Is Your Facial Cleansing Brush Hurting Your Skin?

If you haven’t been graced with naturally flawless skin, join the club. Who hasn’t purchased a trendy facial cleanser, only to find out that it’s a dud? Fads are constantly changing, some repeat, and plenty are way too expensive. Right now it seems like America is on a naturalistic kick when it comes to skin care. That’s great because there are a ton of underrated products out there that don’t wreak havoc on skin.

Let’s not forget our technologically inclined cleansers though, ok? I’m speaking specifically to the facial cleansing brush. The thing has been around for a while and in theory it sounds like a good idea. Bristles scrub your skin to fresh healthy beauty. Then again, we already have scrubs available in the form of facial cleansers. Is a facial cleansing brush really that different, or effective?

The facial cleansing brush is definitely effective.

Sort of similar to what salicylic and glycolic acids, these brushes are fantastic at clearing pores of debris, bacteria, and extra oil that tends to sit and cause acne. They also do a great job of removing pesky makeup that hides after you thought you think you’ve cleaned it all. if you have dry skin, a facial cleansing brush will get rid of dead skin cells and clear pores so they can better absorb moisturizer. For those with oily skin, it helps remove extra oil sitting on your face.

Well, under one condition.

Not all facial cleansing brushes perform the magic described above. Only the good ones do. The categorization of “good” isn’t really subjective, either. To some extent it depends on your skin type, but the good brushes work well on all skin types. Factors to consider in a facial cleansing brush are the length and stiffness of bristles, the movement of the brush, and the speed of that movement. Imagine having stiff bristles scrubbing at the speed of light. It doesn’t sound pleasant.

Plus, any brush that’s that intense with skin will definitely end up irritating it. We may have 16 layers of skin on our face (both the external layers of the epidermis and the deeper levels underneath, called the dermis), but it’s still fragile.

How do they work?

It’s pretty simple. The bristles penetrated pores and “brush” out debris (not like a hairbrush, more like a pore brush). Without that stuff clogging them up (even if it’s not acne-level clogging, it’s still in there), pores are able to tighten and have room to absorb moisturizer. Facial cleanser is also able to penetrate pores more effectively.

Some brushes have bristles that rotate in a circle and some that move up and down. A few different brands also have different speeds at which the bristles move. There are even some brushes that aren’t motorized at all – cue gasps – but are handheld instead.

You can also experience worse skin with a facial cleansing brush.

Remember how there are good brushes and not so good ones? One reason why these brushes may irritate skin is if you’re using a brush that’s too harsh. Another reason is if you’re using it too often. Maybe your skin is so awesome that it only needs a weekly touch up with a facial cleansing brush. The only way to find out for sure is you start off slowly, once or twice a week, and work your way up. You might find that once a week is enough. Also, be sure to keep your brush at a low speed first. Don’t get too crazy, here.

Beauty Woman. Beautiful Young Female. Portrait isolated on White

Another reason why a facial cleansing brush can actually make your skin look worse is if you aren’t washing or changing the brush. The brush is cleaning your face of bacteria, after all. It only makes sense that some of that bacteria would linger in the bristles and repopulate your face next time you use the brush. If your brand of brush sells replaceable bristles, you can easily buy new ones. If your brand doesn’t do that, or you don’t feel like spending extra money, you can always clean the bristles by dousing them with rubbing alcohol or washing them with soap and water.

Other big no-nos: sharing with friends and family members and combining the brush with an exfoliant face wash.

Other tips and tricks.

Use your brush before bed rather than in the morning. By using it at night, you’re not exposing your freshly cleaned skin to outside irritants or allowing makeup to clog your pores. What should you apply to your skin after using a facial cleansing brush? Any topical treatment you regularly use, then a moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid to create a protective barrier on your skin. Other soothing products are also a good choice, like anything with green-tea extract. These are both especially helpful when dealing with sensitive skin.

It’s a good idea to work your way up to using one of these brushes. Start with an exfoliating cleanser, either with salicylic or glycolic acid, or a cleanser that uses exfoliating beads. Once you start using the brush, gradually ease usage into your skin care routine. Be sure not to use these exfoliating washes simultaneously with this brush. That’ll be way too harsh for your skin and result in unpleasantly irritated results.

What’s the verdict on facial cleansing brushes?

They’re worth the splurge. It’s not really recommended that you buy a cheaper version before committing to an expensive one because you won’t have an accurate trial with one of the cheaper ones – coincidentally, they happen to be the less desirable ones. Even if you only use it once a week, the results are noticeable.

Here are three recommended brushes.

  • Clarisonic
    This brand has a line of various brushes to choose from. They come in different sizes and even have different oscillating brush heads. Some of the brushes come in one speed and others have three. The great thing about Clarisonic is all of the options that it provides, as well as the quality of the tools themselves. The handheld part fits well in the hand and they’re easy to charge. The only downside? The price. The most affordable options are $69. They come with a facial cleansing brush as well a few skin care products. Big spenders are looking at up to $265 for various options. Some only contain the brush and a removable head, others also contain small skin care products.
  • Proactiv Deep Cleansing Brush
    This brush also has a removable head but it’s much simpler than Clarisonic. The bristles of the brush are super soft and gentle enough for daily use for many people. The brush has two speeds. Press the ON/OFF button once for low speed and twice for high speed. The Proactiv website recommends using light pressure and using the brush for up to 2 minutes. The best part is that the brush is $29.95 on the Proactiv website.
  • Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush
    This one’s waterproof, making it great to use in the shower. It also has an angled tip, which makes reaching certain areas, like creases around the nose, much easier to clean effectively. The bristles move up and down and are placed in an oval shape on the brush head. Massage cheeks and T-zone for 15 seconds each and apply minimal pressure. This facial cleansing brush is reasonably priced at $89.50. It’s not the cheapest option out there but it also won’t break the bank.
What are you waiting for?

You now possess all the information you will ever need to know about these brushes. You’re even ahead of the game with a few viable recommendations. These brushes will help you keep your skin looking bright and clear and are definitely worth a try.

Author: Zoe Siegel

Zoe Siegel works as an SEO Content Writer and Editor at DermCheck and her sister app, DermDash Inc. Zoe's love of writing allows her to continuously learn through extensive and meticulous research. She's an MFA student at Antioch University and will earn her master's degree in Creative Writing in December 2016.

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