I am on a never-ending quest to banish my blackheads. My oily, acne-prone, combination skin makes that difficult. Thus, I’m constantly trying any beauty gadget that promises to usher me into a life of invisible pores. I’ve tried steamers, pore “vacuums”, comedone extractors, and of course those classic pore strips. Recently, however, I stumbled upon ultrasonic face spatulas. Don’t let the high-tech-sounding name intimidate you—they’re incredibly easy to use. More importantly, they’re esthetician-approved.
I reached out to Renée Rouleau, an esthetician who has worked with Demi Lovato, Emmy Rossum, and Bella Thorne and has her own namesake skincare line, to explain what makes this curious skincare gadget a winner.
An ultrasonic face spatula helps clear out dead skin and debris.
“Technically, it’s a water-based exfoliation treatment,” Rouleau said of the device, which has a flat shape and must be used on wet skin. It works by being activated by ultrasonic soundwaves (28,000 vibrations per second), to loosen up dead skin cell build up and debris.
Face scrubbers are great for those with sensitive skin.
While microdermabrasion may be the most beloved form of physical exfoliation, Rouleau said it uses crystals and a suction-vacuum method that can cause redness and dilate or break capillaries. In comparison, an ultrasonic face spatula “is just a very gentle procedure for the purpose of exfoliation.” She said, “It works particularly best for red or rosacea-prone sensitive skin that typically doesn’t respond well to other exfoliation methods.”
It doesn’t replace other forms of extraction.
Rouleau told me that a face spatula may loosen and jiggle out some of the clogging out of the corners of the nose, but it’s not as effective for flatter areas of the face like the chin, cheeks, and forehead. “You don’t usually have good success because of the angle and flatness of the spatula being on the skin. It doesn’t provide a scooping action,” she said. “This doesn’t make it very effective for removing blackheads. You don’t get the precision like you do with a comedone extractor.”
It’s not as “satisfying” as more traditional blackhead removal.
If you’re the type to watch Dr. Pimple Popper videos all day, the ultrasonic face spatula might not be your favorite. I used Trophy Skin’s Labelle Ultrasonic Skin Spatula around my acne-prone areas, the nose and chin, and while I did see some murky liquid collecting on the spatula (likely dirt and dead skin), it wasn’t quite the experience of squeezing. You don’t get the ooze. (Gross, yes, but everyone has their thing.)
That being said, I did see my pores appear smaller and clearer immediately after using the scrubber. And since you’re not supposed to press down or squeeze like you would with your hands or a looped metal tool, you’re less likely to scratch or scar that way.
Don’t use the skin spatula on dry skin.
As I said above, you need to have wet skin. I prepped my face with Mario Badescu’s aloe spray before using the tool. “The skin must continually be kept wet for it to work,” Rouleau advised, “Don’t have moisturizer on the skin, just cleanse and keep skin wet with either water or an alcohol-free toner.”
Don’t use the skin spatula everyday.
Yes, the gadget is a really light form of exfoliation, but Rouleau warned, “You never want to use any form of exfoliation, even if gentle, every day because you don’t want to over-exfoliate. The skin needs time to recover.” Stick to using it 5 days a week, at most.