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We hear all about how skin care is preventative — staving off acne, dark spots, and wrinkles. While I firmly believe that to be true, we won’t know until we’re 50 and somehow look 30 if it works or not, and even then we’ll have no control for how we would have looked pre-skincare. So we stick to the program and really hope all those creams and serums, lotions and potions are worth it.
Due to the aforementioned trusting the process, I have had a dedicated multi-step skincare routine for a decade now. However, it’s only recently I’ve started to dabble in the at-home devices. I had a microcurrent facial that left my face looking lifted and fresh, but I was skeptical if an at-home tool could deliver the same results. I’ve been testing the NuFace Mini+ Microcurrent Device for 10 months now — here are my before and after photos and full thoughts.
How We Tested
Length of Time: 10 months, using 4-5 times per week for at least a full 5 minute session
Testing Criteria: Ease of Use, Results, Value
NuFace Mini+ Microcurrent Device
What We Love: A full treatment can be done in less than five minutes.
It’s Worth Noting: If you don’t use enough conductor gel, you will get a zap.
This tool uses low-level microcurrents to target the muscles in the face and stimulate collagen production in a pain-free five to 15-minute treatment. It replicates the results of in-office treatments with zero downtime and can be used daily. You may see the results being compared to Botox, but don’t let that sway you — Botox is Botox — a micro-current device can be a great non-invasive alternative if you want to go the needle-free route but it won’t wipe away wrinkles. The more consistently you use it, the better the effect.
The Mini+ Starter Kit includes the microcurrent device and charger, gel and creme activators, and applicator brush. You’ll need to apply a thick layer of some sort of connectivity gel before starting a treatment, if the layer is too thin or the gel dries down before you finish, you may experience a little electrical zap.
Who It’s For: Any skincare enthusiast who wants to get into devices as well as someone looking for more immediate effects for puffiness and contouring, long-term wrinkle reduction and firmness.
Price at time of publish: $250 for the starter kit
Modes: 3 | App-Connectivity: Yes | Rechargeable: Yes
My Full NuFace Mini+ Review
When I began testing the newest iteration of the NuFace — the Mini+ — back in January, I had some specific goals in mind. I wanted the ability to defeat puffiness after a night of takeout beef and broccoli and that second glass of wine. I also wanted to see the smoothing benefits on that stubborn horizontal line in my forehead and the contouring benefits at my cheekbones and jawline.
I diligently used the device every morning when I first started and now I’m at a four to five days a week cadence. I prefer the ritual of it to wake up so I’m a morning microcurrent gal, but you can use it at night if it fits better into your routine. The slow glides and soft beeps to shift to a new section are the only pre-coffee stimulation I can tolerate. Ten minutes later with my skincare done and having a real human in the mirror instead of a half-awake gremlin is priceless (after the $250 investment, of course).
After nearly a year of use, I can confidently say the experience exceeded my expectations. The device isn’t a miracle worker. I don’t have a facelift snatched jawline with nary a wrinkle in sight — let’s leave the, uh, heavy lifting, to actual facelifts and Botox. However there is a difference before and after using the device as well as my February photos to my October ones.
In the immediate before and after, I see the biggest difference in the puffiness of my cheeks — I look like I have a sharp contour but that is makeup (and skincare!) free. The fine line across my forehead also appears a little smoother after a treatment. For the course of 10 months (see below), I notice the change around my jawline most. It has more of a sharp angle and my cheekbones have more definition than ever before. Blush is one of my all-time favorite products so having a pronounced feature to showcase is a huge win.
NuFace Review: Before and After Photos
How to Use the NuFace
After charging, the device works right out of the box with no additional setup needed. You can download the NuFace app if you want to learn more, watch tutorials, or follow guided treatments, but the device turns on and operates independently from the app. This is a personal pet peeve of mine with other smart connected tools, so I appreciate the ability to use the device sans Bluetooth.
A full face and neck session takes about five minutes to complete; however there is a longer 15-minute, more advanced tutorial if you so desire. I mostly stuck with five minutes due to time but a leisurely Sunday morning may find me drawing that out longer.
NuFace Step by Step
- Wash your face
- Apply a thick layer of connectivity gel or creme to the first area
- Turn the device on and pick your setting
- Slowly glide the device along the gel from the center of your face or neck outward and slightly upward
- When you hear the beep shift up to a new section and start again
- Keep applying gel as you get to new sections or the gel dries down
- Complete the neck, cheeks, and forehead on the right and left sides of your face
- Wipe off excess gel and continue with the rest of your skincare routine
The Finish Line
The fact that the NuFace quickly became a part of my weekly skincare routine says a lot about how much I liked not only the results, but also the ritual of a microcurrent device. I saw long term and immediate benefits — in the form of a more sculpted face as well as a decrease in daily puffiness. The app with guided tutorials makes it easy to understand and get the hang of the patterns. There’s no pain or discomfort while using and I found the slow, gentle motions soothing. I can’t overstate how happy being able to see results from skincare products and tools makes me — “trusting the process” is a long game, but this is one with short term gain, too.
As for the value: It does require a hefty upfront investment. $250 isn’t an impulsive amount, however, because I liked the results and it’s a one-time purchase, I can justify it within my own routine. The device is rechargeable and could last you for years. The only additional cost is connectivity gel, when your bottles run out. You can use any conductivity gel; however don’t go off script with aloe vera or another gel-like substance. It won’t conduct the current, which at best won’t work, and at worst could give you a zap.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with the Mini+ — catch me in 20 years to see if my investment really paid off.
How Does a NuFace Work?
Now that you’ve seen my before and afters and heard my take on the experience, you may be asking but how does that happen? Microcurrent is like a dumbbell session for your face. “The device delivers electrical current to the muscles, which helps to strengthen them, which helps to lift and tighten the skin,” explains Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC and Clinical Assistant Professor at Cornell. “While these devices do not replace skincare products and in-office procedures known to help tighten the skin, they can work to stimulate your muscles to boost collagen for an overall improved appearance of the skin. These devices can help to supplement and work together to enhance and maintain the results from other treatments.”
Can I Use a NuFace Device Without Gel?
Short answer: no. Longer answer: The conductor gel is what sends the electrical pulses into the muscles of your face. No activator and those microcurrents are just bouncing around on the surface of your skin with no purpose. This is one case where if you feel the sparks, it means it isn’t working, and you need to add more conductor gel or creme. Any conductivity product works (look for the words conductive gel), just don’t go off-label trying hyaluronic acid or aloe vera as a gel-like replacement — it won’t do the job.
How Long Does It Take to See NuFace Results and How Long Do the Results Last?
You may see some initial results with the first session — a decrease in puffiness or light contouring. However, optimal, lasting results are shown with continued use. NuFace says to use it for 60 days to see the full effect of the results. The recommended use is five minutes per day, five days per week. Just like the gym, consistency will also help maintain your results over the long term.
Do Dermatologists Recommend the NuFace?
“NuFACE is a great option for an at-home device as it uses microcurrent to offer both short-term and long-term benefits for the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. “It helps to lift and tighten the skin, helping to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This microcurrent device is FDA-cleared and helps to tone facial muscles and improves the overall contour and appearance of the skin,” she says.
Why Trust Shape
Shannon Bauer is a senior commerce editor at Shape with eight years of experience working for digital and print media in the beauty and wellness industry. She has tested hundreds of products in her tenure and has a healthy skepticism of big claims — she likes to review the research and test herself to find the answer. Shannon tried the NuFace Mini+ device for 10 months before writing this review. She also interviewed dermatologist Marisa Garschick to better understand the science and the benefits of microcurrent devices.