Between microcurrent devices and jade rollers, vibrating face massagers seem to fall on the low-tech end of the beauty gadget spectrum. Despite not using LED light therapy or electrical currents to improve your complexion, these increasingly popular facial tools can still do a lot for your skin.
In essence, these devices are like an amped-up face roller. “Vibrating facial tools are usually incorporated into a roller, and the vibrations add a massaging element to the practice of skin rolling,” says Dr. Ted Lain, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology. Rather than just rolling over the top layer of your skin (à la a jade roller), the vibrating waves penetrate deeper — and bring you more benefits because of that, from de-puffed under-eyes to a plumping effect. Oh, and it feels extra-good on tight facial muscles.
Here, experts explain the benefits of vibrating face massagers along with tips for working the device into your beauty routine.
Vibrating Face Massager Benefits
One major perk of these tools is their ability to smooth your skin for an anti-aging effect. “There’s limited data to suggest that vibration may increase the production of collagen to strengthen the skin, which results in an improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. So although there aren’t extensive studies backing the smoothing benefit, some research has found vibrating massage tools do show that as a result. At the very least, Zeichner says they may allow better product penetration, which means your skin will more effectively drink up your retinol serums, ceramide-rich creams, and other anti-aging products.
If you’ve ever tried one of these devices, you may think it feels like a Theragun for your face. And that’s not too far off: According to celebrity facialist Shani Darden, who just launched a vibrating wand with her eponymous skin care brand, these tools harness the massaging waves in the same way a percussive therapy device does (except, of course, at a more appropriate level for your skin). “In the beginning, vibration therapy was for muscle pain,” Darden tells Bustle. “But you get really amazing results for your skin — it helps with circulation, it’s great for jaw tightness... it feels like a deep massage that gets rid of all the tension in your face.”
That pumping motion and increased blood flow also works to quash puffiness. “The massaging effect of a vibrating tool enhances circulation to the skin, improving delivery of oxygen and nutrients,” says Zeichner. “It may also improve lymphatic drainage, removing excess fluid that builds up.” When you’ve got extra fluid — which comes from your lymphatic system, a network of vessels, tissues, and organs that carry lymphatic fluid throughout your body to keep your systems operating efficiently — it tends to show up as puffy eyes or an overall facial bloat. And the movement you get through a vibrating tool shakes it all out.
Microcurrent devices, like the NuFace and ZIIP, send electrical currents to combat facial tension, too — but they work in a different way. “These utilize a low-level current to activate muscles and reduce swelling,” says Lain. Darden notes microcurrent waves don’t hit any deep wrinkles as vibrating tools do. That said, microcurrent devices can bring you lasting results over time like “wrinkle reduction and lifting,” explains Lain. “But it is believed [the benefits of] vibrating facial tools on your skin is temporary.”
How To Use Vibrating Face Massagers
Unlike your typical gua sha or microcurrent facial, you can use a vibrating tool on your skin without even looking in the mirror — as long as you’re following certain best practices. “You can’t really mess up as long as you’re going in the right direction,” says Darden. First: Don’t drag the tool down on your face, she says. Basically, you want to glide it in the direction “you’d like to see results,” says Lain — i.e. upwards to the hairline, from the corners of your mouth diagonally towards the temples, and from your mid-cheek outwards towards the ears.”
You don’t want to use one of these on a dry face. For slip, be sure to apply either the gel your tool comes with (some provide one) or something that hydrates your skin. Darden says a moisturizer or face oil will do the trick.
Vibrating face massagers are safe for all skin types, say Lain. But “they work best on people who have mild skin issues,” says Zeichner. In other words: Don’t expect miraculous results, he cautions. To reap the most benefits, pros recommend using these every day.
Shop Vibrating Facial Tools
The Facialist-Grade Buy
Darden created this Facial Sculpting Wand as a way to bring people the feel (and results) of her IRL treatments at home. It has two attachments (the smaller of which is meant for the eye area and nasolabial lines), three intensity settings, and a hydrating gel, so you’ve got everything you need for a skin-smoothing spa sesh on your couch.
The Shelfie-Ready Option
Why not treat yourself to vibration therapy via a 24-karat gold face roller? Facialist Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Sculpting Bar gives your skin a quick lift and is easy to carry with you wherever you go.
The Gemstone Option
This roller uses sonic vibration to temporarily plump fine lines for a more even, less puffy complexion — and it’s a great option for those who love the look of jade rollers (or gemstones in general), but want more results.
The Eye Area De-Puffer
If you’re primarily concerned with the skin around your eyes — including dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines — this Foreo device is your best bet. The shape is perfectly contoured for the area, and all it takes is a 1-minute treatment to work its magic.
The Multitasking Option
Some vibrating tools have the added perk of red light therapy, which Zeichner says gives you the additional benefits of reduced inflammation and stimulated collagen production — a win-win for your beauty routine.
Caberlotto, E. (2017). Effects of a skin-massaging device on the ex-vivo expression of human dermis proteins and in-vivo facial wrinkles. PLoS One. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5383004/
Lohman, E. (2007). The effect of whole body vibration on lower extremity skin blood flow in normal subjects. Med Sci Monit. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17261985/
Tzen, Y-T. (2018). Increased skin blood flow during low intensity vibration in human participants: Analysis of control mechanisms using short-time Fourier transform. PLoS One. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200247
Dr. Ted Lain, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist
Shani Darden, celebrity facialist and founder of Shani Darden Skin Care