Sunday, September 18, 2011

Skincare Saturday: Clarisonic Review and Pictures

If I actually had disposable income to speak of, buying a Clarisonic would have been a no-brainer.  Given my rather limited funds, however, I debated it for weeks.  I read all the testimonials on MUA and elsewhere about how well it worked, how much it improved people's skin, what a great decision it was, etc., etc.  For those who don't know, a Clarisonic is a facial cleansing brush.  It uses some kind of magical sonic pulses to rotate the brush head miniscule amounts, resulting in a deep clean without irritating the skin.  There are three models, the Pro, Plus, and the Mia; the former two have different vibration speeds and can be used on your body, and the latter is smaller (though the brush heads are the same size) and more portable, as well as being cheaper, though still very expensive: buying one new was, at the time of my purchase, $150 from Sephora, or ~$120 from Amazon--both of which were out of my price range.  They now range from $119 to $129 on Sephora (depending on whether you get solid color or print handles), and the same on Amazon.  I looked into other cheaper options, like one made by Olay, but ultimately decided that if I was going to drop a chunk of change on something, I wanted it to be the real deal.  On eBay I found a Mia brush handle for $45 and a brush head for $12, which I bought first.  The handle came fully charged, which, if used once a day, lasts about 2 weeks, so I figured I could fork out that money first and then buy the charger from Clarisonic for $25 after I got my next paycheck.  And so I did.  It totaled $80 for the whole shebang, which is something that still causes me some pain, but I will say it has made a difference...
  Clarisonic Mia is available in multiple colors
Image from Clarisonic
...though it's not been completely life-changing.  I've been using it daily+ for 5 months now and I still battle breakouts and oily skin, as anyone who's read many posts knows.  But the Clarisonic does help, especially with keeping my pores clear of blackheads and speeding up my skin's recovery from blemishes and the like.  It's also very useful as a way of maximizing the returns of my skincare, as it makes a cleaner and more accepting surface for moisturizers, toners, and serums to absorb into.
My brush handle with the old Delicate brush head

There are a few different brush head options, and as far as I can tell, they differ primarily in terms of bristle length.  The Normal brush head has the shortest bristles and therefore has the strongest exfoliation (shorter length = less give = stronger conveyance of the vibration).  The Sensitive brush head is the default when you buy a Clarisonic from a legit store, and has longer bristles than the normal, but shorter than the Delicate brush head, which is what I ultimately decided on.  At the time of initial purchase, the Delicate was the longest-bristled brush, which they recommended for acne-prone skin as it's less likely to over-irritate skin and cause breakouts.  Since then, they've added another brush, the Deep Pore Cleanser, which is even longer than the Delicate.  Brushes last 3-4 months (and I could definitely tell a difference between my old one and new one), and when it came time to order a new brush, I opted for the Delicate again, mostly because it was cheaper on eBay than the Deep Pore, but also because it's been working fine for me and I didn't feel any need to change it up.
New Delicate brush head (left) and old (right)
It also comes with a cover for the brush head to protect it when traveling, which I can say is really handy.  There's only one button on the handle which turns it on and off, though if you don't turn it off yourself, it will run for a minute (more than ample time for my whole face) before automatically shutting off, which is also quite handy.
New brush head with cover

I've tried it with many different kinds of cleansers.  Honey is workable, though I think it may wear the brush out more quickly because of the added friction; foaming cleansers are nice, because you only need a tiny dot since the friction of the brush makes it foam like mad; cream or non-foaming cleansers, like Cetaphil, don't work so well, because the cleanser tends to run off before you can get all the way around your face (and, while some people put the cleanser on their face first and then run the brush over, I find that putting the cleanser on my Clarisonic lessens the amount of soap that ends up in my eyes); and lightly foaming/creamy cleansers, like Philosophy Purity, work really well, too.  You shouldn't use an exfoliating cleanser or scrub with the Clarisonic, because it's likelier to abrade and irritate your skin.  Clarisonic says you can use their brushes twice daily, though I've found that once daily (in the morning) works best for me, and if you have really sensitive or dry skin, a couple of times a week should suffice fine.

If you have problem skin and some money to spare, definitely give the Clarisonic a try.  If your finances are tight enough to make a $120 purchase (or an $80 purchase if you're sneaky like me) significant, think on it and read other reviews (Google has lots, as always).  I definitely don't regret my purchase, but only because I assume I'll be using it for years––if the handle stops working, my assessment may change.  One thing to note is that some people report a period of purging after starting use of the Clarisonic, where clogged pores and toxins get loosened and cause breakouts, but I didn't have anything like that (a minor miracle, considering how badly my skin reacts to most things!).  

$119-$129 from Sephora, Amazon, Clarisonic; $80 total from eBay and Clarisonic
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