Once a novelty, the do-it-yourself beauty gadget has become a regular part of many women’s beauty routines.

The evidence is in the speed at which these machines are flying off the shelves.

Take Clariancy for example. The home-grown company, which has businesses that include an aesthetics clinic and retail outlets selling consumer aesthetics equipment, was one of the first here to stock a variety of beauty gadgets in 2010 at its clinic in Raffles Hotel Arcade.

By the following year, it had opened five stores in malls such as Mandarin Gallery, Jurong Point and Junction 8 in Bishan.

It sold almost 11,000 devices last year, a jump of 80 per cent from 2011, when about 6,000 gadgets were sold.BeautyBuzz.jpg

The chain currently stocks 42 devices for home use, up from 26 in 2011, that treat everything from pigmentation and wrinkles to hair loss and body hair.

Over at Japanese beauty brand Dr.Ci:Labo, more than 500 units of its $547 Sonic Lift Special have been sold since it was launched here last November. The main function of the gadget is to lift and firm skin with ultrasonic waves.

Japanese trading company Toyota Tsusho launched the ReFa range of massagers here in 2011, which claims to contour the face and body using micro-current technology. The company declines to reveal sales figures but says its revenue grew by 60 per cent last year.

Dr Lim Hock Hin, a general practitioner who co-owns Clariancy, says such gadgets are popular because they are convenient to use.

“DIY beauty devices can offer safe, efficient and cutting-edge technology that enables consumers to enhance their skincare and grooming regimen with professional results in the comfort and privacy of their homes,” he says.

Doctors say the efficacy of most of these gadgets cannot compare with that of professional treatments available at aesthetics clinics. But priced between $70 and $1,000, the DIY devices can be used multiple times for years and are thus seen as affordable alternatives.

Spotting the potential for growth in the market, Aibi, a gym and health equipment distributor and retailer, launched two new stores called Aibi Style in January. They are located in Plaza Singapura and VivoCity and stock about 30 beauty gadgets by British beauty and health brand, Rio. A third store will open in the new Jem mall in Jurong East by next month.

Aibi is also the exclusive distributor for Rio gadgets in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ms Pauline Kwek, Aibi’s marketing director, says the company will sell Rio products to about 30 retailers here by next year.

Sephora is also getting in on the action. Mr Afif Haddar, general manager of Sephora Singapore and Malaysia, says beauty gadgets were not the key focus when the chain opened here in 2008. But given the consistent double-digit growth in the category, it will soon offer more devices.

The beauty supermart now stocks four types of beauty machines. These include Slendertone Face, which supposedly builds muscle volume and lifts the face with electrical muscle stimulation technology, and Clarisonic, a cleansing vibrating brush.

Mr Haddar expects the segment to grow by up to five times in the next few years.

“As more women lead increasingly hectic lifestyles, regular trips to the salon for treatments may not be manageable,” he explains. “DIY beauty devices, which can boost their skincare regimen, are compact and easy to use, even on the go.”

There is now a home device for every step of the beauty ritual.

To keep skin squeaky clean, many turn to the Clarisonic cleansing brush, which is a bestseller at Sephora stores here. Then there are other multi-function devices that remove unwanted hair, massage the skin and boost the absorption of beauty balms.

Beauty junkies can even perform laser treatments at home that supposedly encourage the production of collagen and elastin to reduce wrinkles around their eyes.

Here are seven gadgets that help you roll and zap your way to a better-looking face and body.

1) ReFa Carat (above), $540, call 9770-7350 for stockist details
This massager mimics the kneading movements of a beauty therapist’s hands. It supposedly helps to give you a more defined jawline and firmer skin, improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, and reduces water retention.

Charged by a solar panel – so don’t block it when you are holding the machine – it is said to use gentle micro-currents to lift facial contours.The massager can be used on the waist, bust, upper arms, thighs and calves too.The rollers are plated with platinum so that they last longer and are gentle on the skin.


2) Clarisonic, from $170, from Sephora stores
What: This cleaning gadget, which holds 45 patents, promises to keep skin squeaky clean with a brush that oscillates at a frequency of 300 back-and-forth movements per second.

It also claims to clean the skin six times more effectively than manual washing while, at the same time, being gentle on the skin. The vibrations help to massage the skin and improve blood circulation too.

Talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey called Clarisonic “a miracle massage for your face” and listed it on her annual Favourite Things roll-call in 2007.

There are four models available here: Mia ($170), which has one speed; Mia 2 ($215), which comes with two speed options and a travel case; Plus ($320), which has three speed options for the face and two modes for the body (normal and pulse); and Pro, which comes with four speed options for the face and two for the body ($350).

Pro is available only at skin and aesthetic clinics. For best results, the brushes ($35 each) should be changed every three months. There are five types of brush heads: for normal skin, sensitive skin, very sensitive and thin skin, oily skin and large pores, and for the body.


3) Dr.Ci:Labo Sonic Lift Special, $547, from Dr.Ci:Labo, B3-41 Ion Orchard
This double-sided machine, which cleans, lifts and firms the face, comes with four functions for a complete beauty routine. Strap a cotton pad soaked in toner over the Ion Derivation Treatment function plate after cleansing your face to get rid of leftover grime with mild electric currents.

The Iontophoresis Treatment mode is said to boost the penetration of skincare products when they are massaged onto the skin using the device.

For the Ultrasonic Treatment mode, you have to first apply a thick layer of gel or cream on the skin so that the plate can glide over the skin. This function massages and tones your skin.

Throughout all the treatments, the fourth function, the red LED light, is turned on by default to stimulate collagen production.You are advised to use Dr.Ci:Labo’s bestselling Aqua-Collagen-Gel (from $65 for 50g) with the machine for best results.


4) Panasonic Eyelash Curler, $49, from Best Denki, #05-01 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, and Level B1 Tangs Orchard
What: A rotating and heated comb promises to curl lashes and prep them for mascara within minutes. The brand claims it can be used on fake lashes as well. You can choose the backward rotation option for your lower lashes.

Hold the heated comb against the base of your lashes for three seconds. Then turn on the rotation function and work your way towards the ends of the lashes. Apply mascara and place the rotating and heated comb on the lashes again to set them.


5) Palovia Skin Renewing Laser, $980, from Clariancy, from Sephora stores
The brand claims this is the first DIY laser gadget that is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes.

It is also approved by the United States Food And Drug Administration.

It won the 2011 Allure Breakthrough Award given annually by the American beauty magazine. It was also recommended by a dermatologist on The Dr. Oz Show, the talk show by popular American cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Mehmet Oz.

The device uses fractional laser treatment, which is said to affect a fraction of the deeper layer of the skin to encourage the production of collagen and elastin to iron out wrinkles.

The instruction booklet listed possible side effects such as redness, dryness and swelling. But visible results are promised after one month of daily three-minute sessions.


6) Rio No! No! Hair, $468, from Aibi Style, #04-69A Plaza Singapura
Using patented technology, the machine, which removes unwanted hair, sends thermal energy down the hair shaft to stunt hair regrowth. From the first treatment, which supposedly takes minutes, hair on the skin surface is burnt to a crisp and can then be buffed away. The machine claims to be able to reduce hair regrowth by 64 per cent in as little as four weeks.

It is also supposedly painless and can be used on the limbs, the face and along the bikini line.


7) Rio Galvanic Wand, $398, from Aibi Style, #04-69A Plaza Singapura
What: This device with a metallic roller tip has two functions. First, using micro-currents, it removes impurities from the skin with a cleansing Pre-Treatment function that must be used with a vitamin E-infused cleansing gel ($15).

Second, in the Infusion Treatment mode, it pumps active ingredients from the collagen and retinol patches ($30 for a pack of five) into the skin with iontophoresis. The latter is a process that uses a small electric charge to deliver skincare into the skin.

You are recommended to complete both steps each time for best results.

It promises to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone and rejuvenate the skin. The brand says some individuals can see a difference in their skin after just one session.

The gel and patches come in the box with the wand.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on May 10, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.