Iontophoresis is a non-invasive technique that uses a galvanic current for the introduction of active ingredients.

Iontophoresis is used to treat excessive sweating and to reduce inflammation and pain from diseases such as arthritis.

What is iontophoresis?

In iontophoresis, lgalvanic current works like a battery, with a current flowing from the positive to the negative pole. As it is a current that always moves in the same direction, if the product used has a high polarity (it is ionic), it moves as if it were an electron and enters the skin to move towards the other electrode.

Depending on whether the product charge is negative or positive, it is placed on one electrode or the other.

However, this is a technique with low effectiveness, the product used must have a very strong polar charge and, when applying a galvanic current, if a significant power is applied it generates a chemical burn.

  • Low effectiveness
  • Requires product with high polar load
  • If applied with power it generates a chemical burn.

It is an ancient technique, also used in medicine and physiotherapy, so, to give it a renewed air, it is also being called electrophoresis.

In the therapeutic field, it is mainly used to treat excessive sweating and inflammatory processes of muscular or joint origin.

Iontophoresis in esthetics

In aesthetics, iontophoresis is used to apply cosmetic products to the skin.

For this purpose, the product with a strong electric charge is applied to one of the poles, to be attracted to the other pole (return) by the electric current. The active ions pass through the skin through the orifices of the sweat glands, sebaceous glands and hair follicles.

According to the manufacturers of iontophoresis equipment, it can be used for beauty treatments because it is possible to penetrate the skin with minimal exposure of the rest of the body.

They also indicate that, once the epidermis is overcome, the ions are stored and act locally, prolonging the effect for hours.

Drug penetration is influenced by intensity, time, electric field and molecular dimension.

What is iontophoresis used for?

In aesthetics, iontophoresis can be used for facial, body and cellulite treatments. In general, it is used to reduce aging, skin dryness and sun spots.

It can also be used to improve the appearance of cellulite, as applying the current to the skin improves blood circulation and reduces fluid retention.

To improve the effectiveness of iontophoresis, it is advisable to perform a previous peeling and apply a moisturizing and nutrient-rich oxygen mask after the end of the treatment.

The client may notice some tingling along with warmth or stinging. It can also cause redness in the area and irritation.

Iontophoresis vs. electroporation

Although iontophoresis is able to penetrate deeper layers of the skin, the results achieved are far inferior to those of electroporation.

The reason is that iontophoresis is only able to introduce actives into the skin that do not exceed 500 Daltons, although it does mobilize the active ingredient quickly.

Commitment to quality

This text on iontophoresis was written by professional editors and reviewed by Sisneo’s medical-aesthetic team. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.

At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. And to update or correct it as soon as new knowledge becomes available.

Among others, we have used the following references:

  • Yan C, Ng JNC, Wanitphakdeedecha R. «Efficacy of handheld iontophoresis device in enhancing transdermal vitamin C delivery: A split-face clinical trial» en J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Feb;21(2):698-706. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14702. Epub 2022 Jan 30.
  • Roustit M, Blaise S, Cracowski JL. «Trials and tribulations of skin iontophoresis in therapeutics» en Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;77(1):63-71. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12128.