I regret buying the viral TikTok skincare wand

Every few weeks, I’ll get a sudden deluge of influencers on my For You Page talking about the same product. Sometimes, it’s Lenovo earbuds or a dupe of a Dyson stick vac. Most of the time, it’s skincare products. I’ve managed to resist most temptations thanks to a strict skincare budget — but for about a year, the algorithm won’t stop hounding me about one product: the Medicube Age-R Booster-H.

The Age-R Booster-H is a $330 skincare wand that claims to boost the efficacy of your skincare by using electroporation — short pulses of electricity to create temporary passageways in your skin that help increase absorption. Basically, you zap your face with this thing, your various skincare potions become more effective, and hopefully, you look like a glowy, poreless goddess afterward. Or, at least, this is what the dozens of influencers on my FYP say right after playing a clip of Hailey Bieber using it in her skincare routine.

Mirror selfie of someone using Medicube Age-R Booster-H

I’m not naive. I did my homework. The Medicube site lists white papers on studies it’s done of its products and why electroporation might have merit in skincare. But I also know I’m also being sold a narrative by marketing professionals. If you buy this one gadget that Hailey Bieber and all these beautiful influencers have, you, too, will have glowing, radiant skin! I’m aware this leaves out a lot of factors like money, access to dermatological treatments, filters, and genetics. And yet, common sense is often weak against human vanity and 40 percent off Black Friday sales. So I bought one.

I’ve been using this thing to zap my face every day for three months. Sure, my skin looks a little glowy after using it, but skin always looks glowy after applying skincare. “Have I seen any improvement?” I ask myself that in the mirror every morning while I zap myself.

The lack of dramatic, visible results isn’t why I regret buying this thing, though. What bothers me is now I can’t escape my social media algorithms trying to sell me more of the same.

Once you crack and splurge on a gadget you don’t need, your algorithm is never the same

Once you crack and splurge on a gadget you don’t need, your algorithm is never the same. Since buying the Age-R Booster-H, all I see is more Age-R Booster-H content. For the past three months, I’ve gotten more ads for LED light therapy masks, microcurrent facial toner devices, and even facial massage guns. I’ve furiously swiped past all of them, and yet, this morning, I got an ad for the Age-R Booster Pro — Medicube’s latest wand that combines six skincare gadgets in one for $480.

I’m not going to get it. If I did, I’m sure my FYP would become even more of a skincare QVC than it already is. Look, I know this is TikTok working as intended, but I do resent it. It makes me feel even more beholden to the skincare zappy wand. I spent a lot on the thing, so I will be using this until it dies. Knowing all this, it’s frustrating when I find the same marketing tactics creeping into my brain again. Maybe I haven’t seen better results because I don’t use it with the same Medicube collagen cream as the influencers. I already know that results will vary and that OTC skincare can only do so much. Paid influencers also aren’t incentivized to talk about nuance or caveats. Why else am I not seeing more people say the wand was mid or disappointing? I have to yell at myself not to fall into the trap again.

Medicube Age-R Booster-H standing upright in a bathroom

I fell into skincare TikTok because, during the pandemic, applying skincare was a soothing way to wind down after a stressful day. I enjoyed watching nerdy videos about sunscreen filters and listening to cosmetic chemists talk about the efficacy of certain ingredients. I liked how funny people talked about their day while slathering on retinol. The e-commerce aspect was always there, but once upon a time, it felt like a bit more like a friend telling you the product they stumbled upon. Somewhere, something shifted. Now I feel like I’m five again, sitting on the living room floor and watching a lady with a bouffant sell me a neck cream on the home shopping network.

And while I don’t begrudge the influencers a living, I do wonder how I ended up zapping my face with this $330 skincare wand.