Silicone vs Bristle Cleansing Brushes vs Chemical Exfoliation

face exfoliators

When we’re talking about silicone vs bristle cleansing brushes, I think there’s one thing that stands out: the former is associated with gentleness, while the later is associated with a more abrasive exfoliating experience.

Is that really the case? Are silicone cleansing brushes the best choice when it comes to facial exfoliation? Who exactly would benefit from using bristle cleansing brushes for the face or are they just meant for body exfoliation?

These are some of the most important questions that need to be answered. By doing that, during our silicone vs bristle cleansing brushes debate, we’ll know once and for all which is the right exfoliation product for us.

Or maybe, we’d better off using chemical exfoliation instead, forgetting all about this physical exfoliation methods.

Silicone vs Bristle Cleansing Brushes: Is Silicone or Bristle Better?

Are silicone cleansing brushes better? Should you get a silicone brush? These two questions are maybe what this debate on silicone vs bristle cleansing brushes is centered on.

Important facts about silicone and bristle cleansing brushes

The important thing to notice is that facial cleansing brushes can be amazing, especially if we want to prevent breakouts and blackheads but also if you just want to have a more radiant, rejuvenated look. Those suffering from dry skin can also benefit from this method of exfoliation. The dry skin cells are removed and the moisturizer is absorbed more deeply into the skin.

1. Which is cheaper?

Bristle brushes can sometimes be cheaper but that doesn’t make them less effective.

The Olay Facial Cleansing Brush is a clear example of one of the cheapest best facial cleansing brushes, as long as you have normal skin and are not acne-prone.

On the other hand, if you want a really affordable silicone cleansing brush, you should check out the Ezbasics Facial Cleansing Brush.

2. Replacing brush heads

Some bristle models, like this one from Olay, need to have their brush heads replaced once every few months, which means an additional expenditure, you have to weigh that in, too.

With silicone models there’s nothing to replace. You just need to clean them, which is easy, and then let them out to dry.

3. Are bristle brushes gentle?

There are bristle brushes that are gentle enough that they can be used by people who are acne-prone or have sensitive skin.

Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush is one perfect example of that.

4. One of the best facial cleansing brushes is…

One of the best cleansing brushes on the market is the PMD Clean Pro RQ. It is a silicone brush on one side, the other side is a rose quartz stone.

The PMD is definitely more expensive than the average but it can last years and you don’t have to replace any brush heads. Plus, it’s rechargeable, there’s no need to buy batteries.

My second recommendation would be the Ezbasics Facial Cleansing Brush, another silicone model but it’s more than 1/3 of the price of the PMD.

5. Which is better for sensitive skin?

The ones made with silicone are also thought to be better for sensitive skin because they’re more gentle, while still promising an exfoliation that reaches deep levels.

They’re so effective because they exfoliate through pulsations or vibrations. The brush head doesn’t rotate, and that’s what makes them more gentle and better for all skin types.

The sonic ones also claim to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

6. Easy to clean

Silicone brushes have the slight advantage that they’re very easy to clean.

You can easily wash them with antibacterial soap and pour over some rubbing alcohol for good measure and then let them out to dry completely

According to Foreo, silicone bristles are non-porous and are 35 times more hygienic than standard nylon brushes.

7. Cheap silicone brushes

Foreo and PMD are two of the most famous manufacturers but their silicone models are also quite expensive. Fortunately, not all silicone facial cleansing brushes are expensive.

You can find some amazing ones for under $30, like the Ezbasics Facial Cleansing Brush. They’re quite popular and really loved by users.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money if this is the preferred method for you.

Are Bristle Brushes Bad for your Face?

No, as long as you use the bristle brushes as instructed, they are not bad for your face.

The important thing is to pick a product that works for your skin type, that’s the first thing you have to pay attention to.

The one from Olay is clearly for normal skin, for people who aren’t prone to acne. The manufacturer instructs people to use it for a deep cleansing once a week, on speed 2. A maximum of twice a week is all that’s allowed. But even this bristle brush from Olay can be used daily in the evening but only on speed 1.

So, as long as you take your skin type into consideration and the instructions for using them, bristle brushes are not bad for the face at all.

The Shiseido Cleansing Massage Brush is another example of a bristle brush that works really well, even for those prone to acne or with sensitive skin.

The manufacturer states that this meant to be used by those who want to increase the benefits of foaming cleanser. And also for exceptionally deep pore cleansing. It is made with silky-soft, finely-tapered bristles and it is fitted with silicone cushions that flex gently to massage skin.

It’s also manual so, you don’t even need to bother with replacing batteries or something malfunctioning.

How Long Do Silicone Face Brushes Last?

Silicone face brushes can last a very long time. Overall, in this respect, they can be considered the winners in our silicone vs bristle cleansing brushes debate.

Even though the silicone feels soft to the touch, it is a very resistant material. Moreover, it gets easily cleaned and there’s no risk of bacterial buildup if you take just a bit care of them.

How Long Do Bristle Face Brushes Last?

If you’re getting a brush like the one Shiseido, which is a manual cleansing brush, then you can use it for many years to come. You just have to wash it really well and let it dry completely. That way, you prevent any bacteria from building up.

If you want to make sure that everything is right with the bristles, then you can pour some rubbing alcohol over them and then let it dry. It’s nothing complicated.

If you’re getting a cleansing brush that works with batteries, then the things are not so straightforward because every electrical device is prone to breaking down. Let’s hope it happens later rather than sooner.

How to Use a Facial Cleansing Brush

facial cleansing tips

First, read the instructions that come with the model you bought or want to buy.

The bristle ones, if they’re for normal skin only, can be used 1-2 times per week.

On the other hand, the silicone ones can be used even daily. People usually use them at the end of the day, to remove make-up, dirt, impurities, and what pollution does to our skin.

They’re very easy to use and this is pretty much the general way:

  • always wet your face with lukewarm water
  • apply your facial cleanser to the brush and add a bit of lukewarm water
  • move the brush in circular motions for about a minute
  • rinse with lukewarm water

Gently pat your face dry and continue with the rest of your routine. Your beauty products should be absorbed more easily by the skin.

It’s pretty much just like cleansing but with the added bonus of exfoliating dead skin cells. What I do love about physical exfoliation is that it leaves the skin feeling so soft. It’s just like a mini-spa experience at home, whenever you’re in the mood.

I would recommend using a gentle face was, definitely not one that has exfoliating ingredients in it, not even enzymes.

Silicone vs Bristle Cleansing Brushes: Physical Exfoliation Methods

When talking about these two types of cleansing brushes, we’re just talking about physical exfoliation. It’s through mechanical application that dead skin cells are removed.

Physical exfoliation removes dead skin cells via rubbing – whether we’re talking about using cleansing brushes or using facial scrubs or body scrubs. The idea is the same.

But since the surface of the skin is rubbed in order to slough off the dead skin, it usually cannot be repeated daily.

There are some very gentle facial scrubs that can be used daily and they work for all skin types. Just like there can be more expensive cleansing brushes that can also be used on a more frequent basis, even during each face washing.

Microdermabrasion: another physical exfoliation method

There is a third category of physical exfoliators: microdermabrasion. However, this is the one that must be done by a specialist and it’s quite expensive, although it can be very efficient for a wide array of skin problems.

Microdermabrasion uses devices to remove the superficial layers of dead skin cells. That can lead to an overall improved appearance, giving the appearance of smaller pores, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, and can even deal with skin marks and make them have a more faded look.

What is chemical exfoliation?

chemical peels for face

On the other hand, chemical exfoliators break the bounds between dead skin cells. Once the cells are loosened, they slough off.

It’s extremely effective and I definitely prefer this method over facial cleansing brushes and facial scrubs, although those can be awesome, too.

The chemical alternative is just awesome for everyone, even for those of us who have really sensitive skin. If we properly introduce them into our routine and we don’t exceed the number of time they should be used, our skin will be radiant in a few months.

Nevertheless, in the long run, chemical exfoliators turn out to be more expensive.

Most of them come in small bottles or in the form of pads infused with glycolic acid and other wonderful ingredients. They’re not cheap and they have to be replaced once every 3-4 months at most.

So, if you don’t want to always replace your exfoliating product, silicone or even bristle cleansing brushes are a much better choice for your budget.

If you clean your brush properly and let it dry thoroughly after each use, you can use it for a long time to come. The same cannot be said about pads or serums or even chemical peels that can be used at home by ourselves.

Best ingredients for chemical exfoliation

These are 4 of the most popular:

  • salicylic acid – the BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that’s used by those suffering from breakouts and blackheads, it’s perfect for oily skin but it also works for sensitive skin, it’s not too harsh, and it’s never missing from my routine, especially in the 2% concentration, whether I use it as a serum, in the form of a facial cleanser or in a toner, there are so many products including it
  • glycolic acid – the most effective AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that’s found in numerous facial exfoliators, it comes in the form of pads and serums and it’s just one of the best, especially for a brighter complexion and for diminishing fine lines and wrinkles
  • lactic acid – it has a slightly larger molecule than glycolic acid so, it might not be as impressive but it comes pretty close and it’s just perfect for those getting their first chemical exfoliator or for those with very sensitive skin
  • enzymes – they’re extracted from fruits, like pineapple or papaya enzymes, they’re more gentle than AHAs but really effective

Why You Should Exfoliate

Since you’re here searching for a silicone vs bristle cleansing brushed comparison, I’m quite aware that you already know the many benefits of exfoliation but let’s cover all of them once again.

Whether we choose the physical methods or the chemical products, we exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. That sounds so simple but this removal of dead skin is one of the main actions that keeps our pores unclogged. That and washing our faces twice daily. These two are at the top of a proper skin care routine for anyone who wants a healthy look.

Thus, if we have unclogged pores, we will decrease the frequency and number of our breakouts. We will also suffer from less blackheads.

Furthermore, ingredients like glycolic acid and lactic acid are used for a brighter complexion and to sooth irritated skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

They’re also used for diminishing fine lines and wrinkles because they’re known for stimulating collagen production. You can read more about that here.

Whatever you end up choosing as your exfoliator after reading this debate on silicone vs bristle cleansing brushes, the most important thing is that you will exfoliate your skin on a regular basis, that’s what matters.