Monday, January 18th, 2010

Temptalia is extraordinarily pleased to be able to bring you an exclusive review of the Clarisonic by renowned skincare esthetician and expert Renée Rouleau! It’s a very informative and thorough review and read with invaluable information for improving your skincare routine and ensuring it is doing the most for your skin.  You can visit her blog for more skincare advice and tips!

Is Clarisonic harmful or helpful? Renée Rouleau gives a review….

Let me start by saying that I normally don’t do reviews of other skin care products. I use my blog as a place to talk and share my thoughts on what I know to be true about skin from being an esthetician for 22 years, but I leave product reviews for all of the great beauty bloggers out there.

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. 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.

Read all about proper exfoliation and how to use your Clarisonic to avoid damaging your skin!

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 the brush itself, because the exfoliating benefits are very important. 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 gets yours 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 Renée Rouleau 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 a very thorough exfoliation routine, 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 good….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 might stimulate melanin activity resulting in increased skin discoloration.

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. Read my post on why you shouldn’t rub your face vigorously with a washcloth.

Clean skin is good…to a certain point.

Since Clarisonic markets it 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?

I suggest using an alcohol-free Glycolic acid serum applied to the skin nightly for seven nights in a row. After a week, go off of it to give your skin a break (remember, you don’t want to over-exfoliate). Now, you want to use a hydrating serum for the next seven nights to bathe those new cells in hydrating antioxidants. Then repeat, so you’re only using an exfoliating acid every other week.

I also recommend using a facial scrub OR your Clarisonic brush 2-3 times a week—and that’s it. The idea here is that using a Glycolic Acid serum 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.

A professional chemical peel should be performed every other month and an at-home professional-strength peel (Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel) should be used once every three weeks.

Bottom Line

Many people really like using the Clarisonic brush and I’m certainly not telling you not to use it. 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 purchase a Clarisonic brush and have used it 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!

Renée Rouleau is a trusted skin care expert and celebrity esthetician who has been helping men, women and teens attain healthy, glowing skin for more than 20 years. Her skin care product line, sold on her website and in her two Dallas skin care spas, addresses nine distinct skin types, with more than 70 award-winning products that blend the best of science and nature. Her proven results have earned her the confidence of celebrities, like Lisa Rinna, Melissa Rycroft, Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson, as well as cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists.

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31 thoughts on “Skin Care Expert Renée Rouleau Reviews the Clarisonic!

  1. I have a Clarisonic brush purchased about a year ago, and I just don’t think it’s worth the price! You can get the same results with a regular face brush and a good cleanser!

  2. Great and timely article Christine. I got my Clarisonic 2 months ago and think I am going to return it. I never had dry skin until I started using it. I definitely think 2 times a day for me is way too much.

    I started using it only once a day and it’s better, but still after 2 months I don’t really notice any improvement in my skin other than a smoother feeling nose. Don’t think that’s worth $150, so mine is going back!

  3. Tiffany

    The Clarisonic is definitely great for removing heavy makeup. I tested it out by washing my [makeup] face with my regular cleanser as I normally would. It looked cleaned. However, I used the Clarisonic right after I cleansed and my brushed picked up so much makeup that was left on my face! If I wore liquid foundation everyday, I would feel the need to use it daily, but since I don’t, I will take Renee’s advice and only use it when necessary.

  4. katy

    I liked seeing a different opinion on the Clarisonic rather then just “it’s great!” which is the usual reaction. I like hearing about pros and cons. Personally i could never bring myself to spend that kind of money on it when i find normal exfoliators and occasionally exfoliating gloves work out well with my skin.

  5. I’ve never been able to afford the Clarisonic so I opted for the Sun Body Polisher, which comes with a ton of brushes, and costs $30! That’s a big price difference… and that I also only use very rarely. I couldn’t imagine paying so much for the Clarisonic and using it once every other week.

    Sun Body Polisher: http://www.beautychoice.com/products/Sun_Body_Polisher_and_Self_Tan_Remover-12342-72.html

  6. I have a Clarisonic MIA, use it twice daily and I don’t have dry skin problems since I’ve started using it. My skin is more normal/oily, so maybe that’s why. I do find my skin to be much cleaner when using the MIA versus using a face cloth or rubbing with my fingers. I’ve actually had less breakouts now using the MIA than prior to using it.

  7. Carissa

    I adore the benefits of the Clarisonic brush! My doctor recommended the brush to me and since I have been using it for almost a year, in addition to having regular microdermabrasion appointments. My skin has never felt or looked better. My complexion is clear and my skin feels soft and supple, without blemishes or dry patches. The brush is simple to use. It is like brushing your teeth. I let the brush glide across my skin (without applying pressure) moving it in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. This brush, in addition to a simple skin care routine: cleanser, vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid serum (night/day) and a day lotion with sunscreen has replaced all fancy and expensive products and lengthy skin care routines. I must admit the brush was a huge purchase for my pocketbook upfront but I do not use as much product as I used to after washing my face. I think it is important to point out that I use the brush before going to bed (1xday). I do not use the brush in the morning because (1) I shower and (2) I am not exposing my skin to environmental stressors during the night, at least not as much as I would be outside my house. I like Renee’s point in that the skin should not be overly-cleaned. It is just like your hair or skin, too much showering / washing causes dryness and you remove natural oils that the hair or skin needs to protect itself. I have recommended this brush to many and those that use it love it just as I do. The brush like any product is a personal preference. You will either love it or hate it. As a consumer of this product I am very content.

  8. Kim

    i dont have the clarisonic, but i know i will never get it. i used a face brush i purchased at sephora and for some reason, everytime i use it, my skin was irriated and wud break out.

  9. Connie

    Like everyone, I hesitated to buy the Clarisonic because of price but along came a good deal – 20% off. I have been using it once a day for several months and my skin is markedly improved. I had dry areas by the nose which are now gone, pores at least to me appear to be smaller, and my skin just looks better. Sometimes I may skip using it if I don’t do makeup. Other times I just get plain lazy and do the standard cleaning and notice a big difference in not using the Clarisonic. In any case, for me the purchase was worth every penny.

    • Same here. I got the Mia for Christmas and I’ve been using it once a day, 6 days a week (Sundays are no makeup days therefore, no Mia days) and my skin has gotten so much better. If I knew it would be this great, I would have gotten it sooner.

      But skincare is so personal so I’m not surprised that the Clarisonic doesn’t work for everyone.

  10. Caramel

    I never thought the Clarisonic was a good idea. I tried once and it was simply painful for my super sensitive, rosacea prone skin. I use peels instead of physical scrubs b/c they don’t irritate my skin.

  11. Michelle

    Thank you for this wonderful review Renee! I not only benefited from your review, but I took the time to go on your site and review some of your products and found out what my (real) skin type is. This article was a really nice way to find other alternatives to pricey machines and the like and still have great skin. Thanks again

  12. Eden Landers

    so glad i read this. i am 100% sure i am over exfoliating my skin now. hmph…what to do…..does this apply to people with oily skin that need to get the gunk off? thanks for the great post!

  13. lisa

    Love hearing the pros and cons!

  14. Nicci

    I just got a Clarisonic for Christmas and I really like it. I did get a small face brush from Sephora and it was nice but I didn’t feel like it was doing the job. To me it doesn’t compare to the Clarisonic. My skin feels soft and really clean after I use it…twice a day. My skin is oily. I didn’t get dry patches from using it and it didn’t cause my skin to break out. I’ve noticed a big improvement in my skin.

  15. Kristen

    I personally feel it doesnt work that well. It has made no improvement on my skin, it evens seems to break out more and have more irritation! ive had it for almost a year too! oh well live and learn i guess!

  16. Lara

    I have had the clairsonic for a year exactly, and I love it. At first I did use it twice a day but found it made my dry to normal skin a bit too shiny. I then began using it only at night and only for one cycle, and it is the perfect combination for me. I do weekly light facial treatments, and on that day I do not use the clairsonic at all. It is important that you know how to properly use the machine for your skin type. If you have a dermatologist or a facialist talk to them about the type of skin you have and the amount of exfoliation your skin can handle. I encourage using the clairsonic as I see it is a great skin tool if used properly.

  17. AR

    I learned this the hard way, but not with a Clarisonic. I was exfoliating every day and was left with giant dry patches all over my skin. I’m back to using a gentle cleanser + an exfoliator twice a week and my skin is FAR happier!

  18. I completely agree with this entry. I hate when the SA in the sephoras tell clients they should be using it 2x daily and how they should get that shiny appearance. Personally I always had a feeling this could be overstimulating and causing way to much trauma to the skin which is bad in the long run. I’m glad to get an experts validation on this. She should review more of other brands that would be so helpful.

  19. Kesha

    This is the one item I’ve been looking at for over a year that I can’t decide on whether the investment is worth the cost and up-keep. It’s not even a matter of waiting for the price to drop (which it probably won’t); it’s more of…”Is this REALLY going to make a difference in my skin routine? I bought a skin care rotating face brush from a store called AJ Wright (kind of like Ross/TJ Maxx/Marshall’s) for about $20 that I LOVED using but it only came with a single brush. When I heard about Clarisonic, I figured it would be a perfect replacement. Then I saw the price and had to step back a bit and do a bit of research. Even after reading this review, I still can’t make up my mind if this brush is useful enough to warrant a purchase.

  20. gaby

    so…you can use it once a day if you are not getting any additional exfoliation?

    • Hi Gaby,
      You really want to only use a physical exfoliator like Clarisonic 3 times a week. You can add in an acid serum or enzyme mask as I suggested in my review, because it works differently to exfoliate the skin so you’re not over-doing it with the same type of exfoliation.

  21. Donna

    I don’t use any other form of exfoliation such as AHAs or BHAs so use the Clarisonic with the delicate brush once a day.

  22. I agree about the twice daily bit. I could certainly feel that twice daily was too much for me and I did switch to a less astringent face cleanser.

    I disagree with the dry skin part though. I have really dry skin and I have to say that using the Clarisonic has actually improved my skin’s moisture. It’s actually my favorite benefit of the brush. When I use the Clarisonic all of my face products sink in and work better. I can use a lot of spot treatments I never could use before and I spends less money on products in general.

    I also don’t think it is truly just an exfoliater. I personally can’t get the same results from a wash cloth. It is the same difference for me between a manual toothbrush and a sonic toothbrush. I also think some people forget the sonic aspect and the apply way to much pressure to the brush, increasing the abrasiveness and decreasing the sonic effectiveness.

  23. mandy

    I’ve had my Clarisonic since before Christmas of last year and it’s been a love/hate relationship. I have pretty normal skin, not acne prone (unless stressed!) and a semi-oily T-zone. I figured that it would be a nice daily spa experience for me or something. I used it twice a day for a week and by the end of the first week, I had never seen myself with SO MANY pimples! I took a week off of it until my skin cleared up and convinced myself that I should only use it once a day. Then, a few weeks ago, my cheeks and nose became so cracked and dry that I decided that I would only use it 3x a week for exfoliation purposes, and only at night time. This did the trick. My cheeks finally have some moisture back in them, but my nose is dry as can be on one side of it. I am at a complete loss for what to do!

    Overall, I love my Clarisonic. My skin (now that I’ve figured out how to use it so it works best for me) looks bright and fresh. I just wish I’d read this article earlier. Could have saved me some trouble with the overcleansing/overexfoliating!

  24. Lora

    Wow! Thanks Renee for the review. Just in time for me to return my clarisonic. I thought I must be crazy everyone loves their clarisonic. For me, however, it was much too harsh. My skin is practically raw and in desparate need of healing. Also just in the last 30 days since trying clarisonic my melasma has reoccured. What a nightmare!

  25. Tracie

    Considering the aggressive peeling Renee’s clients are doing to their skin while adhering to her regimine it’s no wonder they are complaining of dry irritated skin after incorporating the Clarisonic to their daily cleansing routine! I was floored when I saw that she offers on her website glycolic acid products with acid strengths of 17% and 20% for at home use. Products with acid strengths over 10% should NEVER be used outside of a professional setting. At least let me say this; I would not risk burning my complextion with products that are best suited for professional use by those who are trained to safely control the depth of a peel’s trauma to the skin.

    Renee is correct in saying that the Clarisonic is a tool for exfoliating and deep cleansing the skin. She states that if you are already aggressively exfoliating; be it with acids, or scrubs then you should not be using the Clarisonic daily which is sound advice. I do not use my Clarisonic at the same time that I am using a chemical peel.

    At present I find myself using my Clarisonic more often now because it has become too painful for me to manually wash my face due to rheumatoid arthritis. Since I am deep cleansing twice a day I am careful to be very gentle with my skin. I allow the brush head to glide across the quadrants of my face without pressing into my skin, at the same time I am continuously moving the brush in large circular and side to side motions for 2 minutes including my neck. I have changed to a gentle moisturizing cleanser suited to dry/delicate skin. Plus I use richer moisturizers when I use the Clarisonic that are full of antioxidants, vitamins and peptides which I find my skin absorbing more completely now. So far my skin is glowing, feels plump, moist, and smooth. This is only because I am careful to be conservative with my exfoliation, I am gentle when using the Clarisonic, and I pamper my skin with lipids, hyalronic acid, antioxidants, vitamins, antiinflammatories, and peptides. I can also say that I have not experienced the so called ‘purging of impurities’ breakouts that is said to happen when incorporating the Clarisonic into a daily regimine. I feel that these breakouts are actually the skin’s response to irritation and inflammation due to too vigorous scrubbing along with too drying products. Since I am gentle, and use gentle products my skin has no reason to respond in this manner. I do use a Retinol product a couple times a week to stimulate collagen production, too. I hope your results are as positive as mine. In everything the goal is to achieve balance.

    Renee Rouleau’s advice in this blog is directed to those of us who are using a variety of exfoliating products along with the Clarisonic. This advice would also hold true if you are using any other brand of deep cleansing facial brush. The goal is optimum cell turnover for glowing healthy skin. The Clarisonic is a tool, not a miracle cure all. In everything one must strive for balance.

  26. jennifer

    Hi Renee, I use the clarisonic brush everyday Twicea week with other products which made my skin dry and irriated. Ps what kind of alchol free glyolic can i use onmy skin and also sulfate free cleaners\

  27. Frankie

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I am so happy somebody is speaking up about this. I see changes in my clients skin too. My personal opinion is that the skin gets not only dry from the overexfoliation, it also makes the skin more prone to blackheads because the protective layer of the skin is destroyed. Exfoliating twice a day is insane, even every day is too much for my taste. 2-3 times / week ok. Unfortunately as soon you start with the magic brush, you get so addicted (happened to me too)