Which Cleansing Brush Is Best?

IntroImageIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
When mechanical cleansing brushes first became a thing, the word on everyone's lips was simply Clarisonic. It became an instant must-have for those of us obsessed with the quest for cleaner, more radiant skin. People who used it claimed it accomplished miracles.
Since its release, of course, several similar products have become available. Each promises the same end result, with some variations on the means to get there. And, as our skin-care culture becomes more and more obsessed with exfoliation, there's even been an interest in returning to pre-mechanized exfoliating tools, like textured sponges.
We wanted to settle the debate once and for all on which brush (or sponge) reigns supreme. So, we decided to try them out with a good old-fashioned product smackdown, using our colleagues as our lab rats (they're good sports). We had each participant use one exfoliation tool for a week, and then we snapped a portrait to check out their skin. Read on for their weeklong journeys into the world of exfoliation.

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ProductSmackdown_LeeannIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
The product: Clarisonic's Aria Facial Sonic Cleansing
The face: Leeann Duggan, style features editor
"My skin is oily, and over the past few years, I've noticed that the pores on my nose are growing. I've also been breaking out in whiteheads on the side of my nose lately. I've been really curious about people's Clarisonic devotion, but have had my doubts that it'd solve my skin woes.
"My first impression was, 'This thing looks fancy.' So smooth and and white and hefty — it looked like a really expensive vibrator (which, I guess it basically is). I was intimidated by the long instruction booklet, but essentially you just wet the brush and apply your cleanser to it (it comes with one). Then you just hit the "on" button. At that point, the brush starts shaking like the dickens, and you gently massage your skin in a circular fashion, feeling like you're in an infomercial.
"On days one through three, it made my skin feel really smooth and clean — but, my pores looked exactly the same. By day five, I thought my pores looked a little bit smaller, and by day six, they definitely were. By day seven, I'd stopped wearing foundation — the better to show off my pin-point pores, darlings. Oh, and my skin's soft as a Snuggie and zit-free since day three. This thing is the real-deal, folks. Aria, you complete me."
$199, available at Clarisonic.
ProductSmackdown_NehaIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
The product: Konjac Sponge Company French Pink Clay Sponge
The face: Neha Ghandi, executive editor, features
"I've been using cleansing brushes, off and on, for four or five years, now. I started with the Clarisonic — because it was fancy and exciting — but promptly stopped using it because I think it was making my skin break out.
"So, when I was asked to try the konjac sponge, I was totally game. Full dislosure: I used it sort of wrong the first two days. But, once I read Megan's story with all the neatly outlined expert advice, I smartened up. For the past five days, I've been using it correctly, and I really enjoy the way the sponge makes the lather of my cleanser (Shiseido's Ibuki) feel richer. And, it makes my skin look glowier and fresher at night, just after I've rinsed off. In fact, I like the feel of the sponge so much, I do another mini-scrub with it right before I've completely rinsed all the lather off my face.
"I need a few more weeks with it to be sure about this. But, this is the time of the month where I always see exactly one medium-sized, painful pimple, and this month, there isn't one. If that were to continue on for the next month or two, I would probably become a lifetime convert."
$11.99, available at Spirit Beauty Lounge.
ProductSmackdown_SaraIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
The product: Olay Pro X Advanced Cleansing System
The Face: Sarah Azpeitia, UX & product designer
"I've never used a cleansing brush before. The first time I used this, it felt very soft on my skin. I was expecting more dragging, but it was gentle and still got the job done.
"After using it the first time, I noticed an immediate change when I got out of the shower. When I looked in the mirror, my face looked smooth and shiny — like a pebble. My pores were also noticeably smaller.
"I used Vichy Normaderm Daily Gentle Cream Cleanser with the brush, which doesn't produce much foam — and that's a good thing, because the brush's rotations generate more foam than your hands usually would. After a week, I've noticed less breakouts, smaller pores, and some blemishes fading. I am very happy with this brush and will continue to use it every day!"
$25.99, available at Soap.com.
ProductSmackdown_BrittneeIllustrated by Gabriela Alford.
The product: Foreo Luna
The face: Brittnee Cann, QA Analyst
"I've been using the Clarisonic Mia II for over a year, but was excited to try the Foreo Luna as the design is so different from what I am used to. The Luna provided a much gentler exfoliation so I was able to use it every day without side effects like dryness or the dreaded "pore purge" — both of which I have experienced before with overuse of the Clarisonic.
"The Luna has two different pulsing modes, cleansing and anti-aging, and you can further adjust the speed of both. However, I'm not convinced that they provide drastically differing results. One thing I did like was how the Luna let me scrub for as long as I needed (whereas the Clarisonic has a timer and shuts off after one minute of use). Additionally, the Luna eliminates the need for buying replacement brush heads which is a nice money-saving bonus! My biggest gripe was how the fixed shape of the brush head was not able to contour around my nose and into creases where blackheads like to live the most.
"Honestly, I was a little disappointed in the results. I felt like my skin was a little bit smoother by the end of the week, but it didn't control my shine or blast away blackheads as much as I'd hope it would."
$199, available at Foreo.

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