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Outsmart Acne With These High-Tech Devices That Actually Work

Photo: Courtesy of Solawave.
Welcome to Acne Files, a month-long series where we get real about whiteheads, blackheads,cysts, and every bump or blemish in between. From skin-soothing products R29 editors swear by to exclusive deals on the most breakout-friendly beauty brands, we’re kissing the concept of “bad skin” goodbye and exploring why acne goes so much further than skin deep.
If you have acne, the first thing someone might tell you to do is invest in a good skin-care routine. The next piece of advice might be to get a spa facial for in-depth cleansing and decongesting. From there, the investment in time, money, and effort takes a turn for the exponential — and as someone who's experienced severe acne for almost all of her teens and twenties, I'm the first to say that it adds up, literally.
I'm a wholehearted believer that you can find great products at any price point (you can rip my beloved CeraVe SA cleanser from my cold, dead, hands, thank you very much), but I personally recommend investing in tools that you can use at home to take your skin health to the next level. Unlike in-office treatments (lasers, facials, derm appointments, prescription topicals) that come at a recurring cost, the beauty of high-tech skin tools is an up-front cost followed by virtually free, unlimited use for the rest of your device's life. But if you're not sure where to begin — do I want something to amplify my cleanse or brighten existing hyperpigmentation? Or something else? — then you've come to the right place, Below, you'll find a curated batch of my personal tried-and-true devices that are actually worth the splurge.

Best Extracting

I was highly skeptical of the Dermapore, since I tend to leave extractions to the pros. However, if you have blackheads that you're sure are ready to come out, this handy tool will help gently lift them out of the pore. I use it on damp skin and hold the vibrating metal end at a 45° angle to glide across congested areas like my nose, chin, or forehead. Within a matter of passes, you'll see tiny pinpricks of clogged dirt and oil onto the spatula of the tool.

Best Microcurrent


The ZIIP is the brainchild of celebrity aesthetician Melanie Simon, and as such, has accumulated quite the prestigious list of A-list fans. However, even without the fancy clientele, I count this as one of the most solid skinvestments in my book. The Halo is *very* expensive, but if you crave instant gratification, then this is the device for you; not only does it stimulate the facial muscles to really depuff and contour (with results you can see right away), but it also helps me keep my skin clear by zapping away acne-causing bacteria before it has a chance to clog my pores. (No, it doesn't hurt, but a little vibration sensation or temporary metallic taste is normal with any nano- or microcurrent device.)

Best Travel-Friendly

TikTok has been raving about the Solawave wand, so this was the lone newcomer I was excited to try as part of my research for this story. I liked the idea of a targeted LED and microcurrent treatment, which is a great alternative if you don't want to splurge on a full-face mask (more on that later, though). Another major plus: It's compact and travel-friendly, allowing you to continue your treatments on the go. The Solawave was easy to integrate into my routine since it only demanded a few minutes of my day, and I found it super relaxing to wave a magic wand over my skin while watching TV. As I passed the Solawave over my skin, I could mentally visualize rogue hyperpigmentation and dullness disappearing with every swipe of the device. In addition to being popular for acne-prone types, the Solawave also claims to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which I don't really have yet, but will one day. While I wouldn't necessarily use it for active breakouts, I do think that it helped prevent future ones from surfacing, in addition to the main draw, which is to brighten skin.

Best Cleansing

As a reformed Cl*risonic girlie, I received the Foreo with open arms and have never looked back. I tried the Swedish brand's latest Luna cleansing brush, and it's by far the best one yet, IMO. The bristles are super gentle on skin, but you can program up to three vibration modes based on how deep of a clean your skin needs. Every time I use mine, my oily, congestion-prone skin feels touchably softer, smoother, and clearer.

Best Multipurpose

$400 for anything beauty-related is quite a splurge, but hear me out: The Theraface (from the makers of the Theragun) is like, five tools in one — and if you're committed enough to use it regularly, you will get your money's worth. While it's not specifically targeted toward acneic skin, the LED blue light attachment is helpful for eradicating breakout-causing p.acnes bacteria. Is it worth buying for that feature alone? Perhaps not. But if you're looking for a well-rounded beauty tool that will cleanse, tone, and pummel your face for a tension-relieving massage, you won't do better than the Theraface.

Best LED Therapy

Is it absurdly expensive? Yes. Could it be mistaken for elaborate super-villain cosplay? Also yes. However, if you're high-maintenance with your skin and are down to spend, this LED face mask will give you bougie spa vibes right at home. (The benefits of red LED light range from brightening to firming and overall more luminous skin.) I was graciously gifted one from the brand years ago, and it's still in great shape and holds a charge for weeks. One key thing to note: You won't see results immediately, and consistency is essential with this device; however, within two months of nightly use, I saw noticeably more even, glowing skin and reduced appearance of my reddish-brown acne scars.
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