The Best Face Cleansing Brushes of 2018By Jessica Teich
“Why do I need a facial cleansing device when I’ve got two hands that do the job just fine?” I'm glad you asked, reader. By and large, these handheld, waterproof devices clean your face with a soft, rotating brush. You still need your favorite facial soap, and you'll need to remove eye makeup beforehand, too. So why invest?
"The devices clean a little more aggressively than your hands," says Kelly Viavattine, senior esthetician at Kate Somerville in Los Angeles. "They can really help remove dirt, oil, makeup to keep your skin nice and soft, and help keep your pores clean."
Though I’m a beauty editor, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of their efficiency. But two weeks of testing five top-rated devices has left my sensitive skin feeling smoother and looking more even-toned than it ever has—ever. So now we know they're worth your money, but how can you know which one to pick?
We narrowed down the massive market to test top-rated picks from $20 to $170. We were shocked that the most-expensive Clarisonic Mia 2 (available at Sephora for $169.00) blew away the competition, though we were also impressed by budget pick Etereauty Facial Brush ($22). The rest are hardly worth a second look.
To learn how we tested and selected the brushes, jump to how we tested or scroll to the bottom of the article. Here are the best facial cleansing devices, in order:
- Clarisonic Mia 2
- Etereauty Facial Brush
- FOREO LUNA
- Vanity Planet Spin for Perfect Skin
- Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing System with Facial Brush
Updated March 21, 2018
Clarisonic Mia 2
Clarisonic Mia 2best overall
Our main takeaway: A tried-and-true classic that’s in a league of its own.
Included brush heads: One brush head, and an included gel facial cleanser.
Cost of one-year ownership: $223*
Settings: Two—delicate for sensitive cleansing, and universal for removing makeup or pre-anti-aging regime.
The details: There’s a reason why Clarisonic is a top-of-mind brand for facial cleansing devices. It is the priciest device we tested, but in this case, you absolutely get what you pay for: Nothing else even comes close to the Mia 2.
Its technology is different—and better—than the competition. The Mia 2's brush doesn’t rotate a full 360 degrees on a loop, but rather gently oscillates in a way that feels almost like a vibration. It's the most gentle, but it gives the most thorough-feeling clean without stripping or irritating skin. Bristles are feather-soft on the included Radiance brush head, yet the one-minute cycle left my face cleansed and smooth.
The included cleanser smells great and doesn’t leave skin feeling tight or filmy. Alerts every 15 seconds ensure that you don’t spend too much time on one section of your face, and when the cleaning cycle concludes, the device automatically shuts off. You can also pause the cycle as needed.
To be clear, the device is not perfect: Its handle feels too short and the design looks slightly juvenile compared to the competition. It also lacks a stand, so the device has to teeter on its side on a dirty countertop or shelf. Even so, it still blows the competition out of the water.
Etereauty Facial Brush
Etereauty Facial Brushbest value
Our main takeaway: A great budget pick with super-soft bristles and lots of brush head options.
Included brush heads: Five—Two brushes for facial cleansing, a sponge for makeup removal, a pumice stone for removing calluses, and a large brush for body cleansing.
Cost of one-year ownership: $70
Settings: Two—High-speed for deep cleaning and low-speed for gentle cleansing.
The details: This reasonably priced device is a great economical pick. Its sleek, ergonomic design is the best of the lot, beating even the Mia 2. The device comes with five brush heads for everything from body cleansing to buffing rough heels, which makes it the most diverse, too. It's the only device to come with a stand to keep the brush head off dirty bathroom counters.
Despite being one-third the price of the Mia 2, it couldn't clinch the top spot for a few reasons. Its technology is very barebones. There is only one speed setting to get the brush head spinning 360 degrees, and there are no timer or alerts: You just cleanse until you feel done.
Also, the brush heads aren't the best quality. Even the softest head was a little scratchy on my face, and it showed significant wear after just one use, but my face still felt gently cleansed without being stripped. The buttons are also tough to find and press beneath a rubber screen, but it is a great pick if you want a budget-friendly device with a little more versatility.
Our main takeaway: Great technology that gets overshadowed by its inefficiency in cleaning.
Included brush heads: The device has two sides, one with thin bristles to gently clean sensitive skin, and the other with thicker bristles for more intense cleansing.
Cost of one-year ownership: Just the initial $139, no refills needed.
Settings: Eight levels of vibration intensity.
The details: The technology of this device is near-flawless, so it’s unfortunate that this vibrating, silicone device is one of the least effective cleansers we tested.
Here’s the good: The device is easily charged, transported, and stands up on end for convenient, sanitary storage. Its silicone bristles are much more hygienic and economical: You never have to replace brush heads. It has a timer and LED lights to alert you when your cleansing cycle is complete, an auto shut-off after three minutes, and a memory function that remembers your preferences.
Unfortunately, none of that matters if the device doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. It vibrates instead of oscillates, so your face won’t feel clean or exfoliated after use—just stimulated, if anything. Like we’ve found with other FOREO devices, the face of the device is too big, so tight corners and narrow patches of your face get neglected.
It’s also uncomfortable to hold. Since there’s no handle, your hand gets full of soap and water, and the vibrations are irritating. If the technology of the LUNA were packaged in another device, it would be a slam dunk. Until then, skip it.
Vanity Planet Spin for Perfect Skin
Vanity Planet Spin for Perfect Skin
Our main takeaway: A forgettable, middle-of-the-road device that’s neither great nor terrible.
Included brush heads: Four—A daily cleansing brush, an exfoliating brush, a large body brush, and a pumice stone.
Cost of one-year ownership: $70
Settings: Just one—on and off.
The details: This device is a pass for us—you're better off with the better performing (and less expensive) Etereauty. This device has just one setting and the brush head twirls skin a little during cleansing. Even the bristles on its softest head are too abrasive, and the motor seems to struggle a bit when you press it to your skin. It didn’t leave my skin feeling as soft or clean as the Etereauty or the Mia 2, and it lacks a timer or any alerts.
While this is definitely not the worst device we tested and can generally get the job done, it also didn't stand out in any capacity.
Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing System with Facial Brush
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing System with Facial BrushAvoid
Our main takeaway: A glitchy, weak device with a very harsh brush head.
Included brush heads: One cleansing brush head.
Cost of one-year ownership: $43
Settings: Two—High-speed for daily deep cleaning and low-speed for gentle exfoliation, and an included exfoliating cleanser.
The details: Leave this Olay device at the drugstore. It took a lot of trial and error to even turn on the device, and when I pressed the brush to my face, the motor struggled immensely and slowed down. The brush head is rough and feels too abrasive, even on the lowest speed setting.
Its poor design twirled my skin and spun my nose uncomfortably, and the included cleanser left my skin feeling tight, irritated, and visibly red. Lastly, it lacks a timer for efficient cleaning. There are really no redeeming qualities, here.
How We Tested
There are tons of face cleansing devices out there, each one with more bells and whistles than the last and with price points all over the map. How can you know which one is worth it? We scoured reviews to find the most-loved devices on the market, and tested each one over a few weeks.
How? The same way you might: I took each brush home and used it to buff my face clean, morning and night with the included cleanser. Unlike the way you may test, though, we re-tested top performers for further evaluation. At the end of each test, we scored the results on a scientifically calibrated rubric to find which cleansing device really is best. I answered and weighted questions like:
Usability: Is it easy to charge the device, and if it needs batteries, are they included? Are the controls easy to press and understand? How noisy is the device? Does it have any special features, like a timer, sanitization, or extra cleansing settings? Does it have numerous brush heads for different types of cleaning or skin types? If it comes with a cleanser, how do you like it?
Subjective: How does your face feel after using this device? Is it noticeably smoother and cleaner, or does it feel dried out and irritated?
Storage: Is it easy to clean the device to prevent bacteria from spreading between uses? Does it come with a case to sanitarily store brush heads? Does the device come with a mount or holder to keep it off germy counters or shower shelves?
Waterproofing: Does the device run without issue in the shower? Can it be submerged in a bucket of water for 30 seconds, so you can wash it repeatedly without worry?
Cost: We also measured each device’s true cost for a year of ownership. While the handle should last a while, brush heads across the board are recommended for replacement every three months. We calculated the expense of four normal replacement heads, and added that to the initial investment of the device itself. While these estimates didn't impact scores, they’re important to consider before buying.