What Is an Exfoliating Face Brush?

Kelly Ferguson

An exfoliating face brush attempts to clear away dead skin cells that may be blocking pores and causing acne or ingrown hairs. Many manufacturers of exfoliating face brushes also claim that the brush helps the user attain a brighter, more youthful appearance, smoothing skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It is typically shaped like a smaller version of a shower brush, with a small round head and an attached handle to one side similar to a toothbrush, although there are plenty of other shapes and handle positions to choose from for the best reach and control.

Exfoliation may help to prevent ingrown hairs.
Exfoliation may help to prevent ingrown hairs.

To avoid damaging or irritating the delicate skin of the face, an exfoliating face brush has very soft bristles. It is best if the bristles bend easily with pressure, because if they are too stiff it might be easier for users to scrub too vigorously and damage the facial skin. Generally, an exfoliating face brush should be used with a facial cleanser that lubricates the bristles, clean the face, and help wash away dead skin cells, oil, and other debris. The brush also acts as a way to distribute a facial cleanser without needing to use the fingertips, which may transfer oil or dirt to the face. Most users report having the best results when scrubbing very gently in a circular motion.

Preventing breakouts is best done through an exfoliating facial wash, either using a special cleanser or a brush.
Preventing breakouts is best done through an exfoliating facial wash, either using a special cleanser or a brush.

It is very important to properly sanitize the exfoliating face brush after every use. Do not allow the brush, or any other products used on the face, to collect dirt, bacteria and other debris because that can cause irritation, rashes, or acne and infections. Additionally, the collected bacteria may invade through the nostrils, eyes, or mouth and cause infection. The bristles should be allowed to fully and thoroughly dry between uses instead of remaining moist. As with any other face or body product, replace the exfoliating face brush periodically to ensure that an older product that may have some trapped bacteria or mold is not used on the face or other areas of the body.

Some brands offer a type of exfoliating face brush that includes special features such a vibration or pulse option. This feature is intended to help the brush more effectively remove dead skin cells and dry, flaky patches of skin to make the skin as smooth as possible. This and other available add-ons, however, often make the brushes much more expensive than the basic models and may not add enough of a benefit to be worth it for some customers.

Bacteria on an exfoliating brush may invade through the nostrils.
Bacteria on an exfoliating brush may invade through the nostrils.

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Discussion Comments


@anamur-- Yea, they exfoliate so well, that they eventually damage the capillaries on the face. I'm speaking from experience.

A regular facial brush is much better and some high end brands like Dermalogica, Sephora and Lancome have face exfoliator brushes suitable for everyday use. I'm using one right now that's very soft and gentle and exfoliates well too.


@MikeMason-- Why don't you just get a sonic dermabrasion face cleansing brush tool? Those exfoliate really well and you can get a super-soft brush for it.


When I was in Japan, I picked up a really cool little face brush for blackheads. It was made of silicone and I would massage my face with it several times a week using face wash to exfoliate and clean blackheads on my nose. I used it for almost a year but last week, I had to throw it away because it was really past its expiration date.

I'm looking for a replacement exfoliating brush and I can't find anything! The ones I've seen online look really rough, with thick bristles. I have sensitive skin, so I'm scared that it will hurt to use it.

What type of exfoliating facial brush are you guys using? And where did you get it?

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