DIY dermatology boosted by tightened budgets

We are a nation obsessed with gadgets. You only need to turn on the TV shopping channels or flick through the pages of magazines to see a plethora of gizmos designed to make everyday life easier. No surprise then that the skincare industry has been quick to cash in on this trend with a new wave of technology-driven, do-it-yourself dermatology and anti-ageing products emerging on to the market.

From wrinkle-busting devices to light therapy and handheld lasers, at-home skin rejuvenation treatments are a huge commodity. Couple this with the fact that more and more people are treating their skin conditions in the comfort of their own homes and you have one booming new sector of the dermatology industry.

“Home beauty gadgets are the future of home-spa cosmetics,” says Harley Street dermatologist Dr Penelope Tympanidis. “The most effective of these use similar technologies to the medical devices we, as dermatologists, apply in clinic. However, the ‘take-home’ beauty gadget is packed into a less potent, safe-to-use package.”

Home devices are a new trend because they facilitate a sense of empowerment and responsibility

The economic climate has undoubtedly had an impact on the increased demand for at-home procedures, which offer a cheap alternative to in-clinic treatments.

Dr Sam Robson, from Temple Aesthetic in Aberdeen, says: “Home devices are a new trend because they facilitate a sense of empowerment and responsibility; plus, in the current financial climate, they are often a cheaper option than clinic treatments.”

Quick to recognise the potential of this market, many leading laser and light companies have incorporated their state-of-the-art technology into miniaturised, low-cost devices, which allow these once clinic-only treatments to be carried out at home.

High street names, including Philips, Boots and Remington, have all come out with their own devices, while companies, such as TRIA, makers of the TRIA Hair Removal Laser, Skin Perfecting Blue Light and Skin Rejuvenating Laser, and Clarisonic, with the Clarisonic Pro and the Opal Sonic Infusion®, have become pioneers in this field.

What makes this trend even more appealing to gadget-savvy consumers, however, is that these are not just gimmicks, they actually work.

“The great thing about the Clarisonic Opal Sonic Infusion® is that it is meant to imitate the tapping of the fingers when you are putting cream around the eyes,” says Dr Toni Phillips, clinical consultant at DestinationSkin. “It is really good the morning after a big night out when your eyes are a bit puffy.”

Another device that has been gaining notoriety in dermatology and cosmetic medical circles, for its results in treating acne, is Lustre.

Dr Robson explains: “Lustre is unique because it is fully ambulatory and hands-free. It uses blue light therapy, which has been shown to be as effective as antibiotics for eradicating acne. It can significantly enhance the efficacy of an acne management programme and has helped our patients transform their lives as a direct consequence of transforming their skin.”

However, a word of warning: not all at-home devices are created equal. Some sold over the internet are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, unsafe, particularly for darker skin types – so make sure you do your research.