Name: Leah Groth
Condition: Dark spots
How long she’s been living with dark spots: More than 10 years
Hyperpigmentation — acne scars, melasma, dark spots — is one of the most common skin-care concerns. Some people spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually on serums, retinols, and other topical treatments that promise to undo the damage wreaked by hormones, sun exposure, and natural aging. Others invest a small fortune on clinical lasers, peels, and photorejuvenation. Then there is the time, effort, and money spent on covering up the perceived flaws with concealer and foundation. As a longtime journalist and editor, I have been lucky enough to experience some of the most technologically advanced — and often financially prohibitive — products and treatments on the market. However, I have yet to find a one-and-done solution to preventing, treating, and concealing hyperpigmentation. The relatively new Opte Precision Skincare device promises just that — so for obvious reasons, I was intrigued.
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What Is Opte?
Opte Precision Skincare is a system built around a high-tech device created by scientists, promising to not only cover up hyperpigmentation, age spots, and dark spots but also reduce their appearance and prevent them.
The brand refers to the palm-sized gadget as “the first handheld inkjet printer” for skin, as it uses a high-speed camera equipped with blue light technology to scan, detect, and correct skin spots. Using a patented algorithm to analyze the skin, the device detects areas where skin tone is uneven and applies its Optimizing Serum, available in three skin tones: fair, medium, and deep. The serum helps to immediately even out the skin's complexion while preventing future dark spots and fading them over time with an active ingredient containing 5 percent niacinamide. And it does all this while using 97 percent less serum than you would need if using foundation, as it only applies to areas that are in need.
Opte was released in 2020 after more than a decade of research, says its manufacturer, P&G. Paris Hilton declared it “Facetune in real life” in an interview with Page Six Style, and the device has received praise from beauty publications, receiving both an Allure 2020 Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award and an Elle 2020 Future of Beauty Award.
The only research on the device has been funded by P&G, according to a representative. Per a consumer panel consisting of 61 people who used Opte during a four-week period:
- 95 percent reported a more even skin tone.
- 90 percent said their spots were less visible.
- 90 percent said their skin looked younger.
- 98 percent said their skin looked and felt natural.
The device retails for $599, and each refill of the Optimizing Serum, which lasts about 90 uses, is $129.
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Here’s What Happened When I Tried It
I have never been big into makeup. While some women layer on foundation and powder to achieve a super flawless finish, I have always been partial to a more natural look achieved via a tinted face lotion or light foundation. However, as I have aged, the dark spots on my face have gotten more pronounced. My hope in using Opte was that I could eliminate the need for foundation altogether.
When I opened the beautifully packaged box housing the Opte wand, tip, cradle, power cord, Optimizing Serum, and conditioning disc, I was slightly intimidated by the setup process. However, I followed the step-by-step instructions and watched an instructional video, and it was actually quite simple to get going. A free personalized video consultation is also available to walk you through the setup process.
The cradle must be plugged in at all times, per the brand's recommendation. It serves as a charger but also cleans and conditions the gadget to boot. The wand is meant to remain housed in the cradle at all times when it is not in use. The brand recommends cleaning the tip, which comes off easily, and there's a designated spot below the wand in the cradle to store the tip between uses. The disc also remains in the cradle, cleaning the wand after each use. If you unplug the cradle, the wand will not work. Additionally, if the device is left unplugged or off the cradle for too long, the serum may become unusable. When you are ready to use the wand, you simply press on the cradle and it opens. After a few seconds, it lets you know it is ready for use by displaying a message on its small screen.
Before using Opte for the first time, I watched another instructional video. To simplify application, the brand created the 4S application technique, referring to the motion and pressure with which to use the device: soft, slow, straight, sweep. It recommends three- to five-second straight strokes (no tilting the wand and keeping rollers flat), using a feather-light amount of pressure; working in long, broad strokes; and avoiding lifting the device off your skin during the process. While sweeping the skin, the device clicks as it detects dark spots and applies the nearly invisible serum.
I started by applying my eye and face cream, but no foundation or concealer, as any makeup will prevent the gadget from being able to detect dark spots. Taking the wand off the cradle and equipping it with its tip, I was ready to start the application process.
Even with light pressure, I could feel the spikes on the roller, but there was very little discomfort. Initially, it hurt a little. I realized that was the result of pressing too hard, which is noted in the instructions, and corrected my technique. The product is buildable — meaning it might take a few applications to get your desired result. I followed the brand's recommendation and started on half of my face, working my way to the other side. Then I returned to the first half for a second application. The whole process of coverage is meant to take about five minutes, per Opte. Any longer than this and you are wasting the serum. After use, I cleaned the tip with soap and water, dried it, and placed it back on the cradle. Next, I set the wand on the cradle and listened as it cleaned itself. The screen on the wand displayed how much serum remained.
Expecting miraculous results, I was slightly underwhelmed after my first use. My skin isn’t terrible, but it isn’t flawless either. At the time, I had a breakout or two and some redness. I also have darker under-eye circles. While the device is meant to cover dark spots, it can’t help conceal other skin ailments, including rosacea, which causes skin redness, and dark under-eye circles.
While my skin definitely looked more even than it did prior to use, and more natural than with a layer of foundation, by no means did I feel flawlessly faced or camera ready. Opte maintains that while the tinted serum will camouflage dark spots on application, they won’t fade overnight. If you are looking for coverage on par with foundation, prepare to be disappointed. I was tempted to supplement the serum with foundation or concealer. However, the brand recommends not wearing any liquid or cream foundation after applying the serum, as it will remove the serum and undo the camouflage. Only powder products are recommended. Coverage is meant to last 8 to 10 hours, but because the serum is nearly invisible, I am not sure exactly how long it remained on my face.
I continued using Opte for a month. My skin started feeling a little bit tighter, likely as a result of the serum. Did my dark spots start to fade? Possibly. The more I used the gadget, the less clicking occurred, meaning it wasn’t detecting as many dark spots. But I am guessing I will have to keep using it for a few more months to really see a transformation.
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3 Things I Liked About Opte
There are a few things I really liked about Opte.
- It offers natural coverage. Opte is a great alternative to wearing no makeup. The majority of the time, I don’t like to wear foundation. While Opte doesn’t offer me a flawless finish or make me feel camera ready, it evens out my skin tone just enough to give me an extra boost of confidence.
- It replaces daytime serum. Opte serves as both a foundation and serum, eliminating the need for the concentrated, results-driven, and often expensive products.
- There isn’t a lot of maintenance involved. If a gadget involves a lot of maintenance, in the form of having to thoroughly clean between each use, I am less likely to use it. The fact that Opte is mostly self-cleaning and the only thing I need to do is clean the tip between uses makes it nearly effortless to use on a daily basis.
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3 Things I Disliked About Opte
In terms of dislikes, I have a few issues with Opte.
- It has to remain plugged in at all times. When I first read that Opte is meant to remain plugged in at all times, it was an immediate issue. I have three outlets near my vanity: One I use for a Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi, another for my Echo Show, and the last one to rotate my toothbrush charger, hair dryer, and other small bathroom appliances. Because outlets in the bathroom are limited for most people, this can be an issue. Additionally, because Opte is supposed to be plugged in all the time and isn’t usable if it isn’t, the brand recommends not traveling with it. So usage is basically limited to your own home.
- The price tag is high. Clearly, $599 is cost prohibitive for many people. Additionally, with refills at $129 per 90-day cartridge, you are looking at an additional $516 per year. Opte also offers a subscription, with a cartridge coming to you every three months for $120 a pop — a nearly 7 percent discount from the nonsubscription option.
- It doesn’t cover other flaws. If dark spots are your only skin woe, Opte will provide sufficient coverage. However, for anyone who has breakouts or other skin conditions, including rosacea, acne, or eczema, the coverage might not be enough. If you have skin conditions like these and want to conceal their symptoms, you won’t be able to use concealer or other liquid makeup — so the tool may not be the best fit for you.
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The Bottom Line
Opte is a cutting-edge gadget that is a great option for anyone with skin discoloration who is partial to the no-makeup look but wants a little bit of coverage. However, it probably won’t eliminate your need for foundation altogether. I will continue using Opte on a daily basis, minus those days when I need a more flawless finish.
Other Ways I Manage My Dark Spots
I do a few other things to undo dark spot damage.
- Laser Treatments I am a huge fan of laser treatments, one of the most scientifically endorsed methods of fading dark spots on skin. My dermatologist, Nazanin Saedi, MD, a clinical associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, recommends PicoSure, an incredibly effective laser treatment that can do everything from removing tattoos and skin discoloration to helping with acne scars and wrinkles. Each treatment costs around $400 to $600, and the number of recommended treatments varies on a case by case basis.
- Vitamin C Serum I use a vitamin C serum daily, which is also backed by scientific evidence as a method of preventing signs of photoaging and hyperpigmentation. My two favorites are Skinceuticals C E Feurlic ($166), which offers a concentrated dose of the brightening vitamin and ferulic acid, and Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80)
- Foundation To cover my dark spots, I generally use Armani Luminous Silk ($64). While it is one of the more expensive foundations on the market, it is the only one I’ve found that offers sufficient coverage and is natural looking and feeling.