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My recent blog posts have been very science focused with lots of terms and links to various studies. Today’s post won’t necessarily be that as it’s also an update on my microcurrent journey so far. I’ll do my best to keep this educational too and will be including an overview on microcurrent and its history as well and what I’ve been enjoying device and product wise.
This will be a part one and I will do a follow up next month when I do my video with my updated microcurrent routine. But just know a lot of this post is more of an update and exploration of my changing thoughts on this treatment.
In the medical field, electrotherapy is the use of electrical stimulation for therapeutic purposes. Cosmetic electrotherapy is used similarly but with a more aesthetic focus.
Treatment Room Modalities Featuring Electrotherapy:
- Galvanic treatment uses a constant current, measured in milliamperes. You’ll see it used in treatment rooms for desincrustation to unclog pores while it’s also used for iontophoresis, a method of enhancing product penetration as it allows charged particles to cross the skin barrier. This is one of the older treatment modalities under the electrotherapy umbrella and has research for drug delivery as well.
- Microcurrent is what we will be discussing today, a pulsed current measured in microamperes that mimics the body’s own electrical signals. Used correctly, it can target the Golgi Tendon Organs in the tendinous junctions found near the origin and insertion points of each muscle. Since the GTOs are responsible for muscle tension, this can help with muscle tone as a result though it doesn’t actually contract the facial muscles themselves. Microcurrent can also aid penetration of skincare ingredients, increase ATP, increase dermal collagen and elastin, and aid wound healing.
- High Frequency utilizes gas filled glass electrodes to run a high frequency, low current through. While evidence is lacking in regards to many of the supposed benefits behind this treatment, we do know that it can create ozone which is antibacterial and has potential applications for skin disorders in small amounts. On the flip side though, long term continuous exposure to ozone is actually pro aging as it’s an oxidizing agent. Like with red light therapy, I would pair it with an antioxidant. See my suggestions here. Note: this is not the same as radio frequency which uses high frequency electromagnetic waves
- Faradic treatment is also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or what you likely know of it as – electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). While shown to work to increase drug delivery via electroporation and good for penetration of skincare ingredients, evidence is otherwise lacking for cosmetic applications. The direct, interrupted current is supposed to actually contract muscles for better toning but the few studies I could find were based on entirely subjective measures or they were brand funded with more than one treatment modality used.
While Dr. Thomas Wing has often been credited as the pioneer of microcurrent, there were many discoveries at that time that influenced both his work and the field itself.
Prior to the 1970s, microcurrent had been successfully used to aid wound healing. But it was acupuncturist Dr. Thomas Wing that really brought attention to it when he created the Accu-O-Matic in 1975, a microcurrent acupuncture machine. Reports of its anti aging benefits begin to come in and in 1980, Dr. Wing would release the My-O-Matic.
The newer model of Dr. Wing’s microcurrent machine added a new waveform and was found to be beneficial for shortening and lengthening muscles. Dr. George Goodheart, godfather of applied kinesiology, had discovered that he could manually influence muscle tone by directional stroking at the origin and insertion of the muscles. This heavily influenced Dr Wing, who replaced the manual aspect with microcurrent since it mimics our body’s own bio electric currents. Cosmetic microcurrent was born from his second model and all the attention around it at the time.
In 1985, Dr. Robert Becker and his book “The Body Electric” would do much to prove the validity of microcurrent as a therapeutic treatment. 1982 and 1997 studies showed the ability of microcurrent to increase the production of ATP as well as an anti inflammatory and healing effect on treated tissue and then in 2003, Emil Chi released a study that found that microcurrent could increase dermal collagen and elastin in the skin.
Unfortunately, things get less clear the further we move away from beginnings of microcurrent. I’ve seen some mentions of microcurrent devices not being allowed for a time by the FDA and that’s why we had a long period where they weren’t used and research wasn’t continued… but I couldn’t confirm this. What I can say is that we have many different perspectives on microcurrent and an overall lack of evidence itself when it comes to cosmetic applications. This makes it confusing to determine which techniques are effective.
On one hand, we have the traditional approach based on the principles created by Dr Wing and Dr Goodheart. Dr Joseph Ventura is a well known proponent of this method, has been involved in microcurrent for over 30 years, and his knowledge is directly from the pioneers of this treatment. I discovered him over a year ago through this video and have followed him since and am going through his microcurrent training currently which I’ll touch on later in this post.
Then there’s the modern microcurrent approach that’s gotten very popular recently thanks to 7EWellness and social media but is also practiced by many estheticians. These methods do often mention the Golgi Tendon Organs yet many of these movements do seem to focus on the belly of the facial muscles despite this or use movements that don’t seem to align with muscle anatomy. We also have newer technologies like Pico from Neotris which isn’t really microcurrent alone but rather a combination of waveforms and currents including galvanic.
Another style of modern microcurrent is the more trendy, consumer friendly options out there like NuFace, Ziip, and the Foreo Bear. These are handheld and lack the separate probes required for the GTO technique and many don’t seem to qualify as “true microcurrent” by some of the established measures for that. Important: I don’t feel comfortable dismissing these options though as I also understand that the average person may not have the time or energy required for the more professional machines.
My Perspective and Thoughts
First, let me just say that this is not to say anyone else is wrong. These are my thoughts based on my own research and experience so far and my perspective will no doubt continue to change. When there’s a lack of evidence on a topic – like here with microcurrent in the aesthetic field – it wouldn’t be right for me to say that anyone is right or wrong.
Because of this: if you’re seeing results doing a certain method and/or with a specific device then keep doing it. I’m sharing my honest thoughts with you all and that’s it. There are people who have made prior content on this topic that I respect immensely and who are super knowledgeable but who I may disagree with a little on this particular topic. That’s okay, there is room for multiple opinions here.
There also seems to be a lot of unnecessary drama over microcurrent if I’m really putting it all on the table here. We have influencers who sell one device saying another device is galvanic, brands not being open with specs or threatening to sue, and even bullying and harassment from people affiliated with The Brand Who Must Not Be Named (yeah, they’ve reached Voldemort status). It’s messy and very discouraging. While I have my own carefully picked affiliates that I work with and have no issue with content creators monetizing and being paid for their hard work, I’m relieved to have no affiliation I need to disclose here as it just makes things less complicated.
I’m just updating you all as I continue to research and I hope you all know that I’m just trying to share my journey and process with this. Like many of you, I just want to know what works. I want to cut through the misinformation, marketing, and financially motivated content and get to the heart of it. When it’s something where the evidence isn’t clear, then I seek information that aligns with my approach and views. For microcurrent, that is techniques that work with the facial anatomy and that are effective and to the point. I look for the science wherever I can.
My Focus Going Forward
Here’s what you can expect to see from me in regards to my perspective on microcurrent and future content:
While I’m doing the Ventura microcurrent training and have I recently ordered his probe kit for the Myolift Mini, I don’t subscribe to any one belief here. I’ve been doing additional research too and will be testing multiple approaches and probes and seeing what works best and also what most respects anatomy and science. I lean toward the traditional approach as it has the most evidence but feel strongly that science is always evolving too. Acupuncture has evolved since Dr. Wing and same goes for chiropractics since Dr. Goodheart and I think room should be left for microcurrent to do the same.
My goal for all future microcurrent content is to focus on simplifying and customizing. If your Myolift Mini is sitting collecting dust on your shelf because you didn’t realize how much education and time it took, my hope is to help you get more use from it. Yes, you’ll need to learn your facial muscles – particularly their actions as well as their origins and insertions. And I’m happy to do content centered on that. But I want to move away from the dozens of repetitive movements and instead strip it down to the ones that respect anatomy and align with that we’ve decided to focus on in regards to our own face and goals.
Another thing I’ve discussed before but want to continue to utilize is techniques and knowledge injectors use for Botox. While microcurrent is used differently, some of that information really illustrates how results can be greatly enhanced by anatomy knowledge.
Example: a better brow lift can be achieved by releasing tension in the procerus and corrugators as they bring down the brow when they contract.
I really love the 7EWellness devices and products but their movements and focus on the belly of the facial muscles have confused me for a while so you’ll also just see a focus on the GTO technique and cutting out anything that’s redundant or repetitive going forward.
I will also be focusing on more information and protocols on other treatments that go well with microcurrent so look for that in the Skincare and Beauty 101 Community on Facebook.
What I’m Using
I still love and recommend the Myolift Mini from 7EWellness. I researched it extensively long before buying it a year ago and have felt for a long time that it’s a good balance between being accessible to consumers and capable of delivering professional results. I also love that it’s become more popular because for a long time there were no reviews really. I’ll be continuing to use it as I love it and I feel like we’re always being told we need the newest device or product when we don’t. While I’m a skincare and device junkie, I hope to balance that by also doing content on using what you have.
Recently, I’ve ditched the gel. I’m trying out these probes both with the Q Tips and with the probe covers and 7EWellness has their own version too. Some believe that the gel doesn’t get the current past the skin and where it needs to go and I have experienced better results so far. If you have the original Myolift Mini probes, you can try using them wrapped in saturated gauze first to see if this is for you.
I’ve been playing around with different minerals for conductivity and if anyone is interested, I can do some posts on making your own DIY mineral blend to add to water for microcurrent treatments. Let me know in the comments.
As I covered very extensively in this prior blog post on skin hydration, skin is highly resistant to current and hydration both improves permeability for better penetration of skincare ingredients and allows for better conductivity. Because of this, I really find that skin prep as well as what you use during microcurrent is key for better treatment outcomes.
Microcurrent also helps with penetration of skincare thanks to the electroporation aspect so using serums with growth factors and peptides with microcurrent can help you get more out of them. Since we know microcurrent helps with ATP, wound healing, and can increase dermal collagen and elastin I like to select products that complement this.
Shop my microcurrent kit here to see my favorite products and why I love them with this treatment.
The Wrap Up
That wasn’t as concise or definitive as I would like in all honesty but that’s where I’m at with microcurrent at this point in 2021. I want to make sure you all know my position has been been undergoing some changes. If you read this and my perspective makes sense and you have similar thoughts or goals then I hope you’ll follow along for future content. And if you’re happy with your current routine, that is always okay too and completely welcome.
If you got this far, thank you for reading. What are your goals for microcurrent this year? Comment them below.