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Would you use a £300 face roller?

Ranging from £8 to £300 and made out of varying degrees of semi-precious stones, we unpack the latest beauty phenomenon

They come in all different models, shapes and sizes. You can get a single-wheeled one or one with two wheels. These can be cylindrical or spherical, smooth or spiked, electronically powered or for manual use. I'm talking about “face rollers”. They kind of look like they should be used to knead dough, instead, they're used to knead your skin. Simply position the wheeled end against your face, hold the handle firmly like a paintbrush and sweep it gently outwards in a repetitive motion. The amount of time you do this for is up to you, but Slim Cera’s directions tell its customers to use their roller for three minutes, three times a day for the full beauty benefits which reportedly include skin rejuvenation, anti-inflammatory effects, wrinkle prevention, lymphatic drainage, blood circulation stimulation, as well as just being a fixer-upper for tiredness. There's also the spiritual element.

As well as coming in different shapes and sizes, facial rollers also come in different raw materials from jade, rose quartz and crystal to tourmaline, amethyst and stainless steel, all of which reportedly boast different healing properties. Amongst the most desired are jade rollers. The use of natural jade has been resurrected from ancient Eastern Chinese Medicine as a tool that draws out negative “Qi” (energy). In fact, face rollers can be traced way back to seventh century China, some of these ancient beauty relics have even been preserved from the Qing Dynasty and are on display at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The use of crystal also has historical implications to Ancient India and “Ayurveda”, the traditional Indian healing system that looks at skincare holistically, from the inside out.

But why are we so obsessed with rollers now? Perhaps it is our desire or lust as primordial creatures to feel nostalgic about the past and relive an unknown, lost or even foreign beauty culture. Or perhaps we are running out of ideas and are simply looking back in time for beauty inspiration? 

The market for face rollers has been steadily expanding and, according to Net-a-Porter, sales of facial tools were up by 189% in 2018. This is partially due to social media impact, as bloggers started to advertise them on Instagram accounts, and mega-celebrities including Madonna, Victoria Beckham and Khloe Kardashian began swearing by their favourite face rollers. In an interview with Into the Gloss Beckham said: “I like to use a jade roller to really contour (the moisture) into my face.” “I call this my ‘magic wand of beauty’ tighten muscle and improve circulation in the neck and face,” said Khloe, while Madonna simply went and made her own carbon, high density, beauty roller ball for MDNA SKIN.

That is not to say the popularity of face rollers is just some media ploy. There are many real health benefits associated with the skincare weapon, depending on their ergonomically designed shape and material. For example, Madonna’s Beauty Roller (£162) aims to energise and contour skin and uses ultra-infrared energy to heat the muscles to give the user a non-surgical facelift. In an explanation of the science behind Madonna’s creation, her dermatologist emphasised infrared is also known to “improve DNA repair and help regenerate tissue”. Others include the ReFa Carat Face roller (£156) that belongs in the category of the more expensive rollers. It is made out of platinum and is “designed for a woman’s face” to tighten the skin. Then there is the Slim Cera 24K Gold (£245), which is all the rage in Japan and Taiwan as gold is believed be an extremely powerful antioxidant and cell regenerator that will reward people with a bright complexion. While according to her website, facial expert Ling Chan's obsidian and amethyst facial roller “brings skin imbalances such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema to the surface and releases them from the body.” 

But do they really work?

In November 2018, Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo Healthcare University carried out a series of experiments using face rollers on patients. They used laser-speckle flowgraphy to analyse skin blood flow (SkBF) after five minutes of using the face roller on the patient. What they discovered was an increase of up to 25% of facial SkBF for short-term usage. This face roller surge has also influenced researchers to delve into further studies on the beauty tool. Now, looking at the long-term effects of using face rollers, the Complementary Therapies in Medicine published their research in December last year and discovered that although results were “unclear” there was substantial evidence that showed “acute facial massage with a roller increases skin blood flow, and chronic use improves the vascular dilation response.”