Dermatologists have an arsenal of anti-aging, hair-removing and skin-perfecting weapons at their fingertips. To reap the benefits of these devices, though, you have to be willing to fork over tons of time and money in the form of doctor’s appointments, right? Not any more: There are plenty of beauty gadgets out there that claim to get you the same results at home. But which ones actually deliver? Here’s an expert’s take on the tools that are worth your hard-earned dollars.
LED light therapy: Treatments with light-emitting diode (or LED) devices can boost collagen and elastin production so skin appears smoother, more even in tone and generally more radiant and youthful. In this form of photorejuvenation, concentrated beams of light are directed at skin to painlessly stimulate cellular repair processes. Dermatologist-administered LED treatments can take eight to 10 visits at about $100 per treatment before you see any real improvements. The beauty of at-home LED gadgets—which usually cost around $300—is they can be safely used every night. “Using one is a good start for someone who is interested in anti-aging procedures but is not quite ready for a visit to the dermatologist,” says Dr. Michael Gold, dermatologist and founder of the Gold Skincare Center in Nashville, Tenn. While a quick internet search will turn up plenty of LED skincare gadgets, Gold recommends making your purchase in a store so you can touch and feel the device and make sure it’s going to work.
At-home pick: The LightStim for Wrinkles handheld LED device ($299 at www.lightstim.com) was created by a top manufacturer and distributor of LED lights to the medical and spa industries and is the first U.S.-made, at-home LED light device to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating wrinkles.
Laser hair removal: Whether you’re bothered by unwanted facial hair or just hate shaving your legs, laser treatments are the way to go. “Laser hair removal is a true and proven method for the removal of unwanted hair,” according to Gold, who believes lasers have only grown more effective and safer in recent years. Effective, DIY light-based hair removal devices rely on that same advanced technology: They deliver beams of energy that are absorbed by the dark pigment in your hair and turned into heat, which basically kills the hair follicle and prevents it from growing new hair. Conventional laser hair removal, as performed in a professional’s office, can cost anywhere from $100 to $800 per treatment (depending on the area of the body being treated) and you’ll need at least six sessions to see permanent results. That’s a lot more money than the $400 to $500 you’ll pay for an at-home device.
At-home pick: Both the TRIA Hair Removal Laser ($395, www.TRIABeauty.com) and the Silk’n SensEpil Home Hair Removal device ($499, www.silkn.com) are FDA approved so they’re backed by clinical trials that prove their hair-removing powers.
TRIA Hair Removal Laser
Silk’n SensEpil Home Hair Removal
Facial cleansing brushes: Great skin starts with a clean complexion. Facial cleansing brushes feature rotating brush heads that deep clean without abrading skin. “These kinds of skin care brushes have been wonderful additions for our patients,” says Gold, who adds that they’re not meant to replace any particular in-office treatments, but to complement your at-home skincare routine. The Clarisonic devices—which were created by the inventor of the Sonicare toothbrush—use gentle sonic vibrations to more thoroughly cleanse and exfoliate skin so it’s better able to absorb any skincare products you use. The massaging action of the rotating brush heads is said to remove six times more makeup and twice as much dirt and oil as washing with your hands alone. Use the brush often enough and “you should be able to clean your skin exceptionally well which translates to less visits for facials,” according to Gold.
At-home pick: The Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing System ($225, www.clarisonic.com) is the latest and most advanced brush from Clarisonic: It features three speeds plus a spot therapy mode and body brush attachment for treating skin below the neck. For a less expensive option, check out Olay’s Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System ($29.99, www.olayprofessional.com), which does not use sonic technology, but provides two speeds for powerful deep cleansing.
Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing System
Olay’s Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System