Everyone’s skin is different, and no one knows that better than a person who has dealt with acne for years. I have seen so many foolproof acne solutions fall to their knees in utter defeat when met with my sensitive, combination, and very acne-prone skin.
So understandably, I approached testing the Solawave Bye Acne: 3-Minute Pimple Spot Treatment device(opens in a new tab) with a healthy degree of skepticism. But I had seen beauty tech innovate in ways standard skincare couldn’t before, so I held onto hope.
The verdict? More or less, my skin stayed about the same over my two weeks of using Bye Acne. (Results might be more noticeable with more long-term use.) I honestly don’t know if it shortened the life span on any of my breakouts, and more than anything, it made me miss the tragically discontinued Solawave 3-in-1 Anti-Breakout Wand with blue light(opens in a new tab).
The claims of the Bye Acne device
Unlike the famous Solawave advanced skincare wand (which we adored), the Bye Acne device ditches the microcurrent and heat and sticks to just good old fashioned light therapy to really focus on targeting just acne. It uses both red and blue LED lights to target acne at all stages: The blue light works more on the surface of the skin to fight the bacteria that causes it in the first place, targeting current and future breakouts, while the red light penetrates deeper to reduce inflammation and redness of breakouts, as well as brighten any hyperpigmentation.
Credit: Bethany Allard / Mashable
Though it does use two different kinds of light therapy, the $99 price point (compared to the more versatile wand’s $149) both seems on par and a bit on the steep side — but more on that later.
As for light therapy itself, there are people who swear by it and some people who say at-home treatments won’t do much — dermatologists are included in both categories. There have been studies(opens in a new tab) to show that light therapy helps, but it still isn’t conclusive(opens in a new tab) as to how effective it can actually be across the board.
Solawave also claims you can see results in as little as two to three days. Personally, I’ve never seen any skincare fix act that quickly on my skin (and most guidance on LED light therapy says to wait a couple weeks to see results) so I wasn’t holding my breath.
Where Bye Acne does deliver
The biggest appeal of the Bye Acne is that it offers an alternative solution that actually feels different from the endless options of benzoyl peroxide- and salicylic acid-filled products out there, especially because finding the right skincare can often feel like kind of a crapshoot.
For incorporating it into your skincare routine, the learning curve is next to nonexistent. One press of the button, and the device powers on, and beeps one, two, and three times as the minutes pass. After three minutes, it automatically turns off. If you need more guidance, the included quick start guide provides pretty much all the info you’d need.
Credit: Bethany Allard / Mashable
It’s super tiny (tbh in the purple and pink colorway it very much looked like a Barbie accessory), which does make it more travel friendly, though I was a bit disappointed it didn’t come with any kind of case. Still, one 30-minute charge right after I opened it up powered it easily through two weeks of daily use.
Where Bye Acne falls flat
As for how it actually performed on my skin, I can’t say I noticed all that much of a difference. I’ve dealt with acne and hyperpigmentation for over 10 years, and I get pesky whiteheads and cystic breakouts alike.
When I began my Bye Acne testing, I honestly wasn’t breaking out too bad, but did have some hyperpigmentation and a couple of just-below-the-surface breakouts that had been on my face for weeks. For these issues, it felt nice to have a tool other than my trusty Tretinoin that felt like it could do something, and I do think it helped speed up the healing process some — the hyperpigmentation on one of those under-the-surface breakouts is lighter, and the other is no longer raised against my skin.
Still, it’s hard to attribute what is the wand and what is the normal life cycle of my skin. As I write this, I have three red and angry breakouts along my cheeks and chin, and while I’ve been using Bye Acne devotedly alongside pimple patches, I can’t say I noticed that the lifespans of these breakouts have been significantly reduced. Though it could just be that these were going to be longer-lasting breakouts no matter what, so it’s hard to say that the Bye Acne did absolutely nothing.
All this to say, much like any other skincare product, the Bye Acne doesn’t seem to be a miracle cure — it’ll work differently for different skin types, and potentially, on different kinds of breakouts. And using it longer than my two-week testing period could yield different results.
I also can’t help but notice that the teeny-tiny size of this device, meant to pinpoint breakouts, doesn’t do much as an all-over preventative for the skin, unless you want to spend a good 30 minutes trying to target your problem areas which may or may not bring you breakouts. Which leads me to my next point:
You’ll need to prepare for a longer skincare routine
Don’t let the name of this device fool you — this wand will likely add more than three minutes to your skincare routine.
Allow me to explain. Pretend, for a moment, you’re taking a third-grade level math test (bear with me): Imagine you have three zits and you need to use the wand for three minutes on each zit to see results. At the end of your skincare routine, how long have you spent you spent holding the Bye Acne wand to your face? That’s right, nine minutes.
Look, I’m not opposed to spending some time on my skincare routine (hell, I’ll factor in an extra 20 minutes if it means I see results) but when you’re holding this device in place, just waiting, you really start to feel every second tick by. Solawave minutes begin to feel a lot like exercise minutes. At least with the Solawave wands, you’re also giving yourself a facial massage.
Maybe, if you’re watching a show the time ticks by a little faster, and admittedly the built-in timer does let you zone out and multitask while using the device. But because I didn’t want to mix light therapy and Tretinoin, I strictly used Bye Acne during my morning routine, which ultimately just made me feel like I had to get up a little earlier, without a huge reward of a product that delivered significant and consistent results.
This feature alone made it feel hard to pinpoint who exactly the audience is for this device. Maybe for the person who gets the occasional zit or two who really can’t stand it, and is therefore willing to pay $100 rather than dab some spot treatment on? For anyone with more than a zit or two, it’s a hefty time investment.
RIP to the 3-in-1 Anti-Breakout Wand
Solawave seemed to understand at one point that for acne-prone folks, easily covering a lot of surface area is key. About a month ago, when I received the package from Solawave with the Bye Acne device, I also received the 3-in-1 Anti-Breakout Wand with Blue Light therapy. It looked identical to other Solawave wands, but offered a blue light treatment, as well as the microcurrent and facial massages.
Credit: Bethany Allard / Mashable
I loved this wand, which is why it brings me no pleasure to unavoidably gatekeep. Unfortunately, Solawave has discontinued it.
I don’t want to add insult to injury by singing its praises, but I do think it’s a good point of comparison for Bye Acne’s shortcomings. For starters, the wand is a much better preventative tool because it’s designed to be used all over the face and not just as a spot treatment. To see results, you can use it for three minutes or 30 minutes, which made it easier to reach for on days I had a little less time to devote to my skincare routine.
The microcurrent and heat also made for a nice facial massage, so even if it wasn’t working wonders on my acne, it was still pleasant to use. It retailed for $119, which doesn’t feel out of touch with the pricing between the advanced skincare wand and Bye Acne device, but somehow feels like the best deal as an acne solution.
While the Bye Acne seemed overall the slightest bit better at spot treating hyperpigmentation, my skin was the clearest its been in the past half year during the two-week span I used the 3-in-1 wand. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I have a strong feeling the wand played a part in killing bacteria before it could result in breakouts.
Is the Solawave Bye Acne device worth it?
I wanted the Solawave Bye Acne to be an easy addition to my skincare routine, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t practical or effective enough to make the cut, especially in comparison to the 3-in-1 Anti-Breakout Wand. This isn’t to say that this device isn’t for anyone, maybe for someone who gets a nasty pimple or two regularly and has the cash to spare, this is just the device you’ve been looking for.
For me though, I didn’t find myself feeling like I had to use the Bye Acne to properly treat my acne. The slightly expedited healing was nice, but if I’m paying $99, I want a tool that feels nearly necessary in fighting breakouts, and the Bye Acne just wasn’t that.