Shopping
Advertiser Disclosure

Solawave Review: Can This Red Light Therapy Wand Save Your Skin?

Solawave

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

updated: June 27, 2024
edited by Amber Katz

Finding the right microcurrent device that works for you is like dating. I would go to department stores, look them over, and then leave. Then I became bold and bought one or two (okay, three). I’d use them a few times and then ghost them. Why? One was tedious. I was exhausted after every session. One was too complicated. It didn’t matter how often I read the instructions; nothing would sink in. The third microcurrent device was a nightmare. Its corresponding conductor was a thick, sticky, gold-colored substance that adhered to my skin like cement. All of these experiences lead me to the Solawave (technically called the Solawave 4-in-1 Red Light Therapy Wand), which is all over social media. Does it live up to the hype? I tried it out firsthand to see.

What is Solawave, and what does it do?

The Solawave is an ultra-light, multifunctional, hand-held skin care tool that combines four treatments into one slim wand: therapeutic warmth, vibrational massage, galvanic current, and red light therapy. Used together, the device can improve skin tone, enhance skin texture, lessen blemishes, reduce some signs of aging, and aids in the absorption of skincare products.

The combined treatments housed in the wand create a “medspa experience” at home that cater to a wide range of skincare needs. Working together, they plump up skin, reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage, and alleviate blemishes. It’s also one of, if not the, most straightforward devices on the market.

Unboxing and first impressions

The Solawave is housed in a slim box and there’s a separate container for the Solawave Skin Therapy Activating Serum package. Aside from the Solawave, there was a carrying case, charging cord, and instructional booklet. I opened the box and realized the wand had an uncanny resemblance to a disposable razor. The wand comes in three colors: rose gold, ombre, and matte black. I received the matte black.

I picked up the wand and twirled it around. It’s almost weightless. The pivoting head has a window that houses the LED light therapy. It’s also where the galvanic current meets skin when in use—I kept wondering how this tiny thing would work. Would it work? Yeah, I know the saying “good things come in small packages,” but when you compared it to what I’ve used, I didn’t think it could change my skin.

The Solawave Skin Therapy Activating Serum helps the wand glide across your face and acts as a conductor for the current. The vegan formula is designed to hydrate and plump up your facial skin. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also fragrance, gluten, and cruelty-free. The ingredients include hyaluronic acid, an ionic mineral complex, and Nonapeptide-1. I gave it a sniff and tried it on my hand. The serum was instantly absorbed into my skin.

Unboxing and first impressions

Solawave pros and cons

Pros

  • Solawave claims you’ll see results within two weeks
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Cost-effective; takes the place of multiple skin care devices
  • It easily integrates into your daily skin care regimen
  • Safe and gentle. It does not irritate the skin or leave it red after using it
  • The wand can be used with their serum or any oil-free serum
  • Depuffs skin
  • Once charged, the Solawave can be used for over a month before charging
  • Can be used on vacation; pop it into its carrying case
  • Reduces acne and blemishes via red light therapy and therapeutic warmth
  • Enhanced absorption of skin care products

Cons

  • Initial investment: the Solawave 4-in-1 isn’t as expensive as some other microcurrent devices, but it's still over $100
  • Small learning curve; if used improperly, can lead to suboptimal results
  • It must be incorporated into a daily routine; some people may need to remember to follow through
  • It's essential to commit to using it not only during the initial process but also to understand that consistent use over the long term is key to maintaining the results
  • It does not achieve the same results as Botox, fillers, or micro-needling

Solawave price

If you only purchase the Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare wand, the price is $169 on the brand’s site. They occasionally have specials where you can purchase their starter kit bundle for $149.00. That contains the wand, activating serum, travel bag, and serum refill. Don’t want extras? You can buy just the Solawave 4-in-1 wand and activating serum for $189. If you just need the activating serum, it’s $29 on the Solawave site.

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

What are the Solawave’s 4-in-1 Skincare Wand key features?

The Solawave is a unique device that combines four skin care treatments in one slender wand. These treatments include:

Galvanic current

Galvanic current is a low-voltage and high-amperage current used to stimulate muscles. A recent study showed it can promote collagen production.

Red light therapy

Studies in red light therapy have shown that it can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, and even sunspots and safely treat mild acne.

Vibrational massage

As for vibrational massage, one study noted it can improve sagging skin and even lift it.

Therapeutic warmth

Therapeutic warmth treatments have been shown to increase collagen production, repair sagging skin, and reduce wrinkles.

Remember, all these features are at a lower voltage than the ones used in professional settings.

How to use the Solawave device

Watch the how-to videos

Before your first session, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the device's operation. I recommend watching the comprehensive how-to videos on the device's site to ensure you’re prepared and understand how to use the Solawave wand effectively and safely.

Wash your skin

Before using the Solawave, wash and dry your face and neck. When you turn it on, you’ll hear a slight buzzing noise, which means the vibrational massage is on and ready to work.

Proper movement

The Solawave wand is designed for use on various areas of the face. Always move the wand upwards, not downwards, in the neck, forehead, cheek, or under-eye areas. This ensures the massage is effective and safe. Use slow, gentle, sweeping moves. Whether the head is vertical or horizontal, it pivots and can cover all the planes on your face.

Work in sections

When using the wand on a section, you should spend one or two minutes on each side. I used my phone’s timer to stay on track and set it to one minute per section.

Except for the forehead, you want to work on the left-hand side of each section and the right-hand side of the section. For example, you would use the Solawave 4-in-1 wand on the left-hand side of the neck, then the right-hand side. The same is true for the jawline, cheeks, and under-eye areas. When I worked on my forehead, I started from one side and slowly worked my way to the other side.

When using the Solawave wand on the neck, start at the base and gently move the wand toward the chin area. Avoid your thyroid, which is placed in the center of the neck.

Serum

I’ve also learned that it’s best to only apply the serum to the section you will be working on. Otherwise, you’ll reapply the serum throughout the session, as it dries quickly. Place some serum on the back of your nondominant hand — think of the back of your hand as a palette. Then, apply the serum to the section you’re working on.

How does the Solawave work?

When the Solawave wand is applied to the skin, all four treatments immediately go to work. Each sweep adds a touch of therapeutic warmth, galvanic current, red light therapy, and vibrational massage to your face. After the first use, you may notice that your skin feels tighter, and your complexion looks brighter. You may also notice that any skincare applied after the treatment will be absorbed quickly.

My personal experience with Solawave: Does it actually work?

Before I discuss using Solawave, it’s essential for you to know my skincare regimen. I’m not a scientist, so these products may or may not have affected how the microcurrent device worked for me.

My morning routine

Every morning, I wash my face when I shower. TULA’s The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser and MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals Ultra Hyaluronic Hydrating Cleanser are on my shower ledge, so I alternate between the two.

Out of the shower, I apply skin care products in this order:

  1. Indeed Labs Vitamin C Brightening Drops
  2. MyChelle Dermaceuticals Ultra Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum
  3. SkinMedica TNS Advanced Serum
  4. Erno Laszlo Phormula 3-10 Eye Intensive Eye Cream
  5. Andalou Naturals Rejuvenating Cream
  6. Bioré UV Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen

Because I’m (slightly) passionate about maintaining good skin, every morning, I combine Vital Proteins and a powdered, flavored electrolyte mix into carbonated water and then ingest a bunch of vitamins.

My night routine

Before bed, I wash my face with CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser and then apply the Erno Laszlo eye cream and the SkinMedica serum again. I inherited good skin genes and will do everything I can to (a) keep it that way and (b) slow down aging as much as possible.

Trying out the Solawave

Week one was off to a shaky start. Though I watched the online tutorial, I still didn’t do it correctly the first time I used it. I then propped up my iPhone on the bathroom counter and followed the tutorial until I memorized how to do it correctly. I have sensitive skin and experienced an itchy sensation after using their activating serum, so I switched back to using the MyCHELLE Hyaluronic serum during sessions. Solawave is correct; adding the device to your daily routine is easy. Afterward, you can follow the rest of your skincare regimen.

After a few days of using the Solawave, I noticed that my skincare products sank quickly into my skin. One of my neighbors remarked that my skin looked “glowy.” At the end of the first week, I took a cursory examination but noticed no significant changes to my fine lines and wrinkles.

At the beginning of week two, I still didn’t notice a difference, but a friend did. He mentioned that my skin seemed brighter and wanted to know if I had used Botox near my eyes. That was a little startling! By the end of the second week, I noticed that my 11s, the vertical frown lines between your eyes, seemed to have faded somewhat. A few of my fine lines seemed blurred. Whether I used makeup or not, my complexion looked even and healthy.

It may take me a few weeks to notice changes when I incorporate something into my daily regimen. If I don’t obsess over it, I’ll eventually see whether it’s working. Plus, I can’t be bothered to take stock of my face daily. I’m in week three and don’t see myself stopping using the Solawave. It’s nice to see some fine lines slowly fading away. The Solawave wand has made my complexion look brighter and healthier. I do realize I need to see a dermatologist for a few tweaks here and there. However, the way the Solawave has boosted my skin tone, among other things, has made me a fan.

Before using the Solawave:

After using the Solawave for the first time:

after using the solawave for the first time

The Solawave design

The Solawave 4-in-1 wand has a pivoting head that allows it to easily move across the contours of a face. By switching between horizontal and vertical, the head keeps in contact with the skin, allowing the treatment to effectively treat the skin.

The wand is made from an aluminum alloy and polycarbonate. It measures 6 x 4 x 6 inches and weighs less than one ounce. It takes 120 minutes to charge, and once charged, it will work for 60 minutes before it needs to be re-charged. The maximum temperature for therapeutic warmth is 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The red light wavelength is 660 mm, and the wand has an input voltage of 5 V. The current is 0.2 A, and the power is 1.5 W.

The final verdict

Out of all the microcurrent devices I have tried, the Solawave is the easiest to use. I think that’s the main reason I kept using it. I was pleased I didn’t have to wash off the serum before applying my other skincare directly after using the wand. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a pain to slather my face with a conductant, use the device, and then wash my face again. I never know if I use enough or too little goopy stuff. And it sticks to your skin like glue.

My complexion does look brighter. I noticed a few of my fine lines seem to have lessened. I’m going to keep on using it. However, I realize that for the fine lines between my brows the only thing to make them (temporarily go away) is Botox. But for daily upkeep, I’m keeping the Solawave on my bathroom counter.

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How effective is the Solawave?

I noticed a change in my complexion after a week’s use of the Solawave. After two weeks of use, I did see some lessening in a few fine lines on my face. Because the Solawave 4-in-1 wand is not a medical-grade device, it can’t give you the same results as a dermatologist using a professional device.

While Solawave has a photo wall of customers’ before and after photos, individual results may vary. In the Reddit/SkincareAddiction forum, some commenters loved the Solawave, while others didn’t see any results.

What do dermatologists think of the Solawave?

I spoke with three respected dermatologists regarding the Solawave 4-in-1 Wand’s efficacy. These experts are Dr. Sharon Rose, a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York Medical College, Dr. Richard Bottiglione, dermatologist and the founder of Dermatologist’s Choice, and Dr. Navin S. Arora, a Clinical Assistant Professor of dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

All three dermatologists were slightly skeptical regarding the potential long-term benefits of the wand. I asked all three doctors what they thought of the Solawave 4-in-1 wand. Dr. Rose felt it could be used with a professional device. She explained, “If it’s within your budget, at-home facial devices such as the Solawave wand can be a convenient, non-invasive adjunct to the more effective, aggressive in-office treatments available.” She continued by explaining, “Although there is some science/research to support the technology used in the Solawave wand (i.e., low-energy red light therapy, microcurrent, facial massage, and therapeutic warmth), more robust, higher-quality clinical trial evidence is needed to support the role of these modalities as effective methods of skin rejuvenation.”

When I asked Dr. Arora the same question he said, “I have never heard of it. But, based on the website, the device offers a ‘spa-grade facial at home or on the go,’ which is quite a statement. The red light on the device is a fraction of the size and power output of traditional red light devices for home use or spa use. I am unsure how effective it would be.” He added, “I find the combination of galvanic current, facial massage, and therapeutic warmth a unique combination, but again, my concern would be with the power output given its size.”

While Dr. Bottiglione said, “I don’t think it’s much value to the skin. The passing of the light doesn’t do much in the short term.” He clarified further, stating, “It’s okay to try it, but it won’t do much in my experience.”

Dr. Rose said, “The Solawave is intended for use only over healthy, shaven, intact skin on the face and neck. It has contraindications, so people should consult with their board-certified dermatologist to see if the Solawave wand is an appropriate option for them.”

By contraindications, Dr. Rose meant the device shouldn’t be used by people under 18, pregnant women, people with seizures, cancers or tumors, cardiac pacemakers, implanted defibrillators or stimulators, or other electronic devices.

What are the side effects of the Solawave?

Dr. Rose mentioned a few possible side effects from using the Solawave. “The Solawave wand is relatively safe, but potential adverse reactions may include skin irritation or redness.”

Is Solawave or NuFace better?

Which device is better for your skin and your long-term goals? While both NuFace and the Solawave wand are at-home facial devices, they’re different animals. As discussed earlier, Solawave combines four treatments in one wand. NuFace solely uses microcurrent to achieve results and is designed to sculpt and lift muscles. It’s not designed to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. NuFace users claim they see immediate results.

On the other hand, while you might immediately notice a brighter complexion when using the Solawave, any other result will take time. Solawave works to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. Various skin care groups on Reddit, r/Ulta, r/Sephora, r/30PlusSkinCare, and r/SkincareAddiction, are full of unvarnished reviews on both items; some are raves, and some are not.

Ultimately, it comes down to a device that sculpts and tones or one that works on fading fine lines/wrinkles, brighter complexion, and less acne. If you prefer a sculpted face, then choose the NuFace. If you have mild acne, want a refreshed look, and blur fine lines, opt for the Solawave.

Does Solawave work under eyes?

Yes, the Solawave wand can be used in the under-eye area. On its website, it states that it can be used on “dark circles, blemishes, and dark spots while depuffing and energizing your skin.”

Who can use the Solawave?

Before using the Solawave or any at-home facial device like an LED face mask, it’s best to consult your dermatologist or internist first. Solawave’s FAQ page lists who can and cannot use the 4-in-1 wand. The device should only be used by someone aged 18 years old and up. It cannot be used on lesions, cancerous or not, nor should it be used over swollen, infected, inflamed skin, or skin that is experiencing phlebitis, thrombophlebitis, broken capillaries, or varicose veins.

It cannot be used with certain medical conditions like epilepsy, seizures, or if you’ve recently had facial surgery. The Solawave 4-in-1 wand should not be used by pregnant women, people with either cancer, tumors, cardiac pacemaker, implanted electrical devices, or any electronic monitoring equipment.

How often should I use the Solawave 4-in-1 wand?

The Solawave 4-in-1 wand can be used three to five times a week.

Can I use the Solawave on any other area of my body?

The Solawave wand is designed only for neck and face use.

How do I clean the Solawave wand?

After each use, wipe the wand with a microfiber cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. Do not wash with soap or immerse in water.

How do I maintain my Solawave wand?

Before using the wand for the first time, let it charge overnight. Once charged, the Solawave will work for 60 minutes total run time before it needs to be charged again.

Is the Solawave covered by a warranty?

Solawave offers a one-year limited warranty that starts from the date of purchase. If the device doesn’t work properly due to a manufacturer's defect, it will be replaced free of charge.

Does Solawave have a return policy?

Yes, Solawave has a return policy. The brand offers a free 60-day trial and a full refund.

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

1.1430.0+1.69.0