High-tech facial devices always hit the market with a bang, piquing our interest with blue lights and spacecraft designs that make us hope perfect skin isn't just some futuristic fantasy of ours. Some end up being bogus; others, brilliant. But how do you distinguish between the two before throwing down your cash? We're on a mission to find out. Over the next few weeks, R29 staffers will be road-testing the biggest innovations of the year to see if each delivers on its stellar claims. Up next: the ZIIP Beauty Nano Current Device. We'd been hearing a lot of buzz surrounding this little skin-care device — which looks like a chic, futuristic computer mouse. First, Kim Kardashian tested it on her Snapchat. Then, Glossier's Emily Weiss gushed about it to us over breakfast. Those are two powerful endorsements, if you ask us, but we were still skeptical. Ziip, which comes in at a cool $495, promises to zap away acne, fine lines, and dark spots — in a mere four to five sessions. Our first thought, of course, was yeah right. But the science behind the claims was impressive: It sends teensy, electrical wavelengths deep beneath the surface level of skin to boost collagen production (when used on the highest setting) and kill acne-causing bacteria (with the lower setting). Plus, when used in tandem with the corresponding face gel — which is loaded with peptides and human growth factors — skin should look even smoother. Now, this all sounds lovely, but given that this gadget is nearly the cost of an iPhone, we felt it necessary to try before you (or we) buy. We asked staffer Valis Vicenty — who listed acne and dullness as her primary concerns — to use the gadget in 12-minute increments, twice a week for an entire month and report back on its efficacy. (The company says you can use it up three times a week, as desired.) So, did it work? Yes — but it wasn't all roses.
First, the good news: It worked like magic on Vicenty's breakouts, which were her main concern. "Even though I’d cleanse prior to each treatment, the face wipes I’d use afterward would come up a bit dirtier than expected," she says. "My guess is that it shook more of my makeup loose from my pores, and — even though I broke out more after my first two tries — I believe that was my skin purging. After the first week, my deep-rooted, Magic Mountain-sized zits decreased significantly, and most of my acne scars started to fade." By the end of the month, she noted her skin looked brighter, too. "That was an added benefit, especially because winter usually makes my skin look dull and dried out." The downside? The handheld gadget wasn't always pleasant to use — and holding it up for 12 minutes straight made for one hell of an arm workout.
"[I had heard that] the device gave a tingling sensation," Vicenty says. "But after slathering on the conductive gel and turning on the device, I was shocked to find it was a bit stronger than a tingle — it was more like a static electricity orb. Luckily it was nothing too uncomfortable, though the intensity seemed to increase when my hormonal acne started to sprout up. Honestly, I started to think that the more it stung, the more bacteria it was killing below the surface of my skin. Beauty is pain, right?" In the end, we'd say the results definitely lived up to its claims. Whether or forking over 500 bucks is worth it? Well, that's entirely up to you.