I don’t usually do reviews on skin care products that we don’t carry or use in the spa. I try to use this format (the blog) to educate our clients on the wonderful benefits of the products we’ve painstakingly researched and fully support and stand behind.
My reason for doing a review on Clarisonic is because I have observed changes in my client’s skin that use the brush, and some of the changes have not been beneficial to the health of their skin. And since Christmas has recently passed I’ve had a lot more clients ask my opinion about this product, since they received one for the holiday. Since my goal is to offer helpful skin care tips to allow you to become a smarter skin care consumer, I feel that this is important information to share.
What is Clarisonic?
Clarisonic is a skin care tool sold at specialty beauty stores that uses a soft, gentle brush that oscillates back and forth over the skin and claims to remove six times more makeup than cleansing by hand.
Despite being promoted as a tool that “removes six times more makeup than cleansing by hand”, to me, Clarisonic is really an exfoliating tool to physically lift off dry skin cells and, in the process, remove dirt and makeup.
My problem with Clarisonic is not necessarily the brush itself, because the exfoliating benefits can be beneficial to some people. I do have a serious concern with how often they recommend using it. They say it’s gentle enough to use twice daily, but it is my belief that this is way too much when combining with other exfoliating products you are probably already using.
While it may feel gentle enough to use twice a day, you have to understand exfoliation. Clarisonic, facial scrubs, acids, enzymes, wash cloths or whatever form you get your exfoliation in can cause skin damage and may lead to aging if used too frequently.
Over-exfoliation can cause dryness
Exfoliating too aggressively and too often can cause dryness and disrupt the skin’s lipid barrier. This allows moisture to seep out of the cells more easily, causing them to get dehydrated. Many of my clients who I see monthly for facial treatments started complaining of dryness and irritation when their skin had been so perfectly hydrated and balanced with their ilike, Naturopathica or Dr.Hauschka products. Come to find out, the dryness started to occur once they introduced the Clarisonic brush! I had already had my clients set up on an exfoliation routine based on their skin type and issues, but once they added in the Clarisonic, their skin was getting too much exfoliation and that’s why the dryness and irritation occurred.
Over-exfoliation can cause chronic inflammation
Exfoliating too aggressively and too often can create inflammation (even if not visible) setting off a response to create free radicals. A major cause of aging is chronic and prolonged inflammation, associated with tissue destruction, active inflammation and attempts at healing which is why it’s essential to eat foods high in antioxidants and use skin care products with stable antioxidants, like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C).
Skin trauma is ok….occasionally
You don’t want to exfoliate to the point of destroying healthy cells. When you give the skin trauma, the skin goes into repair mode and stimulates cellular regeneration. This can be very beneficial to the skin, but if you create trauma too often by over-exfoliating, then it’s continually setting up a cascade of free radical damage that triggers premature aging.
Over-exfoliation can stimulate melanin activity resulting in increased skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
You must use caution with physical exfoliants like Clarisonic, washcloths and facial scrubs. For skin that is extremely reactive to stimulation (skin of color and for those prone to severe discoloration) you need to treat your skin gently to avoid post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation resulting in increased skin discoloration.
Clean skin is good…to a certain point
Since Clarisonic markets itslef as a cleansing tool to remove dirt and makeup, I’d like to make this point. You do want your skin hygienically clean, but not clean like you want your kitchen floor. There is a certain amount of good bacteria that the skin needs to keep it healthy and functioning well so you don’t want to strip it by over-using your Clarisonic brush. This is also why I suggest using non-drying, sulfate-free cleansers.
What’s the right amount of exfoliation?
Botanical AHA Peel ~ ilike organic skin care
This is the tricky question. As a Dr.Hauschka esthetician my answer is usually “less is more”, I find that the Cleansing Cream is enough for most people, however I do have clients that really do need an extra boost with exfoliation. So I suggest using a Glycolic acid serum applied to the skin once a week, or one of Naturopathica’s enzyme peels – again once a week. Ilike just came out with a Botanical AHA product that we are all loving. It’s gentle, yet effective and you only need to leave it on for a few minutes.
Now, if you tend to have dry/dehydrated skin you’ll want to use a hydrating serum to bathe those new cells in hydrating antioxidants.
Oat Facial Polish ~ Naturopathica
I also recommend using a gentle facial scrub which contains jojoba beads or very gentle scrubbing ingredients such as corn meal. Naturopathica’s Oat Facial polish or ilike’s Rosehip Exfoliator and Ultra Sensitive Exfoliating Mask are great options OR your Clarisonic brush 2 times a week—and that’s it. The idea here is that using a Glycolic Acid serum, Enzyme or AHA product will dissolve the dry skin cells while a physical exfoliant like a scrub or Clarisonic will lift off the dry skin cells. They both work differently but both are beneficial.
Please visit your esthetician to get recommendations on the proper exfoliating products for your skin type.
Many people really like using the Clarisonic brush and I’m certainly not telling you not to use it (it’s great for the body). I simply want to inform you that using it twice daily, combined with other exfoliating products, may be harming your skin’s overall health.
And just for the record, I actually did try a Clarisonic brush on my skin. For me, it was too stimulating and caused some breakout activity so I’ll stick with mild facial scrubs for my physical exfoliation. But if you love it and it works for you, then by all means, use it!
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