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Ultrasonic skin blades and skin scrubbers

October 16, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 27 Comments
I was so intrigued by Daniel’s mention of an ultrasonic “skin blade” (see comments on my microcurrent devices post) that I just had to find out more. It turns out that (in the US anyway) these devices are more usually called skin scrubbers or skin spatulas. Although these appellations are hardly poetic, they don’t have the Sweeney Todd connotations of Daniel’s skin blade. Anyway, blade, scrubber or spatula, what are they?

In some ways, these devices are like the Clarisonic Brush – but without the brush.  By which I mean, they all use "sonic" frequencies that create vibrations that are supposed to help loosen and remove oil, dirt, and cellular debris from pores. The blade or spatula is a stainless steel blade that oscillates (as does the Clarisonic Brush head) and glides over the skin. A flat side can be moved over a cream or serum to help it penetrate.

A company called Bellaire makes the Skin Spatula (the HS-3003) for salons and an at-home device called Ezzi-Peel Ultrasound Portable Cordless Skin Spatula ($249.95), which has been FDA approved. There are several other models on the market, including the SY-088 Ultrasound Spatula ($189.95).

The new Pore-Fector from Bliss ($230) is essentially a device in the skin scrubber genre and, in Bliss parlance, it uses "sonic vibrations" to cleanse the skin. This being Bliss, the Pore-Fector gadget also comes with a couple of unpleasant looking potions. The Detoxifying Facial Toner is an especially lethal concoction of phenoxyethanol, parabens, unidentified fragrance, limonene and chlorhexidine digluconate. How ironic to take debris and dirt off the skin, only to put toxins in.

I am a big fan of Clarisonic and its brush and am curious as to how these blades or scrubbers compare. If anyone else has ever tried them and, better still, have stacked them up against Clarisonic, please let us know.

Ingredients in Bliss Daily Detoxifying Facial Toner:

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Phenoxyethanol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Malachite Extract, Methylparaben, Limonene, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum), Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Sorbitol, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Blue 1 (CI 42090)

Ingredients in Bliss Steep Clean 15-Minute Facial Mask:

Glycerin, Water, Coco-Glucoside, Coconut Alcohol, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Park Ii (Shea Butter), Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Zinc Gluconate, Protease, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Subtilisin, Zanthoxylum Alatum Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Extract, Morus Bombycis Root Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Tocopheryl Acetate, Salicylic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycine, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Oleyl Alcohol, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Metabisulfite, Sodium Sulfite, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, BHT Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Blue 1 (CI 42090), Red 33 (CI 17200), Yellow 5 (CI 19140).
  • June 26, 2016

    by Nancy S.

    Thanks again Marta, I really love all the info I get from you. I've been using the
    Sonic face scrubber in my skin care business since 2000! All my clients show
    The great results. I only use distilled water to cleanse and a pure collagen elastin
    Ampoules for an infusion treatments. Never use on sore open skin.
    Nancy S. Gray/Future Face Skin Care Center.

  • December 8, 2012

    by Julie

    FYI, I've been getting this ultrasonics facials. This device is way better and much more than just a brush to clean your skin. One time my skin was really out of whack, I got white heads all over my forehead. I purchased a coupon from Groupon for hot stone facial. I went there with the hope that the warm stone would relax my face and reduces my white heads. The aesthetician told me the hot stone facial will only makes my face break out more because of the heat. She suggested the ultrasonic facial. which cost an extra $60. I decided to try it and loved the result. It removed my white heads gently, though it gave a funny tingling feeling. She actually showed it to me after one or two sweeps the gross white heads on the spatula and then continued to finish the work. The next day, all of my white heads are totally GONE. No side effects, no redness whatsoever. The process was really gentle and easy on the skin too, no pain, no nothing! My forehead was clear the next day and stayed clear since then. I'm hook and I've been getting my facial once a month now.

  • September 17, 2012

    by Marsha

    I meant to say above that I remember the man saying that the table top pro has the 24,000 per second but don't remember what the Ezzi-Peel has.

  • September 17, 2012

    by Marsha

    Ideally, it would be great to have the 30,000 vps per second as well as sic pzt ceramic crystals in the unit. I called the manufacturer of Bellaire. they make Ezzi -peel for $238. and a pro table top model for $600. the pro model has 6 crystals. Ezzi-Peel has 4 crystals but only delivers 24,000 vps per second.,

  • September 11, 2012

    by Marsha

    I'm trying to find out how many crystals are in the Rejuvena. I found out that in the Bellaire which is ezzi-peel there are four crystals. In the ezi-peel it also has ionic currents. Positive and negative ones. It also has it in their pro table top version which is allot more expensive. Their corded spatula has no ionic currents. Can anyone please find out how many crystals are in the Rejuvena? I called the company in Hawaii and the owner os out for a month and no one there knows anything at all about their own products. It was so frustrating to try to communicate with them.

  • August 30, 2012

    by MB

    I bought the clarisonic machine and it came with 2 brushes one for the body and another for the face. I stop using it when i had to replace the brush since I didn't like the effect on my skin. I think it is bad for the facial muscle of the face.

    Now about the spatula. I Bt spatula is the best out there since it is not made in CHINA OR ASIA. BUT it is not like the professional large machine,. The Ultrasonic scrub machine is much more potent and better results.

  • February 21, 2012

    by Janet

    I'm an esthetician who uses both the Clarisonic brush and a scrubber. At the spa, we use the Rejuvena version. The devices serve different purposes.

    The Clarisonic helps exfoliate and takes off makeup and grime. The scrubber, which I think of as a pressure washing machine, exfoliates and deep cleans. I would not use the scrubber without first using the Clarisonic and prepping the skin for further exfoliation. And with the number of brushes available for the Clarisonic, nearly everyone can use it.

    We use ours in two other ways after exfoliation, to coax more gunk out, to massage and to help penetrate product.

    Most clients see and feel an immediate difference in their skin, and nearly everyone tells me that people ask what they've done to their skin because it looks great. Our facial that's designed around the device is among the most popular esthetics service.

    I'm a big fan of the technology, because it's gentle and effective. I'm looking at scrubbers for myself and am considering Bellaire's Skin Spatula.

  • November 25, 2011

    by sarah

    i want to buy the plug in blade please can u tell me the source
    thank you

  • February 13, 2011

    by Jessica

    I am an Esthetician and have been researching these products extensively.

    I believe the spatula is far more beneficial than the clarisonic brush.

    There are plug-in options available where they do not contain a battery that may die. I suggest these prices much less ($100 or less)

    When they are plugged into the wall there is less of a chance of the product breaking and more power going to the unit as it works.

    When you use the opposite side of the blade to push product into the skin it has a mild micro-current effect toning your facial muscle.

    I also have my doubts about the clarisonic brush staying clean. Most brushes grow bacteria if they are still moist the next time you use them.

    We are looking into producing our own scrubber that is far less in cost and plugs in so there is no loss of battery or function.

  • February 3, 2011

    by Valerie

    I just got the bt-micro skin spatula and was wondering two things. How many times a week should I use it and with what products. I can't afford the bt-cocktail right now and was hoping you guys could give me some advice from your own experiences. I also use the Baby Quasar 2x a week. I would be so grateful.

  • December 13, 2010

    by Katherine

    @Michelle: thanks! I'll be curious to know what or how many pzt crystals are in the first model of the bt micro. I have to say, I love mine. Started using it on the back of my hands too. My micro current treatments last longer and my skin looks fantastic.

  • December 10, 2010

    by Michelle

    The Ezzi-Peel and BT-Micro are actually manufactured by the same company in Asia. It's just under different brand names. The new model was created by BT just to differentiate it a bit from the Ezzi-Peel but it really isn't much different than the former BT model.

    The most important features to look for when shopping for a battery-operated handheld scrubber are the warranty, guarantee, and battery replacement. Most will only give either a 3 month or 6 month warranty and absolutely no battery replacement services.

    PZT stands for piezoelectric transducer. The PZT ceramic crystals are usually made from lead-zirconate-titanate. The most basic explanation of how PZT ceramic crystals produces ultrasound is as followed: there's two ceramic crystals, one on each side of the blade (the part that is enclosed by the handpiece). When an electric current hits the crystals, the energy produced causes the blade to oscillate back and forth. With only two ceramic crystals, oscillation is weak; with four, it becomes stronger, and with six, it is the strongest oscillation rate achievable for skin scrubbers.

    Factors such as the quality of the crystals, the settings and internal electronic components of the device, as well as the battery capacity will also contribute to how well the machine will work and the effectiveness of treatments leading to beneficial results.

  • December 9, 2010

    by patrice

    This a very interesting topic and I hope the questions some asked above will be addressed. I am very interested in knowing more about the EZ and BT scrubbers. Will do a search in the meantime.

  • December 4, 2010

    by Katherine

    What is the PZT in the BT Micro? Also, what does PZT mean?

    I have both the Clarisonic and the BT Micro, love, love, love the. They seem to do two very different things and work great together.

    Last, BT Micro looks like they just came out with a new model, I just bought mine less than a month ago. What is/are the difference(s) in the older model and new one besides the rearranging of the option 1 & 2 buttons.

  • December 1, 2010

    by Michelle

    Just to clear up any confusion: Skin spatula/scrubber is an ultrasonic device. In the handpiece, there are PZT ceramic crystals which enable the blade to vibrate at over 20 KHz when current hits the crystals.

    Most of the skin scrubbers on the market come with either 2, 4, or 6 PZT ceramic crystals in the handpiece. The lower the quantity, the lower the price, the weaker the blade vibration, which all ultimately leads to less noticeable results. Professional skin scrubber units have 6 PZT crystals allowing for immediate results that are seen and felt the fastest. Increasingly, more spas and salons use the skin scrubber because it enhances treatments that are already in use and clients are able to feel a drastic difference in their skin.

    Lately, there's been a surge for more home-use equipment so many companies develop handheld scrubbers. Many of these only have 2 PZT ceramic crystals so although it does make a difference, it's not comparable to the professional scrubbers. If you are looking for an at-home scrubber, find one that has 4 PZT ceramic crystals. If it is a rechargeable scrubber, make sure the company provides battery replacements and another point to make is, make sure the battery replacements are done in the US. Otherwise, you may have to send the scrubber overseas to the manufacturer with no guarantee you'll ever see it again.

  • December 1, 2010

    by Estelle

    I love both the EZ peel spatula and the Clarisonic for different reasons.
    I do not like microdermabrasion machines as they are too harsh on my skin.
    The Clarisonic is perfect for getting the make up off at night. The EZ peel spatula is perfect for exfoliating with Olay scrub cream and getting ALL the blackheads out and blemish reducer too as well as using to penetrate serums deep into the skin.
    I also like the light therapies like the new laser Starlite one.
    If I could only get ONE item though it would be that EZ Peel Spatula because it does the most and it is so awesome that it can get all the blackheads out! I tried it on a pal who had a bad rosacea nose with tons of blackheads covering it fully and lots of rosacea blemish bumps forming and that spatula removed ALL the blackheads from every crack and crevice as well as doing something to reduce the blemish bumps and they went away fully in one day after the treatment and they NEVER went away before. Get all if you can but if you cant then just get the EZ Peel spatula. The EZ Peel is the only one for home I could find with FDA approval so stick with this safer model rather than the knock offs that may not be set to the right frequency to work

  • November 26, 2010

    by primrose krasicki

    Hi all I just love my clarisonic its fabulous.I use it maybe twice a month as my skin is super sensitive.However clarisonic does wonders for my skin as well as being so gentle. I can't use glycolic acids so clarisonic is so much better for me ..Primrose

  • October 21, 2010

    by LIna Jacobson

    I have been an esthetician for 15 yrs.(Just wanting to validate some clinical experience here!) I love the Clairsonic brush, yes the oscillation of the brush instead of a rotary motion is efficacious. I began using a "spatula" last Dec. I use the Bio-Therapeutic Platinum micro-current machine in the treatment room, and then they came out with their version of the spatula called the "Bt-micro". I used my previous device on one side of a clients face and the Bt- on the other side. No comparison, at lest 50% more "debris" was exfoliated with the Bt spatula. Oscillating at 20,000Hz qualify's as ultra sonic. Product penetration on the reverse side as well, the product goes somewhere it just doesn't evaporate, and it's not on the blade. Both the brush and the blade are great tools, without the over exfoliation cycle the is sometime created both at home and in the treatment room.

  • October 19, 2010

    by Ann

    Hi Daniel and Marta, Thanks so much for recommending the ultrasonic skin scrubber. Very exciting. I would love to get one. Daniel, would you mind telling us the brand/manufacturer of your device as it sounds fantastic.

    Thanks Marta for guiding us so well.

    Best regards / ANN

  • October 18, 2010

    by Valerie


    Can anyone recommend a brand?


  • October 18, 2010

    by Mark

    It can't be said enough - the TIA website is invaluable with honest reviews and up to date information on skin care. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • October 18, 2010

    by Daniel

    I'm glad you looked into this Martha , my ulatrasonic skin scrubber uses 28 kh ultrasound frequency . One setting allows me to go over my skin and the machine makes a buzzing noise and you see dust !!!!! Yes dead skin cells coming away!!! I love it and it won't go too far so that I go red. The next mode is tone and I apply a gel water based mask. I use dermaquest hydra B5 or my one of my favourites Sundari firming Gotu Kola and Indian Asparagus Mask and then turn the blade over and voilà!!! I go over my face feels kind of nice and it pushes them into my skin . So good !!! They penetrate so much better !!!! I must not tell a lie I do have maybe another dozen or two masks I use with it lol.

    Then I wipe over my face and then apply my serums or 5!! And go over the face again and my skin drinks it all up and I glow. I swear by this piece of equipment . Who cares Ultrasonic , ultrashmonic (I'm a good Jewish boy!)

    It works :). Your great marta

  • October 18, 2010

    by Wonda

    This is hard - really, really hard. To watch a person who has provided so much to this community being thrown under the bus by someone because they are appalled.?. Jeesh.
    Well, welcome aboard, Charles. I look forward to your future contributions.

  • October 17, 2010

    by susan


    Thank you for your grace and tact when under fire. I appreciate your effort to help all of us make better decisions when purchasing skincare, etc.

    BTW, looking forward to your at-home microcurrent review.

  • October 16, 2010

    by Olivier

    I own a skin spatula that I bought at a cosmetic convention.
    I really like it. I will definitely say that the cleaning/scrubbing action can not be compared to a Clarisonic brush. However I have very sensitive skin and I like it better because using the Clarisonic everyday is too much on my skin.
    My favorite part of the device is to use the other side after a serum, it vibrates and create heat. It's extremely relaxing and that it itself does wonder because tension in the face will create wrinkles.
    I do recommend it.

  • October 16, 2010

    by marta

    Thank you Charles. I went back to all the companies and their products mentioned here and you are partly right. Clarisonic uses what it calls 'sonic technology" and does not use the term 'ultrasound'. And so I have corrected the article accordingly. Bellaire does claim, for what its worth, to use ultrasound.

  • October 16, 2010

    by Charles

    It is so depressing reading your "review" above. Do you have any idea what you are talking about? An "ultrasonic brush"? Where do you get that? The Clarisonic brush has nothing to do with ultrasound and the only reason it is, or can be, called "sonic" is because it makes noise. And as for the spatula products; same thing. The metal spatula vibrates your skin, flogging the gunk out of it. But ultrasound? You should do your readers a service and spend some time understanding what you are talking about.
    BTW: I have no agenda. I am not, nor ever have been, associated with any of these products or their competitors. I'm just an appalled engineer who has recently been reading some of the absolute nonsense on some of these sites.

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