You may remember the Rejuvenique Facial Toning Mask from creepy infomercials in 1999 starring Linda Evans. “If you get the idea of what doing eight situps a second would do for your stomach, you have an idea what Rejuvenique would do for your face,” a smarmy salesman tells Evans, in response to why a person would want an electric facial. This was probably the first sign that buying and testing a 20-year-old piece of tech for $80 off eBay was a bad idea.
During the pandemic, I’ve gone ham on skincare. The first two months of lockdown, I turned into a shriveled gremlin who didn’t moisturize. The result was aggressive maskne, pronounced dark circles, and for the first time, I noticed some forehead wrinkles. My youth was visibly leaving me and so I plunged headfirst into skincare Reddit and Tiktok. I tried an AI-generated skin serum from Instagram. When my editor dropped a link to the Rejuvenique commercials and a link to an eBay listing, I thought, “What the hell, I’ll try anything for the blog.”
A few weeks later, the box arrived. The invoice had a weird handwritten smiley face on it and the ominous message, “Thanks. Enjoy!” I opened the box and staring at me through plastic was this Michael Myers-arse mask. Inside, the box included an instructional VHS tape (!), a small tube of conductive “toning gel,” a control panel, this nightmare mask, and a cord to connect the panel with the mask.
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While the mask itself looks frightening enough, it’s actually the underside that gave me the chills. There’s 26 “contact points” that look like gold push-pins. They’re bouncy, which is unsettling. It doesn’t feel like they should bounce back when you press down on them, but they do. Also, one of the contacts had become undone on my mask, so first thing’s first — I had to screw it back on as the instruction manual explicitly said not to use a mask without all 26 contact points.
At this point, I connected the cord from the panel to the mask and was ready to go. Except the thing wouldn’t turn on. That’s because the 9-volt battery that came with the control panel had corroded over the past 20 years. This was probably the second sign that this was a bad idea, but undeterred in my stupidity, I went to the drugstore and picked up a replacement battery.
To my surprise, my husband said we actually had a VCR somewhere under the bed and if I wanted I could set it up to watch the instructions. Pfft. This is 2020, baby. I hopped onto YouTube and lo, the instructional video had already been uploaded. I watched for maybe two to three minutes to get the gist of what I was supposed to do. Basically, I just had to hook everything up, smear some toning gel over the contact points, strap the thing to my face and crank up the knob to the “pulsation” level best suited for my face. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, actually.
No one prepared me for how cold or unpleasant the contact points would feel, slathered in gel, on my face. The adjustable straps also made it so it was hard to keep the bottom of the mask flush with my chin. It was, in a word, uncomfortable and I hadn’t even turned the thing on yet. Good start.
The thing is the control panel isn’t the most intuitive thing. There’s a knob where you can crank up the pulsation, and two buttons labelled “Start” and “Test.” I just kind of mashed them to get it going. At first, I felt nothing, even though the numbers on the little display were steadily going up. I started cranking up the knob. I felt nothing at numbers 1-3. Then when I hit 4 — which I would later learn from the instruction manual was the minimum level you need to feel anything — I felt the zappies.
I did not like it. I did not like it one bit. It felt like getting zinged with a very strong static shock, at various points of my face. Supposedly the mask zaps you in different areas on a rolling basis over the course of a 15-minute facial. This was horrible because you never knew where you going to get zapped next. Just when I thought I’d gotten used to the sensation — ZAP ZAP ZAP. A new part of my face would hurt. I was an incredible weenie and stayed at level 4. I think if I’d cranked it up to 10, it would’ve ended in tears.
The one thing I really didn’t expect: I FELT THE ZAPS IN MY TEETH. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt your teeth buzz with electricity, but it’s not a good feeling. I wouldn’t say it’s painful. Just deeply, fundamentally wrong.
I didn’t make it the full 15 minutes. Between the surprise zaps, my teeth buzzing, and a building pressure between my brows, I ripped the mask off. I was then greeted with several “dimpling” marks from the contact points on my face. The instruction manual said they “would fade” over time and weren’t anything to worry about. This ended up being true, but it’s disconcerting to zap your face, rip the mask off, and find several indentations where you wanted smooth skin.
The Rejuvenique’s instruction manual said you’d have to keep this shit up for a minimum of 12 weeks to see results. And I’m not a quitter. The least I could do was try this more than once.
My second attempt was no better than the first. This time I lay down on my bed and tried to relax, as all the manuals and videos suggested. Nope. Still hurt. My teeth still buzzed. I started whining like a kicked puppy. So much so, my dog checked in on me to make sure I wasn’t dying. I made it about eight whole minutes before I ripped the mask off again.
Why would anyone do this to themselves? Well, microcurrent therapy is an actual dermatological treatment that’s been around for decades. You can get it done professionally, but there are several at-home devices. Supposedly, the low voltage currents stimulate collagen and elastin production in your skin, leaving your face more toned. You could probably classify the Rejuvenique as one of these at-home devices, but everything I’ve read about microcurrent facials indicates they’re not supposed to hurt. A gentle “zing” sure, but no pain. The most common gadget I’ve seen, the $280+ NuFace, also works slightly differently. You’re supposed to put the conductive gel on your face first and then roll the NuFace over your skin. The Rejuvenique explicitly said not to put the gel over your entire face — just the contact points. Also, I’ve never seen any video of a skinfluencer using the NuFace crying out in pain.
In any case, microcurrent therapy is something you’re supposed to do consistently over a longer period of time to get results. You could not pay me to put this stupid mask on again. No sir. Twice was enough thank you very much.
To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting much from the Rejuvenique. I’m not a complete idiot. However, I was hoping that at the very least I’d get a Halloween mask out of this thing. Unfortunately, it’s too uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time. That said, it is appropriately creepy. My cat didn’t give a shit, but my dog did tremble in fear when I wore the mask — though she eventually got over it. My husband was less of a fan.
“You look like Bobby Shmurda as Tom Cruise. You look like you’re wearing a low-rent, off-brand Guy Fawkes mask,” He said.
“Do you still love me when I’m wearing it?” I asked.
He took a very long time to answer.
“You were Frankenstein, and now you’re Frankenstein’s monster,” He said, finally. “I love Frankenstein’s monster. He was hot.”
Hmm. Regardless of my husband’s betrayal and incredibly bullshit answer, I have learned one thing from all of this.
Linda Evans was a goddamn liar.