The 2023 SELF Healthy Beauty Awards: The Best High
Sep 12, 2023
By Hannah Dylan Pasternak
All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
When our great-great-grandparents envisioned the year 2023, they likely predicted flying cars and teleportation. Little did they know we would have something even better: fancy beauty devices. We are living in a golden age: It is now possible to run an electric current through your face to raise your eyebrow a little bit. A hair vacuum can blow out your 4C curls in 45 minutes or less. You can zap your pubes into oblivion. The opportunities are endless.
So it's no wonder that NuFace, Therabody, Medicube, and other high-tech brands regularly go viral and even sell out. They are an (admittedly expensive) way for us to seek, search, analyze, fix, and play. But here's the thing: They’re also pretty effective. Though dupes, fakes, and sketchy science are still abound, there are a lot of skin and hair care gadgets that actually work.
That's why this year, for the 2023 SELF Healthy Beauty Awards, we’re thrilled to introduce devices as a new category. For the first time, you can see all the high-tech tools that we really believe in and wholeheartedly recommend, after months of rigorous testing and dermatologist approval. Whether you’re looking to treat fine lines or frizzy hair, we’ve got a fun gadget or gizmo for you.
Want to see more from the 2023 Healthy Beauty Awards? Check out the best moisturizers, best body care products, and the best serums, oils, masks, and spot treatments.
Courtesy of Therabody
This multitasking device marks wellness tech giant Therabody's foray into skin care—and we have to admit, we’re impressed. The TheraFace Pro can be used in a variety of ways depending on your goals; it comes with three different percussive attachments (for lymphatic drainage or just a massage), a light therapy attachment (which can provide red, blue, or infrared light, depending on the setting you select), a cleanser attachment (for deep cleans), and a microcurrent ring, which sends electricity through skin face muscles for a lifting and firming effect. For an extra $99, you can also get hot and cold rings for depuffing and soothing inflammation, helpful if you’re dealing with headaches or sinus or jaw pain.
One tester said: "As someone who loves a gua sha massage (or any sculpting product, really), I was so excited to give the TheraFace Pro a go. I feel like the light really helped fade my acne scars, while my face was noticeably lifted after using the microcurrent attachment. The cold treatment was amazing in the morning, calming any puffiness under my eyes. And the percussive attachment really helped relieve some TMJ pain I was having. It was super easy to use and comes with a high quality organizing pouch that makes it perfect for both storage or travel. It's so versatile; I love it!"
Courtesy of NuFACE
Yes, this tool is as good as everyone on TikTok has been saying it is. NuFace's Toning System is the full package: Along with the brand's famous microcurrent device, it includes activator gel (necessary for proper and safe use), a brush for mess-free application, and a wireless charging port. Though you might notice some immediate changes from a session with the NuFace—like a lifted brow or firmer cheek—testers say the compounding effects (after a month or more of use) are even better. We suggest downloading the user-friendly (though occasionally buggy) app, which lets you input your goals and provides demo videos and routine suggestions to make the whole process very simple. The app also links with your device via Bluetooth, so you can control the mode you’re using (Skin-Tightening, Instant Lift, or Pro-Toning) from your phone.
One tester said: "As a fan of the NuFace Mini, I was very excited to try the full-size product—and boy did it deliver. There are so many different ways to use it; if I’m short on time, I’ll cover my face in activator gel and move the device in circles across my skin for an instant lift and allover glow. But I’ve discovered that the real power move is to do a 5–15 minute routine that targets your entire face a few times a week. Over time, I noticed a real difference; I look more sculpted, lifted, and just…better. I also use the prongs regularly (to hit my 11s and nasolabial folds) and will put on the red light therapy attachment for really targeted treatment. (I like that you press it directly on your face, so you get more direct contact than you might with an LED mask.) My derm was all for the NuFace when I asked her about it, which was nice to hear, but she did caveat that it only works if you use it regularly. So if you’re the kind of person who is pretty good about sticking with a skin care routine, it's absolutely worth the splurge."
Courtesy of Medicube
Medicube was founded in Korea with the aim of bringing effective in-office treatments to anyone at home—and according to one tester, the Age-R Booster H certainly meets that goal. The device works using a technology called electroporation, which delivers voltage pulses to the skin to create little microchannels that enable products to penetrate more effectively—thus leading to better results. And if you were wondering about the price, testers say it's "absolutely worth it." (It also regularly goes on sale on the brand's website, so keep an eye out for discounts.)
One tester said: "Holy shit: This works SO WELL. I started by using it with products I already know and love. From the jump, I was impressed: My skin was clearer, brighter, and bouncier—essentially, every product I used (including retinol, AHA exfoliant, night cream, and my morning vitamin C moisturizer) seemed to work way, way better than they normally do.
I also just genuinely looked forward to using it. It's super lightweight and incredibly easy to maneuver; I have a lot of nitpicks with other high-tech skin care devices, mainly because they aren't always user-friendly. This was so simple: You simply apply whatever product you’re using, power on the Medicube, and then glide it over your face. You can up the intensity (to make things penetrate even further) on a scale of one to five, and you use slightly different (but intuitive) motions for different products based on their thickness. It also just feels nice on your face—it's definitely helped me turn skin care into a true self-care ritual, which is something I understood in theory but has always eluded me personally. Also? Excellent battery life.
I’ve been raving about this device for the past two months and recommending it to everyone. (And I bought another Medicube device because I love this one so much!) 10s, 10s, 10s across the board!"
Courtesy of Gillette Venus
First, let's chat dermaplaning: It's a procedure that involves using a small razor or scalpel to physically remove the top layer of skin—which usually also includes some peach fuzz or hair. Many experts say it's best to have the treatment done by a professional in-office to keep things sterile and avoid any injury or harm. That said, you can do it at home—and if you’re going to, it's important that you do it safely, correctly, and with a proper tool. Our testers loved this option from Gillette Venus—the price is right, the quality is excellent, and it always got the job done without any nicks or scrapes.
By Kayla Blanton
By Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.
By Malia Griggs
One tester said: "I feel so passionate about this dermaplane razor, holy cow. I’ve tried a bunch of these (I use them to dermaplane my face and tidy my upper lip—I’m over ‘beauty is pain’ and no longer have the desire to put myself through waxing and plucking) and this one is by far the best. First of all, it has a nice weight to it—I was surprised that it was a drugstore product, as it felt nicer than many of the overpriced (and clearly cheaply made) versions out there. Second, it did a phenomenal job at exfoliating, which I can tell based on what wipes off. It never scratched or cut me, it felt safe and easy to use, and the results also seem to last longer than they do with my other dermaplaners. My skin was certainly brighter and smoother afterwards—I’m very much into this."
Courtesy of Braun
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at being a med spa esthetician, here's your chance. Hair removal devices like this one somewhat mimic a professional experience, enabling you to get long-term results from the comfort and privacy of home. Here's how it works: IPL, or intense pulsed light, releases light that targets, heats, and ultimately kills hair follicles. Usually, IPL is performed in-office over several weeks for a lasting effect. But according to one tester (who has dark, coarse body hair), this Braun tool delivers results in under a month—with treatments just once a week that took about five minutes to complete. The Silk·expert Pro 5 isn't cheap, but it's worth it if you’re sick of shaving and ingrown hairs but haven't wanted to deal with the expense (and pain) of laser hair removal. If you’re stressed about zapping yourself, one tester said there are lots of great videos on YouTube that are helpful and reassuring for first-timers.
One tester said: "I was really skeptical about this and I’m almost shocked that it works—and in such a short amount of time too?! The best way to describe my body hair is that I literally get a five o’clock shadow after shaving—and in just three weeks, with one use of the device per week (which is the recommended cadence), my hair was growing back much slower and less thick. Six weeks in, I only have to shave once a week, if that. Recently, I was able to go away for a weekend without a razor in tow for the first time since I was 10. And even when my hair does start to grow back in, it's a supersoft and light peach fuzz. I imagine it would take weeks of my growing it out to look anything close to what it did on day two or three before.
Some things to note: It's pretty easy to use and looks more intimidating than it is. It comes with a straightforward manual that helped me figure out how it works. The device does flash brightly with each zap, so I tend to look away. There's definitely more room for user error than if you were to get laser hair removal done in-office (mainly that you’d miss a spot—the built-in safety features make hurting yourself less likely, though of course not impossible), but the sheer level of convenience and cost makes it seem really worth it to me, especially because you can continue to touch it up for…ever or refresh whenever you need."
Courtesy of Conair
One tester said this Conair blow-dryer was on par with Dyson's version—and we may as well just end the review there, because hot tool praise can't get any higher than that. For less than $150, this model works at five times the speed of Conair's other blow-dryers with 75% more air pressure—so you’ll dry faster without adding excess heat (and damage).
By Kayla Blanton
By Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.
By Malia Griggs
One tester said: "This is an awesome hair dryer. It's super high-powered—I’m able to dry my hair quickly (10 minutes) and it gives me a smooth blowout every time, minimizing the amount of frizz I usually have. I’ve also used it on my nails after a DIY manicure!"
Courtesy of Pattern Beauty
It's all about damage prevention with this blow-dryer, the first hair gadget from Tracee Ellis Ross's Pattern Beauty brand. It comes with four attachments—a concentrator nozzle for sleek blowouts, a diffuser for creating curls and definition, a wide tooth comb for simultaneous detangling and drying, and brush for stretching coils. With three heat and two speed settings, it's really catered towards people looking to hot-style without going overboard.
One tester said: "If you are looking for THE blow-dryer for natural hair care, this is it! You can feel the quality the second you open the packaging, which is absolutely beautiful. It's a gorgeous matte tan-brown color and stands out from other tools—and is a great nod to women of color. It gives my curls a voluminous look while simultaneously limiting heat and keeping my locks as healthy as possible. The diffuser attachment is extremely efficient, and lessened my dry time. All the attachments lock in place seamlessly, so you can bounce easily between each styling tool. Highly recommend this for your natural hair collection!"
Courtesy of GHD
The GHD Helios Professional dryer is expensive, but it works. It's the kind of tool a stylist might use on you in a salon, and you might leave thinking, "Wow, my hair will never look this good again." But…it can, according to our testers. It might just take a small investment.
One tester said: "I’ve never personally owned a hair dryer because my curly hair does not do well with heat, but this product is SO great. It's sleek and fits perfectly and comfortably in my hand and doesn't feel as heavy as others do. The hot setting doesn't burn or fry my hair but is plenty warm enough to dry everything quickly. It has a good airflow output and tames flyaways, too, leaving my hair feeling smooth and shiny."
Courtesy of REVAIR
Picture this: A vacuum for your hair. But it's painless, efficient, and straightens strands—even coils—in record time. It sounds wild, and it certainly looks a little weird, but the Revair seriously works, according to our testers. Separate your hair into sections, feed individual sections through the nozzle-hose, and adjust between three speed settings and seven tension settings as you please.
One tester said: "The hype around this is real! If you’re someone like me—who has a sensitive scalp and often finds blow-drying your hair to be painful—you’re going to love this tool. It's become a staple in my routine because not only does it dry, stretch, and smooth my thick 4C hair in under 45 minutes, but it does it painlessly. It's also easy to set up and use. Plus it comes with great accessories, like a wide tooth comb, a spray bottle, hair clips for sectioning, and a soft towel for gentle drying. The only downside is that the wand is a bit heavy, so I had to take short breaks in between sections so my hand wouldn't cramp up."
Courtesy of Bio Ionic
Bio Ionic's latest innovation literally brings good vibes—this flatiron gently vibrates when closed, ensuring the hot plates hit and straighten strands from every angle. This increased coverage brought testers a faster, smoother, and silkier look. Plus the rounded barrel allows you to create curly and wavy styles too.
By Kayla Blanton
By Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.
By Malia Griggs
One tester said: "The product is incredibly aesthetic. The pastel-colored marble iron isn't an eyesore like many tools, so much that I left it on my counter for display rather than shoving it in a drawer. I tend to stay away from irons, as my hair can become super flat and quite frizzy— breakage tends to get very visible after I run one through my hair—but not with this iron. Even my prone-to-frizz front pieces were smoothed out, and I found myself using the iron on a cooler setting on days when I wore my hair wavy or natural just to smooth out some frizz. (I also appreciated that I could use it on a lower heat setting and still see results). My hair remained tame, polished, and shiny for days afterward. Loved it!"
Courtesy of Trademark Beauty
You’ve probably seen three popular types of curling tools on the market: traditional clasp irons; wavers (two or three connected irons with clasps that give a crimped, mermaid-like look); and wands, which require the user to manually wrap their hair around the barrel for a loose, bendy style. Trademark Beauty came along and said, Hey, let's make this simpler for everyone—because who among us has room (and funds) for so many gadgets?!—and created this three-in-one version. For $100, you can own all the tools—and according to our testers, the convenience comes at no cost to quality.
One tester said: "This is an excellent styling tool for anyone who wants a Hollywood glam look without hiring a full squad. It has waving iron, curling iron, and wand attachments so you can go back and forth between light and dramatic curly looks (think beach waves to Shirly Temple). When you look at the price point it's even better, considering the range of styles you can achieve. The handle is very comfortable to use and it heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. I also love that each attachment has a cool tip, so you don't burn your fingers."
Courtesy of T3
This iron from T3 is yet another versatile curler with interchangeable barrels that differ in diameter. You’ll get different looks depending on which one you use (1" will create tighter curls; 1.5" is a loose, voluminous look; and 1.25" sits somewhere in the middle), and have the option to toggle between nine heat settings. Other nice features include "auto world voltage" (meaning you can plug it in outside of the US and it won't explode—rare for a hot tool!), a silicone footer to protect countertops from heat, and a cool tip for added safety and control while styling.
One tester said: "What a fun iron! I like that you can switch out the barrels, and it's pretty lightweight—it almost caught me off guard! My personal favorite is the wand attachment, which consistently gave me dent-free curls. You can easily change the temperature (I keep it on the highest) and I like that the kit came with a heat-resistant glove to help protect you from any burns. The barrels also lock into the holder, so you don't have to worry about anything popping off. I’m super picky with curling irons and have been loyal to Hot Tools for years, but I really liked this one!"The Do-It-All Skin Care Device: Therabody TheraFace Pro One tester said: The Best Lifting and Firming Tool: NuFace Trinity+ Smart Advanced Facial Toning System One tester said: The Best Gadget for Skin Care Fanatics: Medicube Age-R Booster H One tester said: The Best Dermaplaning Razor: Gillette Venus for Facial Hair & Skin Care Exfoliating Dermaplaning Razor One tester said The Best At-Home IPL Device: Braun Silk·expert Pro 5 IPL One tester said: The Best Blow-Dryer: InfinitiPro by Conair DigitalAire Dryer One tester said: Best Blow-Dryer for Natural Hair: Pattern Blow Dryer One tester said: The Best Blow-Dryer (Splurge): GHD Helios Professional Hair Dryer One tester said: The Best Hair Gadget: Revair Reverse-Air Dryer One tester said: The Best Flatiron: Bio Ionic 10X Styling Iron – Blurred Fantasy One tester said: The Best Curling Iron: Trademark Beauty Mood Curling Wand One tester said: The Best Curling Iron (Splurge): T3 Switch Kit Wave Trio One tester said: