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Okay, a facial cleansing brush may not necessarily fall into the category of a skincare “necessity,” but for those looking to up their face washing game, it can be an invaluable asset. Along with helping to more effectively remove dirt, oil, and makeup than your hands alone, they offer the added benefit of exfoliation, too. “Facial cleansing brushes act as mechanical exfoliators to help remove dead skin, while also increasing blood flow to leave skin glowing,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang, founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics.
The other upshot? This creates the perfect canvas for any skincare products you apply afterward to be better absorbed. One caveat: It is possible to overdo it with these brushes, so Dr. Sheila advises using them only a few times per week, and doing so in the shower when your skin is wet and soft.
Read on for the best facial cleansing brushes worth adding to your skincare routine.
The latest launch from the brand known for their facial cleansing tools and a favorite of Dr. Sheila’s, this is worth every penny. The silicone “bristles” are even softer than on any of the other models and it offers an even deeper clean, thanks to 8,000 sonic pulses per minute. It also touts 16 different intensity settings to choose from, so you can easily find a perfectly customized level for your particular skin type. Plus, you get 650 uses from one single charge.
Generally speaking, this is a category of tools that can skew towards the pricey end of the spectrum, making this wallet-friendly pick all the more noteworthy. Giving you even more bang for your buck, it also comes with batteries and a replacement brush head. It may not have the bells and whistles of some of its pricier counterparts, but it’s simple and easy to use, with two-speed settings, and is waterproof.
Another one of Dr. Sheila’s picks (she likes the hypoallergenic silicone bristles), she points out that the sonic vibrations not only help cleanse but also increase blood flow for an anti-aging effect. And to that point, the dual-sided tool also has a massager end that can be used to help maximize the penetration (read: efficacy) of any lotions or serums you apply afterward.
Yes, if you don’t take good care of and properly clean your facial cleansing brush it can end up being a bacteria breeding ground, definitely not a good thing for your skin. That’s why we appreciate that the bristles on this option are antimicrobial, reducing bacterial growth by 99%. (Though that’s not an excuse to never clean it.) Also nice: This kit comes with a brush head for your body and a massaging head, too.
For those who prefer to take matters into their own hands, quite literally, this brush is choice. There’s no electricity involved here, just a compact and easy-to-hold brush with super-soft nylon bristles. Apply a dab of your favorite cleanser and gently glide it across your skin, it’s that easy. Because the bristles are long and so soft, you don’t have to worry about irritation or redness.
Cleansing brushes can admittedly be iffy for those with sensitive skin; Dr. Sheila says if you are going to use one, a silicone one is best. (It’s both gentler on the skin and less likely to harbor irritation-inducing bacteria.) This FOREO option fits the bill, with silicone bristles that also have a rounded tip to even further minimize the likelihood of stress to your delicate complexion. It has 12 intensity settings, too, so you can easily start on the lowest one and gradually build up as your skin can tolerate it.
“This is a nice option because the head has both silicone and soft brush bristles,” says Dr. Sheila. The combination helps both unclog pores and exfoliate oily spots without irritating areas that might be drier or more sensitive. It also has a unique silicone ring in the middle for containing a cleanser, a nice feature that many others don’t have. It’s also super affordable.
We told you this brand really knows how to do cleansing brushes, hence their third appearance on this list. This itty-bitty option—it’s the same size as a cotton pad— is ideal for taking with you on-the-go. (Because trust us, once you’re hooked on a cleansing brush you won’t want to leave home without it.) It's battery-powered and super lightweight, so there’s no need to worry about lugging around a charger. It also has eight intensity settings and comes in four fun colors.
As is the case with sensitive skin, you do want to be cautious when using a cleansing brush on acneic skin; over-zealous exfoliation can only make matters worse. But this pick is a good option if you’re prone to breakouts, given that it’s effective yet gentle, and has bristles infused with charcoal to help up the detoxifying effect. FYI, per Dr. Sheila's advice, it’s best to use any kind of cleansing brush with a plain and gentle cleanser. If a medicated acne wash is part of your routine, save it for days when you’re not using the brush.
For those who want a brush that has full-on brush bristles, this is a great pick. The head touts short, densely-packed, yet soft bristles that use sonic technology to vibrate. That’s pretty standard, but what’s unique here is the addition of airflow through the brush that both helps up the cleansing prowess and makes any cleanser lather up luxuriously. The brush head is also specially designed to easily reach all the nooks and crannies of your face.
We know, we know, another FOREO option, but what can we say? While this older model doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as the FOREO 3, our best overall pick, it’s slightly cheaper and still has those same great silicone bristles. It comes in several varieties for different skin types, too, and let’s not forget that silicone options come with the benefit of never having to spend money on replacement brush heads.
It’s not hard to figure out why this is such an Amazon fan favorite, repeatedly pulling in rave reviews. Not only is it very affordable, but it also comes with three interchangeable brush heads. The cleansing and exfoliating options feature nylon bristles with two different textures; there’s also a brush head with silicone bristles included. In short, you get a little bit of everything.
While it is a bit pricey, the FOREO Luna 3 is our choice for the best overall cleansing brush, a high-tech pick with gentle silicone bristles that will get the job done. The predecessor, the FOREO Luna 2, is another good (and slightly more affordable) option that also has silicone bristles. For those who prefer traditional bristles, the Michael Todd Soniclear Elite Cleansing System is choice, thanks to bristles that are both gentle and anti-microbial. And for a super wallet-friendly option, the Olay Regenerist Face Cleansing Device, while not super fancy, is simple and effective.
What to Look For in a Facial Cleansing Brush
Typically made of either nylon or silicone, there are pros and cons to each. Nylon ones are generally more exfoliating, though silicone tends to be gentler on the skin as well as more hygienic and easier to clean.
Vibrating vs. oscillating
Some brushes simply spin, while others deliver sonic vibrations. There’s nothing wrong with either, though the sonic vibrations will typically offer more, good-for-your-skin benefits.
Ideally, you want at least two (though many brushes offer many more) so that you can best customize the intensity of the brush for your skin type and needs.
How do you use a facial cleansing brush?
Dr. Sheila suggests making it a part of your shower routine, so that skin is already soft and wet when using one (this to help minimize irritation). Pair it with a gentle cleanser, and use it only a few times per week, rather than daily, especially if your skin is on the sensitive side.
Are facial cleansing brushes good for your skin?
They definitely have their benefits—namely more effective cleansing and exfoliation. That being said, you can easily overdo it. Being overzealous with your cleansing brush or using it too often can potentially disrupt the skin barrier and cause redness and irritation.
What products do you use with a cleansing brush?
Let the brush be the star of the show. Keep your cleanser simple and gentle; using formulas that contain chemical exfoliants such as AHAs or BHAs can up the likelihood of irritation, notes Dr. Sheila. She also adds that you shouldn’t use a scrub with a cleansing brush.