Navigating The Ever-Confusing World Of Skincare Tools

By Susie

  • Anyone feeling overwhelmed with all the skincare tools flooding the market these days?
  • Should you needle, scrape, roll, laser...or cup?
  • Here's a quick summary of what's out there, what it's supposed to do, and tips on how to pick one 

It took me a long time to embrace a good skincare routine. I was overwhelmed by all the choices and the order in which to apply everything I had bought. I finally feel like I’m in a good place with my routine. I’ve learned that consistency is the key, in addition to researching and using proven ingredients.  I started getting compliments on my skin, had less breakouts and a brighter tone in general. In short, I was crushing it.

Then a while back, one day at work a friend mentioned how much she loved her jade roller. Had no clue what that was. Then someone else said they preferred the gua sha tool. The gua what sha who? I started googling, did some in-depth research and felt pretty on top of my skincare game...once I started using my new roller.

I work in corporate retail and one thing I’ve noticed during this pandemic is that the beauty industry seems to be doing well. Good skin and makeup are part of what we call “ATK (above the keyboard!) dressing,” and people still care.

I also noticed at the same time my Instagram and Facebook feed were inundated with skincare and beauty ads. What gave me serious FOMO though was all the skincare tools I was seeing. It seems like overnight the skincare tool industry exploded.

Once again, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. Did I want to roll, massage or suction? Did I need to micro-needle? What’s the difference between the blue, yellow and red lights?

I desperately needed to get my skincare tool game back on point. I dedicated a few days to additional research and came up with the below list, breaking down the type of tool and what their main treatment focus is.   

Keep in mind, the below information is just summarizing what proponents of each type of tool claim and I haven’t tested all of them out myself.  With the non-stop introduction of new tools daily, it would be impossible for one person to have tried them all and give a comprehensive opinion.  With that caveat, this is what we’re looking at:

Gua Sha/Rollers: Good for: boosting circulation, lifting, de-puffing. They come in different forms and materials – jade, buffalo horn, rollers with balls at the end, etc. The massage that comes from scraping or rolling can help drain excess fluid and stimulate the lymphatic system. Improved lymphatic flow helps relieve the body of waste and toxins. If you tend to look puffy in the mornings, using a chilled tool can help reduce swelling.

Micro-Needling:  Good for: lightening scarring and hyperpigmentation, reducing pore size and wrinkles. Micro-needling works by causing slight injuries to the skin forcing it to heal. Some proponents claim it can boost collagen production and also open up the skin allowing better absorption of product.

Facial Cupping: Good for: promoting circulation, relieving muscle tension and reducing puffiness. Facial cups are used to gently pull the skin away from the deeper layers of fascia which causes increased blood flow to the area. Fans say this can lead to strengthening the skin and tissues underneath which has numerous benefits for the skin including brightness, tone, reduced scars and wrinkles.

Microcurrent: Good for: lifting and toning. Works by emitting tiny electric pulses that simultaneously repair and produce collagen. For added benefits, use over a sheet mask – it can help with ingredient absorption and increased hydration.

Gold Bar: Good for: sculpting. Gold bars or any other massagers that vibrate, stimulate facial muscles which helps tone them. If you have a gold bar tool make sure to not forget the Tech Neck – those horizontal lines on your neck that form from looking down at your phone all the time.

Led Light Therapy: Good for: acne and anti-aging. Red infrared light is absorbed by the skin which is supposed to stimulate collagen. More collagen means the skin looks smoother and fuller which can reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. It is also thought to reduce inflammation which can give a healthier glow. Blue light on the other hand, targets the oil glands in your face located beneath the hair follicles to make them less active which is supposed to help with acne.

Pore Scraper: Good for: removing blackheads and keeping pores clean. A tool shaped like a small spatula that vibrates at high-frequency to remove blackheads and dead skin to help keep pores clean.

At-home Lasers: Good for: fine lines and wrinkles.  Using the same laser technology as in-office treatments but in a much weaker no numbing cream necessary version, there are now at-home handheld skincare laser that purportedly help stimulate collagen production to plump skin and smooth out fine lines, in particular, targeting the under-eye area.

In case you’re in the market for a new skincare tool, my advice is to first narrow down your biggest skincare concerns.  For me, they are skin elasticity and hyperpigmentation so I’ve recently been using both a microcurrent device and micro-needling tool.

Just like with skincare products, there is one cure-all and you don’t need a ton of stuff. The more important thing is to have a good routine you can stick to.  Make sure you don’t go beyond 2-3 tools at a time and try incorporating them a few times a week as an added benefit.