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The Magic of Microcurrent: How It Really Works
Kate Winslet, Madonna, and Oprah Winfrey are all fans of microcurrent facials: style icon Diane von Furstenburg admitted she books this treatment once a week. But how does it work, exactly? Is it really electricity? Does it hurt? How much does it cost, and how often should you book? We spoke to the master of microcurrent and founder of SB Skin, Shamara Bondaroff, to get some answers.
Microcurrent used to be buried as an added service inside $400+ facials. Shamara’s magic (aside from being a master of microcurrent) is that she has made it accessible to all. Appointments are 50 minutes long, focused primarily on intensive microcurrent therapy, and affordable. Add in Shamara's amazing bedside manner (and super cool instagram) and there is pretty much zero reason you shouldn’t be booking an appointment right this second. Below is the CB guide to microcurrent, guided by the expertise of Shamara herself.
THE BASICS: WHAT IS IT?
A microcurrent facial is often referred to as a “natural” facelift—it’s safe and painless. It's used to tighten facial muscles, stimulate collagen, minimize puffiness, improve skin quality, promote lymphatic drainage, reduce under eye circles, and potentially some more things we missed. “It’s like Pilates for your face! It’s often referred to as “facial toning” because it really is like a workout for your face,” says Shamara.
WHAT MAGIC IS THIS? HOW DOES IT WORK?
Here’s how it works: a microcurrent facial emits extremely low-voltage electrical currents (hence ‘micro’ current), which mirror your own body’s electrical currents to repair damaged skin and stimulate collagen and elastin production on a cellular level. The intensity is so slight that it would take one million microcurrent machines to light a 40-watt light bulb. “Microcurrent facials are considered a form of muscular re-education for the face. Thirty-two different facial muscles are manipulated during a microcurrent facial,” says Shamara. “The high frequency electrical signals reach deep into the facial muscles and surrounding tissues to promote circulation, collagen production, cellular repair and regeneration.”
THE HISTORY + WHY IT'S SO POPULAR RIGHT NOW
Microcurrent technology has been around since the 1800s as a treatment for damaged tissues and muscles. But when a physician of a Bell’s palsy patient noticed that the face of his patients appeared much smoother and younger looking after receiving microcurrent therapy, one of the world’s first high-tech aesthetic treatments was born.
“Microcurrent has been used by alternative medicine practitioners and physicians for over a century to treat an array of injuries,” explains Shamara. “Microcurrent is so popular right now because people want a natural look that’s healthy, with no side effects. It's safe and gives a look where people might think you did botox, but you didn’t, and you’re keeping your skin and muscles alive and blood flowing. I mean, what’s better than that?”
WHAT’S THE TOOL LIKE AND HOW DOES IT FEEL?
The microcurrent facial uses two hand-held prongs (see our feature image) that deliver precise dosages of energy to the skin. As the esthetician methodically moves the prongs around your face, you may feel a slight tingling sensation, but most say it’s surprisingly relaxing. Of course you can expect all the other pleasures of a classic facial incorporated into the microcurrent facial, such as cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and facial massage.
Typically this service will last around 50-90 minutes or is often added as an “add-on” at many spas or skincare providers. Shamara keeps her appointments at 50 minutes. There are no negative side effects—meaning you can easily go about your day and look glowing.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?
“The entire face becomes lifted and contoured, lines and puffiness are diminished and overall complexion is improved,” says Shamara. You'll see visible results from just one treatment. Your skin will appear tightened and hydrated. Your jaw line will be more defined, your cheekbones more pronounced, and your eyes will look younger and refreshed. However, the initial results are rather fleeting and vanish in a week or two. So just like exercise, you need to commit to a regimen.
WHAT’S THE RECOMMENDED COURSE OF TREATMENT?
Results are cumulative, so after a series of sessions, the improvements are many and longer lasting. For sustained results, the recommended course of treatment is a series of 10 to 15 treatments within the first 6 weeks, followed by a regular maintenance schedule. “Most of my clients come once a month. Personally, I try to get microcurrent done every two weeks. I do it myself. Nobody knows my face better than me. I know what muscles I need to work on. I think consistency with the same esthetician is good because they really know your face and facial muscles,” says Shamara.
WHO SHOULD GIVE ME THIS TREATMENT?
Go to a board-certified dermatologist or licensed esthetician who specializes in microcurrent therapy. An esthetician has to be licensed in the state in which they practice. There are several different schools you can attend, but ultimately you have to pass a state administered written and practical exam to get your license.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The cost can vary from $200 - $600. “I run my business so that this treatment is much more affordable than what’s been traditionally available to women,” explains Bondaroff. “I want it to be attainable for both men and women to do on a regular basis so they can see the change in their skin and face.”
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