2023 Holiday Skin Gadget Gift Review

The 2023 holiday season is upon us, and what better way to spoil your loved ones (or yourself) than with the latest at-home skincare gadgets! But which tool is worth your purchase?

The Skin Report is a podcast created to educate listeners on methods to improve skin health for people of all ethnicities and ages. In this episode, host Dr. Sethi discusses the popular 2023 beauty and skin health devices available for the holiday season. This buyer’s guide episode features Dr. Sethi’s expertise on skincare devices to determine which of these tools is effective and worth their price. Listeners will learn about the latest skin tools that claim to provide at-home serum infusion, hair removal, LED light therapy, microneedling, and even microcurrent skin toning treatments. So, before you pull out your wallet, tune in to this episode for a skin expert’s take on the hottest beauty tools for the 2023 season!

As the founder of RenewMD Beauty Medical Spas and a woman of color, Dr. Sethi is dedicated to spreading science-backed skincare information on The Skin Report. Check out this episode to learn more about 2023’s top skincare and beauty devices!

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Byrdie’s 2023 Beauty Gift guides (see the list here)

Blue Light Systemic review

Blue and Red light therapy for acne

This transcript was exported on November 28, 2023 -view latest version here.

Skincare can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether it’s finding the right products, ingredients, or treatments. There’s a lot out there, but not always for people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Eastern South Asian descent. That’s why I set out to educate myself and others so that we can all feel beautiful in our skin. Hello and welcome back to The Skin Report. I’m Dr. Simran Sethi, an internal medicine doctor, mom of three and CEO and founder of Renew MD Medical Spas and Skin by Dr. Sethi.

On this episode, we’re looking at the top beauty and skincare gadgets for the 2023 holiday shopping season. The holiday seasons bring time for decisions on gifting and the choices can be overwhelming. I won’t lie, but even I get very overwhelmed when I sift through beauty gift guides from retailers like Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon, and in most cases am even more confused about the huge price difference between products that seem to promise the same things. While researching the best beauty gifts for the 2023 holiday season, one thing really stood out to me. The 2023 holiday gifting season guides are full of a variety of home beauty devices. This was very fun to go through and as they’re higher price points, I thought it would be helpful to review these from a scientific perspective to see if they’re really worth the hype. Keep listening because you may be surprised.

So let’s first discuss the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 at home laser hair removal device. Okay, so before I start, I want you to know that all of my clinics offer laser hair removal and most of my patients are people of color. In treating these people with darker and thicker hair, I’m able to give my honest and strong opinion on at-home laser hair removal devices. My take is based on a lot of clinical experience in laser treatments for skin of color and from meeting so many people who have wasted time and money on at-home devices. Laser hair removal is best achieved by a diode or Nd:YAG laser, which selectively delivers intense but deep energy to the hair follicle. The bronze system, and frankly, any home laser hair removal device is an IPL laser, which also delivers heat energy to the hair follicle, but more superficially and with less intensity. This means that you will have to do the treatment every week initially and then continually at least every few weeks to month after that.

The device does not perform permanent hair removal because it is simply not strong enough. There’s a lot to laser technology and hair removal, and I don’t want you to confuse you with too much information at once, but if you’re looking for permanent hair removal without the risk of hyperpigmentation or having to spend hours, weekly or monthly for the rest of your life, then I highly recommend that you have your laser hair removal done in a mere six to 12 sessions at a medical spa. If you have a darker skin tone, you should especially avoid the use of IPL lasers as they require many more sessions and have a greater risk of hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones. Yes, it will cost you four to $6,000 to get permanent full body hair removal compared to the 385 Silk Expert Pro on braun.com.

However, if you were to perform full body hair removal with an at-home device, which is meant to be done weekly for some months and then every month indefinitely, you are looking at at least spending over two hours per home session. And most importantly, you wouldn’t even get permanent results after spending all that time. So considering how a hair removal treatment at a MediSpa is permanent will not have negative effects on your skin and will definitely take much less time to see results, trust me, it’s worth it. So the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 may not be a favorite of mine, but let’s move on to the next skincare gadget on our list.

The NuFACE Microcurrent Trinity Microcurrent device, which costs $325. The NuFACE Microcurrent Trinity Microcurrent device is advertised as a toning device that uses microcurrent technology to firm and tone skin on the face and neck with the ability to smooth wrinkles, contour your cheeks, and even lift your brows. But does it work? I think that this is an effective device and would not be capable of hurting your skin no matter what your skin tone. That said consistency is key with tools like this. Fortunately, the NuFACE device requires as little as five minutes of daily use for a few months to see results.

So let’s break down how the tool works. The NuFACE is one of many other microcurrent devices that deliver electric muscle stimulation to the facial muscles to in a sense work the muscles out and tighten the skin above the muscles. A good aspect of the device is that it does not produce large amounts of heat that can potentially worsen hyperpigmentation in darker skin tone. However, I will caution the use of this or similar product if you have melasma or sensitive skin. It is safe to use this, but limit your use to five minutes a day and make sure that you are applying enough of the massaging gel when using the device to prevent excessive mechanical force that may risk breaking downyour skin barrier. The only downside to this product is that it does require consistent usage per month to see results, but if you have the discipline, it is worth the investment.

Next, we’ll be looking at the Droplette Microinfuser priced at $199. The Droplette Microinfuser is a serum diffusing device that delivers skincare in microparticles through its misting technology to penetrate the skin in deeper levels. On Droplette’s website, I saw something that caught my eye about the skincare formulations, which are offered in ampules that you purchase from Droplette. The manufacturer specifically states that these formulations will cross the stratum cornea or dead skin cell layer and go to the epidermis. I will be honest, the claims behind the device actually confused me at first. So I searched scientific data and verified user reviews to better understand its benefit, and I have to say that I’ve since concluded that I’m not a fan. First, there are great ways to help your skincare penetrate through the stratum corneum, which is Droplette’s main advantage that do not necessarily involve the use of a device.

If you regularly and responsibly exfoliate your skin with an AHA, BHA, a micro particle scrub or all of the above, you will effectively clean off the stratum corneum and increase the delivery of your skincare product. Adding a monthly microderm abrasion facial will make that exfoliation even more powerful and give your aesthetician a chance to tackle any pesky clogged pores with some extractions. Second, I don’t like that the device only allows you to infuse their serums. I’m sure that we all have some very loved skincare products that work great on our skin, but would unfortunately not be compatible with this system. And third, I’m not sure how travel-friendly this tool is and users must remember to keep it charged to use it, which may be impractical for some users depending on their lifestyle. Finally, using this device does take a few extra minutes than it would be to simply layer your skincare. So maybe it isan all right investment for a more patient skincare enthusiast rather than a minimalist.

Up next we’ll take a look at a microneedling device followed by an LED like mask, so stick around. I’m a fan of microneedling when it is performed by a professional, but the FaceGym microneedling device claims that it can deliver microneedling benefits at home for $275. Now, microneedling is an effective skin correction treatment because it can reduce acne scarring, uneven skin tone and wrinkles, but most importantly, this is possible only when performed deep into the skin dermis and not superficially as this at-home device does. The FaceGym microneedling device penetrates to a mere 0.25 millimeters, whereas medical grade microneedling done in a doctor’s office reaches four millimeters. This is a huge difference and extremely important when considering who should be using this product and who should definitely stay away from it. At a depth of 0.25 millimeters, the microneedles are just entering the superficial epidermis and creating a micro injury in an effort to stimulate collagen production.

But collagen stimulation only occurs when you create a micro injury in the dermis, so any intervention in the epidermis is not in any way going to stimulate collagen growth. The epidermis also houses all our melanocytes or pigment producing cells, which means that if you irritate the epidermis, you have a greater risk of developing hyperpigmentation. This is such an important consideration if you have a darker skin tone, and probably the biggest reason why I feel this device can actually be dangerous. Repeated breakage of the epidermis in melanin rich skin tones will stimulate extra pigmentation as the skin considers this a skin insult. Also, because there isn’t any deep stimulation of collagen growth, as the needles don’t reach the dermis, there won’t be any recovery. I’ve seen a number of patients who have come to my office after worsening their acne scars and developing hyperpigmentation from using derma rollers or at-home microneedling devices.

If you have a darker skin tone or have a lot of acne scars, a microneedling device that does not go to the dermis such as this tool and other at-home microneedling devices will worsen your scarring. Even when you look at studies cited on FaceGym’s website, they’ve not specified if their study patients had acne scarring, normal or aged skin. If you have healthy skin, any positive results with this device are simply because it’s just giving you a better penetration of products, and it is not due to collagen stimulation. In my opinion, I feel that this device is definitely more harmful than helpful for anyone of Asian, South Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern or African descent or anyone with acne scars.

Now onto the Shani Darden LED light mask, one of the at-home like therapy tools that have become very popular in the last few years. But let’s look at whether the science backs up the claimed skin benefits. Well, I found some consistent and positive clinical studies showing the acne reducing benefits of blue and red light therapy. This is more so for blue light where studies have shown that the LED light effectively kills bacteria in acne pustules. And in a large systemic review of trials ranging from 1990 to 2021, it showed a considerable reduction of acne lesions. Of course, there was concomitant use of retinol and/or benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid among study participants, which speaks to the multi-pronged approach to acne reduction. But I like that this is a viable alternative to oral antibiotics, which can alter the gut microbiome and create antibiotic resistance over time.

It’s important to note that the studies showed improvement in patients with moderate to severe acne and not in patients with mild acne. So I can’t say if this is beneficial if you have mild acne. Finally, the red light function of this mask is meant to promote collagen production, and I’m happy to say that with consistent use and the right skincare actives like vitamin C and retinol, this will happen. I only caution using this device if you have melasma, as melasma is a complex hyperpigmentation disorder which creates skin hyperpigmentation with exposure to heat or light. I have seen patients develop a melasma flareup with the use of red light therapy, but for those who don’t have melasma, the Shani Darden LED light mask can be a great product to address moderate to severe acne or to help stimulate collagen production.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of 2023’s hottest holiday skincare gadgets. If you take away anything from this episode, just remember that you should always consider the science behind skincare product claims. This is especially true for any gadgets that claim to provide in-office treatments at home. For instance, consider how the Braun’s Silk Expert Pro 5 laser hair removal device did not produce permanent results, and the FaceGym microneedling device did not penetrate the skin deeply enough to deliver real benefits.

By assessing whether these tools are truly able to produce the same results as the ones used by a professional, you can avoid lofty product claims and save yourself time and money. Another thing to remember is that you don’t always need a device to achieve certain benefits. For example, the Droplette Microinfuser is a serum diffusing tool that’s supposed to allow skincare to penetrate the skin’s deeper levels, but regular and responsible skin exfoliation can also increase the delivery of your skincare products, meaning that you won’t need to buy this extra tool or any of the limited serums that work with it. While there are some great skincare gadgets that can be worthy of your purchase, this is dependent on your skin tone type and condition. The Shani Darden LED light mask at-home light therapy tool can help with moderate to severe acne and stimulate collagen production.

However, people with melasma should avoid using the gadget as red light therapy can cause melasma flare-ups. It’s vital for people with melasma to avoid tools that use light or heat as this can cause hyperpigmentation to form. People with darker skin tones should also be cautious of tools that may cause hyperpigmentation like at-home IPL lasers or microneedling devices that don’t reach the dermis. And lastly, some home skincare tools work well, but rely on consistency to see results. While the NuFACE Microcurrent Trinity Microcurrent device can be effective and is not capable of harming darker skin tones, it does require consistent usage over the course of a few months, but with discipline, it can deliver beautiful results.

Thanks for always listening, and until next time, love your skin, love yourself, and celebrate your beauty. If you’d like to learn more about science-backed skincare or medical aesthetic treatments, please subscribe to and turn on notifications for The Skin Report so you always know when a new episode is up. We have a newsletter that you can sign up for on skinbydrsethi.com so that you can stay up to date on all our latest products and more. Additionally, if you have a skincare question or want to make an episode topic recommendation, please message me at theskinreportbydrsethi.com, which is linked in my show notes and I’ll be sure to answer your question in an episode soon.

Transcript by Rev.com