Motorized Facial Brushes: Harmful or Helpful?

facial brushI usually like to focus on doing product reviews based on what we love and use at the spa, leaving the rest to all of the great beauty bloggers out there. But the motorized brush (the most popular being the Clarisonic) has become so popular that I ask you to consider the following  information if you’re currently using or considering purchasing one. 

These are the effects and changes in the skin I have observed in clients who have used a motorized brush as directed by the manufacturer:

What are the motorized brush company claims?

1. Removes makeup six times better than manual cleansing

The electric brush is really just one exfoliating tool to physically lift off dry, dead skin cells and, in the process, remove dirt and makeup. But the truth is that you can only remove so much dead skin without affecting live skin. You do not want to exfoliate to the point of destroying healthy cells.

2. Gentle enough to use twice a day

My problem is not with the brush itself, because exfoliating is very important. However, I do have a concern with how often they recommend using it. It is my belief that this is way too much of this kind of exfoliation, I generally recommend using it no more than 2-3 times per week.

You have to understand how exfoliation affects the skin. An electric (or hand-held manual brush for that matter), facial scrub, acid, enzyme, wash cloth, or whatever form of cell-turn method you use can cause skin damage and may accelerate aging if used too frequently.

3. Minimizes the appearance of visible pores

Exfoliating too aggressively and too often can create inflammation (even if not visible), setting off a response that creates free radicals.

4. Reduces oily areas, dry skin patches, and blemishes

Exfoliating too aggressively and too often can cause dryness and disrupt the skin’s lipid barrier. This allows moisture to seep out of the cells more easily, causing them to become dehydrated. Your skin will produce more oil to compensate for the fluid loss.

5. Safe for cleansing all skin types

This just isn’t true. Excessive (or the wrong kind) of stimulation to the skin can be damaging, especially for clients with a skin disorder like rosacea.

6. Recommended for use with any non-abrasive cleanser

Definitely don’t use an abrasive or even a sudsing (pH modifying surfactant) cleanser. But this device seems to be used primarily by the “more is better” crowd, and I’ll bet some users are adding a grainy scrub.

Here are a few skin facts:

A major cause of aging is chronic and prolonged inflammation, which is associated with tissue destruction.

When you give the skin trauma, it goes into repair mode and stimulates cellular regeneration. This can be very beneficial to the skin, but if you create trauma too often by over-exfoliating, then it’s continually setting up a cascade of free radical damage that triggers premature aging. This is the last thing the skin needs to stay looking young.

For skin that is extremely reactive to stimulation (skin of color and for those prone to severe discoloration) you need to treat your skin gently to avoid post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation resulting in increased skin discoloration.

You do want your skin hygienically clean, but not clean like you want your kitchen floor. There is a certain amount of good bacteria that the skin needs to keep it healthy and functioning well, so you don’t want to strip it by over-using any product or tool.

What’s the right amount of exfoliation?

These are my favorite forms of exfoliation but they must be tailored to the individual’s skin type and condition, as well as personal skincare habits:

  • Use an alcohol-free Glycolic (AHA or BHA serum 1-3 times a week ) as recommended by a skincare specialist for your individual skin type and condition: Power Peel.
  • A gentle facial scrub like  Power Scrub OR your brush 2-3 times a week—and that’s it. The idea here is that using a fruit/food acid serum will dissolve the dry skin cells while a physical exfoliant like a scrub or brush will lift off the dry skin cells. They both work differently.
  • Cleansing Oil exfoliates (by the gentle massage action you use to apply it), and deeply cleanses because the skin doesn’t “resist” or tighten to the medium of oil as it is symbiotic with the oil found naturally in the skin. If red-flags go up when I use the phrase “cleansing oil”  know that we use individual  formulas designed for oily, acne-prone, sensitive and dry skin types.
  • A professional Resurfacing Treatment should be performed regularly. Recommendations for frequency vary, but the most effective is ten days to two weeks apart..

See you at the spa!