When the Clarisonic came into the beauty scene in 2007 via Oprah, skincare obsessives went on a frenzy for the hi-tech, sonic-powered facial brush. In theory, it sounded like a must-have: It’s meant to give your skin a deeper cleanse—six times better than your hands alone, according to the brand’s site—for a more polished, radiant, and even complexion. It almost sounds too good to be true. And that’s because it might be.
On The Positive Side
Celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas is the woman behind just about every pore-free face in Hollywood, and she’s quite a fan of cleansing brushes:
“There are benefits to using this at any age, but for people in their 20s it helps make sure you have no residue from makeup or pollution from your day, which translates into less breakouts and healthier skin,” Vargas says.
Not only do these brushes help get rid of daily dirt, grime, and makeup, but Vargas notes that, when used properly, they can be an anti-aging tool. “The benefit to using something is to get your pores cleaned more deeply,” she says. “Also, with the right system, you can de-puff the face and eyes while you cleanse because it activates the lymphatic system.”
The Bad Side
Unfortunately, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, your facial cleansing brushes may not be as great as you’d think. While she noted that they do help remove large particles and dead cells, she also provided some not-so-great info on bristle brushes:
“Years ago, I had some patients bring me their brushes and I snipped some and sent them to the lab and found that that all had bacteria growing on them,” Dr. Ciraldo says.
So, these bristly brushes are essentially coated in bacteria, which you’re putting right back onto your face. Yikes!
And the limitations on these brushes can go on. According to Dr. Ciraldo, you can’t really cleanse your mascara-covered eyelids with these tools, as they are too rough on such a gentle area of your face. They can also spread or worsen any infections you have on your skin, and can pop or cut any acne you have, opening it and leading to more infection-causing bacteria.
While your bristle brushes can cause some harm to your face, there are other options to fill your cleansing needs. First, Dr. Ciraldo recommends this age-old technique: using your hands and some cleanser.
“This is truly the more effective way to cleanse skin and remove all your face and eye makeup as well,” she says. Dr. Ciraldo recommends lathering your face with the Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.
But, if you just can’t let your facial cleansing brushes go, there is another alternative you can take: silicone brushes. Unlike their bristly counterparts, Vargas notes that these are more hypoallergenic and easy to clean. Her current favorite is the Foreo Luna.
“I love the softness of the silicone bristles and how easy it is to keep clean,” Vargas says. “Also, when I pair it with my cleanser I feel like I get every pore clean. It’s gentle enough to even use around the eyes.”
If you want to (safely) go the hi-tech route with your facial routine, check out our favorite tools below:
You’ve probably seen every influencer and beauty editor on Instagram rubbing this little gadget across their face, but what does it actually do? Instead of cleansing, this nifty tool focuses on toning for a smoother, wrinkle-free finish to your complexion.
Instead of the “sonic technology” you’ve heard every facial cleansing device go on and on about, this device uses good old vibrations and silicone bristles to give your skin a deeper clean.
Steaming is an often overlooked part of skincare, but it’s actually been proven by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care to help open your pores, allowing your products to absorb deeper into your parched skin.
If you’re on a budget and don’t care for the hi-tech noise of other cleansing products, an inexpensive silicone pad will do just the trick. Trust us.
On the go? Then grab this teeny, sonic-powered cleansing silicone brush, which is small enough to stow in any carry-on or tote bag.
This skincare tool is as hi-tech as it gets: It’s a fast-acting, bluetooth-enabled mask that cuts the time of your average sheet mask down to a 90-second treatment.