The NASA-Funded Device That Transformed My Sun-Damaged Skin

A blue Droplette Micro-Infuser with a dark blue background

I’ve been as low-maintenance as you can get for as long as I can remember. I wash my face and hair, zero in on a couple key products (always a mineral sunscreen), and go. Elaborate skincare regimens, regular highlights, even frequent haircuts—say nothing of anything involving a needle—are simply not part of my routine. Perhaps it’s the low-key aesthetic from my home state of Hawaii or my mother’s ’70s hippie ways; whatever the reason, I’m the last person to obsess over the latest tech skin device.

Of course, it’s hard to ignore the influx of ever-growing futuristic options, especially as I hit my mid-thirties and my once pristine skin is showing gradual signs of many summers soaking in rays on the equator. From LED light masks promising to treat acne and reconfigure the skin on a cellular level to micro-needling standing in for Botox and at-home microcurrent facials claiming to tone face muscles, the world of high-end, personal skincare tech is expanding like never before. And after two years of pandemic anxiety, who wouldn’t want clinical-level results from the comfort of their own home?

As such, I’ve given one device from this lineup of wonder tools a shot—and it has completely transformed my views on home beauty tech. I was recently introduced to the Droplette Micro-Infuser, a tool designed by two MIT PhDs to treat the child skin disease epidermolysis bullosa. The pair later realized the device doubled as a mechanism to deliver skincare essentials by better penetrating the skin barrier. The basic premise is straightforward: While the ingredients in standard topicals are indeed effective, the vast majority don’t actually make it past the skin’s outer layer of natural protection. Essentially, you might lather on hundreds of dollars’ worth of serums and creams only to have a small fraction of active ingredients interact with your skin cells. (According to a study by the European Food Safety Authority, 90 percent of skin topicals don’t absorb below the surface).

Droplette breaks serums into millions of miniscule droplets that penetrate the skin 20 times deeper than traditional skincare. The device itself, an egg-like sphere, can be purchased with subscriptions to three different vegan capsules: 10 percent collagen for hydrogen and firming; 8 percent glycolic acid for hyperpigmentation, dullness and blemishes; and .15 percent retinol for wrinkles and fine lines. Insert the capsule of your choosing, hold the device half an inch from your face, and turn it on for three micro mist sessions.

It’s not cheap, but man, is it effective. In the last couple years, I’ve noticed my face slowly thinning as my skin loses plumpness, with sunspots cropping up simultaneously. I saw visible improvements within a couple weeks of integrating Droplette into my nighttime routine, which is honestly a first for any skin product I’ve tried. My skin looked and felt better-hydrated and more luminous. Even my sunspots seemed to slightly fade. It was almost as if I was going back in time. Best yet, contrary to so many marketing-induced trends masquerading as evidence-based, this is a product that reduces rather than adds steps and purchases. The mist itself, which bursts in 15-second intervals with 15-second breaks, was so soothing and gave me a feeling of calm. I am a total convert.

My one warning, which perhaps I should have been more aware of in advance, is that if you have very sensitive skin, be careful with the glycolic acid capsule. I had a semi-freak out one evening when I developed red singeing tiger stripes immediately after use. (I started Googling reactions from glycolic acid skincare, which, of course, immediately led me to disaster situations on WebMd.) In the end, I was totally fine. The burning and irritation went down after 10-15 minutes of running cold water on my face and the red was gone by bedtime.

Still, Droplette is the only skincare item I’ve used that produces results beyond a feeling—you can actually see change on the face. After a few weeks of use, I can’t see myself going back. I’m not going to be 25 again anytime soon (and good riddance to that), but I’m all for more effective skincare that doesn’t involve any injections or a laundry list of products and ingredients. I’m just skipping the glycolic acid going forward.