Is Cleaning with the Clarisonic Good for the Skin?

I regularly receive questions about the much publicised popular cleansing brush, the Clarisonic. Is this technique actually any good for your skin? Does it work and is it safe?

You can assume that the research on the use of this, so-called, sonic brush has been carried out by the manufacturers themselves. And so, naturally, you are going to see super results such as it cleanses six times more thoroughly, a more radiant complexion, less enlarged pores and even a reduction in wrinkles and creases. Is that true? Is that possible?

So it’s high time we put it to the test.
I have tested the brush on a small group of people with variable conditions. The machine’s effect on the skin barrier has also been assessed. We have separated these into groups of oily skin and dry skin.

Test 1: heavy make-up.
The clarisonic may be useful when heavy make-up is worn, for instance for a photo shoot, television or on stage. This is when a thorough cleanser is very important. In order to test this we have applied a thick layer using a camouflage stick from the Hema (a non-liquid product, so really waterproof) onto the forehead. Believe me, this was no ordinary everyday make-up (left photo).

When the make-up was removed we subsequently compared the difference between the brush and a ‘normal’ cleansing method (right photo).
In photo (1) on the right the result is clear to see after cleansing for a minute with the Clarisonic. In photo (2) we have removed the make-up manually with a cleansing product. The black colour clearly shows a lot of make-up still remaining on the forehead (the small white lines on the photo are from the towel). The result is convincing: 1-0 for the Clarisonic.





Small observation: we were unable to get the brush thoroughly clean after this test…


Test 2: sun cream
Full make-up is not applied by everyone each day. So we have chosen a more realistic condition for test 2: That is the removal of sun cream. Filters in sun cream are slightly tacky and therefore difficult to remove. Even so they are-all being well- frequently used. With ultraviolet photography the skin shows up as black where sun cream has been applied.

In this test the right side of the face (left on the photo) has been cleansed with the Clarisonic (1), and the left half of the face manually (2).
The photos say enough: it is 1-1!

Test 3: skin barrier
The TEWA metre can measure the effectiveness of your skin barrier, or more simply: how much water your skin loses. By measuring the skin barrier, both before and after cleansing, we were testing to see if the Clarisonic damaged the skin barrier. Alongside this we looked at the use of the cleansing brush on a dry skin and an oily skin.
Reaching a conclusion with results from just one measurement is tricky. Even so I came across something striking in the final results.
What became clear was that an oily skin showed less damage than a dry, sensitive skin. This is in fact logical. The layer of sebum forms a natural protection for the skin, something a dry skin doesn’t have.

The graph clearly shows that cleansing with the Clarisonic on the test subject with dry skin causes much more moisture loss than the test subject with oily skin. Manual cleansing has almost no effect on moisture loss from the skin. The slight increase is usual when the skin comes into contact with water and a cleanser.

If you have oily skin or wear heavy make-up regularly, then cleansing with a Clarisonic may be more worthwhile. The only pitfall is overuse of this type of equipment. I, personally, wouldn’t recommend daily use: and I would advise using the brush a maximum of two to three times a week. Also, be careful when using skincare products with active ingredients. These may have a more potent effect if applied after cleansing with the Clarisonic.

With all other skin types my personal view is: leave well alone. My simple test highlighted an increase in the damage to the skin barrier on a dry skin after just one use with the Clarisonic. And even though I selected the so-called ‘delicate’ brush head which should be the gentlest.

Regards, Jetske

(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read:
More about the Barrier Function of the Skin
What to Do with Oily Skin
What to Do with Dry Skin
Use a Plant Derived Oil to Remove Your Make-Up