Facial massage devices: Do they work?

Facial massage devices claim to offereverything from a quick facelift to anti-ageing benefits. But do they work? Melissa Heng and Ankita Varma test five new gadgets



Available at: Selected Sephora outlets, including at Ion Orchard, 01-05/06

Philips VisaPure Advanced is a facial cleansing and massage tool that comes with three interchangeable heads - a cleansing brush, a rotating massage head and a rounded ceramic tip for the eye area.

The versatility of the device makes it a great addition to a skincare routine. Not only does it help to exfoliate your skin, but it also provides a gentle and relaxing facial massage.

The different attachments pop easily onto the sleek handheld device, which needs to be charged every few weeks. The handle recognises each attachment and automatically switches to different levels of rotation and vibration.

The cleansing brush, which has 17,000 ultrafine bristles, rotates 250 times a minute to remove make-up residue, dead skin cells and dirt that can clog pores.

The minute-long cleansing routine covers both sides of the face and the forehead. The intuitive device pauses every 20 seconds to indicate that you should move to the next facial zone. Not only was it a breeze to use, but I found that the brush left my skin feeling smoother and cleaner than when I used just an exfoliating facial wash.

The rotating massage attachment rotates and taps gently along the skin. This is supposed to encourage blood circulation and relax facial muscles.

I used the attachment after applying a serum and moisturiser. It not only massaged and made my face feel refreshed, but also seemed to help in the absorption of the skincare products I applied.

The last attachment is a smooth rounded head, whose nano-vibrations are supposed to give tired eyes a boost.

The short massage programme lasted only 30 seconds and I felt this attachment was not as effective as the others. My eyes felt slightly more awake after I used it in the morning, but I think this was because of how cold the ceramic coating of the head was, rather the massaging vibrations of the device.

On the whole, the VisaPure Advanced delivers on its promise to cleanse, massage and keep the face feeling refreshed.

Melissa Heng

2 FOREO LUNA 2, $299

Available at: Sephora

The Foreo Luna 2 seems to be the skincare device for the busy woman.

First, its dual purposes as a waterproof, deep-cleansing device as well as an anti-ageing skincare massager make it a nifty gadget to have by the sink. Second, the hygienic nonporous silicone material means you never have to change the brush head - just give it a good rinse with warm water and soap and you are good to go.

After removing my make-up, I began using the cleansing side with its little silicone touch points to clean my face for a minute. The device - which has 8,000 T-Sonic (transdermal sonic) pulsations a minute - pulses every 15 seconds to remind me to move to another section of my face.

After pausing to dry my face and apply skincare products, I just had to flip over the brush to the ribbed anti-ageing side with its lower-frequency pulsations to run it over wrinkle-prone areas, such as my forehead and around my eyes. The massager claims to smooth and firm the appearance of skin and one more minute is all it takes to finish your skincare regimen. What a breeze.

I found that the 12 adjustable intensities meant I could find a pulse strength that was not too abrasive for my skin, meaning my skin felt clean but not stripped. The lower-frequency pulsations on the anti-ageing side also felt extremely relaxing and, when used right after the deep cleanse, left my skin feeling smoother and my pores looking smaller.

This is a good device for taking care of your skin while making your regimen more efficient. The best part? A one-hour charge (through a USB port) is enough to power the brush for up to six months.

Ankita Varma


Add-ons:ELE and Wrinkle Reducer attachments, $253 each, sold separately

Available at: Sephora

Known as the "stay at home" facelift, the NuFace Trinity claims to be a non-invasive solution for ageing skin which uses soft wave microcurrent technology that is said to improve facial contours and skin tone as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

I found the device easy to use - after applying the gel primer that comes with the set, I just had to run the metal orbs upwards over my jawline, cheeks and forehead for five minutes to help give my face a slight lift. While using the device, the orbs felt slightly warm and tingly, but not in an uncomfortable way. The smaller surface area of the ELE (effective lip and eye) attachment also made it easier to reach targeted areas such as eyebrow furrows and smile lines.

However, despite using the device four to five times a week for two weeks, I saw no noticeable changes in my fine lines and felt that any changes in the definition of my face were slight and lasted only a few hours at most.

Also, the tube of primer that comes with the device is rather small - despite the generous amounts needed to help the device glide on the face smoothly and not sting the skin. A 59ml tube costs $21 at Sephora.

The Wrinkle Reducer (which delivers a combination of red and infrared light to supposedly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles) and ELE attachments need to be purchased separately, meaning the total package is not the most pocket-friendly.

I would recommend the NuFace device to mature users who are willing to commit to using it for at least five minutes five times a week to tighten their skin. The device is likely to give you results that you can see and maintain if you have signs of sagging skin, but only if you use it religiously.

Ankita Varma


Available at: Sephora and Skin Inc concept stores at Ion Orchard, B3-43, and Scotts Square, B1-23/24

Created by Singapore skincare brand Skin Inc, this customisable skincare device is said to use Nasa technology such as LED light and low-frequency therapy stimulation to regenerate skin cells, encourage blood and lymphatic stimulation and increase the penetration of skincare products.

The device has three different lights - red for anti-ageing benefits, yellow to help with uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation and blue to help soothe inflammation and control acne - which can be used interchangeably based on preferences and skin issues.

As someone with sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts and hyperpigmentation, I found the blue and yellow lights the most effective.

The device works with any water-based product and can be used day and night for up to 10 minutes.

After cleansing my face and applying my serums, I would gently rotate the treatment head over problem areas such as my cheeks and forehead, using the blue light over blemishes for five minutes before switching to the yellow light for another five minutes.

After using it twice daily for two weeks, I saw remarkable differences in the overall tone and appearance of my skin. My hyperpigmentation was slightly reduced and I was less prone to breakouts. I also felt that my serums were being better absorbed as my skin felt plumper and more hydrated.

This is a useful device to add to your beauty regimen. It does require time commitment, but the ergonomic design makes it easy to use.

Ankita Varma



Available at: Selected Sephora outlets, including at Ion Orchard, 01-05/06

Equipped with microdermabrasion technology commonly used in professional beauty salons, this device claims to both lift and exfoliate the skin to encourage blood circulation and remove dead skin cells.

Microdermabrasion is a procedure to gently remove the outermost layer of dead skin cells using a mechanical medium. Traditionally, the light cosmetic procedure involves two parts: an exfoliating material, such as crystals, and a machine-based suction to gently remove dead skin during exfoliation.

The VisaCare's exfoliating tip has 100,000 microcrystals that gently remove dead skin cells. This is supposed to renew skin cells and help the skin feel firmer in four to six weeks.

The device also has an airlift system which creates a light suction on the face to stimulate blood circulation.

The process takes five minutes and the ergonomic design of the handheld device makes it easy to manoeuvre around the face.

Although the manual recommends that the device be used twice a week, I felt this was too much for my sensitive skin, especially when I also exfoliate with a facial wash at least once a week.

I used the device once a week for three weeks and felt that it did help to smoothen my skin and made it easier for my skincare products to be absorbed.

My skin would be pink after using the device, but the redness faded after about 20 minutes.

Since the device acts like a peel and can leave the skin feeling sensitive, it is better to use it at night after cleansing so the skin is not exposed to the sun and can recover while you sleep.

Melissa Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Come clean'. Print Edition | Subscribe