The best Nuface gel substitutes that work just as well

Must you really use Nuface's microcurrent gels to get your very best results, and for the microcurrent to reach your muscles? And are there any cheaper & effective alternatives? Let's begin... tests & compares alternative conductive gels vs Nuface activator gels
By Laura Gladman
April 30, 2022

I s it just me, or are you too somewhat irked by Nuface’s rather masterful use of FOMO to push their pimped-up, pricey conductivity gels?

Now I love the fresh, healthy skin results from my Nuface Trinity. But Nuface says these tiny tubes of lube are super important and if I use a cheaper Nuface gel substitute, I’m worried my results won’t be as good.


If you feel the same, fret not. This article is all about the best alternatives to Nuface gels.

I've tested several alternatives to the Nuface gels and activators. Find out what I think in this review!
Aloe Vera, ultrasound gel, cheaper conductivity gels, other brands and Nuface activators – learn how they compare here.

You’ll learn why you must use a conductive gel with microcurrent, how they work, what alternatives you can try and how they compare to the Nuface gels.

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 a conductive medium or 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.


Ohm my word…

Did you know?… Resistance to electric current flow is measured in Ohms (Ω).

A calloused, dry hand can have 100,000Ω or more resistance. But the resistance inside your body (where it’s wet and salty) is much lower at about 300Ω. So, more than 99% of your resistance to electrical current is in your skin. But this resistance reduces significantly if your skin is damaged or wet.

How do conductivity gels work?

Microcurrent is a flow of electrically charged particles, or ions, through our skin. And conductivity gels create a low resistance connection with our skin that allows the microcurrents to flow.

They work in a few ways…

#1 First, the gel wets our skin, disssolving sweat and salts in the outer layers. Wet skin has much lower resistance to electric current than when dry.

#2 Second, the gels also create a bigger contact area for the current. This creates several more parallel current circuits, so there are more pathways for the microcurrent to travel through. And this lowers the net resistance of our skin.

#3 And third, conductive gels also contain ions, which makes it easy for microcurrent to flow through them.

Therefore, the microcurrent passes from the electrodes 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 the 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 (and those already in your skin) 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 up photo of the ingredients list containing charged particles dissiolved in Aqua (water) in the Nuface Aqua Hydrating Activator 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 conductivity gels which make them conductive. These range from added salts and minerals, acids and alkalines, buffering ingredients, and special polymer substances which create thick and gooey gels, and also carry a charge so easily pass microcurrent.

So, now we know how they work. We’ll take a look at other conductivity gels later, but next let’s look at the Nuface Activators in more detail.

The Nuface Activator gels

Nuface call their latest leave-on microcurrent conductive gels ‘Activators’. They’re a blend of conductive ions and skincare goodie ingredients.

You can choose from the cheaper Hydrating Aqua Gel (ingredients list) or premium anti-ageing Firming & Brightening Silk Creme (ingredients list), or both, in different size rigid tubey-pots.

The latest Nuface gels (now called Activators!). There's the Hydrating Aqua gel and the firming and brightening anti-ageing Silk Creme. But are they any good?
The latest 50ml Nuface condutivity gels with added skincare goodies, and you can get a Nuface brush too!

Nuface suggest you try the Silk Creme if you’re over 35, because of the anti-ageing firming and brightening ingredients. And if you have oily skin, try the Aqua Gel. They also suggest you could buy both and see which you prefer 🤑.

The Silk Creme activator has Hyaluronic Acid, 8 plant extracts and gives 48 hours of hydration. Nuface say try this if your skin is 35+. The Aqua Gel also has Hyaluronic Acid and gives 24 hours hydration.
Let’s go activate that microcurrent!

Here’s a table of the available sizes and costs in £ and in U$D:

Hydrating Aqua Gel Firming & Brightening
Silk Creme
Image < Nuface Aqua Gel in a white pot Nuface silk Creme in a blue pot
50ml/1.69oz 🇬🇧 £28.50
🇺🇸 $29
🇬🇧 £48.50
🇺🇸 $49
97.6ml/3.3oz 🇬🇧 £38.50
🇺🇸 $39
🇬🇧 £68
🇺🇸 $69
177.5ml/6oz - 🇬🇧 £88
🇺🇸 $89
296ml/10oz 🇬🇧 £58
🇺🇸 $59

The older Nuface Primer Gels

The new Nuface leave-on Microcurrent Activator gels replace the older Nuface leave-on Hydrating Primer gel, and 24K Gold Primer gels in Firm or Brightening options. These older gels also contain ions and skincare goodies, the 24K Gold gels being more actives-packed and expensive. You may find them in some e-stores, but many sizes and variants are now sold out.

And so you know what they look like, here are the new and old Nuface gels:

50ml white tub of the new Nuface Hydrating Aqua Gel and the comparative 59ml white and silver tube of the older (and soon to be unavailable) Nuface Hydrating Gel Primer.
The New Hydrating Aqua Gel (left) and the older Hydrating Gel Primer (right) both by Nuface.
The new and old Nuface Anti-ageing microcurrent gels in their boxes; left, the new 50ml tub of the nfirming & Brightening silk creme, and right, the comparative 59ml clear and gold tube of the older (and soon to be unavailable) Nuface 24K Gold gel primer.
The NEW Firming & Brightening Silk Creme microcurrent activator (left) and the older 24K Gold gel primer (right), both by Nuface.

What’s special about the Nuface Activators?

It’s true Nuface do a rather splendid job of bigging up their hi-tech Activator gels, or as they call them ‘Ionized skincare’. See how Nuface do it here (but don’t forget to finish up here first!). I think their message is loud and clear – you must use these to activate the microcurrent and to get (as they say) optimal results.

Nuface have developed some top-drawe marketing guff about their microcurrent activators. They say they are Ionized skincare, with their proprietary IonPlex blend, glacial water, all of which they say creates a pathway down to your mucles for the microcurrent. The activators are FDA-cleared and clinically proven.
Why Nuface say their activators are the bestest

Let’s look at what they say in more detail…

Ions & muscles

Tera Peterson, co-founder of Nuface, spends much time on IGTV, explaining and educating all about microcurrent. Since the launch of these new activators back in July 2021, they feature heavily in most of the weekly episodes. And watching these short but polished educationals you’d be forgiven for thinking Nuface invented ions .

They didn’t of course, but they did create a new sub-niche of ‘ionized skincare’. And they’ve given their magic proprietry ion-blend a sciencey name too – IonPlex .

Nuface explain…

“… [this] blend of electrically charged minerals and glacial water deliver a surge of active ingredients for optimal results and healthy, younger-looking skin”.

So, what they say here is their activators contain microcurrent conducting ions AND skincare goodies. And they may be one and the same thing. That’s nice. But they then continue with an even more attractive hook. They say the NuFACE IonPlex™ activates with a…

“proprietary blend of electrically charged minerals to nourish the skin and the transfer the microcurrent from your device down to the muscles.”

So, this suggests if you don’t use their activators then the microcurrent won’t reach your muscles. And it must reach your muscles to do its thing, right?

But that’s not how this works.

Remember 👉 the purpose of a conductivity gel is to overcome the electrical resistance on your skin surface. It helps pass the microcurrent through your protective outer skin layer. Once it’s passed this layer, the microcurrent readily travels through your moisture (and naturally ion-rich) lower skin levels. It needs no additional conductivity medium once it’s there.

So yes, use their activators and the microcurrent will reach through your tissues and probably to your muscles. But it will do that with any other conductive gel too. So, it’s a bit of a leap to imply ONLY these activators work properly to transfer the microcurrent down to your muscles.

Therefore be wary of the carefully crafted and repetitive phrases Nuface are using to make you feel their activators are essential. You do have other options. We’ll look at those later, but next lets look at the FDA clearance and clincal proof for the gels.

FDA clearance & clinical proof

Tera also reassures us that we don’t need to look around for alternate microcurrent conductors because the Nuface gels are FDA-cleared.

US Food & Drug Administration logo
FDA Clearance for products sold in the USA

Nuface were granted clearance in 2016 in the medical device category “Media, Electroconductive”. The stated indication is:

“The NuFACE Gel Primer is intended to be used with NuFACE microcurrent devices to improve skin conductivity.”

501K Clearance K161654
The conductive material in Nuface primers and activators is Magnesium Sulfate (amongst other ionic substances too)
Magnesium Sulfate is listed on the older primer gels’ ingredients list

Interestingly enough, from this summary you can also learn what the primary conductiong ion is in IonPlex. The summary states the conductive material is Magnesium Sulfate. Magnesium Sulfate is an ‘electrically charged mineral’, also called a salt (but it’s different to good old table salt). And it’s considered rather good for your skin 👍. And I’m sure there are other conductive ingredients in IonPlex too.


Ingredients listings

Magnesium Sulfate is a listed ingredient in the older primer gels, but not in the new activators. However, it’s likely that it’s in the ingredient listed as ‘Sea Silt extract’, which contains several beneficial electrically charged minerals.

I also asked Nuface customer support to confirm details of the clinical tests for the activators. That’s because I’m curious and I like to understand what exactly is proven. I’ve not had a clear answer as of yet. However, the FDA clearance summary also states the range of clinical tests performed on the gel as follows:

“The NuFACE Gel Primer was tested for the following characteristics:
1. Physical, chemical and biological characteristics including color, odor, appearance, pH, microbiological growth, specific gravity and viscosity;
2. Conductivity;
3. Biocompatibility;
4. Packaging compatibility; and
5. Stability.
The test results demonstrate that the NuFACE Gel Primer meets the established specifications.”

501K Clearance K161654

So, you can be confident the FDA clearance and these clinical tests show the gels are safe and effective microcurrent conductors.

Onward! 👉 Next I’ll share my testing feedback and pros and cons of the Nuface Activators.

What are the Nuface Activator gels like?

First, I should share that my skin loved the older Nuface primer gels 😍. So, I really hope the new activators live up to them.

The old Nuface gels are easy-squeeze tubes, intuitive to apply, give lovely slip, and 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, doing both glides and holds. You can spritz your face with a water spray if you find the gels dry too quickly. I like the leave-on formulas (I have no reactions) and massage in any remaining gel. I feel no need for any further product afterwards.

So, how do the Nuface Activators measure up?

Let ‘s start with how to apply them, then how they feel, the results and what they cost.

How to apply them

Remove the lid and push down the top of the tubs to dispense the activator goo from a small hole on the top.

Slowly push down the top of the Nuface activator tub and the activator juice slowly swells from a tiny hole in the top.
Slowly press to get a serving of goo…

Nuface say you need one pump of activator per treatment area. One pump is the same amount of liquid from the large traditional pump-style bottle too.

top down view of a single pump of activator goo for each activator. The Aqua gel is clear and the Silk creme is white and creamy. The juice rests on the curved-in top of the pump.
Work and apply the juice in sections, not all at once. Nuface recommend one pump per treatment area/section.

Then you can either use your fingers, the Nuface brush, or a foundation brush to apply the gel.

The size and curved-in shape on the top of the pump is designed to easily sweep up the activator gel with a brush.
Thoughtful design, clean and no-mess when applied with a brush

It’s a thoughtful and neat design, that works best with a brush. However, it’s a pity Nuface didn’t ditch the plastic in favour of more eco-friendly and sustainable materials. For example, glass jars (which are infinitely recyclable) with a reusable pump.

Nuface say they’ll introduce more glass and Aluminium into their packaging in the near future. Bring it on ♻️💪🌍.

What do they feel like?

Both the gels are easy to apply. They don’t drip or sting, and you get a nice even application with the brush. One pump of juice per area gives lovely slip, and stays wet for ages – long enough to do the glides, advanced holds and ELE if you use it. But one pump is far too much for my forehead – I find just a half pump is plenty here. I also paint the last bit on the brush over my eyelids and my under eye area too.

i like the Nuface Aqua Gel because ✔️ it gives lovely slip ✔️  it feels cool & energising ✔️  there's no scent ✔️ my skin feels smooth and hydrated afterwards ✔️  and it's a nicley primed base for make-up
Yup, I like the Nuface Hydrating Aqua Gel

The clear Aqua Gel looks and feels most like a microcurrent gel. It’s clear, scentless and cool, and I feel no zinging or dragging as I do my routine. It’s easy to massage in any remaining gel once I’m finished. My skin feels fresh, smooth and hydrated aftwards, not overloaded at all. I don’t need any more serums to follow, but I like a ceramide based moisturiser as a final softening touch to seal in all the goodness. It’s a good base to apply make-up on too. I like this gel 👍.

I like the Nuface Silk Creme activator because ✔️ the slip is divine! ✔️  it's luxurious and rich (very nourishing) ✔️ the scent is very subtly fresh, however it's not so good because ❌ the excess pills and clumps on my skin ❌ it makes for a very slippery base for make-up. It may suit your skin type better.
I want to like it, but it won’t absorb into my skin, so feels better to wash it off.

The Silk Creme is different because it feels much richer and more luxurious, more lotion-like than gel. There’s a subtle and fresh scent, and again no zinging. And the slip is divine. I can feel the nourishment soaking into my 40-something year old skin. Yum 😋. However, once the routine is done, the excess creme sits on top of my skin. And when I try to massage it in, unfortunately it clumps and pills.

I’ve tried waiting for it all to soak in and I’ve tried blotting it away instead. This reduces the pilling a little. However, it leaves my skin feeling tacky, greasy and overloaded. It’s ok (and nourishing) to leave-on overnight – I don’t breakout or have any reactions. But it’s too slippery a base for make-up, and so I need to wash my face. And that’s such an expensive waste 👎.

Better microcurrent results?

Honestly, I see and feel no different results between the new activators, the older Nuface primers, or the other conductivity gels I use.

But full discolsure 🙋‍♀️, I’m not one of these people who has ever seen more ‘pop’ or lift of their facial features during or after a session. What I do see is a subtle upturn in the corners of my mouth, and my cheeks and lip area feel fuller. But this is equal for all the conducvtive gels I’ve tested.

My visible results from microcurrent (which I still love, by the way) are healthy, dewy, tight, bright and firm skin from long term and consistent use (and mostly with just a basic conductivity gel).

One validation I often hear of expensive actives-packed microcurrent gels is, if you’re spending all this time on treatments you may as well use nourishing skincare at the same time. And it’s true these expensive ingredients do feel rather nice. But remember your skin is very good at keeping things out. So, they don’t get very deep into your skin (as with most skincare ingredients). It’s the microcurrent that’s doing the hard work and from which you’ll see your best results.

However, several people on public forums and facebook groups share they love these activators 😍, and swear they see better results from a Nuface session. So, they’re worth it to them.

Which brings us finally to cost…

But they’re sooo expensive!

Yup. The smallest tubs (lasting 45 days) cost the same as some mid-range to premium serums, which for the same quantity would last months! But these last considerably less time because you use A LOT of goo per microcurrent session.

If I just apply the Silk Creme as a serum alone, one pump is enough for my entire face and neck. But during a microcurrent session it’s recommended to use a total of 6! And because you can’t tell how much product is in the rigid tub, you feel like you’re using these expensive ion-tastic lotions very fast indeed.

The larger quantities are much better value than the smaller tubs. However, you may want to start there if you’re going to test them out. Here’s a cost comparison table to make your nose bleed (sorry about that):

Nuface Activator Lasts Cost Cost per 100ml Cost per session*
Hydrating Aqua Gel
19 to 24 treatments
45 days
🇬🇧 £28.50
🇺🇸 $29
Firming & Brightening Silk Creme
19 to 24 treatments
45 days
🇬🇧 £48.50
🇺🇸 $49
Hydrating Aqua Gel
30 to 35 treatments
90 days
🇬🇧 £38.50
🇺🇸 $39
Firming & Brightening Silk Creme
30 to 35 treatments
90 days
🇬🇧 £68
🇺🇸 $69
Hydrating Aqua Gel
100 to 115 treatments 🇬🇧 £58
🇺🇸 $59
Firming & Brightening Silk Creme
60 to 75 treatments 🇬🇧 £88
🇺🇸 $89

* Based on the higher estimated number of treatments


What the $?

Not only is there slightly less product in each tub of Activator vs the older primer gels, but the Activators are way less affordable. E.g.

👉 Nuface Aqua Gel Activator tub costs £28.50/$29 for 50ml

👉 Nuface older Hydrating gel primer costs £13.50/$14 for 59ml

So, there you go. If you can splurge on the Nuface Activators and want to give them a try, go ahead! But personally, I can’t justify this additional monthly cost on top of my other skincare products that I’m rather happy with anyway.

And 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 activators leave their skin red and bumpy, so they need another option anyway.

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

Alternative gels

As well as using a water spritz on yer face as you need it throughout your session, you do have a few substitute gels to try.

There’s basic ultrasound conductive gel, electro-conductive gels (some cosmetic ones with added moisturising goodies), and simple Aloe Vera gel. Over the course of 8 months whilst using the Nuface, I tested several alternative gels and compared them to the Nuface gels. Keep reading to learn my feedback…

Cheaper alternatives to Nuface microcurrent activators are aloe Vera gels, Ultrasound gels and other electrociductive gels
Alternative gels to try with the Nuface Trinity and Mini – see which you like!


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 quickly alternating microcurrent flow evenly distributes these nutrients around your outer skin layers where they do their work.

Let’s look at ultrasound gels first.

Ultrasound gels

These gels are designed to work with ultrasound machinery and/or electrotherapy devices.

A basic, cheap and non-allergenic ultrasound gel is what professionals use in a medical setting for various electrotherapies, including microcurrent for healing. They’re simple substances, with no additional skincare ingredient goodies. They’re generally salt-free, and very good conductors, as well as thick gels with excellent slip that stay wet for ages. They’re designed to wipe off after your session.

Ultrasound gels are ✔️ water-based, ✔️ formulated for ultrasound & electrotherapies, ✔️ wet your skin so lower the electrical resistance, ✔️ simple formulations with goodies that you wipe-off once done.
Cheap & Hypoallergenic Ultrasound gels are super conductors

Thumbs up 👍…

It’s reassuring that Tera from Nuface did confirm during an #FactOrFaux IGTV episode that Ultrasound transmission gels do work well with microcurrent! Yay!

But maybe you’re confused because ultrasound is sound waves and not electrical currents?

That’s true. The purpose of the gel in an ultrasound procedure – like a baby scan 🤰- is to couple the device to our skin. This allows the soundwaves to travel into our bodies and reflect back without any interference caused by air gaps. The result is a clear read-out and image.

But the same gels work with electrotherapies too, including microcurrent. That’s because first, they wet the skin and lower the resistance to the current. And second, most contain a small amount (because that’s all that’s needed) of an ingredient called Triethanoiamine. This is typically used to regulate the pH of a cosmetic. It’s an alkaline polymer substance, which is also a super conductor of electrical current.

What are Ultrasound gels like?

🏷 500ml from £4.95/$7.80 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Easy squeeze, clear, odourless ultrasound gel with super slip. Simply wipe off once you're done!
Ultrasound gel does an excellent job!

Ultrasound gels are a very popular and inexpensive alternative to Nuface’s activators, and lots of users recommend them in forums and in Facebook groups. Popular options are 🇬🇧 Anagel ultrasound gel (ingredients) and 🇺🇸 Aquasonic 100 ultrasound gel (ingredients).

Most are clear, but some have a slight blue-ish colour so you can see where you’ve applied them. They’re odourless, hypoallergenic and with easy-squeeze bottles to get just the right amount from the bottle. It’s best to apply them with a brush, and they give lovely slip during a session. No drips, stinging, yucky taste or skin reactions. I apply a serum underneath them. And because they dry very slowly I wipe off the remaining gel and then apply my moisturiser. But you could also wash off the gel and apply all your skincare after the session if you prefer.

When using these versus Nuface Activators, I see no difference in my results immediately after a session, or after long-term use. And I like that I can continue using my own serums and moisturisers, which I know work very well with my skin.

These gels are available in different sizes and they last for yonks.

See Ultrasound gel deals >>

Other electroconductive and cosmetic gels

Triethanoiamine is also found in other electro-conductive gels. Such gels are advertised for pain relief in TENS machines, muscle stimulation in EMS machines, and for cosmetic devices such as microcurrent too. But there are several other possible conductive ingredients which could be present, such as Sodium Hydroxide. These ingredients are the stated conductive mediums in other FDA-cleared gels.

Cosmetic gels often include moisturising ingredients such as glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid.

Other elctrotherapy gels are ✔️ water-based, ✔️ formulated for ultrasound & electrotherapies, ✔️ wet your skin so lower the electrical resistance, ✔️ some formulations have added moisturising goodies, ✔️ wipe off or massage in after your session
Nuface gel alternatives: Cheaper ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic Acid and leave-on collagen and elastin conductivuty gel from UB.

What are other electroconductive and cosmetic gels like?

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

UB Ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic Acid, 500ml/£16 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

UB ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic acid Nuface primer alternative
UB Ultrasound gel with HA

This gel has short-chain HA ingredients to help moisturise and plump your skin. It’s clear and odourless, with a light, cool gel consistency. Easy to get the right amount from the bottle, it’s best to apply it with a brush, and gives lovely slip during a session. No drips, stinging, yucky taste or skin reactions. It dries slowly and without pilling or clumping.

Although this is not advertised as a leave-on formula, it’s not drying or tacky, so I apply my serums underneath and then massage in the residue gel. It’s easy to wipe or wash off too if you prefer. And it lasts for absolutely ages!

And as with Ultrasound gel, this doesn’t hinder the microcurrent results. Compared to the Nuface Activators, there’s no difference in my results from a session, or after long-term use with this gel.

See UB Ultrasound gel with Hyaluronic Acid deals >>

UB Collagen & Elastin gel, 500ml/£19 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

UB collagen & elastin gel Nuface primer alternative
UB Collagen & Elastin gel

This alternative cosmetic conductive gel from UB has moisturising collagen and HA ingredients in a pleasant leave-on formula. I apply a simple Hyaluronic Acid serum and copper peptide serum under the gel.

The easy to apply gel is clear and odourless, with a non-tacky consistency which doesn’t drip or sting. It gives lovely slip and dries slowly so you can finish your routine in sections. I then massage-in the residue without any pilling or clumping. It feels hydrating and nourishing without overloading your skin. And this lasts for ages too!

As with the other gels above, there’s no noticeable difference in my results using this versus the Nuface Activators.

See UB Collagen & Elastin gel deals >>

Right then. Onto the popular Aloe Vera alternative…

Can you really 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 (during my research in May 2019), what alternative gel I could use if had reactions to the Nuface gels.

A helpful customer service rep shared that some customers with reactions to the Nuface gels use Aloe Vera gel instead. And I’ve seen it recommended by aestheticians many times on 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. It’s a strong natural electolyte, so much so it’s the basis of the first eco-friendly battery! You can buy several inexpensive organic formulations, with no nasties in them. Yay!

However, a few months ahead of launching the new activators, Nuface contradicted their earlier 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 an 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 so not all the microcurrent reaches to your muscles.  So, they say, you get only a superficial lift, that’s not long-lasting.

Aloe Vera gels are ✔️ water-based, ✔️ Have lots of conducting ions ✔️ wet your skin so lower the electrical resistance, ✔️ are naturally moisturising ✔️ wipe off or massage in after your session
Sounds good, but Nuface say ‘no’!

It’s clear Nuface are confident their gels are superior to Aloe Vera. In fact, Tera promised a follow-up IGTV episode where she’ll live-test the conductivity of various gels, name brand moisturisers and serums. I’m curious to see this test. And especially to understand just how much the ions from added mineral goodies improve your end-results. But I can’t find the episode (maybe I missed it 🤷‍♀️) and there’s no comparative test data publicly available.



👉 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 👍.

What is Aloe Vera Gel like?

There are several inexpensive brands of Aloe Vera gel. I chose a small tube from brand Aloe Pura.

Aloe Pura Oragnic Aloe Vera gel, 200ml £6.49/$15.36 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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…

This moisturing gel gives good slip and dries slowly without any pilling or clumping. It’s soothing and I have no nasty skin reactions. I apply my serum underneath and then simply wipe off the residue gel after the session. But you could massage it in if you prefer. Then I apply my favourite moisturiser.

I feel I use a little more of this gel per session compared to ultrasound gel. But it’s inexpensive and lasts for ages anyway.

I personally see no difference in my results whilst using this gel compared to the Nuface activators and other gels. And plenty other Nuface fans who’ve been using Aloe Vera for months or even years, share they’re happy with their results too.

See Aloe Pura gel deals >>

What about rival brand’s gels?

Some Nuface users even use rival brand conductivity gels. That’s a neat idea, especially if you’re addicted to at home beauty devices and have several of them! Gels that I like are Mira-skin’s ultrasound conductive gel with Hyaluronic Acid and Ziip’s Silver and Gold conductivity gels.

Mira-skin Ultrasound gel, 200ml €79/$79 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Mira-skin ultrasound gel is a top alternative to the Nuface activators because ✔️ it's water-based, ✔️ formulated for ultrasound and electrotherapies, ✔️ it wets your skin and lowers the resistance, and ✔️ it's got moisturing ingredients too.
A good value alternative Nuface gel you can leave-on and it’s very moisturising

This is a good value ultrasound gel with added Hyaluronic Acid (ingredients here). It’s designed to work with ultrasound phonophoresis and get deep into your skin, plumping it with Hyaluronic Acid. Microcurrent won’t get this product as deep, but you’ll still benefit from the quality moisturising ingredients.

It’s a clear gel, simple and easy to apply, with a pump-action dispenser. Apply it in a thin layer with a brush and it gives lovely slip. It dries slowly and you can massage in any residue of the leave-on formula. No drips, stinging, yucky taste or skin reactions. It feels like the Nuface Aqua Gel formulation, it doesn’t pill or clump and it leaves my skin soft, hydrated and plumped afterwards.

You can buy 50ml or 200ml in glass bottles ♻️👍. It’s similar value to the Nuface Aqua Gel activator in the smaller 50ml size, but Nuface is better value in their largest size (296ml).

Mira-skin Ultrasound conductive gel deals >>

Ziip microcurrent conductive gels, from 80ml £46/$56 | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Ziip microcurrent gels are super alternatives to the Nuface activators because ✔️ it's water-based, ✔️ formulated for microcurrent ✔️ it wets your skin and lowers the resistance, and ✔️ it's got moisturing and many other goodies ingredients too. choose from Silver, Gold or Crystal gels.
These gels don’t dry out and are very nourishing and pampering

The ZIIP gels are unlike other microcurrent gels because of the high glycerin content. They have a thin, gloopy consistency which slips easily over your skin so you don’t need a lot. Wipe your hands on a towel after applying it. They don’t drip or sting your eyes, and have a slight sweet taste if it gets in your mouth. But the best bit is they take AGES to dry. This means you can apply it all over your face at the start of your session and it stays wet throughout. Yay! Much less faff than other microcurrent gels. Another bonus, skin feels silky smooth and fresh after you rinse them off. A real treat.

Some of the flavours are proper pricey, but these gels last months of almost daily use. Available in Silver, Gold and Crystal varieties.

Ziip microcurrent gels deals >>

In summary…

From my tests, I much prefer the Nuface Aqua Gel to the Silk Creme. It’s better value in the bigger quantity 10oz bottle, but it’s still expensive (especially compared to the older version Nuface Hydrating Primer Gel).

I like cheap gels instead of the expensive Nuface Activators because I can apply my own serum underneath, then wipe-off the residue gel before applying my fave moisturiser. Simples.
Gels! Gels! Gels! I got me all the gels!

Alternative gels are a frequent, reoccurring topic in online forums and groups dedicated to home microcurrent devices. Some people want cheaper alternatives, and others have bad skin reactions with the Nuface activators.

Lots of people use and recommend cheaper alternative Aloe Vera gels, ultrasound gels, other microcurrent gels and home-made gels and still see super results that make them happy. I’ve tried a bunch and, even though the basic gels don’t feel as luxurious or as pampering and Nuface’s (or Ziip’s), I can confirm they perform just as well with no difference in microcurrent results. I like I can apply my serum underneath, wipe off the excess gel and then finish up with a moisturiser.

So, you can use cheaper alternatives which effectively conduct microcurrent deep into your skin without compromising your results 👍.

If you’re in two minds about the Nuface gels I suggest you test and compare them to some alternatives. You can try any substitute gel linked in this review, or find your own.

Cheap wipe/wash-off gels

Choose these if you’ll wipe off the gel and use your own skincare products:

  • Ultrasound gels
  • Aloe Vera gels
  • Cheaper conductive gels
  • Cheaper cosmetic gels
Gels with skincare goodies

Similar priced, cheaper or better value gels with added skincare goodies!

  • Cheaper cosmetic gels
  • Mira-skin ultrasound gel
  • Ziip gels

Here’s a quick comparison of the gels I’ve tested:

Nuface Aqua Gel in a white pot
Nuface Aqua Gel

🇬🇧 50ml £28.50 to 296ml £58
🇺🇸 1.69oz $29 to 10oz $59

✔️ Leave-on formula
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: Hyaluronic Acid.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Most affordable Nuface gel
❌ But still rather expensive

Nuface Aqua Gel in a white pot
Nuface Silk Creme

🇬🇧 50ml £48.50 to 177.5ml £88
🇺🇸 1.69oz $49 to 6oz $89

✔️ Leave-on formula
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: Hyaluronic Acid, Sea Silt Extract, Shea Butter, Adenosine, Betaine, Bisabolol, Glycerin, Sunflower Oil, Lecithin, Vit E, Silver Ear mushroom, Ginger Root.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Very nourishing & hydrating
❌ Very expensive
❌ Can pill & clump if you over work or apply too much

Ultrasound gel

from 🇬🇧 £4.95 / 🇺🇸 $7.80 per 500ml/17.5oz

❌ Leave-on formula
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: None.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Very affordable
✔️ Lasts ages
✔️ Hyopallergenic
✔️ Easy to wipe off
✔️ No cons!

Cosmetic gels

from 🇬🇧 £16 per 500ml

✔️ Leave-on formula
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: Hyaluronic Acid, Collagen, Glycerin.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Affordable
✔️ Last ages
✔️ Massage in or wipe off
✔️ No cons!

Aloe Vera gels

from 🇬🇧 £7 / 🇺🇸 $15 per 200ml/7oz+

✔️ Leave-on formula
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: e.g. aloe barbadensis, Pro-Vitamin B5.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Affordable
✔️ Last ages
✔️ Massage in or wipe off
✔️ No cons!

ZIIP gels

Electric Complex gel £30 / $25 per 80ml/2.7oz
Silver Gel £45 / $50 per 80ml/2.7oz
Crystal Gel £68 / $80 per 80ml/2.7oz
Golden Gel £119 / $129 per 80ml/2.7oz

✔️ Leave-on formulas
Slip & slow drying: 👍👍👍👍👍
Skincare goodies: Basic glycerin to anti-ageing actives.

Pros & cons:
✔️ Stays wet for your full session
✔️ Apply once to full face at the start
✔️ Different price options
✔️ Last ages
✔️ Massage in or wipe off
✔️ No cons!

If you find another option, check a few things as follows:

  1. Choose a water-based gel without any nasties and avoid any product with oils in them
  2. Check the ingredients on – it’s easy! Just copy/paste the ingredients list or upload a photo of it
  3. You can also look for microcurrent conducting ingredients or minerals such as seaweed extract, sea silt extract, copper and magnesium. Other less fancy ingredients also conduct microcurrent, such as Triethanoiamine and Sodium Hydroxide.
  4. Buy the gel and try it!

DO a sensitivity test!

Once you have your alternative gel 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 your alternatives whilst you still have some of the Nuface activator left. This means you can compare them across sessions, or even on different sides of your neck/face!

Whatever you decide I hope you see super results with your Nuface. Listed below are the gels and deals mentioned in this article. If you’ve found this helpful, please buy through my links. I earn a small commission but your price stays the same.

Nuface & other conductive gel deals

I earn a small commission when you shop via my links. Thank you for your support!

Laura Gladman
I'm a bit obsessed with at-home beauty devices. It's a habit I've had for around 9 years now. I love the science, testing and reviewing them, and sharing my experience and feedback on my site I'm also a crazy dog lady, and I don't care.

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