WeAreBodyBeautiful.co tests & compares alternative conductive gels vs Nuface activator gels

Can I use a Nuface gel substitute without compromising my results?

I’ve spent a small fortune on tiny little jars of hope. Shelves full of premium lotions and potions that smell and feel delicious, but never deliver noticeable changes in my skin. That’s how I became obsessed with at-home beauty devices, like Nuface. It takes a bit of effort, but my skin is the healthiest and best-looking it’s ever been. Now I’m happy to ditch the expensive skincare.

👉 Pssst: you can see my trial results with before and after photos here.

So frankly, I’m vexed with the ongoing cost of the Nuface conductivity gels! I didn’t simplify my skincare regimen just to replace it with these expensive gels! I need an affordable alternative. However, Nuface say these tiny tubes of lube are super important. And if I use a cheaper substitute, I’m worried my results won’t be as good. Aarrghh.

A selection of the conductivity gels I've used with my Nuface Trinity. See how they compare in this full review!
Aloe Vera, ultrasound gel, cheaper conductivity gel and Nuface primers – which is my fave?

If you feel the same, fret not. This article is all about microcurrent conductivity gels. It dives into why you must use a conductive gel with the Nuface, how they work, what alternatives you can try and how they compare to the Nuface gels.

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In this article…

Let’s get cracking then.

Why microcurrent conductivity gels are a must

First, a slippery gel helps the big-balls Nuface Trainer attachment glide smoothly over your skin without dragging. A gel also sticks to your face and dries relatively slowly, giving you time to treat all areas of your skin.

A conductive gel helps the microcurrent spheres on the Nuface glide over your skin
Gels don’t drip, dry slowly & give good slip over your skin

👉 But the key reason is, you must use a conductive gel because our skin is naturally resistant to electric current.

Our outer protective layer of skin (called the stratum corneum) has very little moisture in it and this gives it high resistance to electricity. So, without conductive gel, microcurrents simply bounce across the surface and can’t enter the skin where they do their work. It also zings and prickles uncomfortably.

Cross section diagram of human skin layers with the dry, stratum corneum on the outside
Our outer skin layer (stratum Corneum) resists electric current/microcurrent

But microcurrent will pass from the electrode spheres through a conductive gel, passed the outer and into the lower skin layers. Once in these lower layers the microcurrent flows freely through our moist tissues, recharging our natural bioelectricity.

How do conductivity gels work?

Microcurrent is a flow of electrically charged particles, or ions, through our skin. Conductivity gels contain such ions, which allow microcurrent to flow through them. The microcurrent passes into the gel layer on top of our skin, through the gel absorbing into our outer skin layers, and into the ion-rich lower skin layers and tissues.

Oil-based liquids are non-conductive, which means they have no freely moving ions. Oils stop microcurrent flowing, so, it’s vital to use a water-based conductivity gel.

Close up of water dissolving soluable substances. The charged particles conduct electricty
Microcurrent flows using ions from other substances dissolved in water.

However, it’s not the water molecules themselves that conduct microcurrent. That’s because pure water has only neutral molecules which lack an electric charge. Therefore, without any ions, current can’t flow. It’s other substances dissolved into water that allow microcurrent to flow.

This means you could simply splash or spritz your face with good old tap water and the microcurrent will flow into your skin. That’s because tap water, rainwater and seawater have lots of impurities or particles carrying a charge such as sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca2+), and magnesium (Mg2+) ions. The disadvantage of just water however, is it drips and dries too quickly. So, gels are better.

close upphoto of the ingredientslist on the Nuface Gold 24K firmming gel
It’s the dissolved ingredients in water-based microcurrent gels which make then conductive

Also, most water-based skincare and gels contain purified and deionized water. This means removing almost all the mineral ions (and so charged particles) which keeps the products more stable over time. Therefore, it’s the other dissolved ingredients in the primer gels which make them conductive.

So, now we know how they work, let’s look at the Nuface gels in more detail.

The Nuface Primer gels

The three Nuface gels are all leave-on formulas which feel very nourishing. The smallest 2oz/59ml tube lasts around four weeks when using it five days per week on neck and face.

Nuface Firm Gold 24K firming activator, and the small and mid-size Hydrating gel primer with the Trinity device. Are cheaper alternative gels just as good?
Small tube of the Gold Firm gel and small and mid-size tubes of the more affordable Nuface Hydrating Primer gel

The Hydrating primer gel is the cheapest with three size options 2oz/59ml for £10/$14, 5oz/142ml for £20/$29 and 10oz/284ml for £43/$48. It’s got lots of moisturising ingredients in it including Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid. Apply it with your fingers or use a cosmetic brush to paint it on.

Box containing the small, expensive and lush 24K gold Firming primer gel
Premium 24K Gold Primer gel £32/$39 per month.

Then there’s the more expensive ‘upgrade’ 24K Gold primer gels which come in just the smaller size 2oz/59ml for £32/$39. There are two types, one with Firming ingredients, and the other with Brightening ingredients. They both come in a squeezy tube with a no mess, built-in applicator brush. (Less hassle, but more land-fill).

What’s special about Nuface gels?

Nuface say their primer gels are…

“specifically formulated to ensure optimal microcurrent conductivity and treatment results for NuFACE devices, while also providing additional skincare benefits.”

So, basically, they contain microcurrent conducting ions AND skincare goodies.

My Trinity came with the posh 2oZ/59ml tube of 24K Gold Firming gel. Once empty, I bought a 2oZ/59ml tube of the cheaper Hydrating Primer gel to try.

applying the Nuface Gold primer gel using the built in applicator brush in the squeezy tube
👍 No-mess paint-on applicator brush with Gold primer gels

And my skin loves these gels 😍, they both feel beautiful on the skin leaving it plumped and hydrated. They don’t drip, taste funny or sting in the eyes. And they stay wet enough when working in sections. You can spritz your face with a water spray if you find the gels dry too quickly. I like the leave-on formulas and massage in the remaining gel. I don’t feel I need any further product.

But there’s a major downside to these gels – they’re expensive.

The 24K Gold gels are £32/$39 per tube and last about 1 month. Tera Peterson explains these Gold gels are a serum and primer gel in one (hence the cost). And if you have sensitive skin, they’re probably better for you than the basic hydrating gel. So, if you can splurge on this, go ahead! I think the firming gel is lush. But personally, I can’t justify this additional monthly cost on top of my other skincare products. Perhaps as an occassional facial treat…

The basic Hydrating gel primer is most affordable, at one third the cost of the Gold gels (£10/$14 per month) ! It’s even better value if you buy the biggest size which lasts around 5 months at £9/$10 per month.

But if you prefer to wash off the gel after each session and apply your usual vit C, retinols, and serums etc, these expensive gels are overkill.

And maybe it’s not all about the cost. Some users share the Nuface gels leave their skin red and bumpy, so they need another option too.

So, what alternatives are there and do they still work?

Can you use Aloe Vera gel?

a spoon scooping the juicy flesh of an Aloe Vera leaf
‼ Nuface no longer suggest water-based Aloe Vera gel alternatives ‼

I asked Nuface this very question during my research (May 2019).

A helpful customer service rep shared, some customers with reactions to the Nuface gels use Aloe Vera gel instead. And I’ve seen it recommended many times in Nuface and microcurrent Facebook Groups and forums.

Aloe Vera is a clear moisturising substance, naturally containing minerals and other conductive ions so it passes the microcurrent into your skin. You can buy several inexpensive organic formulations, with no nasties in them. Yay!

However, the most recent message from Nuface now contradicts this advice. Boo.

screenshots of the Nuface #FactOrFaux IGTV episode addressing using aloe Vera gel as an alternative to the Nuface gel primers.
MyNuface #FactOrFaux IGTV episode states you CAN’T use Aloe Vera gel with Nuface. And promises a follow-up episode to test/show the conductivity of various gels 🤓🧪⚡🥼

In a recent IGTV episode (Fri 13 Nov 2020), Tera Peterson, co-founder of Nuface, suggests Aloe Vera is a bad idea. According to Tera, Aloe Vera gel lacks the correct ratio of ions. And, although it feels just like the Nuface primers, not all the microcurrent reaches to your muscles.  So, you get only a superficial lift, that’s not long-lasting.

I used Aloe Vera gel with my Nuface for several months and saw excellent results - but according to Nuface it's no good!
Aloe Vera gel on top of my serum worked pretty well for me…

What a 💩…

On the bright side, Tera has promised a follow-up IGTV episode where she’ll live-test the conductivity of various gels, name brand moisturisers and serums. It’s clear Nuface are confident their gels are superior to Aloe Vera. I’m curious to see this test and understand more how it impacts results, so I’m tuning in for that.

👉 TIP: In the meantime, if you still need a cheaper alternative, you can simply pimp your Aloe Vera gel! Just mix your sessions-worth of gel with a teeny pinch of table salt, or posh Himalayan Pink salt for something purer. Ion-tastic. Job done 👍.

Can you use other conductivity gels?

Nuface gel alternatives: Cheaper ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic Acid and leave-on collagen and elastin conductivuty gel from UB.
I tried these cheaper conductive gel alternatives. My verdict: 👍

You can also use much cheaper hypoallergenic medical grade ultrasound gel or any other microcurrent gel. Some come with moisturizing ingredients too. These cheaper gels are good alternatives, especially if you wash off the gel after each microcurrent session to apply your own skincare. Keep reading to learn what I think of a tested few.

TIP: You can also first apply non-oil-based serums underneath these basic gels if you like the idea of a nourishing boost during your sessions. Because, once the product absorbs into your skin, the microcurrent flow of ions boosts the transfer of these nutrients into your cells where they do their work.

Question: want to quit?
Come see what happened to my skin when I stopped microcurrent.

Do alternatives work as well?

Nuface say ultrasound gels do have the correct ion ratio to conduct the microcurrent ✅. And that’s also the purpose of other microcurrent or electrotherapy gels, so you can trust in them too 👍.

As for Aloe Vera gel, I personally found no difference in my results whilst using that versus the Nuface Hydrating Primer. And plenty other Nuface fans using Aloe Vera for months or years, share they’re happy with their results too. However, now they’ve mentioned it, I’d pimp my AV gel just to be sure.

Alternative gels are a frequent, reoccurring topic in online forums and groups dedicated to home microcurrent devices. Lots of people use and recommend cheaper alternative Aloe Vera gels, ultrasound gels, microcurrent gels and home-made gels and see super results that make them happy. I’ve tested other alternatives too and found no difference in the microcurrent effects.

So, there’s nothing stopping you trying a few alternatives to see which you prefer.

Test & compare different gels

So, if you’re in two minds about the Nuface gels I suggest you test and compare them to some alternatives. You can try any linked in this review, or find your own. Here’s how to choose an alternative:

  1. Search for alternative gels on Amazon, online and your local stores
    Check out some links here
  2. Check the ingredients on incidecoder.com – it’s easy! Copy/paste the ingredients list or upload a photo of it
  3. Choose a water-based gel without any nasties and avoid any product with oils in them
  4. Buy the gel
  5. Once you have it, ‼ do a sensitivity patch test! Rub a dime/20p size blob on the inside of your arm and wait 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, off you go!

It’s a good idea to test alternatives whilst you still have some Nuface gels. This means you can compare them across sessions, or even on different sides of your neck/face!

My tested alternatives

Over the course of 8 months using the Nuface, I’ve tested these alternatives and compared to the Nuface gels:

Aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel
aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel

Aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel 100ml/£3.99. This gives good slip and dries slowly without any pilling or clumping. It’s soothing and gives me no skin reactions. I apply my serum underneath and then simply wipe off the residue gel after the session and apply my other creams.

I really like the idea of my skin absorbing extra goodies during the sessions, so I also tried these conducting gels with added skincare benefits and formulated specifically for home beauty devices…

UB Ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic Acid

UB ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic acid Nuface primer alternative

This has short-chain HA ingredients to help moisturise and plump your skin. Although not advertised as a leave-on formula, this is very moisturing and I massage in the residue gel. Lasts for ages!

🇬🇧 Amazon UK

  • 250ml/£12
  • 500ml/£16
  • 1 litre/£25

UB Collagen & Elastin gel

UB collagen & elastin gel Nuface primer alternative

UB Collagen & Elastin gel with moisturising collagen and HA ingredients in a leave-on formula. Lasts for ages!

🇬🇧 Amazon UK

  • 500ml/£19

 

Both these gels give good slip during the sessions. They don’t drip, sting your eyes, taste funny or cause any skin reactions. The dry slowly enough without clumping when applied in sections.

I see the same visible microcurrent results on my skin with all these gels. However, they don’t feel as luxurious, plumping or as nourishing as the Nuface gels.

Should I try a substitute gel?

Should you try a cheaper substitute gel?

OK then, so what should you do?

Don’t let the ongoing cost of the Nuface gels put you off committing to the Nuface. You can use cheaper alternatives which effectively conduct microcurrent deep into your skin without compromising your results. So, don’t feel like you’ll miss out on awesome results. I recommend researching, testing and comparing a few alternatives to make up your mind.

Here’s my thoughts to help guide you:

  • Nuface gels are a super choice as an alternative to your usual skincare. Consider it a replacement, not an additional cost, and they’re good value
  • But if you’re going to wash or wipe off the conductivity gel in favour of your regular skincare products, or your skin reacts to the Nuface gels, choose a cheaper alternative conducting gel
  • If the Nuface gels are too expensive, buy a cheaper alternative gel to test and compare. Choose conductive gels with added moisturising ingredients or a simple ultrasound or Aloe Vera gel
  • Don’t forget you can first apply your favourite non-oil-based serums under the gel for a nourishing boost during your session.
  • And you can pimp-up the ions in Aloe Vera gel with a pinch of slat!
  • If you can afford and want to use the nourishing Nuface gels, you’re probably not reading this anyway!

For me, I have plenty cheaper conductive gels to use up. But, despite my thoughts at the start of this article, I rather like the basic Nuface Hydrating primer gel. I consider it a worthwhile investment for my skin.

I like the Nuface Hydrating primer gel, it replaces my night cream.
I like the Nuface Hydrating primer most and alternate it with the cheaper conductivity gels

Whatever you decide I hope you see super results with your Nuface. Listed below are the gels mentioned in this article.

FREE CurrentBody Skin LED Illuminating Mirror!

SPECIAL BUNDLE DEAL 👇

Buy any Nuface device get a

FREE CurrentBody Skin LED Illuminating Mirror

worth £59.99

Add both to your basket and checkout with code CBWABBNF
The Nuface Trinity facial toning device

Nuface Trinity Facial Trainer
90-day money back guarantee
🇬🇧 CurrentBody UK
🇦🇺 CurrentBody AU
🇺🇸 CurrentBody US
🇨🇦 CurrentBody CA
🇩🇪 CurrentBody DE
🌍 CurrentBody.com

Nuface Bundle deals, gels & accessories

Nuface Mini, bundle deals, accessories & gels:
🇬🇧 CurrentBody UK
🇦🇺 CurrentBody AU
🇺🇸 CurrentBody US
🇨🇦 CurrentBody CA
🇩🇪 CurrentBody DE
🌍 CurrentBody.com

Nuface & other gel deals

If you’ve found this helpful, please buy through my links. I earn a small commission but your price stays the same. I really appreciate your support 🙏!

Alternative microcurrent gels:

Aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel is an alternative conductivity/activator gel

🇬🇧 Aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel 100ml/£3.99

UB ultrasound massage gel with Hyaluronic Acid

🇬🇧 UB ultrasound massage gel with Hyaluronic Acid available in 250ml/£12, 500ml/£16 and 1 litre/£25 bottles

UB Collagen & Elastin gel

🇬🇧 UB Collagen & Elastin gel 500ml/£19

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