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Dermatologist-approved facial toning devices for a needle-free face lift

From gua sha to micocurrent, here's how you can massively elevate your skincare routine.

Best face toning devices
Face toning devices have soared in popularity in recent years and for good reason. (Ada Ooi / Tri Pollar )

With so much new technology at our fingertips, the old adage 'beauty is pain' is a thing of the past. From facial massages to microcurrent devices you can use in the comfort of your own home, improving the visibility of wrinkles and tightening your skin has never been easier or more accessible.

Surgical facelifts remain popular in the UK, after seeing a dip in the number of procedures performed in 2019. Last year, face and neck lift surgery rose to the sixth most popular cosmetic procedures among UK women.

That said, experts are seeing an overall decline in surgical procedures, with the latest figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) showing a 16% fall in the number of operations that took place in 2023. This is largely due to more people turning to non-surgical methods to achieve younger-looking skin.

To find out what you need to know about these new beauty advancements, we spoke to celebrity dermatologist Ada Ooi for her top tips and favourite tools for achieving a fresh face without going near a single needle or scalpel.

Celebrity dermatologist Ada Ooi shares her tips on how to achieve a facelift look at home. (Ada Ooi)
Celebrity dermatologist Ada Ooi shares her tips on how to achieve a facelift look at home. (Ada Ooi)

Ooi is facialist to stars including Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and more. Her holistic approach to wellness and beauty focuses on treating skin issues from the inside out, by examining everything from her client's temperature to their tongues, as well as discussing lifestyle and emotional factors that may be affecting their skin.

Ageing is a perfectly normal and inevitable process every single human being goes through. But many people may feel disconcerted or even surprised by the changes that ageing brings, especially to the way we look.

Changes to our facial structure begin in our mid-twenties, says Ooi. "Your facial structure starts to change based on the density of the fat in your cheeks and your skin's fibrous network. We start to sag from the middle triangle of our face.

"The first thing you would see are your tear ducts and under-eye area starts to droop and gradually, lines form from the sides of the nose to the outer corner of your mouth. While all this is happening, your cheeks and chin as well start to experience sagging because these areas are quite heavy. We're not only battling against our own ageing process and internal physiology, but also against gravity all the time.

"You may start to see a more fussy chin line, perhaps a double chin. The skin on your neck is very thin because it's designed for lots of movement, as you move your head up and down and side to side. It's not going to be tight, dense skin forever, so it will start to sag and give less support to the face as well."

As we get older, our face changes constantly. Some people may want to start looking into 'preventative' techniques and methods to slow the ageing process, and Ooi says that while people can start as early as their twenties, she would recommend being more proactive about it in your early thirties.

While a lot of social media advice on achieving a lifted look focuses on smoothing out forehead wrinkles and plumping skin, Ooi's top advice is to really pay attention to your jaw.

This is because jaw muscles are powerful - which makes them large and heavy, which can weigh the face down as our skin becomes thinner and less able to hold up against gravity.

"We carry so much tension in our jaw, and I would really recommend trying to reduce this as much as you can," the facialist says. "There is a very strong muscle in your jaw, and you can massage it to make sure that the fascia enveloping it remains flexible and mobile, which will help keep it from sagging."

Genetics and lifestyle factors also play a huge role into how you age, which may lead to certain areas ageing or looking less firm quicker than you might like. While you can't change your genetics, you can certainly make changes to your lifestyle to help slow the process down.

"Lifestyle is so important because it affects skin quality and how well your fibre structure can support your skin," Ooi explains. Like many dermatologists, she is a big advocate of staying out of the sun.

"If you're constantly under the sun, it changes the fundamental DNA of your skin. A lot of the elastin, the fibres, the network structure can be damaged through sun exposure," she says.

"Being in the sun a lot also leads to enlarged pores. So if you have a lot of enlarged pores with a weak fibre network, add gravity and ageing on top of that, your skin becomes fragile and easily stretched, which leads to sagging and drooping."

Ooi is a big fan of gua sha, a traditional Chinese medicine practice that uses a specific tool to massage and 'scrape' the skin. The tool is usually made from polished stones such as jade or rose quartz, but some modern gua shas are made from metal with smoothed edges.

Using pressure to massage the skin with the gua sha also helps stimulate blood flow, bringing oxygen and vitality back into the skin.

"I saw a comment once that gua sha is just a trend," she says. "But in my opinion, it has never been a trend. It is an ancient practice and has been used over dynasties in China for wellbeing massages.

"If you have a gua sha tool at home, please use it! It's not just a TikTok or Instagram trend, it's very beneficial for the exact problem we're trying to solve with sagging and drooping skin."

In order to sculpt the face using a gua sha, Ooi recommends the following routine that should be done at least once a week:

✨ Apply a face oil to help the gua sha glide over your skin
✨ Position the edge of the gua sha against your chin and apply some pressure
✨ Drag it along your cheek up towards your ear, then turn it so you can drag it downwards along the side of your neck
✨ Wiggle the tool against the skin slightly when you reach the ear, and again when you reach the area where your neck connects to your shoulder

"These are lymph collection points", says Ooi. Carry out the massage on this area, on both sides of your face, for as long as you like and according to what feels good to you.

✨ Using the edge of the tool to massage the area around the mouth and the cheeks
✨ Apply gentle pressure and pull the tool up towards the temples
✨ Use the gua sha to massage your jaw, particular the point where it hinges under the cheekbone
✨ With the smaller end of the gua sha massage under your eyebrow and drag the tool upwards over the forehead towards the hairline

Ada-approved purchase: Microsculpt Gua Sha Joy Kit | £140 from 001 London

If you want a budget-friendly option, you can find well rated options on Amazon for under £10.

This gua sha has over 27,000 five-star reviews. 

£9 at Amazon

Ooi also highly rates micro current facial tools. "It's essentially an electric current that trains your facial muscles," she explains. "I would personally recommend a combination of gua sha and micro current treatment, which we also offer in our clinic.

"Gua sha is really great for people to do on a more frequent, day-to-day basis, whereas micro current treatments are very effective for accenting and training larger muscles, like the cheeks and forehead."

Ada says: "There are various modes in this one device, microcurrent is great for accenting the contour under the cheekbones that need extra lift. The pulsation mode helps with lymphatic drainage further boosting the sculpting effect."

£379 at Foreo
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£379 at John Lewis £240 at CurrentBody

Ada says: "A great sized device that utilises microcurrent to tone and lift skin, not only is it easy to carry because it's compact enough to fit in a small pouch, the conducting bulbs are relatively small that allows for precision around the facial contour."

£379 at Currentbody

Ada says: "Radiofrequency uses electromagnetic waves to generate heat at the dermis layer where collagen is produced, triggering a regeneration and remodel mechanism for collagen production, with a longer term view to firm the skin from within. This model ensures heat is distributed evenly for optimal results."

£562 at TRI POLLAR
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£550 at CurrentBody