Gravity comes for us all. As we get older, physics takes over and our skin just doesn't stay as tight, voluminous, and bouncy as it once was. “The loss of laxity is a very normal part of aging,” says board-certified dermatologist Anar Mikailov, MD. “It represents cumulative years of UV radiation breaking down proteins—primarily collagen and elastin—in the dermis of our skin.”
So what are our options? A facelift? Maybe so, but going under the knife to take off a few years is a seriously drastic move. There has to be a better way, right? A way to tighten face skin at home—avoiding the knives and needles of a doctor's office.
Well, good news and bad news. The good news is that you do have some helpful options to tighten face skin at home (including good old fashioned skincare ingredients). The bad news is that at-home treatments do have their limits and will take some patience and consistency. While there will always be products to help with minor volume loss, the most powerful and dramatic results will always come from in-office treatments.
If you’re looking for a way to tighten face skin at home before resorting to more drastic measures, first try a few of these methods and products, as recommended by the pros. Then, if you’re happy with the results, chat with your dermatologist. “If you are not satisfied with any at-home treatments after three or four months, speak with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to discuss in-office treatments,” Mikailov advises. “With in-office treatments, you will see a more dramatic change in two to three weeks, but they do require multiple treatments for full results.”
Keep reading for four ways to tighten face skin at home, complete with product recommendations and insights from our experts.
Meet the Expert
- Anar Mikailov, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skintensive.
- Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery and Skin Medicinals.
While not a long-term solution, some at-home microcurrent devices can provide temporary tightening by building muscle tone in the face. Board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, adds: “That said, it’s important to remember these are not long lasting and you generally need to use the devices daily to maintain results.”
These devices generate a low-voltage electricity meant to mimic our muscles' natural energy production. Over time, this current is believed to build and tone the muscle—like a workout for your face, though there isn’t a ton of data backing it up (which, given the price of the devices, may not make it worth your investment).
The metal nodules on the NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device ($339) are meant to glide along the natural contours of your face (with the help of a gel primer). The brand recommends starting at five days per week for two months, and then two to three times per week for maintenance. Light pressure and an upward motion is recommended for optimal results.
If you like the idea of going to a “face gym” to tighten your skin, Therabody—the brand best known for their massage guns—also makes a microcurrent device ($399) for your face. This device also comes with other attachments that add a little more bang to your buck: an LED ring for red or blue light therapy, a deep cleansing ring, and three percussive attachments for facial massage.
According to Mikailov, LED light gadgets and masks might also target volume loss. “Phototherapy can help tighten skin over time as the light energy targets fibroblasts and helps stimulate collagen and elastin production,” he says, but warns that light therapy needs approval from your derm. “ If you are prone to hyperpigmentation, see your dermatologist first before using [phototherapy], as depending on the cause of your hyperpigmentation, the heat and light may exacerbate dark spots.”
In addition to making you look like a life-size Academy Award, this golden mask ($578) from MZ Skin has five light settings, giving you options to switch it up depending on that day's goals. Red and white are best for skin-tightening, but it also offers blue light for clarifying, green light for pigmentation issues, and yellow light to reduce redness.
Doubling down on your skincare isn’t the fastest way to get results, but it’s effective (and can be used in combination with something more experimental, like a microcurrent device). Collagen—a protein that our bodies naturally produce that plumps skin—is your new BFF if you’re looking to tighten up.
While applying products with collagen in them doesn’t really work, there are some ingredients that encourage your body to up its own collagen production. Mikailov suggests looking for vitamin C and ferulic acid. SkinCeuticals' cult-status C E Ferulic serum ($169) is packed with antioxidants that can help to stimulate collagen production, neutralize free radicals, smooth skin texture, and brighten your complexion.
Is there anything retinol can’t do? Well, yes. It can’t pay your rent or do your taxes…but it does a lot of good for your skin by increasing skin cell production (and that turnover is a great way to look bouncier and tighter overall) and stimulating collagen production, which will plump skin and make it look tighter as a result. According to Mikailov, prescription retinoids like tretinoin or tazarotene will show faster results, but over-the-counter solutions are a bit milder and can be better for sensitive skin.
“For over-the-counter retinol, look for one that’s gentle enough so that it’s suitable for daily use,” Mikailov advises. This nourishing bakuchiol and retinol night cream ($40) from Skintensive also features arnica and sea buckthorn berry for anti-inflammatory benefits.
Why is my face skin so loose?
As we age, our bodies lose the ability to produce as much collagen—a protein responsible for plump, lifted skin. Years of UV exposure can also break our skin down, cause wrinkles, and make it less resilient.
How do I tighten loose skin on my face?
For more drastic results, in-office treatments like Halo or Fraxel lasers can stimulate collagen production, says Bhanusali. At-home solutions take longer to work and won’t be quite as dramatic, so do your research, read reviews, and talk to your dermatologist if you aren't sure which option you want to try.
What is the best home remedy for skin tightening?
A good skincare regimen that features collagen-producing ingredients like vitamin C and anti-aging go-tos like retinol is the best way to tighten face skin at home. There are some at-home devices that you can try, but there isn’t a lot of conclusive data to support the results.