3 At-Home Facial Tools that Actually Work (From a Professional!)

facial tools jade roller

When your skin needs a boost and you can’t make it into your favorite Esthetician for a treatment, at home facial tools can start to look really appealing. Who wouldn’t want the effects of a facial at home whenever you want?

These at-home skin devices have flooded the market over the years leaving many of my clients asking me, “Do they really work?” “Which ones would you recommend?” and “Do you use any?” Over the years I have experimented with numerous devices to determine the answers to the above questions through personal experience.

The results were surprising!

Discover below:

  • 3 at home facial tools that can actually work.
  • The pros and cons of each tool.
  • Insights of each tool for best results.
  • A bonus list of tools that I don’t use and why.

Choosing a facial tool that's right for you

There are so many products to choose from, where do you start?

To weed through all the options, and before getting into each tool, I think it is important to think through what system of the body your tool of choice will be affecting.

Maybe it’s because I have studied the skin and watched the industry evolve with tools coming and going for over a decade now or maybe it’s just because the geek in me always goes back to science. Either way, this is how I encourage you to think of facial tools; which system of the body is it affecting?

what are you looking to use a tool for?

If two tools affect the same system, you might consider not using both of these within the same day or not bothering to purchase both. When deciding which tools to invest in, you can simply select based on the system it will affect or you can try a few tools that activate different systems to discover which ones you like and ultimately which will give your personal skin the best results.

Product marketing aims to distinguish between devices but most tools are doing a small set of similar things at the basic level.

What your tools are actually doing

These things include skin cell shedding, known as exfoliation (integumentary system), stimulation (cardiovascular and lymphatic system), activating facial muscles (muscular system) and calming pressure points (nervous system).

Of course some tools affect multiple systems at once. More isn’t always better but it is important to acknowledge that multiple systems can be effected with one tool.

3 At Home Facial Tools that Work

The most popular tools right now are shown below with pros, cons and insights to help you decide which, if any, are right for you.

dry brushing

BRISTLE FACIAL BRUSH

Clarisonic (electronic), Natural Brush (mechanical)

There are electronic and hand powered (mechanical) versions of a natural bristle brush. These affect your skin through exfoliation (integumentary system) and stimulate your blood circulation (cardiovascular system).

The goal of both of these bristle brush options is to deeply clean and exfoliate the skin to create the appearance of clearer, smoother looking complexions. The fine hairs, or bristles, are said to offer a deeper clean then the finger pads of your hands can do when washing your face.

In addition, the friction of the brush exfoliates the top layers of the skin and the vibration of the electronic version is said to help break up stuck matter with the vibrating pulse.

Does it work?

Yes. It is fascinating and obvious how clean the skin is after the use of a bristle tool. But should you use it? Read the pros and cons before you decide.

PROS

Deep cleans the skin to a squeaky feel and sloughs off dry or flaky skin.

A deep cleanse of the pores can ensure your makeup and the daily grime is off your skin, leaving your skin in a highly absorbent state to drink up your serums and nourishment.

This can give you maximum effects from your serums and treatment products. However, you will notice this same reason also in the cons list. See below for why.

How to use a face brush

Assists to fully remove mineral makeup.

It is strongly recommended, and not widely known, that you should remove makeup prior to using a Facial Brush. Yes, this means using the facial brush properly is actually your second cleansing step if you need to remove makeup.

Tools can push compacted makeup deeper into the pores during the removal process leading to possible breakouts. Pre-cleanse to remove your makeup and prevent this.

A natural option exists.

Many tools become landfill items, including some options in this category (I am looking at you Clarisonic). However, a wood-handled bristle brush can be broken down, is easier on the environment than their electronic counterparts and can offer similar results to a Clarisonic depending on usage and bristle type.

CONS

Bristles wear down and need to be replaced.

A huge con of using either of these bristle brush tools is that they need to be regularly replaced, making this a more expensive option over the lifetime of the tool.

The handheld wood ones are at least gentler on the environment when they are replaced but the Clarisonic heads are not recyclable and are recommended to be replaced every 3 months which, over time, make this one the most expensive of the facial cleansing tools listed here.

Deep cleans the skin to a squeaky feel and sloughs off dry or flaky skin.

You might have noticed this also in the PRO list. This can be a good or a not-desirable effect. A squeaky feel to the skin can mean over exfoliation, which can indicate a compromised barrier on the outer most layers of the skin and undo all the positive reasons for using this tool.

Secondly, when the tool sloughs off dry and flaky skin, it can thin the skin, causing sensitivity, redness or irritation. With this in mind, I never recommend a facial brush as a daily use item and certainly not twice a day.

Breakouts and irritation are common.

Many people don’t realize that the deeper exfoliation offered by a facial brush routine can lead to breakouts in some skin types. Why? The tool is loosening layers of the skin encouraging skin shedding. Some of this shedding can clog the pores in certain skin types.

Also, there is a formation in the skin called a microcomedone that most people aren’t aware of. These are small plugs deep within the skin that a lot of the time your skin takes care of before it ever reaches the surface, if not these become comedones (also known as pimples).

By exfoliating regularly these microcomedones can rise to the surface quicker then your body can clear them. This means increased comedones and breakouts. Lastly, over exfoliation from these tools is very common and can lead to a compromised skin barrier, water loss, irritation and breakout bumps. Use these tools at most 2-3 times per week.

Difficult to keep truly clean and sanitary

Bristle brushes need to be cleaned after use and left to completely dry before used again. If the brush completely dries the bacteria on the brush has a harder time surviving. If the brush is still wet the next time you use it, or if you never sanitized it after your last use, you can be adding bacteria back onto your face changing the balance of your facial bacteria and leading to irritation or breakouts.

This is especially true with the Clarisonic. In addition to cleansing the brush after use, you should be removing the brush head so the internal compartment dries thoroughly between uses or mold can form from the wet pools trapped inside the internal chamber.

It is easy to take apart to prevent this but adds yet another step to the routine that makes this a bit tedious as a regularly used tool. Since this is a multi-step process I know some of you are not consistent with this and are probably using bacteria filled brushes.

Sorry, the truth is not always what we want to hear but maybe, hopefully, it’s motivating? Wash your tool thoroughly and let those brushes dry out completely.

SILICONE CLEANSING TOOLsilicone face brush facial tools

Foreo (electronic), Silicone Disc (mechanical)

Almost identical effects to the Bristle Facial Brush tools but these use silicone nubs instead of natural or nylon bristles.

Does it work?

Yes. It is fascinating and obvious how clean the skin is after the use of a silicone tool. But should you use it? Read the pros and cons before you decide and note that only a few of the effects, pros and cons are different then Bristle Facial Brushes.

PROS

Easy to keep clean and sanitary.

Unique to silicone material is that bacteria cannot live or thrive on it. This feature is a large reason why, if you want a cleansing tool, I find these to be a better option. You have to do very little to maintain silicone brushes and they offer all the similar benefits that bristles do.

No replacement pieces are necessary.

Unlike bristle brushes, which wear down over time and need to be replaced, silicone is a long-lasting material which over time makes this the less expensive and more sustainable option.

Recyclable

The silicone disc is fully recyclable where facilities exist. [note: The electronic version is not recyclable at all].

Deep cleans the skin to a squeaky feel and sloughs off dry or flaky skin.

[Same explanation as Bristle Brush Tool]

Assists to fully remove mineral makeup.

[Same explanation as Bristle Brush Tool]

CONS

No unique Cons were discovered for the Silicone Facial Brush.

Deep cleans the skin to a squeaky feel and sloughs off dry or flaky skin.

[Same explanation as Bristle Brush Tool]

Breakouts are common

[Same explanation as Bristle Brush Tool]

jade roller facial tools

JADE ROLLER

The jade roller has been a social media skincare phenomenon lately. It is cropping up everywhere. Partly because it’s beautiful and also because it is simple, pain-free, easy to use and it works.

It is honestly one of my favorite facial tools and the only one on this list that I regularly use. It can be used on all skin types without any negative side effects.

Does it work?

Yes. It is fascinating and obvious how much calmer and less puffy the appearance of skin is after using a jade roller, especially if it is used regularly and stored in the freezer between uses. But should you use it? Read the pros and cons before you decide.

PROS

A long history of use

Jade rollers are a long-standing ancient facial tool from China. The newer electronic tools on the market can sometimes feel gimmicky to me. In contrast, this ancient tool has stood the test of time and keeps resurfacing in the skincare world.

The tried and true basics sometimes truly are the best option. In my opinion, the jade roller fits into this category.

Made of natural Jade Stone

Jade is believed to hold many properties that can give the skin's apperance a healthy glow.

Low cost + Long Lasting

Many tools become landfill items, including some options in this article (I am looking at you Clarisonic). However, a jade roller can be broken down, is easier on the environment and can even be passed down as an heirloom item.

Easy to clean

Clean your jade roller after every use with soap and warm water to remove bacteria and any residue on the roller. Give it an extra sanitation with a saturating spray of alcohol weekly.

[Note: alcohol may fade the color of your jade roller over time]

Can be placed in the Freezer for Cooling Effect

Placing the Jade Roller in the freezer adds to the incredible effects of this simple tool. I store mine in the freezer and use mornings when I wake tired looking or puffy eyed and in the evening when my skin is experiencing sensitivity.

You can roll onto freshly clean bare skin or over your serums and moisturizer. [Note: Don’t roll over makeup or on uncleaned skin or you will be penetrating makeup and dirt into the skin]

CONS

Real results take time, consistent use and disappear if you stop rolling.

As with almost every natural remedy it takes time and consistency to see noticeable results, and if you stop using the roller, any results will begin to fade quickly.

Kind of like when you don’t make it to yoga for a few days and find you’ve lost flexibility where you had it before. Do yourself a favor and make Jade rolling a tiny habit you look forward to and keep up with.

Counterfeit Jade is abundant

Due to this tools increased popularity the sourcing of Jade has become inconsistent and it is unclear when you buy a Jade roller if it is actual Jade. Jade is quite easy to dupe using various stones like Serpentine, Feldspar, Quartz, and even Marble.

Counterfeit Jade is usually made from dyed Marble coated with Beeswax or other coatings to mimic the texture of the matte smoothness of Jade. Buy from a trusted source to ensure you are using the real Jade to get the benefits listed here.

BONUS LIST

Other devices that are on the market that I personally don’t use and why.

Facial Cupping

This is a quality toolkit that offers similar results to Jade Roller without the ability to put in the freezer and with the possibility of bruising if done incorrectly.

Cupping tools are typically made of silicone so are easy to keep sanitary and can give greater results then the Jade roller if done properly and regularly.

LED Lights

I understand the science behind this. I have seen trial results proving that it offers benefits. However, I personally am not a fan of the exposure to LED lights and am curious what information will evolve about this over time.

After all, we are now learning that the computer screen gives off a UV light that can negatively affect the skin. So, I am holding off on these tools for now.

Micro-needling

While I understand the science behind this, I personally am not a fan of the home use of these tools. When you are puncturing the skin there is an exponential increase in the things that can go wrong during as well as after.

So, I prefer to recommend this type of treatment be performed only by professionals or only be incorporated as a home tool if you are trained to use it and are very committed to proper sanitation at home. I personally do not like the blood factor and that you typically need a toxic numbing cream to deal with the pain when micro-needling, so I am not a big micro-needling fan.

Reflexology Facial Tools

You can do this on yourself without a tool. I prefer performing this with my fingers and find it equally as effective. However, I realize I have strong hands and as a Holistic Esthetician I have practiced reflexology and pressure point therapy for years. So ,though you can do this with your hands, I feel a tool could be very helpful for a beginner.

If you are interested in learning this or using a tool for this, I believe it works and is effective.

So many amazing skin care tools exist. Didn’t I miss any that you love?

Do you use any facial tools regularly that you have you seen any noticeable effects / results from? I am always open to hearing about and discovering new things!

About the author

Bokhara Lashi
Wellness Specialist, Embody Zen
Artist, Moss Art Studio

Sources:
FACIAL REFLEXOLOGY: AKA FACE TOOLS THAT IMPROVE YOUR SKIN
Debunking 12 Myths About Cleansing Brushes
3 Subtle Signs You’re Over-Exfoliating Your Skin
How to Tell If a Skincare Product Is Making You Break Out
Are You Actually Breaking Out — Or Is Your Skin Just Purging?
BENEFITS OF JADE ROLLER, WHY I LOVE IT AND HOW TO SPOT FAKES
Comedones

 

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  1. Jessie Garvey says

    I would love a jade roller recommendation! If I’m going to buy one, I want it to be the real thing. Loved the insight into your personal practice. Very helpful read.

  2. Kelly says

    I have rosacea and have experienced bad flare-ups with both mechanical and chemical exfoliation techniques. I found cleansing with konjac sponges does not cause as much trauma and they seem to do an okay job exfoliating. What is your opinion about the efficacy of konjac sponges in relation to exfoliation compared to the other tools you’ve reviewed here?

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