Should You Apply Skincare Products With A Brush?

There are a host of benefits — so long as you make sure to wash them even more than you cleanse your makeup brushes.
Beauty
Written by Témi Adebowale
02.23.2021
Should You Apply Skincare Products With A Brush?Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

One of the best parts of having a skincare routine is, well, the routineness of it all — lathering up your cleanser, applying your toner, pressing your serum or oil into your complexion, massaging your cream into the skin. The next best part? The fact that there are so many different ways to expand on your routine once you have it down pat. From trendy skincare fridges and fans to tried and true massage tools and at-home devices, there are a myriad of ways to build upon your regimen. And skincare brushes — yes, you read that correctly — are another way to up your routine while reaping both mental and physical benefits.

Skincare brushes are tools that are specifically designed to apply skincare products to your face, neck, and décollatage. They are often made with similar fibers to makeup brushes, but they often feature different silhouettes to better distribute your oils, creams, or masks. Using a skincare brush is generally considered more hygienic (more on that below) than using your hands to apply product, especially if the product is housed in a jar. Additionally, taking your time to use a brush with your skincare faves offers you a chance to slow down and really savor your self careahem — skincare experience. Is your interest piqued? Here’s what three skin and beauty professionals have to say about skincare brushes.

The Benefits of Applying Skincare With a Brush

One of the primary benefits of using brushes to apply skincare products is that you won’t lose any product to your hands. “A brush allows even coverage all over the skin without removing the product or absorbing into the fingertips or hands,” explains Anisa Telwar Kaicker, founder and CEO of ANISA Beauty. “Brushes also give the ability to apply and layer multiple products evenly.”

For those with lengthier skincare routines, brush application can be a game changer. As you move through your regimen, it’s common to simply eyeball how much product you need. When combined with the absorption of previous products into your hands, it means differing amounts of your product end up on your face. And, since very few of us wash our hands between steps, cross-contamination can occur. Skincare brushes can create a more even and hygienic application process.

Oh, and the brushes have the added bonus of promoting “lymphatic flow and gentle massage for rejuvenation,” Telwar Kaicker says. It also improves surface exfoliation. “Using a stiffer brush may support the mild exfoliating processes of some products using movement and friction to lift what is sitting on the surface of the stratum corneum [outer layer of the skin],” says Ava Shamban, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills.

How to Use Skincare Brushes

When choosing a skincare brush, it’s important to either use a different brush for each step of your routine or to cleanse the brush before switching to your next product. Before you rush to purchase a whole new brush set, consider what tools you already have in your beauty arsenal. “I personally believe in repurposing makeup brushes,” Telwar Kaicker notes. “If the brush was already used for makeup, I wouldn’t use it as a skincare brush. But if the brush is brand new, it would be great to test.”

When it comes to applying products with a brush, Telwar Kaicke says facial oils, serums, masks, and creams are all good candidates. Depending on the type of formula, you’ll either sweep or stipple the brush onto the area that you want to disperse the product. For products that come in jars, it’s best to dip a clean brush into the product, while products that come in jars with stoppers can be applied to the face then spread with the brush. For pump containers, you can place the product directly on the brush.

Now that you understand the basics, here are some of our favorite skincare brushes to jumpstart your collection:

ANISA Beauty Mini Skin Care Brush Trio

AEDIT-AnisaKit

Perfect for beginners or those who wish to go back to basics, this trio features the brand's All-Over Care Brush, Angled Care Brush, and Eye Treatment Brush for the ultimate introduction to hands-free skincare application. $50, anisabeauty.com

I Dew Care Silicone Face Mask Brush

AEDIT-IDewCare

Say goodbye to sticky mask hands forever. This silicone spatula has a jelly-like texture and allows for easy clean-up (simply rinse the brush head after applying) and less product waste (no more allowing your hands to soak up the product). $8, ulta.com

Artis Digit Skincare Circle 1

AEDIT-Artis

This brush boasts a dense fiber bundle that is the size of a pea, which makes it ideal for placing targeted spot treatments on the skin. It’s also great for applying lip masks, salves, and balms. $38, byartis.com

ANISA Beauty Cleansing Brush

AEDIT-AnisaCleanse

This manual facial cleansing brush employs both soft fiber and silicone bristles for deep-yet-gentle cleansing and exfoliation. The patented handle includes a thumb placement grip detail and no-slip ridges. $32, anisabeauty.com

MŌDA Spa Face Mask Applicator Kit

AEDIT-Moda

This silicone set is a perfect pair. The larger spatula features a rounded design to complement the contours of the face and apply even the thickest masks and creams evenly, while the smaller, pointed model is made to ensure hard to reach and/or sensitive areas (think: the under eyes or around the nose and hairline) are not forgotten. $8, modabrush.com

How to Take Care of Your Skincare Brushes

The active ingredients and oily/creamy nature of many skincare products mean they can harbor even more bacteria than your makeup brushes. If you decide to go the skincare brush route, it’s extremely important to wash them regularly or all you’ll be doing is transferring bacteria between your face and your products.

Dr. Shamban recommends cleaning your skincare brushes daily with a gentle cleanser or micellar water. Telwar Kaicker wipes or washes her brushes after every use, depending on the product they are paired with. “Brushes used with acids, oils, and masks should be washed daily, while a brush used with a serum can be wiped with a tissue or towel,” she says.

If that seems like a lot of upkeep (we get it!), Dr. Shamban points to silicone brushes, which require a lot less maintenance. “These brushes are antimicrobial and antibacterial, are not as abrasive to the skin, and do not have unwanted friends (i.e. bacteria) staying to cause atopic reactions,” she shares.

The Cons of Applying Skincare With a Brush

While the pros of skincare brushes tend to outweigh the cons for some, people with acne, eczema, or similar skin conditions may find that the brush aggravates their sensitive skin. Regardless of your skin type, it’s important to use a firm but gentle hand with skincare brushes to avoid irritating the skin — no scrubbing or power washing here! And never discount the power of your hands. “I’m a fan of good old fashioned fingers,” says medical aesthetician Candace Marino (a.k.a. The L.A. Facialist). “Generally, fingers get the job done just fine without need for brushes that can collect bacteria and cause skin reactivity.”

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If you are keen to give skincare brushes a try, be sure to clean them after every use. If you prefer to work with your own digits, be sure to keep them clean, too, and indulge in a self care moment (or two!). “Using fingers and some pressure allows for circulation and oxygenation,” she notes, “as well as better penetration for products from cleaning to masks.”

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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TÉMI ADEBOWALEis an assistant editor at AEDIT.

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