If there's ever been an overused maxim to apply to your life, it's "work smarter, not harder." It's what I repeat to myself as I reorganize my Google Calendar, freeze prepped meals, or use cheat codes in The Sims, but the principle never goes further than in my skincare routines. It can be simple, like washing your face while in the shower or applying moisturizer to a damp face, or it can be more complex, like harnessing the latest technology to push your products further than ever before. In the case of the Droplette Micro-Infuser ($299), my favorite beauty innovation in recent memory, it's a little bit of everything.
Everyone with a multi-step routine knows the frustration of waiting to layer on products one at a time—and much of what you apply often gets wiped or can even have a hard time permeating skin at all. In the case of especially dry air, those hydrating agents everyone turns to in the wintertime can actually be leeching more moisture than they add. That's exactly what Droplette is looking to change, one molecule at a time. A hand-held device that helps serums penetrate the skin far deeper than topicals, it's the easiest shortcut to tangible results I've tried.
How It Works
Much of Droplette's efficacy comes from how it was first developed: as a medical device to treat a serious children's skin disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa. Funding poured in from entities like NASA, the NIH, and even Walter Reed Army Institute, and the Droplette team worked on 12 different prototypes testing an assortment of functionalities. "Though the intention was to hopefully one day cure EB and various other conditions for which topicals are insufficient," Droplette CEO and founder Madhavi Gavini shares, "we realized that the technology can be applied to every realm of skincare."
Gavini explains that skin acts like a barrier, designed to keep harmful things out like infections—but that gatekeeping effect can also mean that topical skincare products end up sitting on the skin's surface rather than penetrating it. "Instead, most of what you apply gets sweated or wiped away," he says. "This happens because the molecular size of most active ingredients are significantly larger than what the skin will naturally allow in." Even those star ingredients featuring tiny particle sizes diffuse slowly, which means most of what's applied never fully sinks in, he adds.
Droplette fixes that issue by harnessing "a fluid physics phenomenon." First, the Droplette spits out a micro-mist of impossibly small, rapidly-moving droplets filled with the active ingredient. When that (very refreshing) mist hits the skin, the manipulated droplets get even smaller, which allows them to penetrate the skin barrier like a hand through a chainlink fence. And in fact, Gavini says those actives manage to get 20 cell layers deep, bypassing the skin's stratum corneum barrier, through the epidermis, and on to the dermis. That's how Droplette delivers clinical-strength results, often in just a few days.
How To Use It
The Droplette Micro-Infuser itself is an egg-shaped hand-held device with its own cradle and a slot to insert its proprietary skincare capsules. Your usual go-to serum is, unfortunately, incompatible with the system. The serums offered, though, come equipped with simple, color-coded user plans to follow for maximum results.
Currently, Droplette offers three different serum capsules (hydration-focused with collagen, anti-aging-focused with retinol, and illumination-focused with glycolic acid) that be purchased individually, as a subscription, or as part of a dermatologist-developed regimen system.
In the Ultra Hydrate Regimen ($79), customers get a two-week supply of 10% Collagen Capsules (which are also filled with lifting Argireline, turmeric, and vitamin C) and 0.15% Retinol Capsules along with an easy-to-follow plan for both to achieve improved elasticity, hydration, smoothness, and glow.
In the Wrinkle Repair Regimen ($79), get a two-week delivery plan with the Collagen and Retinol Capsules but reconfigured to treat lines and dullness without irritation—an ideal choice for retinol beginners just starting on the active. Finally, the Radiant Detox Regimen ($79) also offers two-week delivery plans with a blend of Collagen, Retinol, and 8% Glycolic Capsules (which feature AHA, BHA, PHA, and Niacinamide) for help with acne, sun damage, and uneven tones. Of course, packs of your favorite serum capsules are available individually in 12-packs ($39) and 30-packs ($79).
After cleansing the skin in both morning and evening, give your serum capsule a mild shake, slot it into the designated hole, and listen for the click that indicates it's in place. Tilt your head back, turn the device on, and allow it to mist the different areas of your face. There should be enough in the capsules to hit your whole face, neck, chest, and hands. When finished, pop the capsule back out, place it in the prepaid shipping bag to return to the company for proper recycling, and carry on with your routine like usual. Each set of capsules comes with cleaning capsules for proper device sanitation. To clean your Droplette, pop one of them in and spray your sink basin instead of your face.
Study results are a pride point for Droplette, which is presided over by dermatologists. According to Gavini, a few days to a few weeks of consistent use is all it takes to start seeing serious results. "Our glycolic acid capsule provides the fastest results (often within 24-48 hours) whereas retinol requires 3-4 weeks to go through a full cycle of skin cell turnover," he shares. Transparency is key for the company, with a detailed report on retinol capsules versus topical application prominently available on the website. Gavini says that the results saw a 68% improvement in wrinkle depth along with improved skin texture and hyperpigmentation compared to traditional topical application.
The "just a few days to improved skin" thing? That certainly tracks in my experience. About a week into my trial of a sampler pack of capsules, with no other changes to my routine, and I've noticed a marked difference in my skin's luminosity and hydration—that last one being especially key in these harsh, dry winter months.
I was excited about the idea of a super mist because I'd recently gotten wise to the benefits of mists in general and was about a month deep into spraying down my face with some game-changing Bioderma Hydrabio Mist ($14) before most of my hydrating skincare products anyway. The Droplette, though, takes it several steps further. As my skin is already used to a pretty significant retinol percentage, I foisted those capsules on my fiancé's virgin skin to test for irritation—zero, y'all.
As for the collagen and glycolic capsules, I wouldn't surrender those to anyone. The hydrating collagen is my absolute favorite and has effectively replaced my former ride-or-die hydrating serum forever. Plus, I like the way the little baby-blue egg looks on my counter, like a little skincare space station.
A skincare shortcut, this is one high-tech breakthrough that more than lives up to the hype.
Dąbrowska AK, Spano F, Derler S, Adlhart C, Spencer ND, Rossi RM. The relationship between skin function, barrier properties, and body-dependent factors. Skin Res Technol. 2018;24(2):165-174.
Jegasothy SM, Zabolotniaia V, Bielfeldt S. Efficacy of a new topical nano-hyaluronic acid in humans. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(3):27-29.