I’m a beauty product junkie. I love trying new products like lipstick, blush, and other cosmetics, however I’ve never been one to experiment with my skincare regimen. I’ll find something that works well, and stick with it for years. As a teenager that was Noxzema and Ten-O-six astringent. I moved to Oil of Olay face cream and Clearasil, and on to Ole Henrickson Nurture Me and Truth Serum. I stick with what I know because it works, and because I like the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
So I was skeptical when I got a chance to try out a Clarisonic cleaning brush. After all, my face was fine; evenly moisturized, no major complaints, why would I need to change it up? But in the name of technology (and keeping the blog interesting!), I often step outside my comfort zone and try new things. (If you want the quick scoop, skip to the bottom. That includes an update on whether I still like it/use it a year later.)
About Clarisonic face brushes
Clarisonic makes face and body brushes that use ultrasonic waves to lift dirt and impurities from the skin, supposedly resulting in a much deeper clean, and healthier skin. While some cleansing brushes use a spinning head to scrub the skin, Clarisoninc’s devices use what they say is patented technology.
“Unlike spinning devices, our patented sonic technology works with skin’s natural elasticity, oscillating at a sonic frequency that produces over 300 movements per second. The resulting flexing action created between the outer and inner brushes work to loosen dirt and oil, removing deep-seated impurities from pores and priming skin to better absorb topical treatments.”
Testing the Clarisonic Smart Profile
It was a bit weird trying to figure out how to charge the Clarisonic for the first time. It comes with a plug that has a tiny charging pad on the end of the cord, but initially I couldn’t figure out where on the device it attaches. It’s magnetic, so there’s no obvious connection. I eventually figured it out by dragging the magnet around the device. Detective Erin! Fully charged, it was time to put brush to face.
After the very first time I used the Clarisonic, my skin felt fantastic. It’s kind of like the way your skin feels after a facial, or a deep micro dermabrasion; it felt like I had brand-new skin.
The brush vibrates, it doesn’t scrub, so it doesn’t feel too vigorous. It’s not all that different from using one of those vibrating toothbrushes. You can use whichever brand of cleanser you prefer, meaning you can stick to your regular skincare regimen if that’s your thing, or you can choose one of Clarisonic’s own cleansers for the full “Clarisonic Method”.
What’s in the box?
The brush I tried was the Clarisonic Smart Profile, the Cadillac of the brush family, which sells for for an investment-level $299 CAD. It comes with the rechargeable handheld device, a silky soft face brush, plus a larger and stiffer body brush, so it’s a bit more versatile than a straight up face-only brush.
The Clarisonic Purge Effect?
As I started my trials, and began posting updates on Twitter and Instagram (Follow me @ErinLYYC) I heard from a friend that there was something called the Clarisonic effect, or the Clarisonic purge. Basically what happens is your skin is not used to being as clean as it’s about to be (essentially having all the dirt shaken free from your pores), so a ton of dirt and oil will come to the surface, causing a period of breakouts. From the research I did this is not unusual, though for some people this persists and become a problem. For most people, myself included, this was not an ongoing concern, and a couple blemishes were the worst side effect I experienced.
I did what was recommended and started using the brush just a couple times a week. After each treatment my skin definitely felt soft and smooth and firm. Eventually I increased the treatments to every other day. I still found that on the days when I used the Clarisonic brush my skin felt much cleaner and much smoother than normal.
Features of the Clarisonic brush
The Clarisonic brushes are waterproof, and use smart technology to tell you when to move to a different area of your face. Clarisonic calls that its “Adjustable T-Timer” which the company says allows for “even and thorough cleansing of your face and body.” The brush has 4 adjustable speeds, including a turbo boost for extra-deep cleansing. Clarisonic also says using the brush will “beautifully transform skin’s texture, reducing the appearance of pore size, fine lines and wrinkles (based on a self-assessment on 36 women after 8 weeks, as posted on its website), and creating a softer, smoother, more radiant complexion”.
The brush also knows when you’re using the different brush heads, and it will adjust speed and timers accordingly.
“When the Body Brush Head is attached, the Clarisonic handle switches to Body Mode and the T-Timer® is automatically set to three minutes. Pressing the speed button while in Body Mode toggles between constant and pulse settings. The pulse setting is great for the head/neck area and provides a different sensation than the constant setting.”
The device has a setting to let you know when you should replace your brush heads. A battery light indicator also gives you a heads up about when it’s time to recharge. I found that there was a relatively short turnaround between the low battery indicator coming on and the device actually dying, so keep that in mind. A charge will last about two weeks with moderate use. I was using mine about every 2 to 3 days and only needed to charge it about every two weeks.
A doctor’s opinion on Clarisonic Smart Profile
While I was enjoying the effects of the Clarisonic brush, I decided I needed a professional level opinion to see if what the device was doing was real or perceived, permanent or or temporary.
I spoke with expert Dr. Kristina Zakhary who runs a successful plastic surgery clinic in Calgary. When she and I first spoke she admitted not knowing much about ultrasonic cleansing technology for the skin, but to getting questions about it.
“A lot of my patients use them. They’re always asking me about them,” she explained.
Dr Zakhary explained that even though there are many skin cleansing products commercially available, the cleansing of the skin is dependent almost entirely on the user’s diligence, compliance, and technique. That often often results in inconsistent cleansing. When the skin is inadequately or excessively cleansed, the skin becomes “compromised,” according to Dr Zakhary, sometimes leading to acute or chronic conditions that may require medical attention.
Dr Zakhary did some research on my behalf and found the sonic skincare brush was developed to enhance and provide consistent skin cleansing while preventing the skin from becoming “compromised,” or irritated. The technology to clean the skin with ultrasonic waves originated from dental technology. If you’ve had any kind of dental cleaning in the last 10 years, you’ve probably had them use that skull-piercing ultrasonic device to scrub plaque off your teeth. The same technology (minus the brain-jabbing squeal) is used by Clarisonic on your skin. The brush is designed to work with the skin’s own elasticity providing rapid “oscillatory flexing,” as Dr Zakhary explained it, to shake dirt loose from your pores.
Getting the research/proof
There were not a lot of medical studies or similar research publicly available on the Clarisonic device. One study that was cited widely while I was researching appeared to have been done by Clarisonic itself back in 2006. The study is called, “Development of sonic technology for the daily cleansing of the skin” by Robert E Akridge PhD and Kenneth A Pilcher BSEE. Some Googling found a Robert Akridge who works (or worked?) for Clarisonic. I emailed Dr Akridge (via his Clarisonic email address) to ask for more information about the research on this device, but recieved no response.
Another journal article has good things to say about the device, but it too relies on the 2006 study.
Now, all this is not to try to imply the device isn’t effective or the study’s results are flawed. I enjoyed my experience and have continued to use the brush. I find it softens the skin on both face and body and leaves me with a deeper feeling of clean. It’s just to say, if you’re the type who needs to be swayed by scientific proof before you’ll plop $300 down on a beauty gadget, you might want to read user reviews rather than studies.
The internet loves Clarisonic
People around the internet, in my social circle, and across my office LOVE this device. Every single person who has a device whom I asked about their experience, said they couldn’t live without their Clarisonic. Sephora and Ulta Beauty users, for example, also give it top marks, rating it 4.7 and 4.6 out of 5.
Some comments from Sephora:
“I‘ve owned my Clarisonic for a little over two years now. I love the way it makes my skin feel and it has really made a difference in my complexion (when getting a facial was told I almost didn’t need one)…”
“This cleans your face so well that after that first wash, you can seriously feel all your pores finally open up and breath. It feels amazing, I’ve suggested this to everyone, you don’t need to have bad skin to buy this, my mom has beautiful skin and she’s obsessed with this. It’s so easy to use and so perfectly made, easy to hold, even easier to charge.”
While the positive comments vastly outnumber the negative ones, some people aren’t jazzed by the Clarisonic devices:
“I was really hoping this product would change everything. I used it for months and saw no difference in my clogged pores or in my skin tone. It is basically like using a rough washcloth. It also ran out of battery very quickly. I don”t advise the investment.”
My verdict on Clarisonic Smart Profile
I like the device and will continue to use it, because I feel like it cleans effectively but gently, it lasts a long time on a charge, and it’s easy to keep stashed in the shower, squirt some cleanser on and use it.
I’ve actually pared back my use of the device to about once or twice a week, only because I feel like that’s a good frequency for my skin. While I use both the face and body brushes on a regular basis, I feel like the device is very expensive, and that if price is a major hurdle, that getting one of the less expensive options like the $145 Clarisonic Mia version would do just as well. In short, while I probably wouldn’t have gone out and bought one of these on my own, I’m a convert after having had the opportunity to sample one.
UPDATE: After having one of these for over a year, I still use it once or twice weekly and love the results.
If you have experiences with this device, or have info about medical research on it, I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch!
Clarisonic Mia Fit is another brush option
I also reviewed the Clarisonic Mia Fit brush. Click here for the review or watch the video below.