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NuFace Review: Why "Facial Toning" Doesn't Work

NuFace Review: Why "Facial Toning" Doesn't Work

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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

NuFace is a unique brand that sells hardware medical devices for improving skin quality, as well as standard cosmetics products like topical serums. The company claims that their devices can improve facial contour and tone, and also target fine lines and wrinkles.

In this article we’ll review both NuFace devices and NuFace skincare products based on medical research to determine if they’re likely to be effective for improving skin quality and reducing wrinkles.

NuFace Mini Review

NuFace’s most popular product is their Mini device, which is currently retailing for $209 with their topical gel primer included.

NuFace devices use microcurrent technology, which they claim can treat a variety of skin conditions and produce an anti-aging effect. Their resource page explaining this technology is poorly-cited, with one link to a questionable company called Bio Natural Medical, one link to a 1982 animal trial proving that microcurrents can stimulate ATP in rat skin, one reference to an archived webpage that we can’t even access, and one reference to a medical review of elastin.

None of the citations provided by NuFace prove or even suggest that microcurrent technology is effective in improving skin condition in humans.

We did find one medical review of microcurrent technology applications for skin health, however none of the cited applications had to do with skin appearance. The research documented the potential of microcurrent devices for improved wound healing, pain management, and post-operative treatment for improved muscle function.

Another medical trial, published in the Journal of Wound Care, had similar results to the previously-linked review. The study authors found that microcurrent could be an effective and safe adjunctive therapy for patients suffering from chronic wounds (like diabetic foot ulcers), that can reduce patient pain.

Because we cannot locate one single study suggesting that microcurrent technology improves any parameter of cosmetic skin quality or has anti-aging effect, and because NuFace fails to publish any research proving so, we consider the NuFace Mini device (and all of their microcurrent devices) to be ineffective.

The leave-on gel primer that comes with the NuFace Mini Starter Kit is decently formulated. One of its main active ingredients is hyaluronic acid, which is proven in medical research to reduce wrinkles and provide anti-aging cosmetic effects. 

However the gel also contains phenoxyethanol, which is a preservative we’ve discussed in other cosmetics reviews like our Olaplex reviews article. While this ingredient is common, we recommend avoiding products containing it because of toxicity concerns.

A clinical trial demonstrated the toxicity of phenoxyethanol to human cells, and while the preservative is likely used at a low enough concentration to cause no harm, we find it illogical to use products containing this ingredient when there are many cosmetic products free of questionable preservatives.

Overall we find the NuFace Mini Starter Kit to be disappointing for the price, and would recommend avoiding it and its constituent products entirely.

NuFace Trinity Review

The NuFace Trinity is the larger and more expensive NuFace device, retailing for $339 at the time of writing. It uses the same microcurrent technology as NuFace Mini, so we would consider it totally ineffective.

The gel primer included in the NuFace Trinity Starter Kit is the exact same product as that included with NuFace Mini, so we would recommend avoiding it due to the preservative inclusion.

The gel primer at least has some proven efficacy due to the hyaluronic acid inclusion, but we find the entire Trinity starter kit to be a waste of money.

There is no explanation on the NuFace Trinity Starter Kit product page about what differentiates the devices. Is this device more powerful than the Mini? What’s the wattage? The fact that NuFace doesn’t provide this information is unprofessional, but perhaps it doesn’t matter since neither device appears to be backed by any science.

NuFace Cancer Warning

NuFace cancer warning

NuFace has a strange warning in the FAQ section of their site. The brand states that the devices should not be used in consumers with “active cancer”. They do not differentiate between skin cancer and other types.

While we would understand a recommendation to avoid use for patients with skin cancer, due to the potential to aggravate the cancerous lesions, the suggestion that the product may pose additional risk to patients with other types of cancer seems illogical to us.

Ironically, there is actually medical research proving that microcurrent therapy can improve physical rehabilitation outcomes in patients with cancer who have undergone chemotherapy.

We’re not suggesting that NuFace devices can help with cancer, because the research is still emerging and because NuFace doesn’t provide any relevant technical specifications that we can compare to the clinical data. We just find it ironic that the one thing NuFace recommends against seems to have more medical backing than the health claims they market their products for.

The company doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the medical literature involving microcurrent therapy and health.

NuFace Skincare Review

NuFace topical skincare ingredients

NuFace’s best-selling topical skincare product is called Aqua Gel Activator. The brand claims that this product “conducts microcurrent from your device down to the facial muscle.” There is, of course, no citation or proof of this claim. There is also no proof provided that microcurrents being conducted at the site of facial muscles improves skincare outcomes.

The gel contains sea silt extract, which has been shown in one study to have anti-inflammatory effects on skin in one clinical trial. It also contains hyaluronic acid which we already identified as an effective cosmetic ingredient.

NuFace Aqua Gel Activator also contains an active ingredient we’ve never seen before in a skincare formulation: olivine extract

Olivine is a magnesium iron silicate, meaning it’s a crystal. Here is an image of olivine from Wikipedia. We have no clue what NuFace is referring to when they state “olivine extract,” because the process of extraction for a cosmetic product typically refers to concentrating the active ingredients from a botanical compound (like turmeric) through the use of solvents (like alcohol).

You don’t “extract” a rock to make a skincare ingredient, and our search for “olivine extract” returned zero results in PubMed, the largest medical database in the world.

NuFace Aqua Gel Activator also contains the preservative phenoxyethanol which we previously discussed and recommend avoiding.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


NuFace is potentially the strangest skincare brand we’ve reviewed to date. They sell physical devices which don’t appear to have any proof of efficacy for improving skincare quality or reducing wrinkles in medical literature.

They sell topical cosmetics which they claim contain “extracts” of rocks.

The company doesn’t cite strange health claims like “conducts microcurrent from your device down to the facial muscle,” which appear to have no proof or scientific basis.

Put simply, we believe this brand has absolutely no clue what they’re doing, and we recommend avoiding their products entirely.

Save your money and take some unflavored collagen powder which is actually proven to be effective for improving skin quality and wrinkles. It’s concerning to us that this brand has over 250,000 followers on Instagram.

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