You tap your pencil rhythmically on the desk, eyes flitting around the classroom. Checking out the other test subjects. Did she live in the room across the hall in college? For the fourth time, you check your watch. Maybe it’s broken.
The exam administrator walks in, her black heels clacking on the linoleum floor. She checks to make sure everyone has a pencil; you ask for a second one, just in case.
The girl in front of you hands back a stack of packets (I can’t forget to ask her what polish she’s wearing before we leave…), the three or so pages crowned with a gold staple at the upper left corner. You slip one onto your desk and hand the rest back.
You read the first question: “Name the one beauty product currently in production you would bring with you on a week-long business trip.” Hmm… Oh! — no, wait. That’s not it. Ah! Yes, I remember now.
The second question: “The name of the beauty tool you hear the most buzz about in your daily readings and discussions…” Yes! Finally, an easy one!
The Clarisonic Skincare System is probably one of the hottest beauty tools around, flying from shelves and receiving more press than many celebrity scandals (have there been any good ones lately?). Touted by everyone from top skincare gurus to red-carpet divas and humble bloggers (myself included), this mechanized innovation is a simple concept that is simply wonderful to use.
From the creators of the Sonicare toothbrush, the Clarisonic is a mini-marvel of engineering. What appears to be the blurred buzzing motion of the brush head is actually three hundred small back-and-forth vibrations per second. Rather than simply brushing over the skin, it flexes each and every pore, loosening impurities and built-up sebum and skin cells, and then encourages these to rise to the surface to be whisked away by those quick vibrations.
After a few failed attempts at buying this magic system and a frustrating series of calls to my credit card company, I finally lugged the rather large â€” though nice and glossy â€” box home, and extracted the much smaller tool from its cage of instruction manuals and packaging materials.
I purchased mine from Sephora, and received the Philosophy skincare set, which came with three minis from that brand’s permanent collection. Also nestled in among the white cardboard maze was a surprisingly nice mesh travel case, an inductive charging cradle, and two extra brush heads (Sensitive and Body).
The handheld brush at first seems a bit unwieldy, and might just be for those with very small hands (if that describes you, you may also want to take a look at the Clarisonic Mia; a smaller, more travel-friendly, more basic version of the Pro), but after using it for two days my hand adjusted. The thing is all curves, which makes it a pleasure to hold, but make sure your hold is firm: when it gets wet, the brush â€” although brushed plastic â€” can get a little slippery. Fortunately, it’s rather sturdy and has withstood two or five drops and (unintentional) throws with seemingly no ill effects (not even a scratch!).
A full charge seems to last me about a week â€” I use mine twice daily for a minute each time. I’ve only let it run out of battery three or so times, but once set in the cradle, it’s good for at least one use after about 20 minutes of charging.
The Pro version lets you choose from three different speeds and set the cycle to one or two minutes (both “sectioned” and free). In the “sectioned” timing, the allotted time is split into four parts, each signaled by a light audio tone. The user’s guide recommends starting with the forehead, then moving to the nose and chin, and then each cheek. Free timing simply sets the Clarisonic to vibrate for the selected time, with the user choosing where to move it. I personally use the free timing settings, as my forehead has always been clear of blemishes, while my cheeks need more attention. That said, I think the “sectioned” timing is great for people who don’t have a very specific area to target, as it divides the time quite well according to the perceived needs of each area.
My first test with this device was to see if it could actually do as it claimed: “remove makeup six times better than traditional methods.” Taking to my normal facial cleanser, I thoroughly washed off as much of my makeup as I could, and to my eyes, my face looked perfectly clean. Or as clean as a face mottled by mild acne could be. I fiddled with the settings on the brush a bit, dampened and lathered my face once again, and went to work.
A minute and one audio tone later, I examined the brush. The once pristine, white bristles were grey! Not a pretty color. But my skin certainly felt cleaner, somehow. It didn’t look much different, however, but the facts could not be denied. Even within one use, this brush had dislodged a fair amount of goop â€” or, for those of you who prefer a more technical term, impurities â€” residing in and around my pores.
Sometimes there really is truth in advertising.
Their next claim, that it “creates noticeably healthier-looking skin,” was going to have a wait for a few weeks to be fully tested. At least that’s what I thought, but even after a single week of regular use, my skin felt softer, looked brighter, and was much less red. Even current acne was greatly reduced in size and inflammation, and I hadn’t gotten anywhere near the severity of breakouts I normally would during the week. A week later, and I hadn’t more than one or two whiteheads; only a smattering of red bumps (which are much easier to conceal, no?).
Skip ahead two months (let’s take the Delorean!)…
All of my post-acne marks (some nearly a year old) had mostly faded, my nose no longer looked like a mini-minefield, and I hadn’t seen a whisper of the vicious dermatitis that often emerges when we hit the colder months.
I completely credit the Clarisonic for my skin’s genesis. Now, four months into “treatment” (about time to replace my brush head!), my skin has never looked or felt better. I’m able to go out 90 percent of the time wearing a quarter of the amount of foundation and concealer I used to use — mainly just to even out a slight bit of redness or hide that one stubborn pimple that escapes the vibrations of this marvelous tool — and my nose doesn’t start to produce much oil for at least four hours into my day, when it used to be useful as a makeshift mirror only an hour in.
Some of you might want to hit me for this, but the very fine lines I had under my eyes (I’m serious!) are completely gone. The redness has diminished immensely, now only adding a touch of rosiness to my cheeks as opposed to my entire face. And skincare products seem to absorb faster, though this might just be me playing into: “cleanses so thoroughly that skincare products absorb better.”
I’ve only used the included body brush once or twice, and it’s also quite nice. The system knows when the Body head has been attached, and switches over to a separate, longer mode automatically. After showering, my skin looks a bit smoother and definitely feels fantastic. I can’t comment on how well this works in the long-term, however.
The Sensitive head is great for people with, well, sensitive skin. On the few days when my dermatitis has been especially bad or my skin just feels overworked, I’ll pop this head on and be good to go. No further irritation, and I don’t feel like I have to worry about causing any damage. The Normal head is nowhere near rough, but the Sensitive one provides a softer, gentler experience overall.
At first, I was skeptical of this little face brush. I didn’t think there was any way that something so simple could produce results like these when medications and heavy-duty skincare hadn’t even come close, but I was wrong. Extremely, positively, absolutely wrong. The Clarisonic is absolutely the only step in my routine I have never missed, even on days when I barely have five minutes to rush out the door. It’s a pleasure to use (I’ve come to look forward to it as a facial massage), and has done more for my face than any amount of makeup ever could.
Move over, Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler! The Clarisonic has replaced you as my must-have product. And I ain’t ever letting go.