The newest trend in anti-aging treatments might shock you – literally. Microcurrent facials, in which tiny electrical currents are applied to the skin to create a lifting and firming effect are steadily gaining a loyal following among celebrities and beauty "It" girls from New York to LA. And since I’m kind of a beauty junkie, I was really eager to see what all the buzz was about (excuse the pun). Here’s what happened during my first microcurrent facial session.
After researching my options of where to go for this treatment, I decided to try SB Skin, a small but beautiful space near Union Square founded and run by holistically-minded aesthetician, Shamara Bondaroff. I’d been following her spa on Instagram for a couple of months and found the videos of her clients getting the microcurrent wands passed over the contours of their faces oddly calming, like those videos some people watch to help them fall asleep at night.
After entering the light-filled treatment room, I was told I didn’t have to undress beyond taking off my shoes, before lying down on the table under a light blanket. Though the treatment would target my neck as well as my face, I was wearing a blouse that exposed my neck, so that was fine. My aesthetician, Anna, explained a little about microcurrent before realizing that I had already read a ton about it, and then indulged me in a near hour-long conversation with me about the history of microcurrent, what it does (it’s like a workout for your face!) and what it doesn’t do (it does not take away your wrinkles to the extent that Botox does. Bummer). I was delighted to learn as much as she was willing to share with me, though I’m sure if I had just wanted to pass out and let her do her thing, she would have done that too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. After I lay down on the table, she put my hair in a terry-cloth hair band, and then applied a sticky gel to my face and neck, which would serve as a conductor for the electricity. When the wands first touched my face, I had barely registered that the treatment had begun (that's how low a frequency the current is). It simply felt like a cold, firm, ball was rolling over and massaging my face. It felt really good, especially along my tighter facial muscles like my jaw, and the areas by my eyes and forehead where I tend to get headaches.
Moments after the treatment began, I started to get a metallic taste in my mouth, which I had read about and had anticipated. I had been worried about this weird taste, but it wasn’t bad at all. It just tasted like putting a spoon that didn’t have food on it, in my mouth.
My aesthetician spent about 30 minutes lifting my skin with the wand, concentrating on my eye area (the microcurrent version of a brow lift) and all I could think was, if this is “exercise” then sign me up. After the “current” part was over, she applied a tool to my skin that helped exfoliate it, and make it feel baby smooth, and then gave me a mini moisturizing face and neck massage. My session also included about 15 minutes under an LED light therapy mask, which is my newest facial crush, because it helps with uneven skin tones and redness (two of my top skin concerns). The whole session takes about 50 minutes.
Afterwards, my face wasn’t red or irritated at all (not that I expected it would be) since the experience was so gentle and relaxing. All of the “after” pictures of clients on the SB Skin Instagram page show baby-faced, glowing, makeup-free faces. And while one session certainly wasn’t going to produce visible changes in the contours of my face (as proponents of microcurrent advocate it does), it absolutely gave me a nice glow, seemed to plump up my face in all the right areas, and made me look refreshed (though that could have been the catnap I took at the end of the session).
Celebrities and A-listers who have money to burn might be able to indulge in microcurrent facials every other week, or at least once a month, in order to achieve the desired results such as improvements in skin tone, increased collagen production, a Botox-like effect, help with rosacea, and diminishment of fine lines. But for me, I don’t see this becoming a realistic (or affordable) part of my beauty routine, especially because with my more oily skin and clogged pores, I would rather spend my money on a cleansing facial that includes extractions.
If I had a very special event coming up, and wanted plump looking, radiant skin I would consider getting a microcurrent facial, because the results definitely lasted throughout the day and through the evening.
Is this a replacement for Botox? Sadly, no. This will not remove your wrinkles no matter how often you go, according to the many aestheticians I have spoken to on the topic.
One aesthetician offered this much more wallet-friendly alternative to face exercise: an app called Face Yoga, that give you face exercises to strengthen muscles in your face that might otherwise suffer the effects of gravity with age. I’ve downloaded it, so that’s a start. But like I said, I do much better with the kind of exercise that requires that all I do is lie down while someone else does the work!
ALEXIS BARAD-CUTLER is an essayist who writes candidly and often humorously about the "stuff no one talks about in Mom Group" for sites such as Romper, Well Rounded NY, Mommy Nearest, and other online outlets. You can read more of her work on her website, or you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for all her latest articles.