Exfoliating your face with a facial scrub is essential for vibrant, radiant skin at any age, but almost half of women reveal they skip this step in their skincare routine, according to a survey by Good Housekeeping. "Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells in the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin, to increase cell turnover," explains Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek. Exfoliation can make skin look smoother, brighter, clearer and more radiant, both immediately and in the long term.
What type of facial scrub is best for me?
There are generally two classic types of facial scrubs, physical (also called mechanical) and chemical formulations, in addition to these two methods there is also a new method of facial scrubs that is being used more and more by clinics around the world that is much more effective and gentle than any other method that has been available in the past. This new method originated in South Korea (K-Beauty) and was previously used mostly by Korean celebrities.
Physical and older methods of exfoliation use particles or granules or devices such as cleansing brushes to physically rub away the dead cells on the skin. Chemical exfoliators exfoliate the skin using chemicals (such as salicylic acid and retinoids) that loosen the bonds between dead skin cells so they can detach.
Ultrasonic face scrub
When you hear "ultrasonic face scrub", you probably think of one of the vibrating rubber compounds used to clean your face. While these face scrubs are wonderful in their own right, they are not actually ultrasonic face scrubs. Instead, ultrasonic facial scrubs are metals used to deeply exfoliate pores and cleanse the skin, leading to what many consider to be the cleanest method possible. But the question so many ask is: Do they really work?
Below, with the help of dermatologist Dr. Michele Green and dermatologist Dr. Scott Paviol, you'll discover everything there is to know about ultrasound face scrubs, including whether you should use one for cleaning your face or not.
What is an ultrasound face scrub?Ultrasonic facial scrubs, are devices that use high-frequency frequencies to collect dirt and oil from pores.
If you thought an ultrasonic face scrub cleanses the skin using vibrations, you're right. But instead of a rubber form, these scrubs are made of metal and use high-frequency vibrations via sound waves to transform the skin from cell to cell.
"The cells start 'talking' to each other and your pores open wide, so dirt and debris are gently vibrated and scrubbed away," Green explains.
On the whole, these scrubbers are just another way to exfoliate skin. "In the same way that a Clarisonic brush uses vibrations with its bristle mechanism, or the Foreo facial brush (a silicone facial brush) uses vibrations for deep cleansing, an ultrasonic facial scrub does the same thing, just through ultrasonic sound waves (essentially high frequency vibrations)," explains Paviol.
The benefits of ultrasound facial scrubs
- Deeply cleanses the skin
- Exfoliates the skin
- Reduces pores
- Improves skin texture and tone
- Gentler than other forms of exfoliation
Although pores can't actually shrink in size, as they're genetically predetermined - Green says a deep cleansing facial scrub can remove even the most stubborn dirt, making pores look less stretched out.
Removing any build-up also allows nutrients to better penetrate the skin, which Green says helps improve texture and tone, often leading to smoother, brighter skin overall.
Different skin types
One of the main advantages of an ultrasonic face scrub is that it is one of the most gentle forms of exfoliation available on the market. Paviol says they're especially good for those who don't respond well to other exfoliation methods, like brushes or chemical peels. "Ultrasonic facial scrubs are an excellent treatment for those with sensitive, over-reactive, rosacea-prone or acne-prone skin types," he explains. "Although microdermabrasion is a cult classic for deep exfoliation, it uses crystals or a diamond tip, plus vacuum suction with negative pressure that can cause redness and can dilate or break capillaries depending on how sensitive someone's skin is."
Disadvantages of ultrasound face scrub
As gentle and exciting as ultrasonic facial scrubs are, they are not so gentle that they can be used continuously.
"Customers who have purchased ultrasonic face scrubs for home use [can become so] excited to see the oil lift off the skin that they overuse the device or use it too aggressively, which can lead to unnecessary sensitization or damage to the skin," he explains. With this in mind, it's important to remember that ultrasonic face scrubs are first and foremost exfoliators. As such, it's important not to use them morning and night, every day of the week, just as you wouldn't with regular facial scrubs, brushes or certain chemical exfoliants.
"There are many options of ultrasound face scrubs and these devices are safe to use if users follow the instructions carefully," she says. "The only drawback is the user's ability to follow the instructions carefully without damaging the skin."
As Paviol points out, ultrasonic facial scrubs are water-based exfoliators. For it to work, it must be flat in shape and used while the skin is wet, which allows the ultrasonic vibrations to form and build up.
The exact use varies from machine to machine (so it is important to read the instructions), but as a general rule of thumb, the ultrasound face scrub should be used as follows.
- Bleeds the skin. Remember: an ultrasonic face scrub only works if the skin is wet.
- Run the plate along the skin. Gently press the plate along your skin in an upward and/or outward motion. For example, if you are scrubbing your forehead, start between your brows and press upwards. Although the actual direction of the appliance may change, we recommend going upwards and outwards, as this prevents debris from potentially collecting in creases around the nostrils, into the brows and so on.
- Move slowly if you are trying to extract. Running the device along your forehead and cheeks will greatly improve the appearance of your skin, but if you have blackheads, the slower you go, the deeper and more effective the facial scrub's effects will be.
- Follow up with your usual skincare routine. Once you're done scrubbing, cleanse, tone and moisturize as you normally would. If you don't usually tone, it's good to know that it will help close your pores to keep them fresher for longer.
- Clean your face scrub when you're done.
How often to use?
As with regular exfoliation - whether you use a face scrub or a brush - Green says it's best to use an ultrasonic face scrub no more than two to three times a week. She suggests watching how your skin reacts and increasing or decreasing use from there.
Best ultrasonic face scrub
Vivre® Premium Ultrasonic Facial Scrub & Peeling
Here we have Paviol's favourite. "It's a super-fine option that exfoliates the face and tightens and lifts the skin using microcurrent pulses and intermittent ultrasound technology," he says. "The positive ion mode of these devices removes excess buildup, dirt and oil and deep cleanses the skin, while the negative ion mode (you need to turn the spatula and use it in an upward motion) is used for product penetration and skin lifting, providing a light massage that helps the skin easily absorb the skincare ingredients you've applied." With that said, his favorite part about Vivre® Premium Ultrasonic that it also uses blue LED therapy. "Blue light is fantastic for lifting. acne-causing bacteria, and it reduces inflammation and can help reduce the appearance of acne scars," he adds.