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The NågraCoola Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush earned top marks for being gentle yet effective, relatively affordable, and safe for sensitive skin
We’ll try just about anything to remove pesky blackheads — but with all of the messy peel-off masks and magic-promising tech gadgets screaming for our attention, we couldn’t help but wonder whether there was a simpler way to cultivate clear skin. Enter: facial cleansing brushes. (Hold for applause.)
The basic principle behind the magic (okay, science) of facial cleansing brushes' skin-cleaning ability is the infamous process of exfoliation. According to Dr. Rachel Cayce, board-certified dermatologist and Physicians Coalition member, it’s entirely normal for skin to accumulate a surface layer of dead skin cells. But by gently removing them with an exfoliating facial cleansing brush, “you can get an improved texture and ‘brightness’ to your skin, similar to dermabrasion,” Dr. Cayce tells PEOPLE.
With all this talk of clear skin, you might be wondering which facial cleansing brushes can get you the results you’re dreaming of. That’s where we come in, with extensive testing and research in our PEOPLE Tested labs to deliver you a list of the best facial cleansing brushes on the market. We tested 20 of the best-selling brushes and came away with these six best.
Keep reading to discover your next favorite skin tool, tested by PEOPLE.
Best Overall: NågraCoola Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush
Offers 5 different vibration levels and a heated mode that feels spa-like and luxurious
Brush is waterproof, so you can use it in the shower
Charges with a convenient contact magnetic charging port
Gentle enough for sensitive skin
We genuinely can’t think of any!
Powering through layers of makeup, sunscreen, and skincare, this vibrating sonic brush washed away the competition and earned its crown as the best facial cleansing brush of 2023. It aced all of our tests and left our skin feeling refreshed, soft, and, most of all, clean. You can choose between five different vibration speeds, plus an extra “heated” mode that warms the brush head to help loosen buildup to thoroughly release the gunk of the day while you cleanse.
The brush’s silicon bristles feel mushy and gentle, even on sensitive skin, and the vibrations of up to 8,000 V-sonic pulsations a minute provided light exfoliation. The silicone grip felt comfortable in hand and didn’t get slippery when wet (the whole brush is waterproof, so you can even take it in the shower with you).
The Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush comes with a contact magnetic charging station that we found to be super convenient, and even after cutting through layers of foundation and concealer, all it took was a rinse and a quick pat dry with a soft towel to leave the device looking as good as new.
We perform all of our tests price-blind, meaning we don’t know how much anything costs before trying it out (as an attempt to fend off any possible bias), and we were jaw-to-the-floor shocked by how inexpensive this brush is. It performed better than even the fanciest, most high-tech cleansing brushes and still felt pretty luxurious for how simple and easy it was to use from the jump. Consider this one an easy add-to-cart!
How it’s held up:
Six months later, we still love this cleansing brush as much as we did the first time we tested it. We used the brush daily for about three months and only had to charge it once in that time. We continued to use the brush for another three months, reeling our usage back to two or three times a week for light exfoliating maintenance. We also love how easy it is to travel with.
Price at time of publish: $31.99 (orig. $59.99)
Bristle material: Silicone | Settings: 5 vibration speeds, heating function | Rechargeable: Yes, magnetic charging base
Best Customizable : Foreo Luna 3
Connected app allows you to customize vibrations
Timed setting and guidance for each part of your face
Bristle cleansing brush on one side, massage ridges on the other to both clean and massage the face while helping relieve muscle tension
Long-lasting battery lasts up to 650 uses before needing recharged
Took us some time to figure out how to change the preferences in the app (but once we became familiar, it was super helpful)
A favorite of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, this handheld Foreo Luna 3 is our top pick for anyone wanting a tool they can customize for their specific skin type and needs.
While testing, it fit comfortably in our palm and we were able to maintain the maximum amount of control as we glided it across our skin. We also were pleasantly surprised at how well the Foreo removed foundation, eyeshadow, and lipstick, leaving our skin feeling smooth, soft, and, above all else, clean.
While we didn't get to try all three of the different variations of this brush (they're assigned by color: Lavender is for sensitive skin, blue is for combination skin, and pink is for 'normal' or balanced skin), we found the lavender version to have excellent cleansing power despite being the least intense.
The Luna 3 comes with a connected app that provides visual guidance for how long to cleanse each quadrant of your face and allows you to customize the vibration intensity to your liking, which was especially helpful if new to using facial cleansing brushes. The surface of the brush head has soft bristles on one side for cleansing and extruding ridges on the other for light facial massage. And if you're a jaw-clencher or teeth-grinder, you might find this device actually helps relieve facial tension, too.
One charge with the portable USB cable will last you for up to 650 uses. While the connected app is smart, it's slightly unintuitive — it took a bit of sleuthing to figure out how to change the settings to customize our preferences. But, after some trail and error, this product was a delight to use.
How it’s held up:
The Foreo Luna 3 continued to provide us with a light, relaxing exfoliation and a deep clean that left our skin feeling soft and supple. We started our three-month testing journey by using the device multiple times a week but went down to just once a week to avoid over-exfoliation and found that we were able to continue to enjoy the soft-skin benefits without any redness or irritation.
Price at time of publish: $109.50 (orig. $219)
Bristle material: Silicone | Settings: Vibrates from level 1 to level 10; built-in timer; massage mode | Rechargeable: Yes
Best Budget: EZBasics Facial Cleansing Brush
5 vibration speed options and a 60-second timer allowed us to customize our experience
Wireless charging station is super convenient
Stiffer bristles allows for deeper exfoliation
Exfoliation might be too rough for everyday use
You shouldn’t have to shell out your whole paycheck to get clear, glowing skin. Luckily, this simple yet effective cleansing brush from Amazon is a dupe for a few of the more expensive facial cleansing brushes.
The brush fit nicely in the palm of our hand and was lightweight and easy to maneuver around the face. You can choose from 5 different vibration speeds that range from “light” to “strong.”
We particularly loved the 60-second timer function, which ensures that you don’t accidentally under or over-cleanse your face. The wireless charging is a pretty nifty function, too (plus, after one three-hour charge, the battery lasts for 200 uses before it needs to be recharged). All in all, we think that this brush’s moderately stiff bristles provide a deep clean and a moderate level of exfoliation, which might be too rough for sensitive skin types. Overall, though, this brush is a great value for the price.
How it’s held up:
Despite the low price, this brush continued to outperform some of the more expensive models that we tested. The battery lasted for more than a month of consistent use on just one charge, and the vibrations allowed us to get a deep clean while relaxing our facial muscles.
Price at time of publish: $19.98 (orig. $31.99)
Bristle material: Silicon | Settings: 5 vibration levels, 60-second timer | Rechargeable: Yes
Best Manual: Naturopathica Facial Cleansing Brush
Nylon bristles feel super soft on skin
No battery means no waiting for a charge
Feels luxurious despite the value
Doesn’t offer extra functions like vibration
Didn’t remove all of our makeup by itself
If you’re on the hunt for a cleansing brush that you’ll never have to worry about charging or replacing batteries, this Naturopathica Facial Cleansing Brush has our vote for the best manual device to gently clean your face. There’s basically no learning curve with this one — just wet your face with water and apply your favorite face wash, then use the brush head to massage the product into your skin.
After putting this manual brush to the test, we can confirm that the nylon bristles feel ultra-soft and gentle on the skin. The raised contours of the bristle head effectively reach around the natural curves and valleys of the face while delivering a light lymphatic massage that increases blood flow. The circular base can be a bit tricky to grip onto, but it was overall simple to manipulate this kabuki-style brush.
While we definitely felt that our skin was cleaner after using this brush than it would’ve been with a standard hand-cleanse, we were still left with a bit of makeup residue after passing over the skin with this brush four times. Of course, this could’ve been due to the waterproof nature of the makeup that we were wearing. But overall, this soft and stimulating brush feels like a simple luxury that would upgrade any skincare routine.
A note on cleaning the brush itself: We felt that we had to rinse it a few times and use a bit of scrubbing power with out fingers and some soap to get all of the makeup out, which in turn bent a few bristles. It also needs to be left out to dry for at least 24 hours to fully dry down given the density of the brush.
Price at time of publish: $21 (orig. $34)
Bristle material: Nylon | Settings: N/A | Rechargeable: N/A
Best Design: Buttah Skin Buttah Vibe Brush
Two vibration settings that deliver up to 10,000 sonic pulses per minute
Large brush surface area helped us clean our face faster
Gently exfoliates and left our skin feeling soft
Battery-powered and not rechargeable (although we appreciate the batteries are included)
Only two setting options
Took a few washes to completely clean the brush head after use
The fresh-face skin vibes are immaculate with this palm-sized cleansing brush in hand. The Buttah Vibe Brush performed well in all our tests, leaving our skin feeling silky-smooth with an impressive level of exfoliation sans irritation. It fits nicely in hand and even has a larger surface area than most of the other cleansing devices we tested. Plus, the brush’s anti-microbial silicone bristles helped to create a foamier lather than we’d be able to achieve with just our hands and soap alone.
You can choose between two different vibration speeds, either soft or strong, that reach up to 10,000 sonic pulses per minute. If your skin is sensitive to the vibrations, you can also choose to forego these modes altogether. The device requires double AA batteries, and though we wish that it was rechargeable, we do appreciate that the batteries are included with purchase.
The brush head needed a few washes to fully clean off soap and leftover makeup after use, but with how glowy our skin looked after using the Buttah Vibe Brush, we think the bit of extra elbow grease is worth it.
How it’s held up:
When we craved a deeper clean than our hands alone could provide, we appreciated the Buttah brush’s silicone bristles and wide surface area. Over six months of further testing, we did start to feel that perhaps the brush surface area is a bit too large for a precise cleansing, but that aside, it continued to perform well.
Price at time of publish: $37.80 (orig. $54)
Bristle material: Silicone | Settings: Low/soft, high/strong | Rechargeable: No, requires two AA batteries
Best with Facial Massage: RoseSkinCo. Petal 2 Ultrasonic Facial Cleansing Brush
Includes a circulating massage function that most other cleansing brushes on the market don’t offer
Vibrates with 10,000 ultrasonic pulsations per minute
Sleek design with convenient countertop brush stand
We wish the on/off buttons were more clearly marked for a more seamless user experience
Say hello to your new favorite skin tool. We were so thoroughly impressed with the performance and design of the RoseSkinCo. Petal 2 cleansing brush that we'd consider purchasing for friends and family. It easily took off our makeup without irritating the skin, and not only does this brush vibrate with 10,000 ultrasonic pulsations per minute, it also actually massages the skin with rotating magnetic balls that sit inside the silicon brush head casing (which is great for relieving muscle tension).
One of the best parts of this cleansing brush is its compact countertop stand, which is small enough on even the most crowded of vanities. The brush handle itself fits well in hand and is easy to maneuver around the face to reach every nook and cranny.
Our only critique of this massaging facial brush is that the buttons on the handle to turn it on and change the speed aren’t clearly labeled, so it took a bit of time to figure out during our first use. But once we got a feel for the brush’s controls, the RoseSkinCo. Brush quickly became one of our favorite cleansing brushes that we tried for its gentle, relaxing massage and sleek design.
Price at time of publish: $49
Bristle material: Silicone | Settings: Vibrating and massaging | Rechargeable: Yes
Things to Consider When Buying a Facial Cleansing Brush
One of the nifty features that facial brushes can offer is sonic vibration, which creates a relaxing kind of buzzing sensation on the skin. While this massage function can feel really nice on the skin, it’s not a necessary component of skin cleansing. Electric facial cleansing brushes require batteries or charging cables, so if you don’t want to deal with either of those things, you might prefer a standard manual cleansing brush that relies on your own handheld pressure and movement.
There is a wide variety of cleansing brush material on the market, but which one is really the best? While much of it comes down to personal preference and skin concern, opting for antibacterial, medical-grade silicone (like the Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush) can help to prevent bacteria buildup on the brush and help to keep skin clear, and is also often easier to clean than hair-like bristles.
Facial cleansing brushes can offer a variety of different functions, such as vibration, massage, or timers. Brushes with timers can help ensure that you don’t over-cleanse, which is why we loved the EZBasics Facial Cleansing Brush, which stops vibrating after 60 seconds of use.
How We Tested
To find out which facial cleansing brush truly outperforms the rest, we started our testing process with a full face of makeup (foundation, concealer, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, and blush). We then consulted our chosen device’s instruction manual if included and got familiar with all of the functions. We wet the head of each brush with warm water and squeezed a quarter-sized amount of cleanser to the damp brush head. Using small circles to glide the brush over the face, we then used each brush for two minutes, utilizing any vibration function for those that had them.
After thoroughly cleansing with each brush, we used a basin of water to rinse off the soap and makeup. We then gently patted our skin dry with a white towel and inspected the towel to see if any leftover makeup smudges had been missed by the cleanse and rinse. We noted how our skin felt after cleansing, whether it felt clean or if there was still makeup left on the skin. We then washed each brush head with warm water to test the ease of cleaning.
After all of our tests were complete, we rated each brush on a scale of 1 to 5 for ease of use, comfort, and ease of cleaning. At the end of our testing process, we came away with the six best facial cleansing brushes to leave skin feeling soft and clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are facial cleansing brushes good for the skin?
According to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Cayce, facial cleansing brushes help exfoliate dead skin cells and improve skin texture and brightness. But the frequency and type of exfoliation that is best for you is highly dependent on your unique skin type. Over-exfoliating can lead to redness and irritation and can also trigger breakouts, so it’s important not to overdo it to keep your skin barrier healthy and intact.
Do facial cleansing brushes remove blackheads?
Facial cleansing brushes can be a helpful tool in clearing up acne, including blackheads. Dr. Cayce tells PEOPLE, “Anyone can use a cleansing brush, but the most common use is for acne-prone skin.” Blackheads can form when dead skin and oil buildup in the pores is exposed to the air and oxidizes, which causes them to turn black. Regular, gentle exfoliation, such as the kind you get from a facial cleansing device, can help remove and prevent the buildup of debris in the pores and minimize the appearance and frequency of blackheads.
What is the best facial cleansing brush?
While the best facial cleansing brush for you depends on your personal preference and skin type, our favorite brush is the Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this tool — with multiple vibration modes, squishy silicone bristles, and even a heated function, this Amazon pick feels like a luxury device for under $30.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Cai Cramer is a Commerce Writer at PEOPLE, covering the best and buzziest products across the beauty, fashion, health, and lifestyle spaces. For this story, Cai analyzed the best facial cleansing brushes tested in our PEOPLE Tested lab. Each brush was tested by a real person, and the best were taken home for longer-term three-month and six-month testing. Cai also spoke with Dr. Rachel Cayce, board-certified dermatologist and Physicians Coalition member, to inform this story.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.