We often run into products that not only have to be seen, but must be put to the test to be believed. For our series Tried and True, we suss out trending goods & services, and take them for an honest-to-goodness spin IRL to find out if they’re up to snuff.
If you came of age in the 2000s, there was likely one cleansing brush that reigned supreme as the most covetable beauty device that money could buy: A Clarisonic brush, preferably in the prettiest shade of then-ballerina, soon-to-be rechristened “millennial pink.” It was often imitated but never copied, and seemingly overnight, people swore it was the secret to clear skin.
Well, as we near 2020 (side note — are we referring to this as the ’20s yet, or is that weird?), cleansing brushes have been enjoying a quiet but powerful resurgence. It seems that no bathroom #shelfie is complete without a candy-colored Foreo visible in the foreground, and if cute factor wasn’t enough, many current models now offer Bluetooth functionality so you can customize your routine. It’s not so much a fancy alternative to washing your face with your hands; the new guard is aiming to be the closest thing to a spa-worthy deep cleanse. Here, I put three recent launches to the test.
Retail Price: $199
The Specs: If you’ve ever used a Foreo before, you already know that they specialize in silicone face brushes. The latest model, Luna 3 was made for sensitive skin types in mind, and features bristles that are 25% softer and 30% longer than the Luna 2 model. Pair it with the Foreo app via your phone’s Bluetooth to customize your 60-second routine with 16 levels of device intensity. Plus, the ridges on the back of the device can be used to give your face a relaxing massage to help firm skin.
The Pros: I already own a Foreo Luna Fofo, a tiny but mighty version of the Foreo that features nodes to measure your skin’s hydration levels. The Luna Fofo’s bristles are much shorter and stiffer than Luna 3, and as someone whose skin gets a little dry in the winter, I was looking for a gentler device that would still get the job done. It was easy to use, was extremely cute, and the large surface area felt great on my skin.
The Takeaway: I’m not exaggerating when I say that I audibly gasped when I felt how soft my face felt after using this just once in my shower. A Foreo starts at $39 for the most entry-level option, the itty-bitty Play, so while investing in the latest model is a significant investment, it honestly made me genuinely look forward to using it in the shower and taking care of my skin afterward. Luna 3 solved my biggest gripe with cleansing brushes: They can sometimes feel like I’m scrubbing my face raw. Trust me — this is one luxe beauty tool you won’t regret putting it at the very top of your 2019 wish list.
Retail Price: $169
The Specs: This isn’t the Clarisonic of your teen years. The Smart is made to be an all-in-one skin treatment device, with interchangeable brush options to cleanse, exfoliate, massage, and even blend foundation. Like the Foreo, you can pair the Mia Smart to your phone to program a personalized skincare routine.
The Pros: My first thought after unboxing this and hooking it up to the charging dock was, “Well, this feels familiar!” I lived and died by my trusty Clarisonic Mia 2 for most of my high school and college years, and dutifully replaced the brush heads even though I 100% did not factor in the quarterly cost of buying new ones every couple months. However, they weren’t kidding when they named the Clarisonic newbie Mia Smart. Even after taking a short quiz on the Clarisonic app (which I preferred compared to Foreo’s) and syncing the routine to my Smart, it gave me the option to toggle between a “Gentle” routine and the one programmed based on my quiz results and skin type. I used the “Gentle” setting in the morning with my favorite Peach & Lily gel cleanser, and it was surprisingly, well, gentle for a Clarisonic. At night, I lathered up my oil-blasting Osea Cleansing Mud on my face, pressed the button twice to toggle to the Daily Cleanse routine, and let the brush do its thing.
The Takeaway: I definitely felt a deeper cleanse with the Clarisonic, which is what I expected based on the bristle type (synthetic vs. silicone) and my personal experience using previous models. With that in mind, I personally wouldn’t use it every day, making the cost per wear factor much more expensive than if I were paying a similar price for something I’d use more often. That said, I love the idea of being able to switch out the head attachments to essentially get multiple devices in one, but again, that would drive up the price tag.
Retail Price: $99
The Specs: The PMD features a silicone brush design that’s similar to early Foreo models, and pulses at a rate of 7,000 vibrations per minute. It’s made with antibacterial silicone, and also like the Foreo, you won’t need to replace the brush head. It runs off of two AA batteries, which is either great (if you lose charging cables easily) or annoying, if you hate/forget to stock up on batteries, which I personally think will be obsolete within the next decade. That said, it’s nice that you don’t have to wait for a device to charge up before being able to use it if you’re impatient, like me.
The Pros: I loved the way the PMD felt in my hand, and the wand design made it easy for me to move the device in circular motions from my cheek to forehead, and nose to chin. I enlisted the help of a fellow coworker who, like me, deals with the occasional hormonal breakout, to test another device couldn’t stop singing the praises of the PMD — according to her glowing review (and complexion, might I add), her acne has calmed down significantly, with no new zits cropping up since beginning to use the device.
The Takeaway: TL;DR PMD Clean is basically a Foreo on a stick! However, as one of the more affordable options in the market, it’s an excellent option for someone looking to try an entry-level, quality cleansing brush. Plus, if you don’t want to deal with downloading an additional app on your phone or having Bluetooth #struggles with pairing, then this is as Luddite as techy face cleansing tools go.
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