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7 best facial cleansing brushes of 2021 and how to shop for one

Dermatologists and skin care experts share tips on using facial cleansing devices safely — with recommendations for some of the best options to buy..
Here are the face cleansing brushes in 2020 that Dermatologists and skincare experts recommend. Shop the top picks from Clarisonic, PMD, and more.
Skin care experts weigh in on what to consider when shopping for a facial cleansing device.nikkimeel / Getty Images

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Washing your face twice a day can be a drag, especially if you have to remove makeup or any residue from sunscreen. Facial cleansing brushes were developed to help wash your face, exfoliate to reveal softer skin and help minimize the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles.

SKIP AHEAD Best facial cleansing brushes

Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Ava MD said touchless skin gadgets are beneficial. “Touchless options are a great tool to help keep bacteria transfer from fingers to face, potentially spreading Covid-19 or other conditions that can affect either our health or skin,” she said. “However, these home devices are only as good as the care taken by the operator using them.” While facial cleansing brushes may save you time from washing your face, it is important to make sure you take care of the device. This includes washing the brush after each use to help prevent bacteria from forming and extending the life of the device.

You can also find facial cleansing brushes at various beauty retailers like Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore. They’re also found at Shopping reader-favorite stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. Facial cleansing brushes are readily available and range in price. You can find manual brushes on Amazon for $7 or splurge $6,500 (yes, you read that correctly) on the Foreo Luna Luxe, which has an 18-karat gold base. The Swedish brand also sells a platinum version of the Luxe, which will set you back $8,800.

What to look for when shopping for a facial cleansing brush

Shamban said these brushes are more effective in removing layers of skin care and makeup, along with sweat, dead skin cells and other debris. Some brushes mildly exfoliate using movement and friction to lift what is sitting on the surface of the stratum corneum, which is the outer layer of the skin. She suggests looking for the following features when shopping for a brush:

  • Aerodynamic shape and weight that feels good in your hand
  • Easy to use (and clean) design
  • Preferably, silicone bristles, which are non-porous, as opposed to nylon bristles
  • Multiple settings or areas for different types of skin and skin needs

It’s important to find a face cleansing brush that won’t cause unnecessary damage, especially if you have sensitive skin. Adam Mamelak, MD, an Austin-based dermatologist, said there are side effects and myths about using facial brushes, but the key is knowing your skin. “Sensitive skin types and those with rosacea have to be careful with brushes and exfoliating as they can lead to increased irritation,” he said. Mamelak’s biggest tip is to use your face cleansing brush of choice no more than once or twice a week “to make sure your skin tolerates it well.” Another pro tip? Find a face brush and face cleanser which plays nicely with your skin type. He also advises you use a different brush head for your body than your face, because body brushes tend to be harsher.

Overall, if you’re interested in having a better exfoliation at home, then a face cleansing brush could be right for you. To help guide you through your shopping process, we’ve rounded up nine of the best facial cleansing brushes of 2021. From expert-recommended picks to highly-rated devices available to shop on Ulta and Sephora, we included different price points to ensure all budgets and skin types could benefit from our guide.

Best facial cleansing brushes of 2021

1. Olay Regenerist Face Cleansing Device

The Olay Regenerist Face Cleansing Device is an affordable brush which helps to remove makeup and gives your skin a deeper clean. It features two speeds — one for daily cleaning and the other for a deeper exfoliation — and is made with a brush head versus a silicone brush like other brands on our list. Olay said its cleansing brush is also water-resistant, making it okay to use in the shower. Apply your cleanser to your face, dampen the brush head and then move the device around your face for 60 seconds.

2. PMD Clean Pro

PMD Clean Pro is a smart cleansing brush that uses a technology called SonicGlow to clear the skin of dirt and impurities while lifting and toning the skin with its 7,000 vibrations per minute. The other side of the device is a proprietary ActiveWarmth heat therapy massager with anti-aging benefits and feels soothing on the skin, like a heated towel pressed against your face. PMD says the odor-resistant, antibacterial silicone brush comes with four modes and can be used on all skin types. PMD Clean Pro facial cleansing brushes are available in four colors: Navy with Gold, Teal with Brushed Aluminum, Berry and White. They also have a dedicated line of skin gadgets specifically for teens and men, so you can help your loved ones establish their skin care routine in-between virtual school and working remotely.

3. FOREO Luna 2 Facial Spa Massager

Shamban recommends Foreo Luna 2 because of its softer silicone bristles which she says are antimicrobial and antibacterial yet non-abrasive to skin. Foreo says the two-sided brush gently exfoliates on one side which removes 99.5 percent of dirt and oil, resulting in softer, smoother skin. The other half uses gentle vibrations to massage the skin and leave behind anti-aging effects. Plus, the travel-friendly facial cleansing device comes in four pretty pastel colors that correlate to your skin type (combination, sensitive, oily and normal).

4. ZAQ Facial Cleansing Brush

Unlike the Foreo 2, which requires you utilize a facial cleansing brush specific to your skin type, the ZAQ cleaning brush has one universal model with five speeds corresponding to various skin types. It is also the sole brush on our list that positions itself as RoHS compliant, meaning it meets a set of European Union standards, including being made from lead- and mercury-free materials. After a two-hour charge, ZAQ’s facial cleansing brush offers a five-hour battery life.

5. Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush

Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush is made with a combination of soft, tapered bristles and silicone cushions to massage your skin. This handheld brush is the only non-electronic device on our list. However, it’s still a practical option for exfoliation, especially for sensitive skin as the bristles are much softer than some of the other face brushes on the market. Shiseido’s option works well with foaming cleansers to penetrate the skin deeper.

6. Proactiv Deep Cleansing Brush with Silicone Head

Proactiv, a skin care brand known for its three-step system to fight acne, developed this cleansing brush to help you get softer and more radiant skin. The cordless brush comes with two brush head attachments that move in a 360-degree rotation to exfoliate the skin gently and help make your pores look smaller. Proactiv recommends using the product once a day. However, if your skin is prone to drying out, then you can minimize use to once or twice a week.

7. Clinique Clean Skin, Great Skin Sonic Brush

Mamelak said the oval-shaped brush allows better cleaning in hard to reach areas. The facial brush uses sonic vibration to cleanse the skin gently, making it safe for all skin types including sensitive. You can choose between four brush head attachments — Acne Solutions, City Block Purifying, Extra Gentle and Purifying — to cater to your specific skin issues. Clinique recommends you replace your brush head every three months for the best results.

8. Michael Todd Beauty Petite Soniclear Facial Cleansing Brush

Michael Todd Beauty says its facial cleansing brush features 20,000 antimicrobial bristles to help cleanse your face the recommended once a day. It boasts an automatic timer that beeps every 20 seconds alerting you it’s time to move onto a new section of your face.The brand says its device is waterproof and has three sonic speeds to buff away debris.

9. Conair True Glow Facial Brush

Conair is more known for its array of hot tools rather than skin care gadgets. However, this facial cleansing brush may be worth testing out, especially given that it is the most affordable model on our list. The AAA battery-powered device is equipped with three brush heads — cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing — and has two speed settings: high and low.

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Nicole Saunders, Shop TODAY contributed.