistering, burns and eye damage! If you do consider IPL, whether clinical or consumer, bear in mind that the technology can only heat dark hair and is only safe for light skin.*

Probe electrolysis has actually been found to be an effective method of permanent hair removal — but here’s the catch — only when used correctly. When used incorrectly, the results can be horrible. This could explain why the FDA acknowledges its efficacy, yet has approved zero home-use gadgets!

How does electrolysis work? An electrolysis probe device looks like a pen with a scorching-hot needle at one end. For each and every hair you want to remove, you need to be able to stick this burning pin through the shaft’s base without touching the skin. Then you have to hold it there, piercing a single hair, until the device can send enough hot electrical current down into the follicle to kill the hair at the root in a tiny puff of smoke. Hold it there too long, you burn yourself. Unsteady hand, you burn yourself. Aim slightly off? You burn yourself. It’s like playing a very slow game of Operation, but a painful version that can leave scars. Each hair may require multiple rounds of treatment, partly due to the weaker strength of the home-use devices.*

See a Pro Instead

Laser hair removal (LHR) has become extremely popular, with 96% of Real Self reviewers saying it’s worth it. When performed by a professional, it can be very safe and effective, even for some darker skin shades. The full process takes several sessions in order to catch enough hairs in the growth phase, so the laser can destroy them at the root followed my routine maintenance. When it’s all over, LHR will commonly reduce hair permanently by up to 90%, leaving only a few downy hairs behind. Schedule an expert assessment to find out whether a diode, Alexandrite or ND:YAG laser will return the best results for you.*

5 – Non-Ablative Rejuvenating Technologies

A whole host of advanced technologies are available from medical professionals to rejuvenate skin without removing (ablating) its surface layer. Powerful, sophisticated machines, they generally work by stimulating the deeper levels of the skin to produce collagen, while leaving the outer epidermis intact for zero to little downtime. These high-quality, intensive clinical treatments are not cheap. This can make all those supposedly similar consumer devices seem like a great bargain…. But are they?*

Why Not to DIY

The next time you consider home-use devices that claim to use advanced technologies for skin rejuvenation, try to find the technical specs. Whether laser, light therapy, radiofrequency or ultrasound, specs such as power intensity and wavelength are usually difficult or impossible to find. Perhaps this is because, across the board, these DIY gadgets are too weak to affect the caliber of improvement you see with clinical-grade devices. The good news is that most at-home devices are also too weak to cause any damage worse than discomfort and some visible irritation.*

See a Pro Instead

Clinical-grade skin-rejuvenation devices are extremely powerful, with the potential to bring about extensive plumping, smoothing and damage repair. Accordingly, to ensure safety and efficacy, they can only be operated by trained professionals. Here are just a few popular non-ablative skin rejuvenation options:*

Find out what non-ablative technology is best for your specific skin type and challenges. See a California Skin Institute board-certified dermatologist — with many years of device training and experience — for a recommendation.

When to Go to a Pro

Want to take advantage of advances in skincare technology to see significant, positive results? Better to skip the DIY and go straight to the pros. Home devices can seem like a great deal, but you risk outcomes ranging from no results to skin damage, pain, infection and scarring. Consult a California Skin Institute dermatologist about your skincare and beauty goals. They can start you on an expert-guided path to achieving the skin you want to see.


* Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.