The Truth About Anti-Aging Skincare Devices, Straight From an Expert


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Although I'm a beauty editor, I won't lie to you, I still get extremely confused when it comes to youth-enhancing skincare devices. I've been wanting to invest in something that will help keep my skin looking youthful (like a microcurrent device), but there are a lot of other types of devices out there that seem good on paper and promise dramatic results. Here's the thing, though. If I'm going to invest a lot of time, energy, and money into a device, I want to make sure it's actually high-quality. Because I don't exactly have the knowledge to choose the absolute best one, I decided to turn to esteemed aesthetician Katie Sobelman for advice.

I slid into her DMs asking about all things microcurrent (one of her specialties!), what the deal is with EMS devices, and how folks can go about choosing the right device for them. Keep reading below for her super-helpful guide and anti-aging device recommendations.

Microcurrent vs. EMS Devices


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You may have seen both microcurrent devices and EMS devices out there on the market but aren't sure the difference between the two or what they even really do. I asked Sobelman to clear up the confusion for us. "While both EMS and microcurrent are electrical currents used for muscle stimulation, they are quite different from each other," she explains. "EMS, which stands for electro muscle stimulation, is a form of faradic current, an interrupted direct current that is measured in milliamps and creates visible muscle contraction when applied to the body. It is best suited for larger muscles of the body and is too active for the more delicate muscles of the face.

"Microcurrent is an alternating current, as it uses both positive and negative polarities. The current is measured in micro amps (uA) with an intensity of 175-1000 uA. To put this in perspective, 1000 microamps is one milliamp. Microcurrent mimics the body's own bioelectrical frequencies to stimulate the muscle, surrounding tissues, and even cellular activity. One of the greatest benefits of microcurrent is its ability to increase cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP. Increasing this cellular energy allows for optimized cellular function, giving your cells everything they need to do all the important things like synthesizing collagen, creating new cells, repairing damage, and preventing invasion from intruders."

So yeah, you might want to think twice before hitting purchase on an EMS device. To be perfectly honest, I almost bought one myself but pumped the brakes and slid into Sobelman's DMs instead to ask if she recommends these types of devices. "I don't recommend EMS for the face, as it is too stimulating for these delicate muscles," she says. "EMS creates visible muscle contractions, which depletes ATP. Microcurrent, on the other hand, increases ATP with every treatment, so not only are you increasing the health of the muscle, but you are also increasing the health of the skin. This is why microcurrent gives both instant and long-term results."

What to Look for in an Anti-Aging Skincare Device

If you're looking to invest in a youth-enhancing skincare device, it's a good idea to get clear on your goals. "First, figure out what exactly you are trying to address," Sobelman shares. "Do you want to firm your skin, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, or do you want to improve muscle tone? Once you know what you are trying to achieve, it's easier to then find the right device for the job. Second, look for devices with either clinical or consumer studies to back up their claims. There are a lot of device options out there, and narrowing them down to treatments that have proven results makes your search that much easier. Lastly, be realistic. Look for devices with treatment schedules that will fit in your own schedule. It doesn't matter how effective a device is if you don't make time to actually use it."

For microcurrent specifically, you can use devices like this both preventatively and correctively. "If you are using a microcurrent device to correct the signs of aging, you should use your device four to five times a week until you see the desired improvement, then a few times a week for maintenance," Sobelman says. If you're incorporating microcurrent into your skincare routine for prevention, she recommends using your device two to three times per week. Our skin's aging process is also multifaceted, so the best way to treat age-related issues utilizes a varied approach. Keep in mind, buying a high-quality device is an investment and a good number of them are pricey. Do I think it's worth it to keep your skin youthful and healthy? Yes, I do. Sobelman likes to keep a few of the below devices in her own arsenal and recommends them to clients.

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Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.