SolaWave Review: Can Red Light Reduce Wrinkles?

SolaWave Review: Can Red Light Reduce Wrinkles?


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The SolaWave, also called the SolaWave Wand, is a handheld anti-aging device that uses red wavelengths of light. The device combines four different technologies, and the brand claims that their product can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne and dark circles.

But can a handheld red light device actually reduce visible signs of skin aging? Is there medical research backing the technologies used? How do real users rate and describe the effects of SolaWave? And which retailer sells SolaWave for the best price?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more. We'll start by reviewing the four SolaWave technologies to give our take on their potential effectiveness: microcurrent, red light therapy, facial massage, and therapeutic warmth.

At the end of each section, we'll share our opinion on whether or not the technology is likely to have an anti-aging effect.

We'll also feature unsponsored customer reviews, compare SolaWave to another handheld anti-aging device called NuFace, and provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells SolaWave for the best price.

Tech #1 Microcurrent

Microcurrent is a term for a technology which applies electrical currents to the skin, and is used in other cosmetic devices like NuFace.

We cannot find any convincing clinical evidence showing that microcurrent technology improves skin quality or has an anti-aging effect.

SolaWave cites one clinical trial as proof that this technology is effective. It appears to be a very low-quality study in a very low-quality journal.

Even the title of the article is written in broken English: "Consider of Micro-Current's effect to variation of Facial Wrinkle trend."

Here is the first sentence of the trial: "Beauty is one of the important today’s people concerns; the facial wrinkles are including problems of beauty."

We have never come across a clinical trial that's written so poorly as to be almost illegible, and for this reason we disregard the results of this study.  

Verdict: We do not consider this technology likely to be effective.

Tech #2 Red Light Therapy

SolaWave red light therapy tech

There is legitimate clinical research backing the efficacy of red light therapy for skin aging, and SolaWave links to it on their website.

A clinical trial published in the Photomedicine and Laser Surgery journal found that red light therapy improved skin complexion, skin roughness and collagen density in trial participants when compared with a control group.

The wavelength of the red light used in SolaWave, 660 nanometers (nm) is similar to the range of wavelengths used in the above-linked trial (611 - 650 nm).

Another clinical trial which used the exact same wavelength of red light as that in SolaWave found that the treatment significantly improved wrinkles around the eyes.

A 2021 medical review on red light therapy analyzed the results from many clinical trials and concluded that the treatment is a “safe and effective method of skin rejuvenation,” as well as treatment of acne.

The study authors stressed that more research is needed to determine the optimal power and wavelength of light used.

Verdict: We consider this technology likely to be effective.

Tech #3 Facial Massage

SolaWave facial massage tech

SolaWave claims that facial massage can make the face appear slimmer, and “drain toxicity from the face’s lymphatic system.” Their device apparently has a massage function.

The brand links to a 2017 clinical trial to back up these claims.

The above-linked study found that facial massage from a hardware device may provide an anti-wrinkle and anti-aging effect due to increased expression of certain proteins in the skin.

L’Oréal, a major skincare brand, funded the study, and every study author is an employee of L’Oréal. This leads to a significant bias in our opinion, and we suggest that consumers disregard the results for that reason.

The clinical trial described the optimal frequency of a facial massage device to be 75 hertz (Hz), while we cannot identify the frequency used in the SolaWave Wand.

Verdict: We do not consider this technology likely to be effective.

Tech #4 Therapeutic Warmth

SolaWave therapeutic warmth tech

SolaWave’s fourth claim is that applying heat directly to the skin, via their device, induces “therapeutic warmth” which can reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eye.

The brand fails to cite any clinical studies to support this claim, and instead cited an article in Vogue India when we initially published this article. Since we called out that questionable citation, the brand seems to have removed that citation from its website.

We can’t identify any clinical trials showing that warm temperatures from a medical device reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eye.

Just like there is no documented medical or cosmetic benefit to holding your face near a closed oven, we don’t believe there will be any benefit to the “therapeutic warmth” provided by SolaWave.

Verdict: We do not consider this technology likely to be effective.

Real People Try SolaWave

The PureWow channel tested SolaWave for two weeks as part of a series testing products that went viral on TikTok:

A YouTube creator named Eve Dawes has a SolaWave review that includes a product demonstration and before-and-after images:

SolaWave vs. NuFace

NuFace is another popular cosmetic device that uses microcurrent technology.

Consumers are often curious about which device is more likely to be effective, given that these are arguably the two market leaders.

In our opinion, SolaWave is more likely to be effective than NuFace given that SolaWave incorporates red light therapy, which has significant clinical backing.

NuFace only includes microcurrent technology, which we do not consider likely to have any aesthetic effects.

Red light therapy has other benefits outside of anti-aging, including a medically documented anti-inflammatory effect. For this reason, we also consider SolaWave to be healthier and to have more potential secondary benefits than NuFace.

Real Customers Review SolaWave

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

SolaWave's facial wand and Renew Complex serum bundle is currently the brand's most-reviewed Amazon listing, with over 700 total reviews, and an average review rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars. 

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Anastasia" who gives the product a 5/5 star rating, and who claims it's helpful for wrinkle prevention:

"I do feel like it helps redistribute puffiness, increases circulation, & massages plus warms the muscles of the face so they are not as tight...I feel like it does at least temporarily, & perhaps it is preventing further wrinkles. My skin is oily though, so I do not have that much wrinkles compared to others my age."

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "EJ" who gives the product a 1/5 star rating, and claims the device is faulty:

"My first device started to act up on day four, turning on and off haphazardly - and yes, I followed all the instructions. Requested replacement and the second started to turn of on day 1!...What a waste of resources transporting, delivering and returning it twice for nothing. I won't bother with this company again."

SolaWave Wand currently has an average review rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars on Google.

SolaWave currently has an average review rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, but the company responds to the majority of customer complaints, which is a sign of a high-quality brand.

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

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.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM 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."

Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Where to Get the Best Price

SolaWave is sold at a variety of online retailers.

Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase at the time of updating this article:

Ulta: $169 (free shipping, link)

Brand website: $140.70 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $79.99 (free shipping, link to official Amazon listing)

Walmart: $64.99 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

SolaWave is currently 43% cheaper on Amazon than at the brand's official website.

Walmart has a slightly better price, but the Walmart listing is from a third-party seller with only one review at the time of updating this article, so we consider Amazon to be a better choice as the listing is from the brand itself.

Pros and Cons of SolaWave

Here are the pros and cons of SolaWave in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Non-invasive
  • Unlikely to cause side effects
  • Sleek branding and packaging
  • Red light therapy can have anti-aging effects
  • Much cheaper than traditional skincare on a per-use basis
  • Brand's website offers free, expedited shipping
  • Better tech than NuFace

Cons:

  • Mediocre online customer reviews
  • We're unconvinced that microcurrent tech will be effective
  • We're unconvinced that facial massage will be effective
  • We're unconvinced that "therapeutic warmth" will be effective
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

SolaWave is a novel device, and it has two core benefits in our opinion.

First, it's non-invasive and seems unlikely to cause side effects. While we would prefer it to have been studied in a clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed journal, it seems unlikely that this device will harm the skin given the relatively low power levels used.

Second, the device uses red light therapy which is clinically shown to have an anti-aging effect.

We're unconvinced about the potential efficacy of three of the four technologies used by SolaWave (microcurrent, facial massage, therapeutic warmth).

NuFace is another popular handheld device used for anti-aging, and we consider SolaWave more likely to be effective after evaluating the technology used by both companies.

SolaWave has relatively mediocre reviews on third-party retail platforms like Amazon, Google and BBB compared to other skincare brands we've reviewed on Illuminate Health.

At the time of updating this article, Amazon has substantially better prices on SolaWave products than the brand's website.