The SolaWave is a medical device for skincare. The device combines red light therapy, microcurrent and facial massage technologies for anti-aging effect. The brand claims that their product can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne and dark circles.
In this article we’ll review the claims made by SolaWave based on medical research to determine if it’s likely to be effective or if it’s a waste of money.
Health Claim Review - Microcurrent
Microcurrent technology, which applies electrical power to the skin, has little research backing for cosmetic benefits. SolaWave links out to one study as proof that their microcurrent technology will be effective.
This one study appears extremely amateur, and has a title in broken English: “Consider of Micro-Current’s effect to variation of Facial Wrinkle trend.” This sentence is illegible, and we’ve never come across a medical study with a title like this.
Additionally, the “study” was published in a journal called the “Life Science Journal,” which according to its own website is open to publishing basically any research submitted.
We do not consider this legitimate medical research, and this leads us to strongly question the ethics of SolaWave.
Real medical research is published in peer-reviewed journals with strict editorial guidelines and standards for the methodological quality of trials. This is the type of research we cite in our articles, and the “Life Science Journal” does not appear to meet that criteria.
Compare the quality, legitimacy and disclosures in the Life Science Journal to a legitimate medical journal such as Frontiers in Nutrition (which our Scientific Advisor is an editor for), and you’ll likely come to the same determination as we did.
As we discussed in our recently published NuFace review, which covered another microcurrent facial device, there doesn’t appear to be any legitimate medical research proving that this technology can improve aesthetic properties of facial skin. There is research proving that it’s effective for wound healing, but that’s not the stated purpose of SolaWave.
We consider the health claims related to microcurrent to be inaccurate.
Health Claim Review - Red Light Therapy
There is legitimate medical research backing the efficacy of red light therapy for skin aging, and SolaWave links to it. A 2014 medical trial 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 trial (611 - 650 nm).
Another medical 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 of red light therapy analyzed the results from many individual 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.
We can conclude from the available research that SolaWave’s health claims related to red light are likely to be accurate, and that the company uses a wavelength that seems optimal based on the medical literature.
Health Claim Review - Facial Massage
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 medical study to back up their massage claims. The study found that facial massage by 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 makes the study results somewhat less legitimate.
We also can’t identify any technical specifications published on the SolaWave website indicating the frequency of the massage function. The linked research study stated that the maximum protein expression from the massage treatment was at 75 hertz (Hz). It’s unclear if higher or much lower frequencies still benefit the skin, or may damage it.
Without this critical information we can’t assess whether the SolaWave massage function is likely to be effective, but in either case we don’t believe there’s enough evidence to state conclusively that facial massage is effective for anti-aging. One research study funded and written by a for-profit skincare company is too low a bar for broad health claims.
More research may emerge in the future on the cosmetic benefits of device-led facial massage, but for now we wouldn’t recommend this as a facial treatment as there are too many unknowns.
Health Claim Review - Therapeutic Warmth
SolaWave’s final health 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.
They do not cite a medical study for this claim, and instead link to an article in Vogue India.
We can’t identify any medical studies proving that hot temperatures from a medical device reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eye, and since SolaWave provides no medical evidence we will consider this claim inaccurate.
Their descriptions of “therapeutic warmth” are vague and unscientific. While increased ambient temperatures due to treatments like sauna use may improve skin quality over time, SolaWave needs to prove that increased temperatures due to a hardware device have skin benefits.
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.
Renew Complex Serum Review
SolaWave also sells a topical skincare product called Renew Complex. It’s sold individually and also comes with some of their devices.
The serum contains sodium hyaluronate, which is one of the most well-studied topical compounds for skin quality improvement. Hyaluronic acid is proven in medical research to reduce wrinkles and promote skin rejuvenation. Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, and has a lower molecular weight meaning it can penetrate deeper into the skin.
Renew Complex also contains aloe vera leaf juice, which has been shown in a medical review to enhance collagen and elastin fiber production, making the skin appear more elastic and youthful.
One of the active ingredients in the serum is sunflower seed oil, which was included in an extensive medical review on the skin barrier effects of various plant oils. The researchers found that sunflower seed oil when applied topically has skin barrier repair, anti-inflammatory and skin cancer reduction effects.
Overall we find this to be a well-formulated topical skincare product. It does contain a few preservatives, but they are well-studied and don’t pose any significant health risks.
By far the most effective ingredient in this formulation is sodium hyaluronate, so price-conscious consumers may want to search for a cheaper formulation with that as the main active ingredient.