Beauty tools have gone fully sci-fi. From acne-fighting light therapy to sculpting microcurrent devices, at-home skincare tools keep improving, and high-frequency wands are no exception. A long-standing aesthetician staple, the inner workings of these zit-zapping and line-smoothing wands glow with flickers of orange, blue, or purple gas and are quickly becoming an at-home favorite for enhancing skincare routines.
So how do they work? Board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman explains that a mild electric current passes through the gas (argon or neon) inside the electrode, generating oxygen which transfers to the skin as you glide the wand across. "The oxygen generated has several effects, such as killing acne-causing bacteria, improving the skin’s overall texture and glow, promoting collagen and elastin production, and aiding in lymphatic drainage.” High-frequency skin wands can also help to smooth fine lines, reduce the look of wrinkles and cellulite, shrink large pores temporarily, calm redness, and even brighten dark under-eye circles.
According to board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, acne is the most common use of high-frequency wands. Blue- or violet-hued argon gas provides an anti-blemish effect by targeting and killing acne-causing bacteria to flatten the bump. Celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau says to use high-frequency wands only on blemishes that are red, painful and sore to the touch. “The device should be used on active blemishes, rather than clogged pores or scars, to fight the bacteria festering in that area.” Although these devices may be a godsend for those suffering from mild acne, they can’t penetrate deep enough under the skin to clear up cystic or hormonal acne nor impact the hormones responsible for these breakouts.
If skin-smoothing is more your thing, a high-frequency wand with orange neon gas is better equipped to oxygenate the skin to help decrease inflammation and redness and increase circulation, which can assist in collagen production and cell turnover and stimulate collagen to help smooth and tighten the skin.
If you want to know which high-frequency wands work and are worth the (minimal) investment, we asked the experts for their favorite picks. Ahead, their choices for what works for zapping away pimples, increasing blood flow and more to put skin on the path to clear and healthy once and for all.