Ask a Dermatologist: Do Beauty Gadgets Work?



Skin-perfecting DIY gizmos are trending (proof: the world’s biggest tech-geek trade show, CES, held its first-ever BeautyTech Summit last month). We asked Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers how at-home devices stack up against pro treatments.

Deep-cleansing brushes are among the most popular beauty gadgets. Do you recommend them?

These brushes are great for those looking to improve the radiance of their skin. Almost anyone can use them. However, some people with very sensitive skin and active acne or rosacea may find their condition worsens after use.

Beyond cleansing brushes, common DIY tools include at-home lasers. How do they compare to in-office treatments?

They don’t compare completely, but do have some benefits. A lot of home devices—specifically, lasers and light sources used for hair removal, skin rejuvenation, hair regrowth and acne treatment—are low-powered for safety, so their effectiveness is not as high as what we can do in-office. As a result, it takes many more treatment sessions to achieve the same end point.

Can these devices be used in conjunction with in-office treatments?

That’s where they shine. You could have a treatment, and then follow an at-home maintenance program. For example, you can use a fractional laser device for skin rejuvenation a month or so after having in-office [laser resurfacing]. It’s a convenient way for patients to prolong their results.

Is there anyone who should avoid these gadgets?

Some laser devices may not be suitable for those with darker skin, as sometimes inflammation caused by the laser can trigger hyperpigmentation [so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s fine print]. Also, people who have sensitive or inflamed skin, or conditions like rosacea or acne, may not be good candidates to use any of these devices, especially when they are experiencing flare-ups.

So, bottom line: Are they worth the investment?

It depends on the person and what they want to achieve. I think some of these home devices are useful for maintenance purposes, and if used correctly they can provide effective results. The most obvious and permanent results are from hair-removal devices. Just be sure to follow instructions carefully to avoid skin burns or scarring, and if in doubt, consult your dermatologist.


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This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Cosmetics magazine. For more, download our iPad edition.