Shani Darden is one of Hollywood's most sought-after facialists. This is important information if you're a celebrity — Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jessica Alba are both regulars at her skin-care studio in Los Angeles. But for everyday folks like ourselves, we'll probably never get a chance to get to California and have one of Darden's famous facials that incorporates a customised mix of microcurrent stimulation, LED therapy, and vibration therapy. Well, until now, that is. This month, Darden's Facial Sculpting Wand (£430) arrives in the United Kingdom, allowing you to experience the vibration-therapy portion of her signature treatment — and all its depuffing and skin-firming benefits — in the comfort of your own home.
Darden has been using vibration therapy at her LA-based clinic for nearly 16 years. "I was introduced to it by another aesthetician, but that [device] was originally made for muscle pain and she was using it on her face and on her clients. So I started doing the same, but then because I saw the results, I went in and looked at claims and did all the testing, and decided I wanted to come out with my own," Darden told POPSUGAR.
So what exactly is vibration therapy and what does it purport to do? "Vibration therapy uses acoustic sound waves that target deep muscles, deep beneath the skin's surface, so it's basically like exercise for your muscles," Darden explained, adding that it allows for deeper muscle stimulation than a manual massage with one's hands could achieve. As the sound waves stimulate the muscles, it boosts circulation and therefore increases skin's oxygen levels, which both depuffs the face and makes your skin look radiant and glowy. And because "the vibration itself works a lot in the same way as microcurrent, where it's working out your muscle", it also promises to tone, tighten, and lift your face. "Using it before you have a problem is great. It will keep your jawline tight," Darden added.
Like many skin-care innovations, vibration therapy — also known as acoustic wave therapy — was first used in the medical field. "Acoustic wave therapy has historically been used in medicine and surgery to treat kidney stones, orthopaedic injuries, and for nerve regeneration," Ash Soni, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the founder of The Soni Clinic in Surrey and Berkshire, told POPSUGAR. Recently, however, it's been one of the many different noninvasive facial-tightening methods that skin-care specialists are looking into, and one of the few options that does not use thermal energy (such as high-intensity focused ultrasound), Dr Soni noted.
"Studies have shown that acoustic waves can increase the circulation, improve and remodel the collagen and elastin within the skin, and can cause anti-inflammatory effects. Due to a change in cell metabolism, it has also been shown to reduce fat, and by stimulating blood flow it can result in facial rejuvenation," Dr Soni added.
"The data out there suggests that acoustic wave therapy may have a role to play in noninvasive facial tightening and rejuvenation, however there are a few variables," Dr Soni continued. "It depends on the specification of the power of the acoustic waves, the pulse-wave frequency, and how many pulses the machine gives off. The specifications of these at-home devices would need to be known in order to understand its effectiveness compared to the devices that these scientific studies have been based on." Basically, Dr Soni agreed that acoustic wave therapy certainly has a potential role in facial aesthetics, but that "more data needs to be known before recommending this as an alternative to other current and well-known treatment methods".
Keeping that information in mind, I've been trying the Facial Sculpting Wand for about four months now, and I have to be honest — I'm hooked. I'm so impressed by how it makes my face look that it's become a part of my weekly skin-care regimen. I'm in my mid-30s, but I have yet to dabble in Botox or injectables, and with this tool in my arsenal I'll probably continue to put off the decision on whether I will or I won't go under the needle at least a little bit longer.
The glow is the first thing you notice. The wand has three different intensity settings (I use medium) and you can adjust the vibration frequency from 50 percent to 100 percent. It comes with two different attachments: a precision ball attachment that's best for targeting small areas of the face like crow's feet and nasolabial lines, and a flat disc attachment that targets larger areas of the face like the forehead, jawline, and neck. It's the flat disc attachment that really gets your skin glowing. If you follow the directions on the enclosed leaflet — applying the Hydra Prep Gel, or your favourite face oil (I prefer using it with an oil versus the gel, which seems to dry up very quickly), and going over each section three times — you finish with your skin looking rosy and radiant.
In our chat, Darden mentioned the wand also helps with lymphatic drainage, and I have to agree: it's great at depuffing your face (it comes in seriously handy after a late night out with copious amounts of wine). And whilst I can't measure it, I do think it helps lift my facial muscles slightly. I took pictures before and after using the tool, and in the photo above you can see that my undereye bags look a little less baggy, my cheekbones and jawline look more angular, the fine lines across my forehead look softer. Probably the most noticeable difference is that my eyebrows look more arched and defined after using the tool — without having used a spoolie brush or anything.
The last thing Darden mentioned the wand is good for is relieving tension along the jaw — something I've always experienced but that has gotten significantly worse throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst I wait to bite the bullet and finally shell out a ton of money for a custom night guard (because that's really the best way to help me from clenching my teeth in the middle of the night . . . that, and better stress management), the Facial Sculpting Wand has come to my aid plenty of times. I don't have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), so I can't speak to whether or not it would help with more severe cases of jaw tension, but with my mild-to-medium issue, it helps relieve the tension built up around my jaw and temples over night, and has helped stop an oncoming headache or two.
All in all, I'm loving the Shani Darden Facial Sculpting Wand. It doesn't come cheap, but it makes me feel great every time I use it — and it sure beats a plane ticket to LA.