Dermatologist Talks – Using a Sonic Cleanser For Acne-prone Skin

Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a board-certified dermatologist practising in Singapore. At her private dermatology practice, TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, she sees patients with chronic skin diseases, including acne, rosacea, perioral dermatitis and eczema. In this article, she talks about the science behind the LUNA 3 and how it can be incorporated into your daily skincare regimen. There is scientific evidence for sonic cleansing being more effective than traditional manual facial cleansing methods. Dr. Teo shares her perspective as a dermatologist about the value of the LUNA 3 sonic cleanser technology in skin diseases that changes in skin bacteria can affect. She also gives some tips on keeping your skin feeling refreshed and healthy during hot summer months or if you live in a humid tropical country like Singapore.

Facial Cleansing Device - FOREO LUNA 3

The importance of a proper cleansing routine

Cleansing is the basic step of a good skincare regimen. Ever heard of individuals who say they only cleanse with water? Well, according to dermatologists at least, this is a bad idea. The skin itself hosts an ecosystem of microorganisms, mostly good bacteria that keep the skin’s immune system and barrier healthy and prevents “bad” pathogenic microorganisms from infecting the skin. Many dermatological conditions like acne, maskne, rosacea, perioral dermatitis and eczema affecting facial skin link to imbalances in the skin bacterial load. This is a phenomenon known as microbiome dysbiosis.

While it may be true that some individuals are genetically blessed with healthy skin and are not acne-prone. Most, if not all of us will benefit from having an efficient skin cleansing regimen. The purpose of skin cleansing is to remove dirt, excess sebum, sweat and environmental pollutants to maintain healthy skin microflora. In countries with tropical weather such as in Singapore, the humidity increases growth of microorganisms on skin. This worsens with occlusion, such as when wearing a face mask. Maskne is only one dermatological condition that the wearing of a face mask can directly cause. Many individuals with pre-existing rosacea, facial eczema and acne1 have also found that their skin condition flared up after wearing a face mask.

Why is this so?

Not all of these dermatological conditions are directly caused by bacteria. However, the presence of bacteria can affect the severity of the disease.

Facial cleansing itself is part of treatment recommendations in various dermatological problems which are directly impacted by microbial load, such as acne and more recently maskne. In acne-prone individuals, there is a predominance of a type of acne bacteria – Cutibacterium acnes (C. Acnes) – previously known as Propionibacterium acnes. This can induce further inflammation in skin. Maskne in particular is due to an overgrowth of microorganisms in an occlusive environment2, worsened by textile-skin friction.

Add a sonic cleanser to your double cleansing regimen

I have always advocated double cleansing. Makeup has to be first dissolved, with an oil soluble cleanser. The second cleanse aims to remove residue, including grime dirt and bacteria which emulsifiers in a foam which you can then rinse off for an efficient cleansing process.

Sonic cleansers have been proven in various studies and literature to be an effective and gentle method to improve inflammatory conditions affected by bacteria, including acne3. The LUNA 3 by FOREO utilises sonic cleanser technology to optimise the double cleansing process, when used together with a gentle cleanser that respects the skin barrier. It features patented T-Sonic technology with 8,000 pulsations per minute. This effectively removes excess sebum, debris and micro particulate matter which can breed pathogenic bacterial growth.

Gentle and effective cleansing with the LUNA 3 and Micro-foam cleanser

Pair the LUNA 3 with the Micro-Foam cleanser, an amino acid based cleanser. Or your favourite dermatologist-recommended gentle cleanser. It’s also very important that we pair a gentle cleanser when using the device.

facial cleansing with the LUNA 3 sonic cleanser

The LUNA3 is designed with ultra-soft silicone bristles which minimise mechanical trauma to skin. This is suitable for individuals who suffer from both acne and sensitive skin. Amino acid cleansers are much gentler than traditional sulfate based cleansers as they have a lower pH. This is closer to the skin’s natural pH, which helps maintain a healthy skin barrier. Importantly, the process of cleansing should not damage the skin barrier and it should ideally also leave a humectant (moisturizing) layer on skin.

Exfoliate with sonic oscillations

Acne-prone skin can benefit from gentle exfoliation. As a dermatologist, I often explain the process of comedone (whitehead) formation like this — the dead cells retain at the hair follicle level, resulting in follicular hyperkeratosis. The dead skin cells then function as “food” for acne-causing bacteria to feed on.

The LUNA 3 is a gentle and effective way to exfoliate your skin without irritation. It has the features of an ideal sonic cleansing facial device-the patented T-Sonic technology with 8,000 pulsations per minute, with 16 sonic pulsation intensities allow you to control the power level. Studies have also shown that sonic cleansing improves cleansing results. Comparing to traditional manual methods alone for removal of makeup, sebum (oil) particulate matter3.

It is true that exfoliation does renew your skin cells and reveal brighter, more radiant skin. That’s the rationale behind procedures such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion. However, traditional ways of exfoliating such as with scrubs or microbeads etc are abrasive on skin which dermatologists do not recommend. In this case, the LUNA 3’s gentle mechanical oscillations created with ultrasonic technology helps with skin cell renewal.

Pollution and skin ageing: an anti-pollution cleansing regimen

Additional benefits of using the LUNA 3 cleansing device include reducing signs of skin ageing. I want to start with the visible effects of skin ageing. Signs of skin ageing include skin dullness, irregular texture, pigmentation, loss of skin elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles. These skin signs are caused by biological ageing which is determined by genetics and also by environmental factors such as sun-exposure (UV) and environmental pollutants. These external stressors to skin cause free radical production and resulting tissue damage. The understanding of how environmental pollution affects skin aging is part of the skin exposome concept. This directly relates lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, sleep patterns, environmental exposures, as key determinants of how your skin ages.

Environmental pollution and particulate matter exposure are important factors involved in skin ageing. Essentially, this means that both lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors interact to accelerate the ageing process of skin.The development of sonic cleansing brushes for facial cleansing to remove micro particulate matter on skin can prevent pollution-induced skin aging. Hence, incorporating the LUNA 3 into your daily cleansing regimen can be an effective way to target the detrimental effects of pollution on your skin.

Sonic cleanser pulsations stimulate collagen production

LUNA 3 sonic cleanser

Massage activates biologic processes in skin – skin responds to mechanical stimulation by stimulating new collagen growth. This helps with acne scar healing as well. The principles of mechanobiology is that physical forces can modify tissues. Mechanical stimulation such as sonic cleanser pulsations around a frequency of 75 Hz can induce increased expression of specific dermal proteins in human skin. This is beneficial in antiaging, as it can firm up the skin and lead to a more youthful appearance. Studies have shown an increase in synthesis of skin structural proteins with the use of sonic cleanser devices in combination with an anti‐wrinkle cream – specifically reducing facial wrinkles and sagging, distinct results that were not produced by using the facial cream alone. When the LUNA 3 is used together with a dermocosmetic, the dynamic mechanical stimulation with sonic cleansing exhibits anti‐wrinkle effects as part of regular use of an anti-aging cosmetic regimen.

Best cleansing tips from a dermatologist

Cleansing is the fundamental step in a skincare routine. I personally regard it as the most essential, especially living in a tropical climate and doing a lot of sports. I prioritize an efficient facial cleansing regimen. In my opinion, sonic cleansing in addition to double cleansing is the gold standard to maintain a healthy skin microbiome, especially as our knowledge of the effects of pollution on skin increases. Finally, I would like to share this beauty tip with you all – remember to cleanse your skin well and get a good night’s rest! When we rest, our skin’s energy powerhouses, the mitochondria, work to repair cell damage and renew its energy to improve overall skin health.

This masterclass episode is sponsored by FOREO SWEDEN as a joint collaboration to create scientific educational content relevant to skincare and dermatology. Images produced as part of editorial collaboration consistent with site policy.

  1. Teo WL. Diagnostic and management considerations for “maskne” in the era of COVID-19. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2021;84(2):520-521. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2020.09.063
  1. Teo WL. The “Maskne” microbiome – pathophysiology and therapeutics. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Feb 12:10.1111/ijd.15425. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15425. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33576511; PMCID: PMC8013758.
  1. Gold M, Ablon G, Andriessen A, Goldberg D, Hooper D, Mandy S. Facial cleansing with a sonic brush-A review of the literature and current recommendations. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019 Jun;18(3):686-691. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12906. Epub 2019 Apr 15. PMID: 30985993.

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