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Facial Cleaning Tools

Tools for Facial Skin Care

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Updated January 31, 2014

Do you think your face needs a more thorough cleansing than it gets with just soap? If so, you're not alone. This need to clean the skin "better" has spurred the invention of different face cleaning tools. Beware. You may feel like you're getting a deeper clean. But, just like abrasive scrubs, these cleaning tools can cause too much dryness and tiny injuries on the face.

Let's take a look at four popular face cleaning tools and how they affect the skin.

Woven Mesh Sponge

The original mesh cleanser was the Buf-Puf. It was made of non-woven polyester fibers designed to unclog pores. The fibers were held together with a glue that didn't dissolve or soften after it was soaked in water. This made the fibers very stiff and harsh.

Now, Buf-Puf sponges are made of a softer woven mesh. They also come in four different "strengths" depending on how soft or firm the fibers are.

Facial Cloths

One of the most popular tools for cleaning the face is the facial cloth. Some cloths have soap and moisturizers embedded in them and lather after you get them wet. Others don't have a lathering soap and work more like a moist towelette. Because facial cloths are a good choice for many skin types, get more in-depth information about washing your face with facial cloths.

Cleansing Pouch

The cleansing pouch is actually a variation of the facial cloth. The pouch is made of two open-weave cloths that have holes of various diameters. A plastic membrane with cleanser embedded is sandwiched in between the cloths, and the size of the holes determines how much of the cleanser gets to the skin. While it does control the amount of cleanser that's released, the cleansing pouch doesn't exfoliate as much as a non-woven cleansing cloth.

Face Brush

The latest facial cleansing tool is the Clarisonic face brush, made by the same company that developed the Sonicare Toothbrush. And yes, this brush works like an electric toothbrush for the face.

It's a hand-held device that has an oscillating brush head with soft bristles. You use your own cleanser: The brush lathers it and cleanses your face. The level of exfoliation or irritation depends on the type of bristles used, the type of cleanser used, and the amount of pressure applied to the skin.

Is One Of These Tools Right For Me?

The makers of all these tools claim their products are gentle enough to use on your face, even if you have dry, sensitive skin. However, studies have shown that using a tool to exfoliate the face causes more dryness and irritation. Some types of facial cloths are an exception because they do little exfoliating. You can find out more about the best facial cleansing routine for your skin.

Dr. Brannon's Bottom Line

The woven mesh sponge and face brush are the most abrasive facial cleansing tools. If you have very oily skin, you might want to rotate one of these tools into your facial routine every couple of days to help exfoliate and remove sebum. If you don't have very oily skin, stick with a facial cloth designed for your skin sensitivity.

Sources:

Abbas, S et al. “Personal Cleanser Technology and Clinical Performance.” Dermatologic Therapy. 17S (2004): 35-42.

American Academy of Dermatology. "Cutting Through the Clutter: Making the Most of Your Facial Cleansing Routine.." Feb 21, 2005.

Draelos, Zoe. "Concepts in Skin Care Maintenance." Cutis 76S (2005): 19-25.

Ertel, Keith. "Personal Cleansing Products: Properties and Use." Cosmetic Formulation of Skin Care Products. Eds. Zoe Draelos and Lauren Thaman. London: Taylor & Francis, 2006. 54-6.

Subramanyan, K. "Role of mild cleansing in the management of patient skin." Dermatologic Therapy. 17 (2004): 26-34.

Wigger-Alberti, Walter, et al. “Effects of Various Grit-Containing Cleansers on Skin Barrier Function.” Contact Dermatitis. 41.3 (1999): 136-40.

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