Tooth Technology: Philips smart Platinum Connected & sexy DiamondClean

Philips sonicare thumbnailsDental technology is huge these days, believe it or not. For proof, look no further than my mini review series on toothbrush technology. In this post we’re looking at two brushes in the Philips Sonicare line; the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected and the Sonicare DiamondClean. (Read part one of our series on the Oral B Genius 8000 here.)

What is Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected?

The Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected is a smart toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth with your smartphone to track your brushing patterns, coverage and time spent cleaning your teeth. It works without the app as a simple electric toothbrush and it’s fully rechargeable too.

How to get set up

Setting up the toothbrush is quite simple. You’ll download the app then open it. As soon as you turn on your brush the app will find the toothbrush and connect instantly.

While the handle is not as slick and minimalist as the DiamondClean version (which you’ll read about soon), it’s still nice looking. It has several buttons on the front; a power button, a speed button, and a button that changes the different modes of cleaning.

What’s in the box?

Inside the box you’ll find the brush handle, two different brush heads with travel caps, a charging base, a bracket that fits over the charging base to hold toothbrush heads, and a travel case. Unlike some other models, such as the Sonicare DiamondClean, this case does not double as a charger.

You’ll need to allow 24 hours to fully charge the battery in the handle for the first time, so once you get it unboxed plug it in and leave it alone for a while.

Get brushing coaching
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected brush is designed to pair with the app to give you timed and illustrated instructions on your brushing technique and coverage. While you can use it without the app, what’s the point? If you’re spending this kind of money on a fancy brush, you’ll want to commit to using it in its technologically connected mode. If you’re not the kind of person who wants to whip out their phone every time they brush, skip ahead and read about the DiamondClean.

Adjusting different brushing modes
The toothbrush needs to be switched between its available modes while the brush is off. Small lights will illuminate the mode you’ve chosen. There is a Clean mode which is basic toothbrushing, White mode adds additional ‘massage’ and an additional 40 seconds to polish your visible front teeth. There’s also a Deep Clean mode which is said to provide “invigorating deep massage to deliver an exceptional clean”.

A pressure sensor built into the brush will let you know if you’re brushing too hard. It uses both a change in vibration and a slight change in sound to let you know if you’re brushing too hard. This feature can be disabled if you wish, but again, why would you?

App features
philips sonicare app toothbrush smartUsing the app is easy, but there’s not really an realtime feedback to speak of.  While the app will guide you through which areas of your mouth to scrub, it’s not actually tracking you or watching to see what you’re doing (like the Oral B Genius 8000). Here, it’s more like you’re getting coaching, or following along to a workout video; but there’s no one in the room with you to make sure you’re not eating cheetos.

(For a brush that IS watching you, read my review of the Oral B Genius 8000)

Pressure sensing for aggressive brushers
The brush has several smart features such as pressure sensing. If you brush too hard the toothbrush will let you know using a change in vibration and slight change in sound. The app will also display a warning message on screen. I found the brush very touchy when it came to motion and pressure at first, but once I followed the coaching and stopped grinding the brush into my teeth things improved.

Beeping Brush Pacer
The brush pacer setting allows you to turn on an indicator which will emit a small sound during the brushing cycle so that you’ll know when to move on to a different section of your mouth.

The brush pacer requires you to divide your mouth into six sections; three on top and three on the bottom. You’ll hear a beep after you’ve spent enough time on each section.

To turn this feature on or off, leave your brush in the charging base then press and hold the mode button until you hear one beep to indicate the brush pacer has been deactivated, or two to indicate it is ready to go.

Easy start for beginners
Brushing with a much stronger electronic toothbrush can be a little difficult for some to handle, there is the easy start feature. Easy start gently increases the power over the first 14 brushings to help you get used to using the toothbrush. You turn this feature on or off by putting the handle in the charger, one beep indicates it is deactivated.

Replacing the brush headsphilips sonicare app toothbrush smart platinum diamond
Philips recommends you replace the brush heads every three months. The app can be set to tell you when it’s time to do that, and you’ll earn points when you check in the brush’s status.

It’s worth pointing out the cost. Two replacement brush heads sell for about $35-$40 Canadian. That is of course in addition to what you might have paid for the brush handle itself.

Overall review – Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected

The brush was was to set up and looks sleek and modern.  It’s easy to operate on its own and in connected mode.

I feel like it would be easy to cheat with this brush; after all, it’s really just using the app as a guide or a coach, and there’s no accountability for cheating (but as my second grade teacher used to tell us we’d only be cheating ourselves here, right??), however the brush will track the length of your sessions and frequency.

The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected costs $189 CAD. Get more info on it here.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush

philips sonicare app toothbrush smart platinum diamondThe Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is a gorgeous electric/rechargeable toothbrush, but unlike its Platinum cousin, it’s not smart and won’t connect to the app. It does have a timer function built in that will buzz you when it’s time to move from quadrant to quadrant of your mouth to ensure an even clean. It’s also got high tech induction charging.

The first thing I noticed is how appealing the overall package is. The brush actually won numerous product design awards back in 2012, so Philips has stuck with the sleek and modern design ever since.

The included travel case looks really cool and modern. The silver canvas casing hides a lime green interior which cradles the smooth white brush handle inside. The whole thing looks sleek and elegant.philips sonicare app toothbrush smart platinum diamond

The kit also comes with an induction charging glass. It’s a drinking glass that also doubles as a charger for the brush when you set it inside the cup. I couldn’t wait to try this out as this was blowing my mind. I’ve seen induction chargers before, but they’re usually ugly, plastic, and functional. This charger looked neat and pretty.

The charging stand has two pieces. There’s a sleek and shiny metal base which houses the actual charging unit, and then the glass that accompanies it. The glass sits on top of the base for stability and security plus power, and is removable for use as a drinking glass or rinsing cup when you’re not using it for power. You can of course keep the glass separate or not use it at all, as the diamond kit also contains a clear plastic stand for the toothbrush that will replace the glass on the charging base (see photo above).

The brush comes with that silver canvas travel case I mentioned and it also works as a charger plus it holds two brushes.

Overall review –  Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

This brush is really pretty, but if you’re looking for smarts, it’s not for you.  The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, as I’ve taken to calling it, is designed primarily as a better looking, less utilitarian electric toothbrush.  When paired with its sleek recharging case it’s a great options for travelers too, since you can actually use the case as a power bank if you’re so inclined. This brush is perfect, however, for the person who doesn’t want to fuss with using their phone each time they brush their teeth, but still wants some level of smart functionality.

The Sonicare DiamondClean comes in black or white and will set you back about $199-229 CAD.

philips sonicare app toothbrush smart platinum diamond

Tooth technology: Oral B Genius 8000 connected toothbrush review

oral b genius 8000 review erinI research a lot of technology trends.  One thing that’s been popping up again and again is the technology of teeth.  Specifically toothbrush technology.  In fact, high-tech toothbrushes are so common and advanced now, I’ve got a blog and YouTube series in the works about all the options. It kicks off today with the Oral B Genus 8000 smart toothbrush. You can also read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

The Genius is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that uses vibration and an oscillating head to deep-clean your teeth. It also pairs with an app so that you can track and record your toothbrushing habits in real time and get feedback on how you’re doing.

Oral B Genius 8000 – What’s in the box

oral b genius 8000 whats in boxI was sent a sample brush to try out and review over several weeks.  As I unboxed the Oral B 8000, I saw there are a heck of a lot of pieces in the box.

There’s a travel kit, and an at home charging station. Plus storage cases for the brushes. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first but once it makes sense you realize you’re getting a lot for your money.

The kit also comes with a special bracket to hold your cell phone to a mirror right in front of the area where you brush. More about why you need that later…

The toothbrush has a waterproof handle and is designed to get wet so there should be no safety concerns. It’s charged by placing it on a small base. The charging level is indicated on the handle display, and a full charge takes about 12 hours and should give you 12 days of regular brushing (which Oral-B says is about twice a day for two minutes).

Getting Oral B Genius 8000 set uporal b genius 8000 app whats in box

Getting the brush set up and connecting it to your smart phone is easy enough. You download the Oral-B app and it guides you through the entire set up and pairing process. I was connected in no time with just a few clicks.

Using your toothbrush with an app

It’s a bit weird to adapt to using your smartphone while you brush, but to get the most from this brush, you’ll need to connect the Oral B app.  With it you get a timer function and a mapping function.

Timer function
Using the timer function the brush and app will tell you if you’re brushing long enough.  While you’re using it, local weather, news stories, and photos of the day will come up on your cell phone screen to entertain you while you brush.When you’re done your dentist recommended two minute brushing time, the timer will signal you with a long stuttering sound and a flashing ring of light. If you have the professional timer set up, you’ll get a short stuttering sound and flashing of the smart ring light at 30 second intervals to tell you to move to the next quadrant of your mouth.

I also have to say I find it a struggle to brush for the required two minutes. Obviously I’ve been brushing my teeth for years for far less time than I should be, because when I make it the full allotted time, it feels like I’be been scrubbing my teeth forever!

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxPosition Detection Function
Using the position detection feature is very eye-opening. You think you’re getting all the areas of your mouth but the app proves that you’re not, and then shows you where you need to focus more or less time.

To use it you need to mount your smartphone to the mirror in front of your brushing area, then position your face in a small circle so the app can ‘see’ your mouth and monitor your position. The app will then show you a graph that measures how well you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth.

Gameifying your brushing experience
The Oral B Genius is gameified; which should be fun for some folks. Once you’re finished doing the position detection technique, you’ll get a score. The app will encourage you to beat your score again next time. gameifying ordinary experiences is a neat and smart way to get you to think more about them and make them more purposeful.

Travelling with Genius 8000

The included travel case will charge both your toothbrush and your smart phone if you need it. Rather surprisingly, to give the case a full charge can take up to 12 hours, so make sure you get it juiced up well in advance.

The inside lid of the travel case has a built in smartphone holder which allows you to prop up your phone so the app can still see you brush.

Using the Oral B Genius 8000

Pressure control ring
One feature I found particularly helpful is the pressure control light up Ring. The light around the top of the toothbrush will turn red if you start brushing too hard. If you’re also using the app at the same time, it will also give you an on-screen message telling you the same. As someone Who consistently brushes too hard, I found this very helpful.

That light up ring also has several other features. When it’s white, the default color, it just tells you that it’s working and act as a visual timer. You can also choose your individual colour for the slight inside the app. A blue light indicates the brush is in Bluetooth pairing mode.

Vibration
The Oral B Genius 8000 uses strong vibrations and an oscillating brush head to clean your teeth. As Oral B explains is, “this highly advanced brush features a dentist-inspired round head that surrounds and cups each tooth with dynamic oscillating, rotating and pulsating movements to remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.”

Overall review – Can Oral B Genius 8000 deliver?

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxAt first I found the brush very … aggressive.  The vibrations are quite strong. I also started out with the small round brush head, the CrossAction, which was significantly smaller than I’ve used before. between the new head, the vibrations, the size of the handle and adapting to using the app, I wasn’t sure if I liked the brush overall.  But after a few days I adapted, and started to notice me teeth actually felt… cleaner.  You know how when it’s almost time to visit the dentist, your teeth start to feel… less clean overall?  I was near that part of the dental cycle, but after two weeks with the brush I felt like I had just been to the dentist. I was impressed.

I didn’t need to recharge the brush during that whole time either, so I ended up putting the charging base away to de-clutter my bathroom. when it does need juice, I’ll just whip it out and leave it to re-charge for a few hours.

After testing, I really liked this brush; I feel like it cleans well, lasts a long time on a charge and will give me a clean even my dentist would approve of.

The brush handle starter kits sell for about $269CAD and replacement brushes are about $36 for a 3-pack, so buying and maintaining use of one of these is not without its costs. is it worth it… I’m going to keep using the brush for longer to see. if you’re curious, hit me up with a comment after a couple months and I’ll let you know.

There’s more info on the brush here.

Check out more in my series on smart dental technology – read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

Beauty gadget review – Curl Secret by Conair

Curl Secret Conair ErinLYYCIt’s a mighty odd looking device for a curling iron. The Curl Secret by Conair (also labelled on the box as Infinity Pro) arrived to my tech test center recently, and I’ve been trying it out.

You’ve probably seen this gadget advertised (As seen on TV!); it looks kind of like a giant lollipop, or a bulbous weapon of some sort.

Despite its distinctive shape, the Curl Secret from Conair promises lush bouncy curls with ease.  Does it live up to the hype? I have naturally straight hair and have lots of experience with many kinds of styling tools, so my review will focus on those parameters. You might have a different experience if you are a neophyte with naturally curly hair.

Video review of Conair Curl Secret

Figuring out the Curl Secret

The Curl Secret definitely took some getting used to.  I consider myself pretty adept with curling irons and wands and even using a flat iron to curl my hair, but the Curl Secret works like nothing I’ve ever tried before.Curl Secret Conair ErinLYYC

You clamp the device on a 1/2 to 1″ section of dry hair. The device pulls hair into a round heated chamber, and warms it at the same time it wraps the hair around the inner barrel. When the timer beeps, your hair is ready, you open the clamp, and your beautifully curled hair falls free.

Important note

The opening of the curl chamber must always be facing your head , no matter what side you’re working on. That’s important, because if you mix this up, as I did on one of my early tries, your hair gets stuck. Really stuck. More on that later.

For the most part, the device is easy to use.  It helps enormously if your hair is brushed, so it’s smooth and free of tangles. Then it slips into the chamber easily, and will fall out with ease.

Curl quality of Conair Curl Secret

conair curl secret review erinlyyc
A freeze frame from my video showing rather random curls from the Conair Curl Secret

I found the curls to be rather loose for my hair texture and length, but then I changed some of the settings on the Curl Secret. There are 3 timer settings and 2 heat settings which are supposed to provide may different variations on curl, from light waves to tighter spirals. I found (not surprisingly) that the curl was tightest and lasted longest on high heat and for the longest time. The Curl Secret definitely gave me curls that lasted well into the next day.

conair curl secret review erinlyyc
Care must be taken to get uniform curls using the Conair Curl Secret Infinity.

The problem I had with the device’s curl quality is that it’s quite unpredictable. If you’re not careful to use uniform pieces of hair, and hold the machine in the same way, at the same distance from your head, you can get quite a random head of curls (See my video above for what that looked like). During a couple of tests I got both light waves and spiral curls during the same session and with the same settings, probably due to the fact I was inadvertently varying the size of the pieces of hair I was using. I was forced to do several pieces over again to try to gain some uniformity.

I also noticed that after each test, on the next day my hair felt rougher once the curl was brushed out, kind of like the strands had been fattened up or roughed up by the previous day’s experiments. I needed to wash my hair to get it smooth again.

What happens when Conair Curl Secret malfunctions or it goes wrong?

The Curl Secret has a mechanism that prevents hair from getting stuck.  If it senses resistance via a tangle, it stops drawing hair in and beeps and you must open it and start the curl over. This fail-safe works well, and I had no major problems with tangles or stuck hair.

Curl Secret Conair ErinLYYCThis mechanism obviously seems to work best if the wand is held correctly. Once I accidentally turned the curl chamber away from my head and started the curl process. It sucked in all the hair and heated it but wouldn’t release it. It was then I realized it was hopelessly jammed.

I struggled to free my curl but it was absolutely not budging. With visions of a smoking singed stump on my head, I unplugged the Curl Secret and tried to work the curl free with my hands and some tugging.  It still wouldn’t budge. I ended up having to work the end of a plastic comb into the curl chamber to help pull it free, but it was truly no easy feat. (I’ll say it again: unplug the device and only use plastic if you’re going to stick something into an electrical appliance) Fortunately there was no damage to my hair. You can bet I took extra care never to make that mistake again.

Easy to hold, cool to touch

The outside of the Curl Secret remains cool to the touch so you can manhandle it as you need to. That makes it easy to find a grip or a handhold that works. The device isn’t heavy, certainly no heavier than a blow dryer, though I’d say it felt a wee bit heavier than a large curling iron.

Overall review impressions – Conair Curl Secret

My overall impression was that the Curl Secret was just okay. The box promises “perfect curl… every time” but I’d say that’s not accurate in my experience.

conair curl secret reviewOnce I learned how to use it it was easy enough to use and it gave me a decent enough curl most of the time and the curls did last into the next day.  If I had to name the cons about this device, it’s that you have to be so cautious about how you use it. That tangle I had was no small snarl. With a curling iron or wand you can just release your hair, with this, it felt a lot more desperate when it jammed.

I also felt like the curls were not as smooth as I’d get with a wand or iron. Particularly the next day after I brushed out my curls the hair felt roughed up, something I’ve never felt with my existing wand, tourmaline iron or curling iron (though this device says it too is ‘tourmaline ceramic’).

Another part I didn’t love about the Curl Secret was that I wasn’t able to get the curl very close to my scalp. Just the way the Curl Secret is built, it can’t physically get close to the root, so I’d say I had a 2” area of hair near my scalp that I was unable to curled.

I have straight hair (just below the shoulders in length) and found the device worked fine on me, but I can’t say what the experience would be like for those with curly hair, or with very long hair.

I didn’t care for the randomness of the curl using the Curl Secret. Care must be taken to get very uniform sections in order to get a nice even curl. In my experience, it was quite hard to get even results, unless I took much more time than I would with a curling iron or wand. Even then, sometimes when I thought I was being quite deliberate, I still had sections that needed redoing.

So, would I buy myself a Curl Secret? The answer is no. I feel like I’m faster and more adept with the traditional styling tools I already own, and I can virtually guarantee my results come out soft and even with these other devices. Would a total newbie have a different or better experience with the Curl Secret than I did? I don’t have that answer.

Even so, I think this would be a good starter device for younger people who are learning to do their hair themselves (harder to get burned with this), or those with a bit less dexterity who don’t want to fuss with other pro-sumer tools. For ladies with more experience and dexterity doing their own hair, this is probably a gadget to skip.

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review

img_6012No woman likes drying her hair. It takes time to do well, holding a heavy dryer over your head for 20-plus minutes is tiring, and having a loud whine in your ear really sets a  certain tone for the day.

It’s not surprising then there’s been lots of interest now that someone has finally decided there’s a better way.  Dyson, makers of cyclonic bagless vacuums and bladeless fans and heaters has announced its new hair dryer, and it features similar technology to its other products, but refined and on a much smaller scale. Continue reading “Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review”

Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men

img_5915For the soap and water purists, the idea of spending over two hundred dollars on something to clean your face is appalling. Yet legions of loyal fans swear by the effectiveness of Clarisonic ultrasonic skin care devices.

I wrote previously about the Clarisonic Smart Profile brush (much to my surprise I really, really liked it and now use one several times a week. Read my review here)

Meet Clarisonic Mia Fit and Alpha Fit

Clarisonic now has a different brush in this range; it’s smaller, more compact and less expensive than the multi-purpose Smart Profile, but it still has the basics of ultrasonic cleaning covered.mia-alpha

The Mia Fit, and Alpha Fit for men, are essentially the same device in gender-specific packaging and design, but there are some differences, which we’ll get to. Continue reading “Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men”

Review: Clarisonic Smart Profile face brush

Clarisonic_Pro_Main 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

IMG_7470It 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?

IMG_7466As 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”.

IMG_7465Smart technology for beauty

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.

Foreo Luna and Issa: hands on reviews of 2 Beauty Gadgets

img_0120Ultrasonic technology is big in beauty right now. The subtle vibrations are said to help shake dirt and impurities from your skin and even help clean your teeth.

I had the chance to test out two ultrasonic beauty gadgets; the Foreo Issa toothbrush and the Luna face brush. Scroll to the bottom for an update from my dentist on how well the Issa toothbrush performed.

What is Foreo Luna and what will it do?

The Foreo Luna is a skin cleansing device, designed to use ultrasonic waves to help clean your skin more thoroughly.img_9973

There are different styles of Luna from very smooth to a more obvious silicone bristle. I tested two models — a white one with no visible bristles on it (it’s simply a smooth silicone device, that looks somewhat like a bar of soap, with fine ridges on it), and a pink one with subtle silicone nubs.

Foreo says the Luna with its “unique combination of  T-sonic pulsations  with silicone touch points will gently exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pores of make up residue as well as 99.5% of dirt and oil, enhancing the absorption of your other skin care products”.

It also makes claims that using this device will reduce the signs of aging, by offering “lower frequency pulsations that when applied to wrinkle prone areas reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles”, and makes skin look firmer.

A cleaner way to clean?

The Luna devices are coated with silicone, making them very smooth and streamlined, and easy to grip.  That same silicone, according to Foreo, makes it resistant to bacteria, and easy to keep clean, presumably easier than some of the bristled face brushes that other companies sell, such as the Clarisonic.

I have been using the Clarisonic for several months now, and enjoy the feeling of deep clean I get using the brush. Read my review of the Clarisonic device here.

Knowing how much I enjoyed the Clarisonic experience, I was very much looking forward to testing out the Luna.

Which Foreo Luna is right for you?

The Luna comes in three different models with cleansing brushes it says are tailored to specific skin types. You can take a quiz on the Foreo website, and it will help you select the correct model for your skin type. The quiz wants to know if your skin is fine, has any red patches or oily areas, as well as information on imperfections and acne breakouts.

The quiz recommended I use the normal/sensitive brush, with its touch points for gentle cleansing, and some broader touch points near the top. But since I also had recieved a sample of the brush for sensitive skin, I decided to start with that one.

Luna for sensitive skin

On the day I received it, I charged the device and then put it to work right away. My immediate reaction was I found it uncomfortable and not enjoyable to use. The device is smooth and, even though it is wrapped in soft silicone, it’s very hard. I was rubbing it across my face, and pressing it lightly onto some areas, but it’s ultrasonic buzz really just made me feel as though my bones were being rattled. Particularly on areas of my face where the skin and flesh or thinnest, I felt as though my bones were being vibrated.

I cleansed my whole face and then stopped. I can’t say I was looking forward to the next experience after that. Even so, the next day I repeated the process, and got the same bone jarring experience. Now, what I mean by bone jarring here, is not that it is going to drill holes in your head. It has a very gentle vibration, but when those vibrations are applied directly to certain areas of the face, I found them rather uncomfortable.

Luna for normal skin

I had a much more enjoyable time using the Luna for normal skin. While the bristles are very soft, at the same time it makes it feel as though your skin is being cleansed deeply.
After my first use, I have to say I felt like the brush didn’t do as good a job as my Clarisonic device. But when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning, I was surprised my skin felt velvety, soft, and new. I was impressed.

I found that using this brush with it soft silicone bristles was much less bone buzzing than the Luna for sensitive skin. I think the little silicone nubs act as a bit of a buffer between the device and your skull. So, using this brush I felt I was getting the benefits of the ultrasonic vibrations, without the uncomfortable feeling.

Foreo Luna: The Verdict

I did feel like I needed more cleanser with the Luna, at least initially. While other brushes will foam up your cleanser, the Luna doesn’t. So the first few times I found myself adding a second dose of cleanser.  After a few uses, however, I started soaping up my face, not the brush and found I could use the normal amount. You still won’t get that foamy effect, though.

I also found the shape of the Luna a bit awkward to get into narrow areas, like around the nose, and it wasn’t as natural to cleanse the neck or the jawline, as the brush is not at all flexible. I preferred the normal skin brush of the two I tried as I liked getting a bit of a deeper clean. I also liked the variety of settings. Overall, I’ve been enjoying the ultrasonic technology, and I think my face is smoother, cleaner, and less prone to the occasional breakout, even just using it about twice per week.

The Luna brushes retail for about  $229 Canadian.

img_9117Ultrasonic toothbrush: the Foreo Issa

The Issa is a silicone toothbrush that uses ultrasonic waves to clean and polish your teeth. The brush is made up of two parts; the base and the brush head, and the brush heads are interchangeable and replaceable.

I love the idea of this toothbrush; it incorporates both the vibrations of an electric toothbrush, with the softness of silicone, and the ability to keep it bacteria free, unlike most regular toothbrushes that are simply gross toothpaste residue and bacteria magnets.

Testing the Basic Foreo Issa Toothbrush

The first model I tested out was the regular Issa brush. It has a rounded silicone brush head, that has a bit of a contour taking the brush from short bristles too tall bristles.

Foreo says “the combination of sonic pulse technology with a unique silicone design cleans and whitens teeth like never before”.  The company says its toothbrush brushes teeth effectively, but gently. I can definitely attest to that. Using this toothbrush is a very unique experience.

All my life, I have been used to using plastic bristled toothbrush is, and more recently plastic bristled toothbrush is with electric or battery powered technology. The feeling of this brush is completely different. It feels very gentle and more like you are merely rubbing a finger around your mouth. There is absolutely no sensation of bristles or brushing or, scratching, if you will.  The sensation of this brush is really just soft and edgeless. While that’s a significant difference and a nice touch, I didn’t really feel like it was getting into the nooks and crannies of my teeth and cleaning them. I did feel like the brush was definitely polishing the flatter surfaces of my teeth, but in terms of a feeling of overall clean in my mouth, I didn’t have that with this brush.  It’s worth pointing out that the is a hybrid brush has slightly different bristles. The company says “the hybrid is stronger on plaque and still gentle on gums.” More on that below.img_0004

I love the fact that the handle of this brush is nothing but smooth silicone, with no cracks, crevices, or griplines. I find the handle is the part of any regular toothbrush that gets the grimiest after months of use; it can be downright gross. But with this brush, even if it does get a bit dirty, a quick rinse under the top and everything is clean. The silicone dries quickly as well, preventing gunk buildup. Amazingly you can also wash Foreo products in the dishwasher if you do want a cleaner clean!

Testing the Hybrid Foreo Issa Toothbrush

This brush was my favourite from the get-go. The brush head has more regular toothbrush bristles in the centre, and silicone bristles surrounding those. From my first test use, I felt like I was getting a proper clean while still being gentle.

Help for ‘Aggressive Brushers’

I’m what’s called an ‘aggressive brusher,’ according to my dentist. I use more force than I need, apparently, and over many years that’s resulted in my wearing away grooves at the base of my teeth near my gums. It’s a problem because you can get cavities or extreme sensitivity in those areas, and some will even need to be given fillings to protect your teeth. My dentist recommended an electric toothbrush to tone down the back and forth cutting motion I was using brushing by hand, and that’s been effective for the last few years. Now, with the Issa hybrid, I feel like I’m getting a good clean, but with much less force.

I asked a Doctor for his opinion

I spoke to Dr. John Huynh, DMD,MS,D.Ortho, FRCD(C) who’s a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics about the Issa brushes.  He told me a quick search of PubMed (a database for medical publications) found no published articles about the Issa toothbrush at all, meaning not a lot of professional medical research has been done on the Issa, or if it has it hasn’t been published.

Dr Huynh had a look at the Issa line and told me, “I think the bristles on the Issa tooth brush are rather large. I don’t feel as thought they would be able to get into the tight spaces between the teeth. Basically, a tooth brush works by mechanically debriding plaque, biofilms and debris off of your teeth. If the bristles don’t actually contact your teeth because they are too large to fit into the small spaces, then it doesn’t really work. Pretty much every other tooth brush out there has fine bristles that can get into the nooks and crannies to clean your teeth.”

Regarding aggressive brushers, Dr Huynh said, “I can see it possibly being gentler on the root surface of a tooth though. That part of the tooth is made out of cementum which is a lot softer. That’s the part of the tooth that tends to get damaged when people have gum recession and are aggressive brushers. Usually using a soft or extra-soft tooth brush can help prevent this type of wear from occurring.”

Of course taking care of your teeth is about more than just the brush, which Dr John pointed out. “You have to remember that flossing is the other half of the equation that needs to be done. Brushing alone isn’t able to get right between your teeth to clean out all the gunk from between your teeth. The thing is…how many people actually floss daily? I bet not too many. So it’s extra important that you have a tooth brush that can get into the smaller nooks and crannies.”

Battery lasts a year on a single charge

Foreo says the brush can last a full year on the single battery charge. That’s impressive when it comes to an electric toothbrush, and so far I have indeed only charged it once.

There’s a kids version of the Issa and there are also several different attachment options for the is so brush. One is a tongue cleaner, one is a simple replacement head, and the other is what’s called the hybrid brush head. It incorporates more traditional bristles (but made with polymer) into the center of the silicone bristles. This is meant to keep the antibacterial properties that set this brush apart from traditional manual toothbrushes.

The Issa toothbrush comes in several colours and costs $229. Replacement brush heads are about $25-30.

Foreo Issa: The Verdict

It’s a bit weird getting used to the new brush shape and feel, so I’m not using it all the time yet, but I’m working up to it.  I feel like the brush is extremely gentle, maybe too gentle; it doesn’t quite feel like it’s getting the teeth in the back, and I need to really concentrate to get in the nooks and crannies. But the tradeoff here is that I’m damaging my teeth a lot less, I guess.

I’m also a bit concerned about the cost of replacing the brush heads. They’re about $25, but Foreo says you only need to replace them once per year. While this whole set up is much more expensive than a traditional $5 toothbrush or $10 drug store electric one, there’s longevity to consider, as well as the fact there are no batteries to replace, as I usually need to do in my $10 brush about 3 months in. Yes, the Issa is an investment, but if you’re like me, it may help you cut down on cutting into your teeth.

I am also interested to see what my dentist will say; whether she feels I’m getting as good of a clean from this brush after 6 months.   On that front, I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: The dentist’s view!

May 2016: I had my 6 month checkup, the first since starting to use the Issa brush. I brought the brush in to my dentist and showed it to both her and the hygienist.  They had both heard about silicone toothbrushes, but hadn’t been hands-on with one. They were interested in the Issa, and even more so at what my results were.  After a thorough dental exam by each of them, they proclaimed my teeth clean and healthy, and with perhaps slightly less plaque than they’d usually find on me.

While it was hard for either them or me to definitively say the Issa did a better job than a regular electric toothbruth, what was clear was that it did just as well and maybe even slightly better. Both the dentist and the hygienist agreed I should keep using the device, and I can say that was comforting news.  So now, more than 6 months later, I am still using, enjoying and having good results with the Issa brush.

For more information on these products, head to Foreo.com