I Tried a ‘Skin Spatula’ and Here’s the Gunk It Got Out of My Face

Photo: Getty Images/Maria Korneeva
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Any product that promises to clean clogged pores—aka “degunk” your face—I’m instantly intrigued. You know that feeling: the gratifying sensation of getting all the “nasties” out (I'm talking about sebum and dirt mostly—totally normal though) and feeling so clean and smooth after. As a kid in the ‘90s, I was in love with those Bioré pore strips commercials. “Wow, it looks like a porcupine!” We all remember those right?

Anyway, I’ve been using pore strips for decades, but when I can swing it, I’ll schedule a facial. In my opinion the best way to really deep clean and remove excess sebum from pores is with a professional extraction-based facial. But those can be expensive, and so investing in tools that can “degunk” is an affordable way to maintain pores.

Which is why and how I discovered the Grace & Stella Ultrasonic Skin Spatula ($44).

What is a skin spatula?

The term “ultrasonic skin spatula” has been on my radar for a while now. There are a lot of brands out there, most of them running close to $100 (like Dermapore—which is a W+G favorite, but it's $74)—so I was intrigued to see that the Grace & Stella Ultrasonic Skin Spatula goes for less than half the price. But first, what exactly is a skin spatula? It sounds like something you use to make pancakes on your face. But don’t worry; it’s not. I reached out to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dustin Portela, to explain how these tools work.

“Skin spatulas are devices that may be used at home, or by an aesthetician during a facial, to help remove excess oil, blackheads, and comedones from the skin,” explains Dr. Portela. “They typically have a small, flat metal tip on the end of the handle–giving them their ‘spatula’ name. And when powered on, they emit small ultrasonic vibrations that can help to loosen material in your pores. You gently press and glide the flat tip along the skin to encourage removal of sebum and other material from your pores.”

However, Dr. Portela explains that ultrasonic skin spatulas aren’t for all types of skin. “If you have very thin, sensitive skin and bruise very easily, you may find it’s a bit irritating. The best candidates are those with oily and acne prone skin, who don’t typically experience skin sensitivity.” Now that we’ve got the scoop on skin spatulas, onto my review of Grace & Stella’s.

My honest review of Grace & Stella Ultrasonic Skin Spatula

I would definitely recommend taking the time to read the skin spatula’s user guide. There are four different modes, and read the description of each carefully to determine which one is best for your skin. It’s not one of those things you just want to plug in and blindly go to town. It does take some time and technique to get used to maneuvering. So don’t feel bad if you don’t master it right off the bat.

grace and stella
Photo: Author

The number one most important thing: wet your face before. This tool has to be used on a wet face; if your skin is dry, it’s going to irritate it. This next step isn’t necessary, but before I wet my face I used a facial steamer and that made a huge difference in opening my pores. If you do have access to an at-home steamer, I’d highly recommend it (check out our round-up of best facial steamers here).

After charging the device, I set it to “Mode 1: Deep Cleansing.” This mode is recommended to use about once a week. Before I started, I made sure my face was plenty wet. I held the tool at a 45 degree angle with the spatula tip angled downward. It’s not necessary to press down too hard—you want firm and gentle pressure. Focus on the most congested areas of your face—for me that’s my nose, particularly the tricky spots to get around my nostrils, and my chin.

I know the phrase “ultrasonic” sounds scary, but it didn’t tingle or burn or irritate at all. Gliding the spatula tip felt very smooth, I just sort of had to figure out the best way to get the tricky parts of the narrow corners of my nostrils. I avoided my forehead and other areas of my skin that tend to get very dry. I’d definitely recommend using this if you have all-over oily skin, or just focusing on the oily sections of your skin if you are prone to any dryness.

Okay, so now what you all want to know: how much gunk did I get out?

Below you’ll see the “after” pic. It’s not the cutest photo, but could be worse. You can see that the spatula picked up excess sebum, caked on makeup, all types of build-up…aka, “nasties.”

skin spatula after
Photo: Author

Oh and one super important pro-tip: before and after each use, clean your skin spatula with an antibacterial or alcohol wipe to disinfect. Also, be gentle. I think people tend to have too much “vigor” when they use hand-held skin tools and that can lead to redness and irritation.

Reviews are super positive (a 4.5 out of 5 stars), with shoppers saying, "I love this tool. It helps me a lot with my clogged pores. Easy to use!" and "I like this item it was easy to use I would recommended steaming or having some type of moister on your face before gliding it on your skin. But it does catch black heads and dirt you have on your skin."

Bottom line? If you have enlarged pores and oily skin, I think this is an excellent (and wallet-friendly) tool to invest in to help maintain your skin. If you have more of a combo/dry skin and tighter pores, I’d recommend using a steamer first to open your pores up and using this tool as an occasional way to help maintain skin between facial treatments.

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