Could a £375 massage gun for your face be the magic bullet for great skin?

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The words ‘gun’ and ‘face’ in the same sentence don’t inspire feelings of calm and relaxation — but the ominous-looking one I’m holding to my cheek is actually a facial massager that claims to treat everything from stress to acne, fine lines and migraine. 

It is the latest device from the makers of the Theragun, which delivers ‘percussive massage’ to aid recovery after exercise. It’s essentially a powerful piston that pummels your body’s muscles, in the equivalent of a rapid deep-tissue massage. 

Launched in 2016, the Theragun became highly popular and inspired countless imitations. It was when the manufacturer discovered some aficionados had been trying to use the powerful device on their faces (not recommended) that they decided to make a safe facial version. 

Massage guns can cause injury if used incorrectly — so one for the face needs to be incredibly finely tuned. The result is the TheraFace Pro, which was launched this week. 

Libby Galvin (pictured) tests the new TheraFace Pro skincare device from the makers of the Theragun

Libby Galvin (pictured) tests the new TheraFace Pro skincare device from the makers of the Theragun

But can it ever be a good idea to use a massage gun on such delicate skin? London-based dermatologist Dr Elif Benar explains: ‘The technique involves stimulating pressure points on the face, neck and shoulders. Sending strong pulses and vibrations into the muscle tissue stimulates blood flow.’ 

This increased blood flow delivers extra oxygen to facial tissue to rejuvenate and, so the theory goes, sweep away damage. 

And rather than just massaging the 42 muscles of the face to release tension and treat pain, Therabody has created a four-in- one tool that also uses microcurrent to lift, and LED (Lightemitting diode) to address fine lines, promote healing and treat acne. It can also be used as a cleansing brush and, for £79 on top of the £375 price, can deliver cryothermal (hot and cold temperature) therapy. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the device for use in wrinkle reduction and pain relief. 

As someone who tends to think beauty gadgets are too much of a chore for too little result, can this multitasker change my ways — and my face? Function by function, I give the gun a shot…

A PRIME PUMMELLING 

I start with the main event, the TheraFace Pro’s percussive therapy, delivered using a choice of three heads and three different frequencies. Where the Theragun reaches a muscle depth of 16mm, the TheraFace works at just 3mm. No risk of feeling bruised, then. 

I try the ‘general use’ flat head first, which promises to relax my face. It’s really easy to pop the magnetised heads on and off. 

As for the massage? I pass the gun across my cheekbones, jaw and forehead, concentrating on the area of tension between my eyebrows, where a frown line is developing. This feels pleasant — apart from a tickling sensation that reaches my inner ears when the flat head vibrates against my jaw — but not life-changing. 

The UK-based writer says that the device cleared a breakout on her jaw and her skin is plumped

The UK-based writer says that the device cleared a breakout on her jaw and her skin is plumped

When I switch to the pointed cone attachment that provides ‘more precise treatment’ for around the eyes, smile lines and pressure points, this does make a difference. Five minutes releases tension in my jaw I didn’t know I had and I’m sure it leaves my eyebrows lifted. It feels like the frown line has been erased, too — yet my reflection says otherwise. 

Finally, I try the micro-point head, which claims to ‘maximise circulation’. A few minutes later, I have a gentle flush of warm pink across my usually pallid cheeks. 

‘Massage is a super way of encouraging lymphatic drainage,’ says facialist Corinna Tolan. ‘The lymphatic system will benefit greatly from massage to reduce puffiness and swelling. 

‘Massage also encourages blood flow to the skin’s outer layers, providing cells with nutrients and oxygen. It often has better results than an expensive oxygen facial.’

A NON-SURGICAL FACELIFT? 

Next up, the ‘micro-current tool’. Dr Benar explains: ‘Known as a non-surgical facelift, this tool makes use of low-voltage electrical current to stimulate collagen and elastin production in your skin. It also repairs damaged tissues and helps the facial muscles to become firmer and tighter.’ 

It’s claimed this can tackle signs of ageing, sharpen facial contours, and brighten the complexion. 

The attachment consists of two silver ball-shaped prongs. First I must apply a conductive gel to my face in a thick, mask-like layer. I then whack the current up high and pass the device over my face in smooth, slow sweeps. 

 A breakout on my jaw has cleared and skin is plumped

Even on the highest setting I only feel the slightest pinpricks of heat. But that doesn’t mean it’s not working — once I’ve washed off the gel, my face looks a little fresher but that could just be the splash of cold tap water. 

As someone with a pretty pared-down beauty regime, who likes instant results, I don’t think I’ll be adding this function to my routine. I can’t comment on whether it’s any better than other microcurrent devices, but I’ve tried a more powerful in-clinic treatment known as EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) where you can feel the current ‘moving’ your facial muscles. 

I’d rather do that once a month than this each day. 

DEEP CLEAN TO BOOST CIRCULATION 

If you’ve ever tried an electronic facial cleansing brush such as the Clarisonic or Foreo Luna, you’ll be familiar with the concept: a vibrating brush that removes dirt, oil and dead skin more effectively than a flannel. TheraFace’s silicone brushhead combines all that with percussive therapy. 

I find cleansing brushes too much for daily use, yet I liked that I could cleanse and enjoy the benefits of percussive therapy at the same time. I do like a multi-tasker. That said, cleansing brushes are not for everyone. Facialist Corinna Tolan thinks they’re too aggressive: ‘Skin is not designed to be sanded down or cleaned with a brush. 

‘Keep cleansing brushes for your bathroom tiles.’ If you are a fan, however, the Clarisonic costs £119 and this is a worthy replacement, considering all its additional functions. 

LIGHT THERAPY FOR CLEAR SKIN 

The benefits to skin of light therapy are well known. ‘LED treatment was first used by Nasa,’ explains Corinna Tolan. 

‘Red lights are known to work on the fibroblasts [cells] within the skin — essential for the production of collagen. Blue light can help reduce [oil-producing] sebaceous-gland activity.’ 

I’ve used several light treatments, such as Dermalux in a clinic to treat acne, and an athome device at a lower strength. 

I’m a big fan and believe the treatment really works — and on first inspection, so does the TheraFace attachment. After using it for ten minutes each day for a short time, a small breakout on my jawline has cleared up, and my skin feels plump and smooth. 

In conclusion, Libby says that the TheraFace PRO may have earned a permanent space on her dressing table

In conclusion, Libby says that the TheraFace PRO may have earned a permanent space on her dressing table

With most at-home LED devices costing £300 and often much more, this function is a bonus. 

HOT AND COLD MASSAGE 

The hot and cold treatment heads can be bought separately for an additional £79. So are they worth paying extra for? 

The experts seem to think so. ‘Cryotherapy or low temperatures can be hugely beneficial for the skin,’ says Corinna Tolan. 

‘In an effort to stay warm when exposed to low temperatures, the blood vessels will shrink and pull away from the skin’s surface, reducing the appearance of dark circles and redness.’ 

Dr Benar says, ‘Heat therapy increases blood flow in the skin, allowing oxygen and nutrients to move through blood vessels, which is essential for regrowth of damaged tissue and stimulation of collagen-producing fibroblasts. Heat is known to increase the skin permeability, meaning better absorption of skin products.’ 

The two heads heat or chill in seconds, there’s no mess, and the temperatures (a low of 18c, up to a high of 43c) are not too extreme for the skin. 

Applying my face oil with the warm head before bed was relaxing and applying the cryotherapy to my dark circles in the morning, refreshing. 

In conclusion? I think that the TheraFace may well have earned a permanent spot on my dressing table. 

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