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The 8 Best Facial Cleansing Brushes + How To Use Them Safely

Hannah Frye
Author:
August 25, 2022
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor
By Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
August 25, 2022
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Some skin care trends can be playful and enjoyable, while others are fairly problematic—your skin is an organ, so subjecting it to trends isn't always the best idea. One popular skin care niche that continues to go in and out of the spotlight is face tools

Specifically, facial cleansing brushes have been circulating in skin care talk as of late but not necessarily in the same fashion as a few years ago. While these not-so-new tools may be having a moment, the modern age facial brush is much different from what's been popular in the past.

Could this be the new and improved version? Here, everything you need to know about facial brushes in 2022 including the best ones to shop.

What does a facial cleansing brush do?

As the name implies, these tools help to deeply cleanse the skin through manual exfoliation. This isn't ideal for all skin types but may be helpful in certain situations. As board-certified dermatologist and YouTube creator Andrea Suarez, M.D., FAAD, puts it, "For those with buildup of dry skin, this can help smooth the skin and improve skin texture." 

In addition, those with blemish-prone skin may benefit from the exfoliation of skin cells, Suarez says, that otherwise could clog pores and lead to breakouts. If you have sensitive or redness-prone skin, however, cleansing brushes aren't going to be the best option as they can cause irritation and more flushing. 

No matter what skin type you have, it's important to not overdo it with these tools. Try to avoid adding pressure to the brush, cleansing for too long, and using it too frequently. These tools are best for occasional use as your skin can tolerate them. 

One final note: If you are going to use a cleansing brush, take that as your exfoliating for the night rather than lathering on a chemical exfoliant serum afterward. The combination of the two can lead to over-exfoliation, a damaged skin barrier, and some not-so-fun side effects as a result: Think redness, sensitivity, etc.

How we picked

Expert suggestions

We sat down with a board-certified dermatologist to learn the ins and outs of facial cleansing brushes. This way, we can provide you with important reminders for each product and point out some of the most notoriously missed pros and cons of using a facial cleansing brush.

Price

We know not everybody wants to drop a pretty penny on these brushes, especially if you're just trying it out. We picked brushes with a wide range of prices including drugstore options and a few splurge-worthy picks for those looking to seriously invest.

Testing & testimonials

Our editors tested some of these products firsthand to give you an honest review and point out some of the notable cons (and pros!) of these products. When that wasn't possible, we looked to authenticated customer testimonials.

Variety

We wanted to bring a variety of options to the table. Below you'll find all kinds of cleansing brushes including manual, electric, bristle, and silicone brushes. There's a variety of options regardless of which material and mode you prefer.

Our picks for the best facial cleansing brushes of 2022:

Best overall: PMD Clean Smart

PMD Clean Smart
VIEW ON Amazon | $99VIEW ON Ulta | $99

Pros

  • Customizable modes
  • Comfortable handle

Con

  • Pricey
Product notes: Vibration, Multiple settings

If you're going to use your cleansing brush frequently (a few times a week), then you might want to invest in an A+ option like this one. The silicone head is odor-resistant, antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and waterproof—impressive right? Not only that but the ergonomic handle makes it easy to cleanse gently without having to press down on the head itself. It also offers four vibration settings, which is ideal given some days call for a bit more action than others.

Best budget: Olay Regenerist Facial Cleansing Brush

Olay Regenerist Facial Cleansing Brush
VIEW ON Amazon | $17 (was $28)VIEW ON Olay | $28

Pro

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not antibacterial
  • Not the most eco-friendly
Product notes: Vibration, Multiple settings

If you're married to the idea of a bristle brush, this one is a worthy option for those on a budget. The water-resistant brush is battery-powered, which makes it particularly travel-friendly for those who don't carry a converter. Although the brush head is soft to the touch, its high-speed motor levels up your cleanse for the ultimate strip down of dirt. Just remember to replace the head at least once a month to avoid bacteria buildup.

Best splurge: Foreo Luna 3

Foreo Luna 3
VIEW ON Amazon | $176 (was $219)VIEW ON Sephora | $219

Pros

  • Customizable settings
  • Soft cleansing pad

Con

  • Pricey
Product notes: Vibration, Multiple settings

Talk about the evolution of the facial cleansing brush! You can control the massage settings of this brush from an app on your phone, making the experience oh-so-personalized (and hi-tech). This pick stands out among the rest because of the clinical trials provided: In a 28-day consumer trial of 50 participants, 100% reported more radiant-looking and better-feeling skin compared to cleansing by hand—pretty impressive results, no?

Best drugstore: EcoTools Deep Cleansing Brush

EcoTools Deep Cleansing Brush
VIEW ON Target | $5VIEW ON iHerb | $7

Pro

  • Budget-friendly

Con

  • Awkward handle
Product notes: Manual

A great drugstore option for those wanting to save a few bucks before investing, this bristle brush costs less than a latte. The manual pick gives you full control over your cleansing experience, and there are no frills, like vibration settings, chargers, or batteries. Instead you get an ultra-gentle cleanse with the soft bristles gliding across the skin with ease (despite giving pores a thorough deep clean). As stated, don't forget to switch out your brush head once a month to prevent buildup, and always deeply clean the bristles post-wash to maximize the brush's life span.

Best silicone : Buttah Skin Vibe Facial Cleansing Brush

Buttah Skin Vibe Facial Cleansing Brush
VIEW ON Ulta | $50VIEW ON Amazon | $55

Pro

  • Gentle setting

Con

  • Slightly noisy
Product notes: Vibration, Multiple settings

Maintain control while still getting an extra boost of motor power with this vibrating silicone brush. Because there's no designated handle, you'll have an easier time cleansing those hard-to-reach areas, like the hairline. The gentle setting will provide just enough vibration to feel great on the skin without coming off too strong. Bonus: The provided stand gives your brush a sanitary place to stay when you're not using it (leaving a brush facedown on the counter is not hygienic).

Best manual: Face Halo Makeup Removing Pads

Face Halo Makeup Removing Pads
VIEW ON Amazon | $22 for 3VIEW ON Ulta | $11 for 3

Pros

  • Gentle on the skin
  • Gently remove makeup

Con

  • Not the most eco-friendly
Product notes: Manual

Speaking from experience, these makeup pads may make you question why you ever used a makeup wipe in the first place. The HaloTech fibers combined with water gently removes even the most stubborn makeup—mascara included. This pick is ideal for those looking to add a bit of gentle physical exfoliation to your routine without stripping the skin. After you've removed your makeup, cleanse your face using your hands as you normally would. Then, using face wash or another gentle soap, cleanse your Face Halo pad. It may not be as eco-friendly as a silicone brush, but it's certainly better than using a new makeup wipe day in and day out.

Best gentle: Naturopathica Facial Cleansing Brush

Naturopathica Facial Cleansing Brush
VIEW ON Amazon | $34VIEW ON Dermstore | $26

Pro

  • Ultra-soft brush

Cons

  • Hard to keep clean
  • Takes a while to dry
Product notes: Manual

While facial cleansing brushes aren't ideal for sensitive skin, this pick might be your best bet at getting a deep cleanse, sans irritation. The soft bristles are designed in a fashion that creates waves on the brush—perfect for a gentle massage. The nylon bristles are ideal for those who don't love the feel of silicone or traditional bristles. However, nylon is notoriously harder to keep clean compared to silicone options, so keep that in mind if you're acne-prone.

Best settings: Nion Beauty Opus Negative Ion Face Cleansing Device

Nion Beauty Opus Negative Ion Face Cleansing Device
VIEW ON Dermstore | $129

Pro

  • Doubles as a face massager

Cons

  • Large head can be difficult to maneuver
  • Pricey
Product notes: Vibration, Multiple settings

If you want your cleanse to double as a facial massage, this device is a great pick. Three vibration speeds help to break up impurities in the skin. You'll know when to switch sides during your cleanse thanks to the helpful beep signals—meaning you don't have to watch the clock. The reverse side of the cleansing head provides a smooth surface for a rejuvenating massage either pre- or post-cleanse, too.

What to look for.

When you're deciding which facial cleansing brush to buy, it's important to take your skin type into account. As said above, those with sensitive skin and those prone to redness may have a harder time finding a brush that works without irritating the skin. If you have sensitive skin and must use a brush, stick to something gentle and non-aggravating.

Even if you're not acne-prone, silicone brushes are preferable for hygienic reasons. Like many derms we've talked to, Suarez isn't too fond of the bristle-head brushes. "I prefer the silicone cleansing brushes, as opposed to those with actual bristle heads," she says. "They are easier to clean and don't require costly replacement heads."

So stick to something in your budget, easy to clean, and gentle (especially if you have sensitive skin). Remember to not overdo it and switch to a gentler option for exfoliation if you feel your skin getting stressed out.

FAQ

How do you use a cleansing brush?

Wet your skin and go in with a gentle cleanser (We repeat: A non-exfoliating formula). Let the brush do the work rather than adding pressure, and keep your cleanse quick. As always, stick to lukewarm to warm water rather than piping hot, as your skin will be extra sensitive during the exfoliating process.

Can you use a facial brush if you have rosacea?

While you can, you probably shouldn't be using a facial cleansing brush if you have rosacea. "They stimulate blood flow, which can aggravate facial redness," Suarez explains. Stick to cleansing with your hands, and opt for gentle chemical exfoliation rather than manual.

Can you use a facial brush daily?

You should stick to a few times a week when it comes to exfoliation of any kind, and the same applies to facial cleansing brushes. If you use it too often, you run the risk of damaging the skin barrier and experiencing irritation, dryness, and breakouts, Suarez says.

The takeaway.

Cleansing brushes are having a moment as of late but with a new twist. For occasional use, silicone brushes can serve as a way to get rid of dead skin buildup without using an overly harsh scrub. However, these brushes are by no means the only or best form of exfoliation for everyone. If you're unsure what you should be using to keep your skin fresh, check out our guide to exfoliation 101

Heal Your Skin.

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Hannah Frye
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.