When it comes to skincare, we talk a lot about the essentials: moisturizers, serums, eye creams, cleansers, retinols, etc. It's so important to get the basics of your skincare routine down pat because, well, you know that once you've gotten in a groove with your skin, you don't want to mess it up or look back. But can I suggest one often-overlooked category to contemplate that could make a big difference in your routine? Skincare tools.
Okay, yes, skincare tools aren't exactly necessary. Some can be total scams and not worth the money. But like a good skincare routine, once you find a tool that changes the game for you, then you'll wonder what you did without it. They can be the perfect complement to your routine.
Since there are tools out there that are too good to be true, I polled our Who What Wear staff and read hundreds of customer reviews to bring you a list of skincare tools worth checking out. See below and decide for yourself.
"I'll never stop talking about my gua sha board. I've praised it dozens of times because it's just that good. It increases blood circulation, which increases elastin and collagen, and it also helps with lymphatic drainage. My face looks lifted after five minutes, both morning and night. Don't believe that it actually works? This video is proof." — Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
The mini version of NuFace's facial toning device works just as well. It uses microcurrent technology to stimulate, contour, tone, and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. One Sephora reviewer wrote, "I'm in my mid 30s and have been using the Nuface Mini for two years. It is the absolute BEST!!! I wish I had started in my 20s. I highly recommend it. It is completely worth the investment. My face and neck is more lifted. Fine lines and wrinkles are no more. It is now part of my skincare routine and at other times it's to pamper myself."
This facial massage roller has a 360-degree design to reach all the areas of your face. The handle has a solar panel to turn light into microcurrents that stimulate circulation. A reviewer on Dermstore said, "This roller is like no other I've ever tried. I love the massage it gives my face, it feels wonderful and relaxing. I love the kneading massage feel and the lifting results it gives. At first I was a bit hesitant about using microcurrent on my face but you can't even feel it. This is a nice roller."
"I bought this face roller–and-massager duo during the first week of quarantine in March, and I am so happy that I did. I apply a few drops of light face oil and then get to it, particularly around my forehead and jawline. It is the perfect de-stressing activity to pair with my latest Netflix/Hulu/HBO obsession and also makes my skin look healthy and hydrated. I'd buy it again even if it cost twice as much." — Drew Elovitz, Global Director of Content Strategy
"Recommending a product at this price point is going to make me seem like an out-of-touch beauty editor who needs to get a grip on reality, but I'm going to do it anyway. (Please don't cancel me!) This mask is life, and that's coming from someone who can't be bothered to use skincare tools most of the time. I've just been duped by one too many gizmos and gadgets and consider my time and my cash too valuable for those games. But I'll never forget the first time I met Dr. Gross for the first time IRL and he clued me in to what he described as the new frontier in dermatology: LED masks. Of course, I was skeptical at first and not just because strapping this thing onto my face felt next-level crazy. In fact, it took months of owning this thing for me to commit to using it three minutes a day for an extended period. But let me tell you—it's so worth looking nutty for a few minutes a day when you consider how many skincare struggles this baby tackles all at once. It kills breakout-causing bacteria, it stimulates collagen at different skin receptors that serums and peels can't communicate with, and it thickens and plumps the appearance of the skin almost instantly. And if like me you deal with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, this mask helps to even out those types of marks way faster. If you're looking to invest in your skin, this is a purchase you should definitely consider." — Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
If you don't want to splurge but still want to try out LED therapy, Neutrogena makes an affordable option. The small device uses red and blue light therapy. Place it on any spots for two minutes to kill bacteria and calm inflammation. An Amazon reviewer wrote, "Its red and blue light is effective. Faster pimple healing by far. Best results if you can catch problem before it turns into a significant pimple. (I get a clue by feeling a little pain in an area, or a little redness before appearance sometimes, and I treat those indicators with good success). On existing large pimples it does help it resolve faster, but not as fast as catching them early."
Remove blackheads, whiteheads, dead skin, and grease with this small vacuum. It has five different suction levels that you can choose based on your skin type. Schlisserman said, "Full disclosure, when I used this for the first time, I gave myself a massive bruise on my chin that resembled a hickey. It then occurred to me that I should probably test the various suction tips and levels on my hand before going to town on my face. Once you get the hang of it, it's really easy to use. It's almost like going to the dermatologist for microdermabrasion, just without the hefty price tag. A lot of the images in the reviews make it look like a ton of gunk is going to come out when you use it, but that hasn't been the case for me. It's just a good way to exfoliate and get a brighter-looking complexion."
Use this device on mild to moderate acne. It uses blue and red light to kill bacteria and treat inflammation in three minutes. A Dermstore reviewer said, "I got my LightStim about a month ago and I can honestly say this is the most calm my skin has been in years!! Spending a bit of money on this device will more than pay for itself in all of the products you won't need to buy in the future! I feel like I can finally start to address post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from old acne spots without feeling like they will come right back after my next batch of zits. Definitely my best skincare purchase in years."
Ah, the Buf-Puf. This one has been a must-have item for both Who What Wear readers and editors. It all started when 89-year-old Anita Marshall (Erin and Sara Foster's youthful-looking grandma) said it was her secret weapon and that she'd been using it to exfoliate her skin for 40 years. Pro tip: Make sure to apply it gently, and you might want to tread carefully if you've got sensitive skin.
Not only can you use this tiny razor to tidy up any facial hairs, but it also works to exfoliate skin. Who What Wear graphic designer Natalia Sztyk said, "I use it all over my face and have been for years. Doing this will not make your hair grow in darker or thicker, instead, the benefits are smoother, exfoliated skin that not only feels nice but allows serums and moisturizers to penetrate deeper into your skin."
This device removes dead skin cells, built-up dirt and grime, and peach fuzz. It has two different speeds so you can customize based on your skin needs and concerns. The kit comes with a pre-treatment cleanser and post-treatment moisturizer. A reviewer on Nordstrom wrote, "My skin is so bright and shiny! It took off the dead layer of skin cells. My face is not really hairy, but it took off the layer of peach fuzz too. My makeup looks smoother and just overall better. My skin is sensitive, so it was red for the first day after use. Highly recommend"
I've heard about the benefits of micro-needling before—it's supposed to stimulate collagen production and leave your skin toned, smooth, and brighter. So I was excited to try this device even if I was a little bit afraid of its prickliness. To use, you just gently roll it over your skin horizontally, vertically, and diagonally a couple of times. I tested it out by using it each night after washing my face. After about two weeks of daily use, I noticed my skin was a lot brighter and plumper. It really wakes up my dull skin. I will say in the beginning, the tiny prickles took some getting used to (maybe I'm a baby when it comes to pain?), but after a few days, I got over it. Now, I love using it while I watch Netflix or lounge in bed. I decreased my use to about three to four times a week, and I'm still noticing a difference.
One of the most expensive buys on this list, the Ziip is quite the splurge, but many of its loyal fans believe it's worth it. It uses nanocurrent and microcurrent technology to lift, sculpt, repair, stimulate collagen production, and decrease acne. In short, it leaves your skin glowy and healthy. One Revolve customer wrote, "Feels sophisticated/edgy but relaxing at the same time. It's easy to use. I have sensitive, very fair skin and get no redness or irritation from this tool. The gel is rich and I can't see leaving it on afterward for all skin types (acne-prone), but for me, after rinsing it off, it is indeed like having had a face mask, this in addition to the sculpting from the tool. I have used my Ziip for a few weeks in combo with regular gua sha massage at home. My skin is glowing."
This micro-needling pen allows you to be more precise with your treatment. It has an adjustable needle head and built-in vibration. You can also use the device on your body to target stretch marks or on your scalp to stimulate hair growth. A Dermstore reviewer said, "I suffered from cystic acne as a teen and was left with severe scarring. Through the years, I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on peels, lasers, dermabrasions and in-office microneedling. The microneedling was the most effective treatment so I decided to try it on my own at home with this device. I have been really happy with the results! Highly recommend using a numbing cream and then slathering hyaluronic acid on the areas to be treated, making sure to keep the area super wet at all times. This will allow the device to glide over the skin and give you a better result with less pain."
I'm a big fan of Foreo's cleansing device. While you can use it daily, I like to power up mine when my face needs some extra TLC, like after a sweaty workout or if I've been wearing a lot of makeup. It's so gentle yet thorough on my sensitive skin. My face feels so clean but not irritated or red afterward. It has eight different speeds, so it's so easy to get the deep clean that works with your skin.
When you can't make it to the spa, use this steamer to hydrate dry skin and cleanse pores. It's suitable for all skin types, and the treatment takes just nine minutes. One Dermstore reviewer wrote, "I think it was worth the price—because I didn't want to risk buying a cheap steamer that you can put any water in and it breaks after two days. This steamer works. I used it every day for a week when I first got it and I had major blackheads on my nose. Blackheads gone by the end of the week. I did extractions with every steam, but anyone with blackheads knows that they just return the next day. But when I woke up on the seventh day, my nose was completely clear—before I even washed it. In conclusion, you get what you pay for, use distilled water so you don't break this machine, and see how it goes."
"I've been using these reusable makeup-remover pads for the past six months, and I doubt I'll ever go back to cotton rounds. Not only are they significantly better for the environment, but they also work exceptionally well, and you don't have to worry about leftover cotton residue on your face. I use these mostly with micellar water, toner, and rubbing alcohol. I haven't tried one with nail polish remover yet, but since they come in a 12-pack, it's probably worth the risk of ruining one to give it a try." — Elovitz
This device both deep-cleans, firms, and tones. It also has heat technology on one side that helps your skincare products absorb easier and work harder. One Nordstrom reviewer said, "I had a different (very popular) skincare brush but it finally gave out and I was tired of buying brush head replacements. This is wonderful! I love the four-speed setting, and the built-in warming device is amazing. I like to put argan oil on my face and use the warming side to set it in my skin. I did it for my husband and he fell asleep. I was worried at first that my skin would not be getting as clean with the silicone brush, but haven't had an issue yet! It is very hygienic which is nice, and I agree with another reviewer that this is a good product if you want to 'up' your skincare routine. I've been telling all my friends to buy one."
Tools for Redness and Puffiness
You can get a cryo treatment at home thanks to these tools. Leave in the freezer overnight and apply to any to the parts of your face that need some soothing, or puffy eyes. A Revolve customer wrote, "Amazing tool that really de-puffs and glides on your face with skincare. A plus that it's easy to travel with!"
This is like running an ice cube all over your face in the best way possible. I leave this in my freezer, and when my face is puffy, red, or irritated, I pull it out and let it work its magic. My skin starts to feel better after a couple of minutes. It also works like a charm after a night of a couple of glasses of wine or when you've had trouble sleeping and need to look more awake.
Consider this the high-tech way to put on a face mask. It has two modes: Thermo-Therapy (to soothe), and Cryo-Therapy (to cool and rejuvenate). It also delivers pulsations and LED light therapy. And each treatment only takes 90 seconds. One Nordstrom customer said, "I've been using this device twice a week for eight months now, and it's my favorite. I love everything about it. It's so relaxing and I love the effect it has on my skin, it feels so soothed and hydrated after, and looks so glassy and healthy after the treatment. I love that it has so many different functions: light, thermo, cryo, and it pulsates! It's easy to use, hence [easy to] incorporate into your skin regimen, and it's easy to clean. My favorite mask is the 'Call It a Night.' Highly recommend this device to those looking for a luxurious at home facial experience that has real results!"