Despite being the hard-core beauty lover that I am, I can go the entire year getting all of two manicures, three pedicures, and maybe one blowout. But boy do I love facials. What once was my favorite hour of the month now seems like something of another era, as facials have not been the easiest to come by in 2020.
By the time the world started its baking adventures with banana bread and sourdough starters at the wee beginning of quarantine, I turned to trusty Amazon to keep my stress acne in check, as I found my new facial place aka my own bathroom. Over these past few months, I have learned to care for my skin with at-home tools that are not only affordable but are also useful. Facialist Samantha Matteoni, my co-worker turned best friend, and I have compiled the best tools that will help you achieve that post-facial glow every single night—that is until your next actual facial appointment.
1. A High-Frequency Tool
The high-frequency tool was always my favorite few minutes of my facial. Before I left coated with a cocktail of delicious serums, the esthetician would zap my face and buzz at a pimple. Known as a secret weapon among facialists, it not only treats acne, stimulates collagen, and increases blood flow within hours, but it also leaves you with a brighter, more youthful complexion after a few days. Did I mention that you can use it daily and that it costs less than $50?
"The high-frequency treatments are a natural way of improving your skin's cellular turnover by oxygenating the layers below the dermis, improving skin tone and texture, as the argon gas has comprehensive antibacterial and healing benefits," says Matteoni, who's worked as an esthetician for models in L.A. and New York. "During the treatment, enriched oxygen molecules are generated and create thermal tissue warming, helping the blood vessels push away the bacteria, and reduce acne healing time by approximately 80% by naturally fighting acne-causing inflammation under the skin surface."
If you're prone to congestion and are trying to control and treat cystic acne like me, the violet gas is the one to go for. While the device oxygenates and clears out the bacteria in my blemishes, it also prevents future breakouts and reduces post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. If your needs are to treat the signs of aging and increase collagen levels and cellular turnover rate, the orange and red electrodes are for you. My go-to electrode is the large, flat circle, the mushroom, which is best used for larger areas on your face like your cheeks and forehead. The key is to cover your blemish area for three to five minutes, and the device shouldn't be used for more than 20 minutes at a time over your whole face. You will feel a slight tingling. The best way to benefit from the high frequency and avoid sun irritation is to use it right before bed after cleansing.
2. A Facial Gauze
"To give yourself the most effective treatment, use a face gauze to allow distance between your skin and the electrode (a quarter inch is the optimal distance) because this allows the current to penetrate deeper," Matteoni says.
3. A Serum
Using a serum is also a great move, as most of our favorite collagen-increasing products have molecules that are too big for the skin to absorb. When they're used in conjunction with a high-frequency tool, you significantly improve their absorption rate. Just be sure to avoid AHA, glycolic acid, or alcohol-based products to prevent overdrying. Also, you'll want to stay away from areas of broken capillaries, spider veins, and rosacea. Always clean the electrodes with alcohol before and after use with individually wrapped alcohol wipes, and always be sure to remove any earrings or face piercings to avoid getting an electric shock.
4. A Massage Tool
For an excellent massage that can be almost as great as a facialist's hands, a simple, nonelectric device like the 2-In-1 Face Massage Roller kit is your best bet. One is a disco ball–type 3D roller that can actually be used on your entire body, and the other is a T-shape electric energy massager that tightens skin on the face. Because it stimulates blood circulation, I use it right when I wake up to get my energy going. Even if I just use it for 20 minutes as I scroll through my phone, my face looks more restful and rosy. It does not need a conductor gel, and you can use it on bare skin or use it over a moisturizer to help your skin absorb it better. While I've never tried it in the shower, it's even waterproof.
For a more high-tech version that requires less time, this massager is an instant boost that will make you question how so much power can come out of such a small and portable tool. Even just 10 minutes a day can be helpful in lifting the face contours and removing wrinkles on my face and around my eyes. I've noticed my under-eye circles have greatly reduced, and I have loved how toned, deeply hydrated, and moisturized my skin feels.
A massager tool is especially effective to help push product into your skin (like serum), resulting in increased absorption of your precious products. The cordless and battery-powered vibrating machine from Vijuve is strong enough to improve skin's elasticity, and while my concerns are not there yet, it can also help improve signs of aging, furrow lines, fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
5. A Facial Steamer
Ahh, now for the most relaxing time during a facial (even though you know extractions will likely follow). This face steamer is the key to achieving deeply hydrated and plump skin. Especially since I've been missing out on my time in the sauna—another favorite beauty treat of mine—this steamer leaves me with the same energized feeling when paired with a calming eucalyptus essential oil. Try covering the machine with a towel so the steam doesn't escape. Just be careful not to put your face too close to the device. Also, be sure to use distilled water and get the full 30 minutes out of the steam cycle so that the warm mist can open your pores, which will make it a great stepping stone to clear skin (extractions or not).
6. A Pore-Extracting Tool
While extractions should definitely be kept to the professionals, this tool is a game changer that helps with clearing unwanted yet very common buildup of dead skin and leftover makeup residue. For light-handed pore-suction action, this works best on cleansed skin. With some light water or face mist, it glides across your face, getting all the gunk out.
Not only does it gently extract blackheads and whiteheads along the T-zone with the cleansing function, but it also has a lifting function. For visibly improved circulation, decongestion, and improved texture of the skin, use oil-based skincare products, like Lord Jones's CBD Moisturizer, and do upward strokes from your chin to cheekbone. You will be shocked by how soft and clear your skin will feel, even after only 10 minutes a few times a week.
7. A Light-Therapy Device
This super tool is the most high-tech item in my routine, and with so many functions and lights, I am still getting the hang of it. It's helpful in stimulating cell activity deep in your skin and has cleansing and relaxing modes. But the most geek-worthy part of the device is that the multicolor LED light therapy treats almost all skin concerns.
8. A Cleanser
After a deep cleaning with my Glo Skin Cream Cleanser, I use the red light to boost collagen production and reduce the wrinkles on my forehead and mouth. The blue light is great at removing excess oil, acne, and blackheads, and the green light is neutralizing and calming, soothing skin inflammation and renewing the skin following sun exposure.
Starting out with the lowest intensity of the LED tool, apply a clarifying serum for the cleansing function. For the anti-aging function, a water-based product is best. Use the tool for about five minutes two to three times a week. Just be sure to avoid sun exposure afterward, as the skin remains sensitive for an hour or so. Use this before you slather on a hydrating oil. Then, hit the pillow to let all the goodness get to work.