Best Exfoliating Brushes

Updated February 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
135 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best exfoliating brushes

Skincare is an important daily practice, and one of the best ways to improve how your skin looks and feels is through exfoliation. Simply put, exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells from the outermost layers of your skin. Exfoliation can improve circulation, brighten your skin, and leave it looking younger and clearer.

One way to exfoliate is to physically brush the skin. To do this, you might use an exfoliating brush with bristles specially designed for the face or body. Brushing is commonly done on wet skin, though it can be one on dry skin as well.

Exfoliating brushes aren't expensive but finding the right one for your needs takes time and consideration. There are plenty of exfoliation methods, so before you reach for a brush, it’s a good idea to understand all of your options. In this guide, we let you know who might best be served by an exfoliating brush and how to find the right one for your skincare needs.

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Some skincare products, like those geared toward fighting acne, may lead to adverse effects if used in conjunction with an exfoliating brush. Check the label on your skincare products before you exfoliate.

Key considerations

Advantages

An exfoliating brush can provide much-needed relief to the skin that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. Without the proper tool, dead skin cells can build up, leaving your skin looking dull and unhealthy. Most washcloths aren’t able to penetrate as deeply or as strongly as an exfoliating brush.

A brush can take the place of chemical exfoliators that are applied to the face and other parts of the body. In addition, many users suggest that an exfoliating brush can help ease razor bumps for those who shave.

Skin type

Your skin type dictates to what extent you should exfoliate with a brush, if at all. Those with oily skin can greatly benefit from an exfoliating brush, as the process helps remove excess layers that clog pores. Anyone with normal skin can use an exfoliating brush effectively as well. People with combination skin may benefit, though it’s advisable to brush gently and infrequently at first. As you take note of how your skin reacts, you may be able to increase the amount and intensity.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, it may be best to avoid exfoliating with a brush or any mechanical device, as this can dry and irritate the complexion. Instead, consider exfoliation by chemical means, such as a skin peel.

Wet or dry brushing

Water may help prevent irritation when brushing the skin. This is one aim of wet exfoliating brushes designed for shower use. However, some exfoliating brushes specifically promote dry brushing, which may impart added health benefits.

Dry brushing is part of a holistic approach to health. In addition to exfoliation, it may also help rid the body of toxins, thereby improving the lymphatic system and aiding the immune system. Dry brushing may also help lessen cellulite buildup.

Notably, the benefits of dry brushing are mostly anecdotal and not scientifically proven. However, there seem to be few or no negative effects other than possible irritation, which may occur with wet brushing as well. Dry brushing should be done gently in a pattern that equally covers the body without over-exfoliating any one area. Most users also tout relaxation benefits.

Bristles

The bristles on an exfoliating brush may be made from plant fibers, animal hair, or synthetic materials. The degree of bristle coarseness determines how effective and comfortable the brush is. Not everyone will respond to the same material and coarseness the same way, and different parts of the body may require different degrees of pressure.

Boar’s hair is a common material, as are sisal fibers, which are eco-friendly and often preferred by vegan consumers. The best way to find out what works for you is to try one. In some cases, you may be able to get a refund on a brush that doesn’t suit your needs.

Handle

When choosing an exfoliating brush, consider the length and shape of the handle. A long handle provides better reach over the body but also less control. Some brushes have no handle at all; instead, you might strap the brush on your hand. A strap-on brush may prove convenient, especially when exfoliating the feet and legs, where more pressure and control are often needed.

Caution1
Caution
Avoid exfoliating areas with cuts or scrapes. This could inflame your skin and cause discomfort, especially when dry brushing.
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Features

Massage

Some brushes are meant to massage as well, especially those with softer bristles. In addition to exfoliating, you might find a relaxing element to the brush. 

Detachable head

We mentioned that some exfoliating brushes have handles while others don’t. Some models offer the best of both worlds with a detachable head. You can use the handle for hard-to-reach places, then remove it to reach places that require greater pressure or dexterity.

Sets and bundles

Some exfoliating brushes come with other skincare items, such as tweezers, exfoliating gloves, or additional brushes. You may find a handy travel bag or pouch to use as well.

Motorized exfoliation

A motorized exfoliating brush does the work for you. The rotating motor is much like the kind found in an electric toothbrush or razor. Motorized exfoliating brushes may be for dry or wet use, so check the label. Keep in mind that some skin types require less pressure and speed than others. For some skin types, a motorized brush may not be worth the extra expense.

Avoid sharing your exfoliating brush with anyone else, as this practice can easily spread bacteria from one person to another.

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Accessories

Facial cleanser: EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser

Before exfoliating, take time to cleanse your face. We recommend this gentle yet effective cleanser, which blends amino acids and enzymes to boost the complexion.

Facial moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

After you exfoliate, replenish your skin with moisturizer. One of our favorites is this highly rated body lotion by CeraVe, a trusted name in skincare.

Exfoliating brush prices

Inexpensive: You can find a decent exfoliating brush for under $10. These will likely be geared toward wet brushing and may or may not feature a handle.

Mid-range: Most exfoliating brushes cost $10 to $15. They may be for wet or dry brushing and often include a handle.

Expensive: Exfoliating brush bundles and other high-end brushes, including motorized options, tend to cost over $15. These products may be made of natural wood or fiber to appeal to eco-conscious consumers. A two-pack of high-quality exfoliating brushes may cost $30 or more.

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Did You Know?
The need to exfoliate isn’t unique to certain individuals. Skin is constantly regenerating, which means dead skins regularly appear and need to be removed.
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BestReviews

Tips

  • Determine your skin type before exfoliating. While everyone can benefit from exfoliation, your skin type determines the best way to go about it. Some parts of your body may benefit more from brushing than others.
  • Watch for irritation. When using a new brush, monitor your skin to see how it reacts. If you notice redness or irritation, you may be brushing too hard or too often.
  • Cleanse before you exfoliate. The process of exfoliation allows your skin to better absorb moisturizer and other products. In most cases, it is best to cleanse first. Then, exfoliate and apply skincare products.
  • Brush in the same direction. Use a vertical direction on your legs, stomach, back, and arms. When exfoliating your neck and shoulders, brush downward.
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Get into the habit of exfoliating in the morning. Your skin replenishes itself overnight, so the beginning of the day is the best time to rid yourself of dead skin cells.

FAQ

Q. How often should I use an exfoliating brush?

A. The frequency with which you should exfoliate with a brush depends on your skin type as well as the weather. People with dry skin may only want to exfoliate once or twice a week. (In winter when the air is dry, this frequency may apply to others as well.) People with oily skin may benefit from exfoliating three times a week. Monitor your skin for redness and irritation, which will likely occur if you exfoliate too often.

Q. What’s the best method of exfoliating with a brush?

A. If you plan to exfoliate your entire body, start with your feet and work your way up. Avoid brushing too heavily in one area. Apply more force on areas where the skin is thicker, such as the feet, knees, or elbows. Apply less pressure on areas where the skin is thinner and more sensitive, particularly around the face and pubic area. If you’re not already using water when you brush, be sure to rinse off the dead skin and flakes afterward.

Q. How should I maintain my exfoliating brush?

A. Every time you use your brush, it comes into contact with dead, dry skin. Therefore, you should rinse your brush after every use. Dry it in a well-ventilated space. Once or twice a week, apply warm water and soap to the brush for a thorough cleaning. When the bristles start to bend or fall off, it’s time to invest in a new brush.

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