This Low-Tech $2 Tool Scrubs Away Blackheads Just As Well As a Clarisonic

Photo: Stocksy/Viktor Solomin
When it comes to facial brushes, the Clarisonic is queen. But there's one thing that can come between you and your dreams of having silky-smooth skin: the price tag. Luckily, you don't need to drop upward of $100 on the brush—you can use a $2 tool intended for something else instead.

The thing that makes the Clarisonic work so well is the bristles on the brush head. And if they look familiar, that's probably because they're very similar to what you see every day on your toothbrush. You can use toothbrushes to scrub away blackheads around your nose—it really works. Really, really well, according to Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist.

"The Clarisonic makes exfoliating the pores and clearing blackheads easy—you don't have to worry about the intensity with which you scrub, the motion with which you cleanse, or the surface area you can cover. The luxury cleansing brush does it all for you," she says. "However, for those who cannot particularly afford it at the moment or prefer to keep things low-tech, a toothbrush with medium to soft bristles can also get the job done as long as consumers are conscious of not scrubbing too harshly, moving in circular patterns, and spending an extra 30 seconds to cover the entire face, as a toothbrush is smaller than the Clarisonic."

To exfoliate your skin just like a Clarisonic would, all you need to do is follow Dr. Frieling's skincare instructions. You'll have great skin and an extra $98 in your bank account.

How to use a toothbrush to scrub away blackheads

1. Buy the right toothbrush

You can't use just any toothbrush on your skin or you'll be doing more harm than good. Dr. Frieling says you'll need one with medium to soft bristles. "The skin in your face is exposed to makeup, allergens, and sunlight, and it's not as thick as the skin on your arms or legs, so being careful not to damage it when cleansing is key," she says. "If you use a harsh bristle, it can irritate the skin and cause dryness, as the natural oils in the skin deplete and your skin’s natural barrier weakens. This can also cause the skin to overcompensate and increase oil production, leaving you with oilier skin."

2. Ease into it

It's tempting to just grab your toothbrush and scrub away full-force, but easing into it and keeping your exfoliating sessions to a minimum will give you the best results. This goes for toothbrushes or any type of facial brush. "You want to make sure you're not overwhelming your skin," says Dr. Frieling. "If you have normal skin with few blemishes and no chronic skin sensitivity or conditions, once a day is absolutely enough as long as you do it gently. But three times a week might be better, along with alternating with just a calming face cleanser on the days you are not scrubbing."

3. Use the right technique

Before you start scrubbing your skin with your toothbrush, make sure you're using the right technique. "Be sure you first have a toothbrush that won’t agitate the skin. Then apply water and the cleansing solution to your face," Dr. Frieling says. "Wet the bristles of your brush and begin gently scrubbing the skin in a circular motion. You want to spend an extra 10 or 15 seconds around the nose where blackheads can easily appear, and a small brush may be great for getting to the skin at the curvature of the side of the nostril." Get your entire face—especially those areas where makeup may have settled throughout the day. Then wash off the cleanser and pat—don't rub!—your skin dry. Lastly, moisturize and you're good to go.

Here's how to wash your face, according to facialists:

Here's the ultimate skincare routine for minimalists (or lazy girls). Then find out how a drugstore skincare routine could really change the game for your complexion.

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