It’s no secret that skincare is trending right now, and a quick glance at social media proves it. Celebrities and influencers alike have hopped on the “skincare as self-care” train, and the resulting swarm of must-have products can be overwhelming to say the least. From the best Korean beauty products to the latest skincare gadgets, there’s a lot to choose from. However, while skincare has (thankfully) come a long way from scrubbing your skin off with microbeads, it hasn’t gotten any easier to decide if a product is nothing but hype or a true holy grail.
Enter Solawave’s advanced skincare wand with red light therapy. Touted as a science-backed, four-in-one skincare tool, this tiny wand is on a mission to be the next must-have in your medicine cabinet. (Since this review originally published, Solawave has released its new Radiant Renewal skincare wand, which is an upgraded version of the original wand.)
So how does it work?
As a novice skincare enthusiast, I was definitely intrigued by the Solawave the first time I saw it on social media. It was cheaper than many of the skincare devices I’d seen in the past, and — with celebrities like Doja Cat, Vanessa Hudgens, and Reese Witherspoon reportedly loving the device — I immediately wanted to know more. The company’s website explains that the tiny device combines four different skincare technologies — red light therapy, microcurrents, facial massage, and therapeutic heat — to provide what the company describes as the “ultimate at-home spa facial.”
I’d heard about all of these techniques in the past. Red light therapy, for example, is touted as a way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, redness, acne, and more. And microcurrent facials? I’ve heard some people swear that zapping a low-level electrical current through your skin is better than botox.
However, while none of these technologies are new — and the science behind them definitely shows promise — I also have a healthy dose of skepticism around whether or not a tiny pen-sized wand can deliver the same results as professional-grade equipment.
I put it to the test
Straight out of the box, I was surprised at how tiny the Solawave was in my hand. Just over the size of a pen with a convenient swivel head, the tiny device uses “smart-touch activation” meaning it turns on and off when the ceramic head comes into contact with your skin. After charging the device according to the instructions in the package, it was time to get to work.
While the Solawave turns on immediately when it comes into contact with your skin, the company explains that it works best on hydrated skin. Rather than fuss around with finding the right product, I opted to stick with their recommended Renew Complex Activating Serum. With ingredients like blue tansy oil, hyaluronic acid, and Aloe vera, the serum is designed to help evenly distribute the microcurrent therapy across your skin, so I washed and dried my face, applied a thin layer of the serum, and got started.
How does it feel?
I’m not going to lie, the first few seconds of swiping the Solawave wand across my skin felt odd. I was expecting a stronger sensation due to the microcurrent, but it felt like a gentle tingling sensation spreading out from the smooth ceramic head of the device. The device felt warm against my skin — it gradually increased in temperature the longer I used it — without being hot or uncomfortable.
I started using the wand at the base of my neck, following the instructions in the package to glide it upward and outward as I gradually moved along each side of my face. During my first session, I started small — Solawave recommends starting with a five-minute session, three to five times a week — and I found that I actually enjoyed the process.
It was super relaxing to use the device on my face and neck, and it almost felt like the device was making it easier for my skin to absorb the products I was using, so my skin felt way more hydrated than normal.
But does it actually work?
Immediately after using the red light therapy wand, I was surprised to find that I noticed a slight improvement in my skin. It wasn’t dramatic or anything — if I hadn’t taken a selfie earlier that evening, I probably wouldn’t have noticed — but there was a visible reduction in puffiness around my eyes, cheeks, and jawline.
Over the next two weeks, I diligently included the Solawave in my skincare routine. I used it both morning and evening, typically right after washing my face and applying a toning essence and the Renew Complex serum, around five or six days a week. Eventually, I started extending my Solawave sessions by a few minutes at a time — adding some focused attention to areas of my face that were holding tension, needed some extra de-puffing, or looked a little dehydrated — and I was surprised by how well it worked.
By the end of my second week, my skin was definitely looking better: A few hormonal acne scars on my chin had faded, the redness in my cheeks went down, and I swore to my partner that a broken capillary on my cheek had completely disappeared. On days when my seasonal allergies had me waking up with puffy bags under my eyes, I was thrilled to discover that the Solawave was a great way to quickly knock them out. While I didn’t notice a huge difference in fine lines or wrinkles (at 32, I only have a few fine lines on my face that are noticeable when I’m dehydrated) I was still shocked by how well the device worked.
I used the red light wand, which is designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, blemishes, and dark spots. But Solawave also offers a three-minute spot treatment device, which uses red and blue light to target acne-causing bacteria, and used to offer a blue light wand (meant to fight against breakouts, boosts the effects of serum topicals, and improve your skin's radiance), which has tragically been discontinued.
The Solawave wand is one of my skincare staples
After months of using the Solawave red light therapy wand, it's officially a staple in my weekly skincare routine. I don't always remember to use it daily — mostly because my work schedule got busy and my skincare routine took a hit — but I use it whenever I need to depuff, prep for an event, or simply need to unwind. I've also discovered that I love using it after applying a face mask — especially when my skin is feeling dry — so I can really pack in any leftover serum on my skin. Since I first started trying the Solawave wand, I've also convinced several friends (and three other Mashable editors and writers) to buy the wand. One friend told me that it helped heal the hyperpigmentation and bumpiness she had after a bad bout of hormonal acne, adding, "I use it after moisturizing almost every evening, and the difference is VERY noticeable."
I've also tried a few other light therapy devices over the last few months, like the celeb-favorite DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, and the Solawave is way more convenient and budget-friendly. It's definitely not as powerful as professional red light therapy treatments at your dermatologist's office — and you definitely need to remember to clean it regularly or risk an acne breakout (having learned that lesson the hard way) — but it's a great tool that has definitely changed my skin for the better.
Is it worth it?
Honestly, I’ve got to say yes, the Solawave is worth it. I’ve seen several at-home skincare devices, including red light therapy masks and microcurrent facial devices, that cost anywhere from $200 to $500. Compared to these, the Solawave advanced skincare wand’s $149 price tag is a breeze. It’s still a little more expensive than the beauty devices you might see on the shelf at Target, but considering how well it worked, it’s definitely worth the splurge.
If you want to save a few bucks, you can also swap out Solawave’s Renew Complex serum with one of your own favorites. At $32 a bottle, it’s a little pricey compared to my favorite serums, and I didn’t notice much of a difference when I started experimenting with a few I already had on hand. Thankfully, the company’s website says it’s totally fine to swap in your own products — especially if they contain conductive ingredients to help make the most of the microcurrent technology — so you can try using it with products that you already know work well with your skin.
If you’re still on the fence? I’d recommend following Solawave on social media or checking out the website. The company frequently offers sales on its products, so you might be able to save a bit of money by snagging a discount code on the website. Plus, since the new Radiant Renewal wand came out, the original Solawave wand is discounted to $89.