The TheraFace Pro intimidated me. Made by Therabody—the company behind the popular Theragun devices—the TheraFace Pro is the It Girl beauty tool of the moment, on par with the coveted Dyson Airwrap in both price and prestige. This $399 tool offers a variety of skin-care treatments, from microcurrent and LED light to percussive facial massages. You can also buy extra heads for heating and cooling treatments.

But do you need all this if you’re not, say, cast in Top Gun 2? The answer is, maybe. Skin is the first defense against outside bacteria, so most people could probably stand to take better care of it. It’s hard to know exactly how well the TheraFace Pro works (if at all), but I really enjoyed my time with it. Despite my initial concerns about the contactless thermometer-esque device, it did make high-end skin care feel accessible and easy.


Therabody TheraFace Pro with various attachments

Photograph: Therabody

The TheraFace Pro comes with six detachable magnetic heads for four different types of skin-care treatments—facial cleansing, microcurrent, LED light, and percussive massage. These heads are controlled by two buttons, the percussion button and the ring button, each with three settings that equate to low, medium, and high. Except during cleansing, it beeps every 15 seconds to let you know how long you’ve spent on each treatment.

Therabody is known for its percussive treatments, and facial massage can improve blood circulation and trigger lymphatic drainage. There are three percussive attachments that come with the Pro that can be used solo or in tandem with the red-light treatments. The bristled facial cleansing head also pairs with the percussive button to exfoliate and massage at the same time.

To use the microcurrent, you apply the TheraOne conductive gel on your face to lubricate the area and create a barrier between your skin and the electric current. Then you touch the two metal knobs to your face, glide them over your skin, and control the current with the ring button. Theoretically, the electricity stimulates your facial muscles to strengthen them and increase collagen production, a natural protein your body makes to maintain elasticity in the skin (among many other functions).

The LED light treatment head has three different settings controlled by the ring button: red light, blue light, and red with infrared light. Red light and red-plus-infrared increases collagen and elastin production by energizing cells microscopically, and blue light kills acne-causing bacteria by activating the body’s immune system. 

You want to avoid actual skin contact to avoid potentially spreading acne-causing bacteria over your face, so the light treatments only initiate when they’re half an inch from your skin. You’ll know it’s working because the light will intensify. While you can pair percussive treatment with the red light settings, you don’t want to pair a percussive session with a blue-light session, because the percussion will negate the blue light’s bacteria-killing effects.

If you also purchase the additional temperature-controlled heads, you’ll get two extra treatments—heating and cooling. With those heads, the Pro can apply heat to encourage collagen production, or cooling to reduce inflammation and puffiness (both with the same high, medium, and low settings).

Fact Finding

The TheraFace Pro has been cleared for use by the US Food and Drug Administration, meaning that the FDA tested the LED-light and microcurrent treatments and ensured that the device was safe to sell. Therabody’s clinical trial states that the device showed efficacy and satisfaction of 80 percent or higher in multiple skin-care categories. That said, the trial was on a very small sample (35 people), and it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start electrocuting your skin, even with the tiniest of currents. 

I spoke to dermatologist Jeffrey Hsu to ask if these treatments actually work. For the most part, they do, but he had some warnings. For starters, percussion therapy can remove dead skin, but it’s easy to overuse, and people with thin or sensitive skin might develop irritation. That’s why Therabody does not recommend pairing an exfoliating cleanser with the cleansing head.