I’ve tried a few facial toning devices before. My face is a filler and Botox-free zone (although not a wrinkle-free one) and as a long-time yoga devotee, I like the idea that the years can be held back and gravity defied by toning your muscles. After all, there are 43 muscles in the face, and they all need attention – but who has the time? There are face yoga exercises you can do (I even have a DVD but never got it out of the box) but I've found them simply too time-consuming, too much gurning! I have tried facial toning gadgets before but have never got on with the type of high-strength Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology they have used, which sent my face into spasms of involuntary gymnastics, pulling my cheek muscles this way and that as if I had a sudden attack of the palsy. What’s more, I found them decidedly painful on my forehead where the skin is thinner. The net result being, I alway gave up.
Would NuFACE - makers of FDA-approved handheld facial toner devices - be different? The NuFACE was developed in 2005 by Californian aesthetician Carol Cole who specialised in salon microcurrent facials and wanted to give her clients an easy-to-use device to keep up the good anti-ageing work at home. Miranda Kerr used it to tighten her face up before her wedding; it uses microcurrent as a way of stimulating the tissue at a ‘subsensory’ level - meaning you can’t feel it. It seemed to have my name all over it.
Last week, I was given the limited edition NuFACE Trinity ‘Define Your Beauty’ Gift Set. Billed as the ‘5-minute facial lift’ this limited edition set includes the NuFACE Trinity facial toning device, plus a NuFACE Gel Primer, five bonus NuFACE Prep ‘n’ Glow Cleansing Cloths, a charging cradle and a pretty Uplift vegan beauty bag.
Here’s what happened when I put it to the test for a week:
Day 1: The joy of unboxing! It all seemed very straightforward - an ergonomic handheld device and an idiot-proof set of controls: an on/off button and a ‘+’ and ‘-’ button for increasing or decreasing the intensity. It came with a cradle to store and charge it on plus a cute travel pouch which fitted not only the device but also the conductive NuFACE Gel Primer. It also comes with added NuFACE Prep 'n' Glow Cleansing Cloths to cleanse and prep the skin and an instruction card showing how to ‘glide’ the gadget around the face. I opted to stick with my own cleansers rather than using the wipes provided (which I didn’t find particularly effective). My normal oil-based Glowbiotics Gel To Oil cleanser wasn’t allowed (the oil affects the conductivity) so I swiped my teenage daughter’s lighter Fresh Soy Cleanser .
With the ‘5-minute facial lift’ instruction card to hand, I turned the machine up to maximum intensity, applied the fragrance-free NuFACE Gel Primer in a thick mask-like layer as instructed and placed the facial trainer spheres of the NuFACE Trinity device onto my lower cheek at the corners of my mouth, gliding them up to the hairline for five seconds until the machine beeped.
There are three different ‘glides’ for the cheeks (for jowl, lower cheeks and upper cheeks) and you have to do each three times. The machine makes it very easy by beeping every five seconds to keep you in time. Next, you apply the gel to the forehead and perform 3x3 glides from eyebrow to forehead on one side of the face before switching to the other side. I did notice an electrical buzzing and pricking on the forehead, which was bearable (I still had the option to dial down the intensity). I washed the primer off and then applied my serum and moisturiser as usual, popped it back on to its cradle and was done.
Day 2: I decide that routine is key to keep up my NuFACE regime. I opt for bedtime between cleansing and night cream. I sit up in bed listening to the radio – it all feels pretty relaxing apart from the blue light which shines on your face from the dial as you move it around (hang on, isn’t blue light supposed to keep you awake?). I close my eyes as I do the treatment to keep the light out and sleep perfectly well afterwards.
Day 3: I haven’t felt any kind of muscle tightening after my treatments so far and so I wonder whether I couldn’t do a bit more than the suggested five minutes. Browsing the internet, I discover there’s a MyNuFACE app with video demos of the basic five-minute treatment and a 15-minute advanced session. It’s only available for iPhone and iPad and I’m on Android, but I soon find the videos in a ‘How to Use’ hub on the NuFACE website.
Day 4: I figure that, since I’ve gone to the effort of putting the conductive primer gel on, I might as well do as much as I can and continue with the 15-minute advanced session, which builds on the basic routine with holds rather than glides targeting naso-labial lines, as well as neck and crow’s feet. I am not seeing any changes to my face yet, but I know that stimulating my skin will be stimulating collagen (which takes 21 days to be visible) so I’m not disheartened. Plus the lack of pain (the treatment is actually really relaxing) means it’s easy to keep up the routine.
Day 6: I now know the routine off by heart so can use my NuFACE Trinity in front of the TV. No one complains about the beeping, which is pretty soft. I notice a little heat generated by the spheres, which is relaxing. Today, two new attachments for the NuFACE Trinity arrive in the post - an ELE attachment with two small probes that can target hard-to-reach areas such as just below the eyebrow. I have a noticeable furrow above each eyebrow (have I spent a lifetime looking startled?) so am grateful for this. There’s also a light therapy Wrinkle Reducer Head which flashes red, amber and infrared light to penetrate different depths of the dermis to target fine lines and deeper wrinkles. The routine takes 21 minutes as you have to hold down the light over seven different sections of the face for three minutes each. The website gives an easy to follow video .
Day 7: I consult Cheryl Cagiola, a facial therapist who’s been in the beauty industry for 25 years (and who looks much younger than 46 and, like me, has never used Botox or fillers, but whose face is super smooth) for her views on microcurrent. “Microcurrent is one of my favourite non-invasive treatments for lifting and toning without going down the ‘sculpted filler’ route,” she enthuses. “A device such as the NuFACE Trinity is a great addition to your at-home beauty regime and can boost your anti-ageing routine and visibly add to the effects of your favourite cream or serum.” She uses Bioeffect EGF Serum which triggers receptors deep in the dermis to boost collagen and elastin production at a cellular level. “Microcurrent works on the deeper muscle layer and also triggers the production of amino acids and ATP - which activate and accelerate cellular metabolic healing,” she explains.
I have only been trying the NuFACE Trinity for a week and have definitely made it a habit. I’m hoping to see results after 60 days of five-days-a-week use, in line with Clinical Study cited on their website which found that after 60 days of the five minute daily routine ‘85 per cent of users experienced improved facial contour, 80 per cent reported their skin felt smoother and 77 per cent of users reported their face looked more toned.’
After 60 days, you only need to do it a couple of times a week to keep up results, but as we’re talking muscles here it’s question of use it or lose it. In that sense, the NuFACE Trinity technology very much fitted with my ethos of natural beauty and functional fitness.
The heads are easily interchangeable and you can spend the minimum of five minutes a day on the basic routine or go up to as much as 45 minutes if you want to try the advanced routine and use the other attachments.
“Home care is the key to maintaining your salon or clinic visits, “ advises Cheryl, “and who doesn’t like a take-anywhere beauty device - even us professionals.”
The feature was written in partnership with CURRENTBODY.com.
The NuFACE Trinity ‘Define Your Beauty’ Gift Set which Victoria tested costs £300 which includes £40 of exclusive gifts and is available at http://www.currentbody.com/nuface . The ELE and Wrinkle Reducer heads cost £135 each.