Product Review: Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Reviews, Skin Care
The Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing system exfoliates skin gently and removes dirt from pores.

Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing system ($119-225, is designed to provide a consistent clean. That’s because part of maintaining skin integrity is maintaining some kind of routine — Clarisonic regulates that by making something timed with specific instructions. The brushes should loosen dirt from pores and even help clean off makeup better than a regular manual wash. So how does the whole system work as a package? Pretty darn well.

Clarisonic Brush

Antes e Depois Clarisonic - Acne / Rosácea / P...
Clarisonic has been shown to be effective after just one use. (Photo credit: Lady Por Menos – Moroccanoil e Clarisonic)

Clarisonic brushes use a frequency of more than 300 pulsations per second to remove dirt and oil from the skin (Clarisonic). The brush was created to provide consistency in cleansing — as too much or two little cleansing can compromise skin. [Read More: The Great Shower Debate: Is Everyday Too Much For Your Skin?] In using the system, the brush loosens inelastic comedones — or black heads — and clears them; making way for smooth, clean skin (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). It’s also good at removing makeup. In a study using florescent lighting, researchers found that it was “significantly more effective” by six times the ability to clean off makeup (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).

In 2006, a study found the brush to be considered “gentle” and helps the skin prevent acute or chronic infections (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). The brush is gentle enough to exfoliate skin while still maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology). In a study testing a sonic brush — on legs, researchers found that the transepidermal water loss fell within the normal range established for the skin on the leg and declared the brush gentle enough to use (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).

Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser

White willow (Salix alba) is a natural source ...
White willow bark is the plant used to make aspirin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

White Willow Bark

White willow bark has antipyretic and pain-relieving properties. It also has several compounds that benefit users, like aspirin, salicyclic acid, ferulic acid, glycosides, and tannins (Longwood Herbal, Skin Therapy Letters).

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This cleanser contains sodium lauryl sulfate. This ingredient is a detergent that gives cleansers their soapy suds. It’s been shown to improve delivery of topical medications in creams and gels (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy). However, it’s not totally good, though. Unfortunately, it’s a known irritant. It impairs the skin barrier and strips the skin of its lipids — leaving it at the mercy of the environment (Cosmetic Dermatology). As an irritant it’s been used to induce contact dermatitis in tests with guinea pig skin (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). [Read More: Spotlight On: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate]

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is used in skincare products because it’s thought to have a rejuvenating, anti-wrinkle effect (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology). An industry-backed study found that cream containing hyaluronic acid and oglio peptides firmed users’ skin (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).

Clarisonic Refining Skin Polish

Jojoba Esters

There aren’t many studies on jojoba but it’s been used in ethnic medicine for some time as an emollient. It’s been shown to form a lipid layer on the skin that helps to moisturize and clean and is a known humectant (Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine). When mixed with glycerin — which this product has — the pair increases moisturization and improves the length of time the formula moisturizes (Cosmetics and Toiletries).

Opuntia Streptacantha Stem Extract

Prickly pear CDC
Optunia Streptacantha Stem Extract comes from the prickly pear and has been shown to stop oxidative stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This extract actually comes from prickly pear. One study demonstrated that it had excellent antioxidant abilities, but called for further studies to determine whether it would be an effective inclusion in products that work against oxidative stress (Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry). It also been used in folk medicine because it appears to have anti-inflammatory effects and healing effects (Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science).

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract the compound EGCG, which has been shown in studies to have to show anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties (On the Horizon, ). It’s also been shown to work against photocarcinogenesis and phototoxicity in mice. And another study that it helped lower oxidative stress after UV-irradiation on human skin (Carcinogenesis). [Read More: Spotlight On: Green Tea]

Personal Use and Opinion

The brushes were gentle but effective — there was definitely a difference in how my skin felt.

Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing system was easy to put together, take apart, and figure out how to use. There’s a system of light blinks to understand what setting the brush is on, but they’re pretty easy to figure out with the guide. The brush feels really soft, but it’s definitely firm enough to get some good exfoliation in pretty quickly — without feeling rubbed raw. My face felt very thoroughly cleaned — and just one use made it feel noticeably smoother. But I wanted to make sure. To really give a good test, I used the body brush on one arm and not the other and the difference in softness is very apparent. The arm I used the brush on feels softer, smoother, and better-hydrated — other people can feel the difference too. Plus, it came with a super cute pattern.

Bottom Line

Clarisonic PLUS Sonic Skin Cleansing system is a great way to get a regular, reliable clean. That may sound funny, but keeping up with skincare is one of the best ways to maintain skin’s integrity and Clarisonic has developed a product that keeps this the same from day to day. The refreshing gel cleanser has sodium lauryl sulfate in it, which could irritate sensitive skin, but the products are otherwise full of beneficial ingredients. I got results that were immediately apparent and studies suggest that’s common when using sonic cleansing.

Product Rating:  8/10

  • High or optimized concentration of key ingredients: 2.5/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology:  3/3
  • Value: 2.5/3
  • Sunscreen: 0/1


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  • Marge

    Can you comment on whether or not this is a good product to reverse aging /help older skin? Could the exfoliation sort of mimic the everyday shave of a guy (said to keep men’s skin firm…)? I’m look to brighten and especially to firm. Also — good for throat too? Thanks.

  • Angela

    Thanks so much for highlighting the Clarisonic, Nicki! I’ve been using it for years and love it! It’s made such a huge difference. It’s nice that they have different types of brushes too: Normal, Sensitive, Delicate, Deep Pore, Acne, and Body. The Deep Pore has inner rings that move in two different directions but still really soft. And the Acne has super soft gradiated bristles.I like the Sensitive brush too. I switch it up between those three. All give a super deep clean without being harsh at all.

  • Elfling

    I love my Clarisonic- I just recently purchased the Sun solutions kit you reviewed previously. I was using the Olay Pro-X brush for quite a while before and I liked it, did a great job- but the Clarisonic is definitely better. I could never quite get the blackheads to go away with the pro-x brush, and with the Clarisonic, it basically seems to vibrate the plugs out rather than mash things in (the pro-x brush is oscillating vs Clarisonic’s pulse/vibrate).
    Interestingly I did have an increase in breakouts the first two weeks after starting with the Clarisonic- I was halfway expecting that as that’s the usual reaction to increased skin turnover in my experience. After that calmed down, definitely seeing improvements in smoothness and marks fading even above the quite decent results I had with the pro-x brush.
    Quite worth it, imo.
    I also bought Green Cream on your recommendation, just started that- had been using Neutrogena products for forever and didn’t realize until I read all your informative reviews that they actually have a very low concentration of active ingredients.

  • i love the clarisonic! i dont not use their cleanser because of the SLS.
    i think the recommended usage of 2x per day is too much. if my skin needs extra attention, once a day is good. typically though, 3-4x a week is enough.

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