Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Should you use a face cleansing brush?


In recent years, electric face cleansing brushes -- particularly the Clarisonic and less expensive options by Olay, Neutrogena and other brands -- have grown popular among dermatologists and consumers. These high-powered beauty tools feature vibrating heads that clean and exfoliate the skin, dislodging more makeup and grime than hands or a washcloth, according to their manufacturers.

High-end models like the Clarisonic cost a pretty penny, and even drugstore versions run around $30. You'll also need to purchase a cleanser to use with your new gadget. So is a face cleansing brush really worth the investment?

While so many beauty products don't live up to the hype, electronic cleansing brushes have won the praises of many doctors and researchers. Studies, though often funded by beauty companies, show that the brushes effectively banish impurities while increasing blood circulation under the skin. Because your face is cleaner, products such as moisturizers, anti-aging serums and topical retinoids penetrate better and work faster, according to research [source: Coleman].

What's the end result? According to some experts, cleaner skin, more thorough makeup removal, fewer blackheads and more bang for your buck on topical treatments [source: Johannes]. But some dermatologists claim that their abilities are often overhyped. According to Clarisonic's manufacturers, the brushes can also reduce the appearance of sun damage, improve the shaving experience and help sufferers of acne, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis [source: Clarisonic].

If you decide to splurge on a face cleansing brush, be sure to follow best practices for its use. Because bacteria thrive in damp environments, you'll need to change your brush head at least once every three months. To keep your brush clean and mildew-free, wash it with a mild liquid soap, pat it with a towel and let it air-dry after each use. Once a week, sanitize your brush head by soaking it in a bowl of rubbing alcohol. And if you like to wash your face in the shower, be sure to remove it to keep mold and mildew from becoming a problem [source: Stanell].

Though electronic face brushes are designed for daily use, overcleansing and over-exfoliation can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing irritation. If you notice redness or dryness after starting your new regimen, try using your brush just once a day or every few days [source: Way]. Opt for a gentle, nonabrasive cleanser that doesn't contain jagged exfoliating particles, which can be harsh on the skin when combined with vibrating bristles [source: Clarisonic].

For more information on cleansing your face, check out the links on the next page.