NuFace is a skincare brand that sells microcurrent devices that stimulate muscles beneath the skin. The brand claims this can "reduce fine lines and wrinkles," "firm and tighten skin" and more.
But is microcurrent technology really proven to have an anti-aging effect? How does it work anyway? And how do real users respond to NuFace treatment?
In this article we’ll answer these questions and more. We'll review the research behind microcurrent technology, review the NuFace Mini and NuFace Trinity, discuss a strange cancer warning on the NuFace site, and share real user reviews of the products including before-and-after images.
Do Microcurrents Reduce Wrinkles?
Microcurrent devices like NuFace are applied to the face and deliver electrical currents to the facial skin and muscles beneath. This type of device has been studied in clinical research and is considered generally safe, as microcurrent devices are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which indicates a lack of health risks associated with their use.
While microcurrent devices have been proven in clinical research to accelerate wound healing, we cannot identify a single medical study proving them to reduce wrinkles or have any anti-aging effects.
A 2021 medical review of the effects of electrical stimulation on the skin surface suggested that the technology may be beneficial for suppressing pain and promoting blood circulation, but there is no mention of anti-aging or cosmetic benefits.
NuFace's resource page on microcurrents cites four articles in the footer, and none of them prove that this technology has an anti-aging effect. We do not believe that microcurrents are likely to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
One of the most popular YouTube videos on microcurrents and skin is published by a channel called "Lab Muffin Beauty Science" and has nearly 100,000 views at the time of updating this article.
The creator has a PhD in chemistry and breaks down some of the science behind microcurrent devices. She uses one of of the devices and shares before-and-after images of her skin. It's important to note that some of the benefits she describes are theoretical and she does not cite any studies proving this type of device reduces wrinkles in human trial participants. However, the video is still pretty well-researched and may be a useful resource for consumers:
NuFace Mini and NuFace Trinity Review
NuFace’s most popular devices are the Mini and the Trinity. The Mini Starter Kit costs $209 and the Trinity Starter Kit costs $339.
On the NuFace website product pages, the brand shares before-and-after images of users, as well as stats such as "85% of users experienced improved facial contour." There is no link to a clinical trial backing these stats, so we recommend that consumers disregard them.
We recommend that consumers entirely disregard claims of product efficacy made by cosmetics companies unless their products or technologies are proven to be effective in clinical research published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. There is too much bias involved in the process of company-funded research for the results to be meaningful in our opinion.
One of the most popular reviews of a NuFace device comes from YouTube creator Dr. Dray who's a dermatologist. She tried the NuFace Trinity device for two months and shared her results in the video below, which is unsponsored:
NuFace Cancer Warning
NuFace has a strange warning in the FAQ section of their site. The brand states that their 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, we don't understand why the brand claims the use of their products to be contraindicated against cancer generally.
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 should be used by patients with cancer; we don't recommend that individuals use NuFace at all. We just find it strange that NuFace would publish this warning without citing any research on microcurrent therapy and cancer. Perhaps the brand published this warning for general liability prevention, because if consumers with cancer were to use the device while their conditioned worsened, they may blame the device.
NuFace Gel Primer Review
NuFace’s best-selling skincare product is called Aqua Gel Activator, and is used as a primer before use of one of the microcurrent devices. The brand claims that this product “conducts microcurrent from your device down to the facial muscle.” There is no citation or proof of this claim.
The gel contains sea silt extract, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on skin in a 2011 clinical trial.
Hyaluronic acid is an effective anti-aging skincare ingredient. As we referenced in our review of cosmetics brand Meaningful Beauty, hyaluronic acid has has been proven in multiple clinical trials to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
NuFace Aqua Gel Activator also contains an active ingredient we’ve never seen before in a skincare formulation and find highly questionable: olivine extract.
Olivine is a magnesium iron silicate, meaning it’s a crystal. Below 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 plant (like turmeric) through the use of solvents (like alcohol).
Earth minerals are not “extracted” to make skincare ingredients, and our search for “olivine extract” returned zero results in PubMed, one of the largest medical databases in the U.S.
We urge NuFace to clarify what ingredient they're referring to, because this is the strangest ingredient listing in any cosmetics product we've reviewed on Illuminate Health.
This gel contains the preservative phenoxyethanol which we recommend consumers avoid, because it was found to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.
We consider NuFace Gel Primer to be potentially effective for anti-aging, because it contains hyaluronic acid, but we don't recommend the product overall due to the inclusion of a questionable preservative compound and the listing of a rock crystal as an active ingredient.
Our Skincare Recommendations
There are skincare products that contain ingredients proven in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality generally.
Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top skin cream pick because of its effective and clean formulation. It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging. We consider this to be the most powerful topical skincare ingredient. Most importantly, this serum is entirely free of questionable additives like preservatives or fragrance.
Interested consumers can check out Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum at this link.
HydraGlow is our top moisturizer pick. It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." In the linked trial, topical bakuchiol reduced wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and firmness, and reduced photodamage (damage from UV rays). There are no questionable additive ingredients in this product.
Interested consumers can check out HydraGlow at this link.
The only oral supplement we recommend for skin quality improvement is Bulletproof Collagen Powder. Oral collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to improve visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration. The only ingredient in Bulletproof collagen is collagen peptides sourced from grass-fed animals. We recommend a dose of 10 grams per day.
Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof Collagen Powder at this link.
NuFace Real Customer Reviews
NuFace is sold on Amazon which is a more objective resource for customer reviews in our opinion than a brand's website.
NuFace Mini has been reviewed over 2,500 times on Amazon and has an average review rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Danesy" who claims that the device improved several skin health parameters:
"I’ve used this device for 2 months now and I see good results, my face lines look soo good, my jaw very defined it also helps with my dark circles which is a big plus. I didn’t think it was going to work but I use it 3 times a week, I never fail using it because consistence is the key. I’ve noticed too that my wrinkles on my forehead are fading"
The top negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "MuncherPunch" who claims the device had no effect:
"I am nearing 40 and started noticing jowls forming. I heard a bunch of buzz about this on YouTube and decided to give it a try. I enthusiastically anticipated its delivery and hoped to see something after the first use. I saw nothing. I took several photos of myself to compare side by side to track my “progress”. I discovered my face looks different in different lighting and angles, but after a week of use decided it wasn’t worth $200 to keep trying this placebo device. I saw zero results. I actually like my before photo better."