As someone with highly reactive, sensitive skin who has struggled for years with an emotionally debilitating skin disorder and, lately, cystic acne on my chin that comes in horrific flare-ups, I am in the catch-22 situation of being a beauty editor with a fear of trying new skin treatments. Apprehensive doesn’t quite capture it. I am always wary to try new products, devices, and treatments, because I’m afraid they’ll make my skin worse, and more often than not, they do. So, though I get offered services constantly, I simply have to say no to way more opportunities than I say yes to because my skin just doesn’t react well, and I know that. There’s no joy in getting a free $200 facial if (and when) my skin gets scabby cysts three days later, so I am extremely selective when it comes to risking a negative outcome.
It’s my face, after all, and anyone who has suffered with unsightly skin issues knows that in the rare times your skin has reached stasis (which, at least for me, is only ever a cruel few days of normalcy guaranteed to cycle back to “bad” at some point even without my spurring that on), it takes a lot to be willing to risk unsettling that state of equilibrium voluntarily on something new—aka the complete unknown. It’s always a risk, and it’s scary when your skin’s health is compromised, to begin with. I feel beholden—almost restricted and chained—to the inconsistent nature of my skin, and it’s a daily struggle that possibly only people with imperfect skin understand. The only thing I want in my entire life is to have clear skin.
Thus, with all that said, something has to be extremely compelling, the science behind it has to make sense, and I have to trust, in my gut, that the experts behind a product or device know what they’re doing for me to try it. I just won’t put my skin through the potential for disaster otherwise. That criteria was met and more when I received the opportunity to experience facialist and “electrical esthetician” to the stars Melanie Simon’s new nano-current skincare device, ZIIP. If I hadn’t had a good feeling about it, I would have just said no, as I do all the time. But I had heard about Simon’s innovations in the beauty industry, and the technology behind the device sounded like something life-changing worthy of trying. Keep scrolling to read all about how it works, why it works, and what my own results were—from someone whose skin is fickle and whose standards for experimenting (at least on my face) are airtight.
On the “trustworthy” note, it’s always an undeniable endorsement of an estheticians effectiveness when their own skin is flawless. Obviously, if they have visibly perfect skin, you’re going to trust that they can deliver similar results on your own because they clearly know what they’re doing. Such was the case when I first met Melanie Simon in a suite at one of my favorite venues in L.A., Palihouse, to learn about ZIIP ($495). Every single thing about Simon instinctively struck me as trustworthy. Her voice and manner were soft, caring, genuine, and patient. She listened to me vent on my perioral dermatitis saga like it was a therapy session, and she understood exactly what was going on with my skin. She offered interesting and intelligent insight I hadn’t heard before, she did not come across like a salesperson selling snake oil—something beauty editors often encounter in this industry, and her skin was—and I just don’t know to accurately get this across—perfect. It was utterly and completely clear, even, bright, and glowing—not a single blemish, spot, or line, but in a natural, beautiful, non-plastic way. It was unreal. I felt like I was sitting face to face with an expert and healer, someone I was meant to meet, an oracle.
Simon proceeded to give me a nano-current facial using her ZIIP device, to teach me all about how to use it, and send me home with it to experience on my own. Simply put, the device looks like an insanely sleek, sexy computer mouse (see photos above and below) that you turn on and rub in circles over your skin to deliver nano-currency—which is basically electricity. Micro-currency has been big in the beauty world for some time, but as Simon explained to me, it’s a higher frequency that usually comes with some inflammation. Nano-currency, however, is lower frequency yet more potent. There is absolutely no pain or recovery time with ZIIP, and the feel of the device is smooth and non-abrasive—because it’s not working on the surface. It’s delivering nano-sized electrical currents deep in the cellular level of your skin to zap bacteria that are causing acne and promote the production of collagen and elastin for younger-looking skin. It glides right around with the help of conductive gel you apply beforehand, so you barely feel it working, but you definitely see that it has worked afterward.
If you’ve ever gone to see an esthetician for a procedure, say, a $150 facial (which is low-balling it) and your skin improves and looks better than it has in years, you invariably think about how you desperately wish you could do the service every single day (also, do it on yourself at home), because it works. But consistently paying for it is unaffordable and non-sustainable. That sentiment becomes even stronger when it pertains to pricier procedures, like microdermabrasion, LED facials, and Simon’s ultra-popular nano-current facial, the results of which are incomparable, but there’s no way to keep going all the time.
Thus, like so many skincare leaders that Hollywood’s most beautiful celebrities flock to and rely on for flawless skin—from dermatologists Dr. Harold Lancer and Dr. Jeffrey Colbert to estheticians and facialists Shani Dardin and Joanna Vargas, all of whom have created product lines as spinoffs to their ultra-successful office practices to make their results more accessible—Simon created the at-home nano-currency ZIIP device (the culmination of 10 years of research, testing, and development) so people could benefit from nano-currency without having to see her personally.
Simon said clients would get her nano-current facial and beg her to create a way for them to do it on themselves at home after seeing the dramatic results. And thus she set to work designing a prototype that’s been a decade in the making, with a team of electrical engineers, scientists, and doctors. Not only does it enable people who can’t see Simon to use her methods on themselves, but it’s also just a way for clients to go longer between appointments. Some might see Simon twice a year and use ZIIP at home in between; others may never meet Simon in person but can reap the benefits of her innovation via this handy, transformative device.
When turned on and placed in contact with skin, the device itself delivers low levels of electrical nano-currents, which have been proven to heal tissue, accelerate wound healing, decrease on-set acne, increase circulation, and stimulate the production of collagen in elastin (Jennifer Aniston swears by nano-currency facials). The device is used in conjunction with a conductive gel you apply before using it (pictured below), which acts as a conduit for the currents to deeply penetrate. The gel doesn’t just serve an electrically conductive purpose, however; it also contains high concentrations of human growth factors and active peptides that simultaneously treat skin and leave it looking supple and glowy long after you’ve put the device away—so much so that you can just use it alone as a product.
The best, coolest, and most ingenious part (other than the results-driven nano-technology) is that ZIIP offers a menu of programs tailored to specific skincare concerns, from fine lines to acne. It was developed with a foolproof app that “delivers” the program you select to the device via Bluetooth so you don’t have to think about any buttons or levels. Each program offers a unique electrical cocktail designed for that specific skin concern—because the pattern of wavelengths and level of currency varies depending on the issue. The device comes programmed to a default program—Energize—which is a 12-minute treatment suitable for all skin types and intended to firm, tighten, and brighten. Then there’s Sensitive Energize, which is for people with ultra-sensitive skin looking for anti-aging benefits; an eye-specific program for fine lines and puffiness; and lastly, Total Clearing (me!! me!!)—an eight-minute program targeted for on-set acne.
So basically, if you don’t want to do Energize initially, you download the app and select the program you want, and the app wirelessly sends a signal to the device. Your device then vibrates three times to let you know it’s “downloaded” the program you picked, and it will begin the program as soon as it senses contact with your skin. Each program on the app comes with an insanely easy-to-follow, clear instructional video to watch, even though the concept is as simple as they come: You rub the device in medium-sized circles and move it to a new section of skin when it vibrates, for the amount of time specific to that program. Each vibration is a prompt to start a new circle.
For example, for the Total Clearing program, you’re supposed to do about 30 rotations of two-second circles (it buzzes to keep you on track)—so a minute total—for each major section (chin, forehead, nose, cheeks, neck, around the eyes, and all over). However even though the process is quite simple, the videos are still a nice convenience, because Simon talks you through the program (and it’s always helpful to see someone doing something new so you know you aren’t missing anything) and gives you pointers, tips, and information that’s great for a first-time user of the device.
So after meeting with Simon in person, she told me to try the Total Clearing program for five minutes instead of eight at first and to do it every other day, or two to three times per week. Even though the full program is eight minutes long, Simon also recommends in the tutorial videos that all new users start off at five minutes, just to see how things go and how your skin reacts. Then you can increase to eight minutes.
The box, presentation, and design of the product are unlike any beauty device you’ve ever seen. When I brought it home, my boyfriend marveled at it—having no idea what it was. It just looks impressive and you can tell it’s quality. It comes with a charger, travel bag, and six vials of the golden conductive gel treatment that you have to apply before using the device. Each vial contains about three uses, so you have 18 uses before you have to buy more conductive gel. Then, a pack of 18 vials (so 54 uses at three uses per vial, which, if you’re using it every other day, amounts to about four months’ worth of use) costs $129.
On the morning of my first day of at-home use, I downloaded the free ZIIP app from the app store, selected the Total Clearing program, and within seconds, my device buzzed to politely let me know it had received the program and was ready for use. I put my iPhone down on my bathroom sink counter and let Simon’s videos guide me.
As she explains, it is essential to cover all of the skin tissue that you’re going to be using the device on with the conductive gel, or it won’t deliver current to that area. The gel ensures it flows to the skin effectively and makes the skin conductive. So first, I applied the gel, which feels kind of thick and, well, gel-like and goes on smoothly. I had some open wounds from picking, and nothing stung when I applied it all over my face; it just felt like a soothing, calming gel and also made my skin look really glowy. Next, I placed the device’s two metal probes firmly on my skin and began circling it.
For the Total Clearing program, Simon explained to me in person that I would feel a slight buzz/burn when the device went over a blemish. The first day I used it, I had isolated individual cystic bumps—one on my cheek, one on my chin, and one on my hairline. Sure enough, I felt a buzzy sensation exactly on each blemish when I went over them with the device. It’s kind of crazy when it happens, and if you think about it because it feels like the device is “smart”—How could it possibly know I have a giant zit right there and communicate a current to make that area tingle from within my own skin? But it does—you undeniably feel a sensation on blemishes when the device goes over an activated spot because the blemish is positively charged and the ZIIP device is programmed with negative electrical currents to seek out and combat blemishes. The tingling sensation means they are going to be reduced—and once you go over an area and don’t feel anything, it means it no longer has any bacteria for the device to zap.
Shockingly, by the end of my first five-minute session, I no longer felt my blemishes tingle when I ran over the exact spot they were in. It was such a quick and easy five minutes, and I couldn’t believe how radiant my skin looked the entire rest of the day.
I took the next day off, but the super-inflamed “red” look of my cysts had diminished drastically by the time I woke up, and my skin felt super soft to the touch. Most importantly, #nonewcysts. By my fourth use, a week later, my skin had a clarity that I can’t put a price on, and I was getting compliments on my skin at work—which, for someone with cystic chin acne that is the bane of my existence, felt incredible. I am completely hooked on the device and haven’t gotten a deep, painful, under-the-skin cyst since I began using it.
As far as the cost goes, $500 is a huge sticker shock at first, but when you break down how often you’re using it and the benefit it provides—especially versus what you’d pay for a similar treatment in office (a nano-current facial with Simon herself costs around $600)—it’s astounding how the initially crazy price starts to seem like a steal. Honestly! A single standard (aka non-nano-current) facial at a reputable spa, or a single massage, is about $200. One out-of-pocket visit to a dermatologist or esthetician costs about half the cost of the device. When you’re looking at something that you can use every single day, and that’s comparable to an in-office procedure that would cost hundreds for one time, the price starts to seem like pennies in the scheme of the appearance of the only skin you’ll ever have. For someone like me, it’s a small price to pay for clearer skin.
Have you ever heard of nano-currency? Would you ever pay $500 for a skin device? Sound off below! Learn more about the ZIIP device by watching Simon's videos.