The beauty tools and treatments not worth your money

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“I feel like a lot of these at-home devices are misleading to the consumer.”

I’ve spent a lot of money in the name of beauty. Like, a lot. I’m always out to find the next best gadget, treatment, product or technology. You name it, I’ve likely tried it. But unfortunately for my bank account, not everything has delivered the results promised.

TLDR; I’ve wasted a lot of money in the name of beauty. I’ve tried microneedling, radiofrequency needling, gua sha, jade rollers, every face mask under the sun, every hair mask under the sun, hair and skin vitamins, botox, brow lamination, lash lifts – I digress, but the list goes on.


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After much trial and tribulation, I was curious to find out exactly which treatments are not worth your hard-earned dollar (and sadly, there are a lot). I turned to Dr Shyamalar (Shammi) Gunatheesan, founding dermatologist at ODE Dermatology, for some professional insight. Here’s the scoop on which tech and tools Dr Shammi believes don’t live up to their hype.

Microneedling derma rollers

These hand-held devices go for $59.95 a pop at Mecca, among other beauty stores. They’re advertised to promote healing and improve the appearance of pigmentation, fine lines, pores and acne scarring. But with its 540 titanium needles at only 0.3mm depth, Dr Shammi disagrees.

“It’s not going to penetrate your skin properly because the top layer of our skin is quite impenetrable and has a natural barrier,” she tells me. “So, unless it’s got a good depth of 1.5mm which gives you pin-point bleeding, it’s not worth it. The true benefit of a microneedling device that you can get from Mecca is probably overrated. Is it going to do you any harm? Probably not, except if you’re too aggressive with it.”

LED face masks 

These at-home devices use a combination of red and blue LED lights and are said to fight acne, reduce wrinkles and help with discolouration. But they can get quite exxy, like the Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Faceware Pro, which goes for $649 – ouch. But is it worth the price?

“I kind of um and ah about these because I think if you’re consistent there is value to it. it has that gradual build-up of red light on your face which should help with collagen or reducing acne scars,” Dr Shammi says. 

“But it really needs twice a day treatment, so consistency is key. I think a lot of people purchase it and use it once a month, which is where you’d be better off going into a practice and doing a much more powerful version monthly.

“If you spend that much money on an at-home device and end up just using it once a month it’s not going to give you the same effect. But if you consistently use it twice a day it does have a beneficial effect.”

Exfoliating gloves

While they’re pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things, Dr Shammi believes these popular exfoliating tools are doing more damage than good. “I think [they’re] a complete waste of time. They might give you that initial squeaky-clean feeling but it’s impairing your skin barrier in the long term because it’s too harsh.”

Jade rollers 

These hand-held tools help to de-puff your face, boost circulation and aid lymphatic drainage. But with many priced upwards of $150 and promoting anti-aging properties, they may be misleading.

“You can’t say it’s going to stop aging or plump up collagen,” Dr Shammi tells me. “I feel like a lot of these at-home devices are misleading to the consumer.

“It’s not the end of the world if you pay $25 for a jade roller, but you can’t tell people it’s going to anti-age your face. Yes, I think it might help you look better because you get that lymphatic drainage and you’re getting better circulation momentarily. But you can’t make claims that it’s going to build collagen.” 

Plasma pens

This professional skin tightening treatment involves a device that produces plasma and smoke to heat the skin’s dermis layer, which later sheds so that new skin and collagen form. It’s essentially a non-surgical method for eye lifts, loose skin tightening and more. 

But with treatments starting at $400, it may not be worth your pennies. “With the money and downtime, it’s not worth it,” Dr Shammi says. 

“The redness that persists and the lines and dots that appear on your skin… a lot of beauty therapists love it but it’s terrible. There’s so much false hype about it. I’ve seen lots of bad cases in the industry where people could have treated the same issues without so much pain and downtime.”

Radiofrequency needling

This form of microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that uses tiny needles and radiofrequency waves to plump up the skin and improve the appearance of acne scars and wrinkles. “I personally think the radiofrequency microneedling devices out there are very harsh,” Dr Shammi tells me.

“I think you can do a lot more without affecting the skin barrier so much. It’s very popular with acne scarring but it’s very painful. There are more cutting-edge technologies and forms of laser out there that don’t need so much downtime. I think that any person that is having to commit to five or six laser sessions, in today’s world of technology… that’s overselling.”

For more on the best skincare devices, try this.





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