Clarisonic: Great Exfoliation or Skin Damage?

Let me start by saying that I normally don’t do reviews of other skin care products or device’s It is against me bashing any products. I generally facebook to share knowledge and a place to share my expert skin tips and advice that I’ve learned from being an esthetician for 20 years, but I leave product reviews for all of the great beauty and skin bloggers out there.

The reason for doing a blurb on Clarisonic and other devices is because I have observed changes in my client’s skin that use these mechanics, and some of the changes have not been beneficial. Since my goal is to offer helpful skin care and nutritional tips to allow you to become a smarter skin care consumer, I feel this is important information to share with all of you who currently use many devices, or are considering purchasing them. (NOTE: The same rules can apply to other brands that make rotating, micro-derm kits and sonic brushes.)

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. It claims to “remove six times more makeup than cleansing by hand.” Yet to me, Clarisonic is really just an exfoliating tool to physically lift off dry skin cells and, in the process, remove dirt and makeup. Exfoliation is the action that the bristles create when rubbed over the skin. My problem with Clarisonic is not the brush itself because the exfoliating benefits are very important, but I 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—especially 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 how exfoliation affects the skin. Clarisonic brush, facial scrubs, acids, enzymes, washcloths or whatever form you get yours in can cause skin damage and may lead to premature aging if used too frequently.

How are these machines affecting my skin?

Skin Fact #1: Too much 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 V-skin care 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. Discontinuing use of Clarisonic and other devices quickly returned their skin to a healthy, balanced and hydrated state.

Skin Fact #2: Too much exfoliation can cause chronic inflammation within the skin.

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 conducive to help aging process and use skin care products with stable antioxidants. 

Skin Fact #3: Skin trauma is good…occasionally.

You do not want to exfoliate to the point of destroying healthy, living 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. This is the last thing that any skin needs that wants to stay looking youthful and fresh. However, professional chemical peels done a few times a year do cause trauma to the skin, and this is beneficial for the stimulation of collagen. Your skin likes boosts (a little wake-up call), just not all the time.

Skin Fact #4: Too much exfoliation might stimulate melanin activity resulting in increased skin discoloration.

You must use caution with physical exfoliants like Clarisonic, mechanical devices, washcloths and facial scrubs. For skin that is extremely reactive to stimulation (deeper skin tones and for those prone to melasma), you need to treat your skin gently to avoid post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation resulting in increased skin discoloration.

Skin Fact #5: Clean skin is good…to a certain point.

Since Clarisonic markets itself 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. Cleanser recommendations: only use Refine, which is PH balanced with natural fruit enzymes. Find out which cleanser is right for you by scheduling a FREE virtual consultation. 

Bottom Line:

Many people really like using the Clarisonic and other devices. 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 this is the last thing you want when caring for your skin.

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