Review: Clarisonic Skin Cleansing Brush

By Voxy  

clarisonic 1The holidays are coming up, and I can’t think of a single better beauty purchase to find sitting under the tree, stuffed in your stocking, wrapped in gold foil, pinned to your Yule log, or tied up with a “Happy Winter Solstice!” bow on it than a Clarisonic. I bought mine last year around this time and it is still the best beauty purchase I’ve ever made. Yes, it cost me $200, but I haven’t regretted one copper penny of it. Not one.

The Clarisonic is the equivalent of a sonic toothbrush for your skin. It uses sonic vibrations to help loosen and remove dirt, makeup, and surface oils from your face. The inside of the brush (inside the black circle) rotates back and forth, very very fast, in tiny arcs. The bristles do not actually scrub your face (more on this in a minute); the sound waves loosen the debris and the bristles of the brush help sweep them away.

When the Clarisonic first came out, many people were upset because it didn’t seem to exfoliate as well as they had expected. This is because that’s not what it’s for. That’s what I meant when I said the bristles do not scrub your skin. This is not like taking a carpet cleaner to your face, which a) is good, and b) is what some people evidently expected from looking at the product. You are not supposed to scrub at your face with this piece of equipment; you move it around your face slowly with very-light-to-no pressure and it does all the work.

It comes from the factory with some pre-set timings; the default is a one-minute cleansing cycle in which 20 seconds are spent on the forehead, 20 seconds on the nose and chin, and 10 on each cheek. The handset beeps to tell you when it’s time to move on to the next area. You can change these settings, although I’ve seen tax forms that were more intuitive than the directions for this process. It comes with one of three different brush heads: normal, sensitive (what I use), and delicate (which the company says is safe for people with rosacea, but I’ll let someone else talk about that!). The brush heads should be replaced every 3 months. They cost $25 each, but now these are starting to be marketed in multi-packs at a discount, so that’s all to the good.

The box includes some sample size cleansers, but I wasn’t a fan of them so I use it with my regular cleanser and it works just fine. From the first time I used it, I was really taken aback by how clean my skin looked. I mean, I had thought my skin was clean before, but it reached heights of cleanliness that may even have transcended godliness, not just been next to it. I use it either once or twice a day; overuse makes my skin a little sensitive, so every now and again I give it a rest.

Since I bought mine, they have come out with some smaller models that run about $150, so you can get one for slightly less than I paid, but there’s no question that this is a significant outlay of funds. However, think of the two or three facials you won’t be needing, and it suddenly becomes a good investment. If you ask Santa for one, tell him he should get it at a store with a good return policy (like Sephora) so that you won’t have any trouble taking it back if you find it’s not for you.

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Clarisonic Skin Cleansing Brush: $145-$225

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent (albeit spendy).

Purchase again? Absolutely, though I hope I never need to!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

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11 Comments

  1. avatar ab_grp
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wish there was something in between. I get so disappointed when the one-minute cycle ends, but the two-minute cycle is too long. Yes, in theory one could go against the beeps, clean one’s face, and stop at will, but I have a hard time not following along with the beeps. I’m a rules girl.

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  2. avatar ab_grp
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Voxy: Oh, yay! I’m glad you like it so far. I would feel horrible if you bought it and didn’t like it, so my fingers are crossed that it continues to work for you! (Although, I guess that’s why there are return policies…)I’m also glad I set up the site! I’m having a ton of fun, and I hope you guys are enjoying it too. Thanks for prodding me to get on the ball about it, and anytime you want to write about something, just let me know!   

    Oh, I would give you praise and credit for any finds you pass on, but would never fault you if I ended up not having the same positive opinion that you had! I think your reviews are fantastic.

    FYI, I did figure out how to move up to the 2-minute cycle. It really just is a matter of holding the button in. Unfortunately (and, maybe not surprisingly), my skin seems a bit more red now, and a bit flaky. Maybe I’ll go back to one minute for most cleanings and save the two minute for once a week. I do still love it, and do feel that it has improved my skin. I have never had a facial, so maybe an improvement is not difficult!

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    • avatar Voxy
      Posted December 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I had the same response to the two-minute cycle, so I went back to the one-minute. Occasionally I just run the one-minute cycle again if I think I need it.

      That was the thing that made me say, “you know, maybe I shouldn’t *always* just assume that I know better than the directions.”

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  3. avatar biograd
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 11:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My SO just bought me one for my birthday! I guess he realized it was the type of thing I’d never spend money on. ;-) I’m excited. I need to exchange it for the version with the sensitive head, but I’m really looking forward to using it.

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    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 29, 2009 at 11:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

      YAY!!! How nice. And, happy birthday! (Mine is coming up in a few days; are you a stubborn Sagittarius as well?)

      Your SO is awesome, BTW. Voxy says Thumbs Up.

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  4. avatar ab_grp
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After reading your review, I purchased a Clarisonic brush last week. My skin seems to have improved, but I will check in again once some time has passed. I do want to change the settings to increase the time. It’s quite soothing!

    PS- I’m so glad you’ve set up this site.

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    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 21, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh, yay! I’m glad you like it so far. I would feel horrible if you bought it and didn’t like it, so my fingers are crossed that it continues to work for you! (Although, I guess that’s why there are return policies…)

      I’m also glad I set up the site! I’m having a ton of fun, and I hope you guys are enjoying it too. Thanks for prodding me to get on the ball about it, and anytime you want to write about something, just let me know! :)

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  5. avatar biograd
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 1:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m so intrigued by this, but I feel broke these days. There’s a similar thing called the Pretika SonicDermabrasion brush for $50 on Amazon. Despite the name, it doesn’t look any more abrasive than the Clarisonic. (I know there are also battery-powered dermabrasion thingies like Neutrogena’s out there, but that’s different, right?)

    Anyone know if it’s any good?

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    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 17, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink | Reply

      Reviews from a variety of sources seem to say the following:

      1. In general, about 80% of customers like it.

      2. Apparently the bristles are harder than those of the Clarisonic, and some people find this irritating.

      3. A significant number of people have had trouble with the unit failing to hold a charge properly and/or just stopping working after a few weeks.

      4. The people who use this successfully report comparable results to the Clarisonic.

      5. As with the Clarisonic, there are plenty of people who think this is an exfoliating product (probably because of the word “dermabrasion” in the title) and give it bad reviews because it doesn’t do that.

      6. It’s available for less on drugstore.com! $41.50 at the moment. Or, $36.84 on QVC, but they have $5.97 shipping, so if you have anything else to buy from drugstore.com, you might as well throw in $8.50 worth of Q-tips and aspirin and get the free shipping.

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      • avatar biograd
        Posted November 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! That confirms my guess that it’s approximately the same but not as good. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t an exfoliating thing.

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  6. Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really wish I could afford and/or talk myself into splurging on this device. I love the idea of super-clean skin, and I think it’s the best start for everything that comes after (even if it’s just a good moisturizer).

    How sad is it to wish for a sugar daddy to buy a Clarisonic?

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