When I first read about the new Droplette device, I was intrigued. Invented by an MIT researcher, the Droplette device promised to get skincare 20x deeper into the skin (yes, that’s twenty, not a typo).
And that’s a pretty big deal. If skincare ingredients aren’t able to penetrate the uppermost layer of skin (the stratum corneum) to get to the living tissue (the epidermis), the skincare ingredients can’t do much of anything except moisturize and protect the skin, like a barrier. But all of those functions of skincare ingredients you read about from dermatological research? Those occur only when skincare ingredients interact with keratinocytes, which are in the epidermis, under the stratum corneum.
When ingredients are small, under the molecular weight of 500 kDa (kiloDaltons), they can penetrate the skin on their own. But when ingredients are larger, like hyaluronic acid, with a molecular weight of up to 8,000 kDa (source), they merely will sit atop the skin and hydrate (and admittedly make the skin look more plump and pretty, but that’s only temporary).
Skincare researchers have been trying to break the code of how to get larger ingredients to the epidermis for decades. There are numerous ways:
- pH – The lower the pH, or the more acidic the product, the deeper into the skin it gets.
- Microencapsulation – These types of ingredients have lipid- and water-soluble ends. Without getting too deep into the science of it, basically, these microencapsulated ingredients travel deeper into the skin, and slowly release active ingredients along the way.
- Nanotechnology – These ingredients have trouble getting passed by the FDA, even though preliminary studies have shown for them to be safe. This would be the ultimate delivery system.
For now, Droplette has circumvented the nanotech skincare companies and debuted a fluid-based technology. Essentially, by using fast, speedy mists filled with tiny water droplets and active ingredients, the droplets and active ingredients can be propelled into the epidermis.
How It Works In More Detail
The Droplette functions primarily from a piezo and a pump.
The piezo is a piezoelectric pump with very small holes (about 4 microns in size) that vibrates. Fluids go through the vibrating mesh and emerge as a mist, about 4 microns in diameter.
Once the mist is created by the piezo, it goes through the pump. The pump sucks in the mist and expels it with high velocity, reducing the droplets even smaller, to about 30-50x smaller than the piezo alone. The mist then accelerates as it comes out of the device.
How to Use The Droplette Device
To use the Droplette device, do the following:
- Make sure skin is clean and dry.
- Lift the capsule door upwards.
- Gently shake the capsule, and drop the capsule into the chamber with the ridge aligned to the groove.
- Use the door to push the capsule all the way down. You should hear a click when the device properly punctures the capsule.
- Hover the device’s white surface about a half inch from the skin with the head tilted back. (For a glycolic capsule, be careful it doesn’t irritate your nose, eyes, or mouth.)
- Turn the device on. (This isn’t intuitive – it’s the line on the side of the device.)
- Make slow circles around your face, with 15-second intervals from right cheek to chin, left cheek to chin, and then forehead. The device automatically pauses after 15 seconds to allow you to reposition.
- Run the device for 1-2 seconds over your neck and hands, to ensure the capsule is empty.
- After using, immediately remove the capsule to prevent residual formula from leaking and wearing down the device. They can be returned to Droplette via their recycling program.
- Use the cleansing capsules once/week. (I choose Sundays, just because it’s easiest for me then.)
Personal Review of the Droplette Device
I’ve been using the Droplette with the retinol capsule for about a week now.
First, the pros. I feel like my skin looks more plump and hydrated, if for no other reason than Droplette admits on its website it’s not only the ingredient that gets into your skin, but also water droplets as well. I’m 37 now, have had two pregnancies that did a number on my skin’s tone, and run 4-10 miles four times a week and that does a number on my skin’s plumpness. But I think my skin looks like it did five or six years ago; it definitely has had a hydrating, plumping effect. And I’ll be able to update this post in a month with more info.
Another pro is that the retinol serum also contains collagen, alpha arbutin, and (in lesser concentration) citric acid. Collagen is a huge molecule that typically only sits atop the skin, but using a delivery system like the Droplette, it can actually get under the skin. And for someone like me who gets keloids, including on their face, and is not eligible for fillers like Restylane, that’s a huge deal.
Alpha arbutin is also regarded in peer-reviewed research as a dynamic, effective hyperpigmentation fighter (International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research). Getting this ingredient in fairly high concentration in direct contact with skin’s keratinocytes can only mean less melanin production and a lighter, brighter, more even-toned appearance of skin over time.
Lastly, citric acid is an AHA. Typically, I don’t recommend combining retinoids with AHAs, because retinoids work best at a neutral pH of about 5.5 for optimal processing within the skin, but AHAs (obviously) depend on their acidic quality in order to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. But since both are being delivered directly into the skin here, it’s much less of an issue.
Now, the cons. The issue for me is that the retinol is 0.15%. I can buy retinol serums (and regularly do) with 0.5-2.0% concentration. So even if the Droplette device gets 20x deeper than other retinol serums, does that make up for the fact that the retinol is only 1/14 to 1/3 as concentrated as other serums available on the market?! I wish that they would up the concentrations available, and also include more soothing ingredients as they do so.
This product is a must-have for two types of skincare lovers: The first kind is those who can’t, or won’t, for one reason or another, get Botox or fillers. Compared to Botox or fillers, the cost and time expense are significantly lower, and the device really can get collagen (and other beneficial ingredients) delivered underneath the top layer of the skin. Is it as dynamic as injectables? No, but that might not be a bad thing, either; the effect is subtle and natural, and you’re really not going to hit a nerve or get swelling from this, either.
The second kind of skincare lover for which this product is a must-have are those who have to have the best and new devices. So if you have a NuFace (a device that provides an electrical stimulation of collagen) and/or a FOREO Luna (an ultrasonic skin cleansing device), and swear by them, then you pretty much need to have a Droplette. I mean, it does work and add increased benefit. But just like you don’t need stimulation to increase your facial collagen (massage and exercise work well enough too), nor do you need an ultrasonic cleansing device regularly (cleansing and regular facials do roughly 90% of it), you don’t need a device to deliver active ingredients deeply into the skin, but why not? If you want the best and newest of everything, it can’t hurt.
So, my honest opinion is, for everyone else, the Droplette is a device that works and will produce results on the skin. It’s not as groundbreaking as, say, going from no retinol to using retinol regularly, nor is it as important as, say, using sunscreen every day. But it will produce results from active ingredients being delivered deeply into the skin with regular use over time, and it also produces subtle, yet instant results from collagen and water being delivered under the top layer of the skin. So, I like it.
Overtime does the device leak during use?