NuFace Review: Can Microcurrents Reverse Aging?

NuFace Review: Can Microcurrents Reverse Aging?


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NuFace is a skincare brand owned by a company called Carol Cole Company Inc., that sells microcurrent devices that stimulate muscles beneath the skin. The brand claims their devices can "reduce fine lines and wrinkles," "firm and tighten skin" and more.

But is microcurrent technology shown in research studies to have an anti-aging effect, or are these just marketing claims? How does the device actually work in the body? Why does NuFace have a cancer warning? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of NuFace?

In this article we’ll answer these questions and more, as we review clinical studies on microcurrent technology to give our take on whether or not it can actually reduce wrinkles.

We'll review the NuFace Mini and NuFace Trinity, discuss a strange cancer warning on the NuFace website, and feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand.

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 shown in clinical studies to accelerate wound healing, we cannot identify a single clinical study showing this type of device to reduce wrinkles or to have any anti-aging effects.

A 2021 medical review on 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 aesthetic 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.

A YouTube creator named "Lab Muffin Beauty Science," who has a PhD in chemistry, has a video on microcurrents for skin with over 100,000 views.

The video includes before-and-after images, and while she fails to cite any clinical studies showing these devices to be effective against aging, this video still may be useful for prospective consumers:

NuFace Device Reviews

NuFace Mini product image

NuFace devices are sold in two product lines: the Mini (cheaper) and the Trinity (more expensive).

On the brand's product pages, before-and-after images of users are shared, as well as stats such as "85% of users experienced improved facial contour."

However, the brand fails to link to the full clinical trial supporting these figures, 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 shown to be effective in clinical research published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The risk of potential bias is too high in company-funded, private clinical trials that are not published in peer-reviewed journals for the results to have any value to consumers in our opinion.

One of the most popular reviews of NuFace 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:

NuFace Cancer Warning

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 suggesting 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 Aqua Gel Activator ingredients

The ingredients in NuFace Aqua Gel Activator, which is used as a skin primer before use of a NuFace device, are shown above.

The brand claims that this product “conducts microcurrent from your device down to the facial muscle.” There is no citation or proof provided to support this claim at the time of updating this article.

This formulation does contain some research-backed active ingredients.

Sea silt extract was 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.

Tremella fuciformis sporocarp extract was analyzed in a 2023 medical review that concluded the following:

"Studies have demonstrated the role this extract may play in skin antiaging, photoprotection, wound healing, and barrier protection."

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:

Olivine crystal image

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 US.

We urge NuFace to clarify what ingredient they're referring to, because this is the strangest ingredient listing in any cosmetic product we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.

While this gel contains some research-backed ingredients, it also contains two inactive ingredients we recommend avoiding when used in combination.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.

Ethylhexylglycerin is a synthetic preservative shown to potentiate the toxic effects of phenoxyethanol in a 2016 medical review.

Overall, we consider NuFace Aqua Gel Activator somewhat likely to have anti-aging effects given its active ingredients. However, we don't currently recommend this product due to the two synthetic preservatives discussed above.

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."

Interested consumers can purchase Hydraglow at the secure checkout below:

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 or unsafe.

Real Customers Review NuFace

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

NuFace Mini Starter Kit (which contains both the microcurrent device and the gel primer) is currently the brand's most-reviewed product on Amazon, with over 3,000 total reviews and an average review rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Danesy" who gives the kit a 5/5 star rating, and claims it 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 gives the kit a 1/5 star rating, and claims it 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."

NuFace currently has an average review rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

NuFace Mini currently has an average review rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Google.

Pros and Cons of NuFace

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

Pros:

  • Non-invasive
  • Unlikely to cause side effects
  • Affordable
  • Gel Primer may have anti-aging effect
  • Mostly positive online customer reviews
  • Microcurrent devices may promote blood circulation

Cons:

  • We can't find evidence that microcurrent devices are anti-aging
  • Gel Primer contains phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin
  • Brand makes clinical claims without clearly linking to full clinical study
  • Confusing cancer warning on brand's website
  • Company claims to use an earth mineral extract in their Gel Primer
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

NuFace is a unique cosmetic brand, and we're hopeful that more research emerges in the future testing the effects of microcurrents on skin quality.

At the time of updating this article, we can't find any clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals showing that microcurrents have an anti-aging effect.

While we don't currently recommend NuFace's microcurrent devices for this reason, we also don't think they're likely to be harmful or pose any risks to consumers.

NuFace's primer gel contains some active ingredients shown to have an anti-aging effect, but also contains two synthetic preservatives that we consider to be unhealthy when used in combination.

NuFace has a cancer warning on their website, suggesting that their products shouldn't be used by consumers with cancer.

Most of the online customer reviews of NuFace that we came across while researching this article were positive.