The core feature of an ultrasonic skin scrubber is its utilization of high-frequency vibrations to break down and dislodge impurities, such as dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, resulting in a deep cleansing experience. Frequencies above 20,000 hertz are considered ultrasonic, but we found that most skin scrubbers fell in the range of 24,000 to 33,000 hertz. Be wary of anything that falls below ultrasonic frequency, King advised, “because even though it might vibrate, it won’t be as effective at removing dirt and oil.”
While the frequency of an ultrasonic skin scrubber is an important metric, other factors also play a role in determining the quality and effectiveness of a device. Ultimately, we hunted for skin scrubbers that were the best at cleaning and exfoliating, which mostly came down to frequency, modes, and ergonomics, but we also looked for well-built devices that are worth the investment, and appreciate nice design, especially when it had the cleansing power to back it up. Here’s what else we looked for, in order of importance.
Adjustable frequency settings: A device with adjustable vibration intensity settings can be more versatile, allowing you to customize the treatment to your skin’s specific needs. Not many ultrasonic skin scrubbers have this ability, but our top two picks do.
Multiple modes: Whether it’s gentle exfoliation, deep cleansing, product absorption enhancement, or even the ability to target specific skincare concerns like blackheads, having added functionality provides a more tailored and comprehensive approach to skincare, ultimately leading to more radiant skin. All ultrasonic skin scrubbers will have a mode with steady vibration and will allow you to use both sides of the spatula to serve different purposes (mainly cleansing and serum application respectively).
Some may also have ionic technology—pulsating functions that use positive and negative electrical charges to further help extract and absorb. When the ion+ function is activated, positively charged ions are attracted to and bind with negatively charged particles on the skin’s surface, such as dirt, oil, and blackheads. This helps dislodge and lift these negatively charged impurities from the skin’s surface and from within the pores for a deeper cleanse. In ion- mode, negatively charged ions repel other negatively charged particles, such as the ions present in skincare products like serums and moisturizers, allowing them to penetrate more effectively into the skin.
We noticed that brands refer to the same basic functions differently, for instance “ion-” in one tool might be called “apply” or “absorb” in others; one tool may use “extract,” while another will call the same function “deep cleansing.” We were careful to discern the purpose of each mode when comparing devices and made judgments based on how the modes worked together to boost the overall effectiveness of the device. We considered basic cleansing and exfoliating as the most important function, followed by skincare application, and rounded it out with ionic technology for deeper extraction as a bonus (if it worked well).
Ergonomics and ease of use: We scored each device on how comfortable it was to hold and how easy it was to maneuver around facial contours, ensuring they felt secure in the hand and provided a hassle-free experience without slipping. Spatula design played a big role in how well we were able to extract impurities. We looked for a smooth and comfortable gliding experience during use and a shape that allowed us to reach all areas of the face, especially around the nose where stubborn blackheads tend to be. We looked for user-friendly controls and intuitive LED displays that provided clear information about intensity levels, modes, and battery life, and overall enhanced user convenience.
Build quality: We looked for high-quality materials, durable construction, and well-designed components that can contribute to a more reliable and long-lasting device that can withstand regular use over time. We wanted the most professional feel; if anything felt flimsy, we dismissed it.
Cleaning and maintenance: We looked for devices that are easy to clean and maintain after each use, preventing the buildup of bacteria. All the skin scrubbers we considered have an easy-to-wipe stainless steel spatula and a protective cap. We only considered ultrasonic skin scrubbers with a rechargeable battery, as it eliminates the need for constant battery replacements and ensures consistent performance.
Aesthetic appeal: Beautiful craftsmanship should always be appreciated, and if an ultrasonic device thoroughly cleanses your skin and looks good on the counter next to all your other beauty tools, all the better.
A note to pet owners: Our furry friends have a much better hearing range than we do, so while the ultrasonic buzzing sound of a skin scrubber likely won’t bother you, the frequencies these devices emit can be unpleasant for nearby dogs and cats.