Motorized skin brushes serve quadruple duty -- deep-cleaning pores, exfoliating dead skin cells to give your skin a healthy glow, helping serums and moisturizers better penetrate your skin, and giving you a soothing facial massage at the same time.
The Clarisonic Aria (Est. $200) generates the most buzz of any other brush, and with good reason. Experts and users agree that the brushes are very gentle and produce great results, giving you luminous skin and soothing away acne breakouts for almost all users who may be prone to them.
All Clarisonic skin brushes are waterproof and rechargeable via a USB cable or an included wall adapter, but the Aria is the universal favorite thanks to its three operating speeds, which let you fine-tune the exfoliating power to suit your skin type or even use different speeds on different parts of your face.
"It's only been 3 weeks and I've gotten soooo many compliments on how [much] clearer my skin has gotten. I still suffer from acne and acne scars as a 25 year adult I'm just so excited to FINALLY see a difference," writes one happy user at Sephora.com. Others say the Aria provides such good results that within a week of the first use, acquaintances ask what they're doing to make their skin look so good.
The Aria also comes with an adjustable timer than beeps and pulses, telling you when it's time to move on to the next part of your face, and a color-coded charge indicator lets you know when it's time for a recharge. The whole thing is covered by a two-year warranty. It includes one brush head that can be interchanged for five others (Est. $27 each), so you can switch brushes to suit combination skin types or to let multiple people use the same hand unit.
The Clarisonic brush is pricey, but worth the cost if you can swing it. If it's out of reach for now, you can still rinse away dead skin cells with the aid of Buf-Puf's reusable facial sponge and a little elbow grease. "They helped control acne and now remove the old skin that keeps me from having the "healthy glow" that the commercials for costly creams promise," writes one Amazon.com user whose sensitive skin won't tolerate chemical exfoliators, but handles the Buf-Puf sponges just fine.
Almost 200 other Amazon.com users agree -- they say these reusable sponges are simple, but really do work to clear up acne breakouts and give you glowing, clear skin. Just don't scrub too hard, or you'll turn yourself red in the face.
If you're dead set on having a motorized skin brush but don't want to spend triple digits, you might also take a look at the Olay Fresh Effects Powered Contour Cleansing System (Est. $12), which Real Simple magazine dubs the best face brush for oily skin. It's not up to the level of the Clarisonic brushes; the entire head vibrates instead of individual bristles, and it runs on a single AAA battery (included), so it's not as powerful as the competition.
Some users are also put off by the Olay Fresh Effects brush's rubber bristles -- but once they give it a try, they're usually pleasantly surprised by the results. "It was a total shock to me when I started using this brush with (a different salicylic acid) acne cleanser and actually noticed a difference ... my parents and friends were all telling me my face looked better after about a week, and I feel more confident about my skin tone," writes one woman at Amazon.com, who says her skin feels soft and clean after each use.
Overall, the Fresh Effects brush draws mixed reviews from other users with acne, and mixed but mostly positive comments from other users. It's definitely no Clarisonic Aria -- but if you're willing to moisturize after using it so your skin doesn't feel dry, and swap out the cleaner it comes with (especially if you don't have oily skin), this little brush has good odds of helping you keep your skin healthy while you save up for one of the pricier models.