Review: Clarisonic Plus sonic skin cleansing brush for face and body

Okay, so the time’s finally come for me to post my Clarisonic review (dun, dun, dun.) If you’ve got your pulse on all things beauty, you’ll know about Clarisonic. It’s essentially the big daddy of sonic cleansing brushes and has been making (sonic) waves in the states for years now, ever since Oprah held one up like Simba in the Lion King and shrieked ‘Oh my God, you totally waaaant onnnnnneeeee!’ (Or at least that’s how I imagine it. I’ve never actually seem that particular show.)

Now, a small range of Clarisonic brushes are available in South Africa via Stuttafords Sandton, but there are plans to roll out further as the years go on. The models available are the Mia 2 (R2 499) Aria/Mia 3 (R2 999) and Plus (R3 499). I was given the Plus to try and to describe it briefly, it’s the alpha female of the three water-proof sonic cleansing brushes available locally.

Clarisonic Plus
Clarisonic Plus

What gives it the edge? While the Mia 2, for example, has two speeds (‘delicate’ and ‘universal’), the Plus has three (the third being ‘powerful’) and also features a body brush attachment. As far as oscillations go, all three brushes move at 300 per second and I’m still unclear as to how the ‘speed’ setting affects that. Every Clarisonic model is water-proof so you can easily use it in the shower or bath.

What's in the box? A charger, body attachment and mini cleanser and exfoliator.
What’s in the box? A charger, body attachment and mini cleanser and exfoliator.

In regards to promises, the Clarisonic claims to clean your skin six times better than ‘regular cleansing’. In turn, this improves product penetration and assists in tightening your pores. Also, if you’re shifting more nasties from your pores, they’re less likely to bloom into pimples. I also believe most vibrating movements are good for your skin in that they improve microcirculation and there are a host of benefits that stem from that alone.

Behold - the Clarisonic Plus in all it's sonic glory!
Behold – the Clarisonic Plus in all it’s sonic glory!

Using the Clarisonic Plus is easy as pie. It only has two buttons – one to power on and off and another to select your speed setting. After removing excess make-up manually, you’re to apply your cleanser of choice to either your skin or the brush head and then run it over your face using small circular motions. A beeping timer lets you know when you’ve done 20 seconds on your forehead, another 20 on your nose and chin and then a further 10 per cheek. You can happily do this twice a day but if you find it too stimulating or whatever you can cut back to whatever suits.

Personally, I don’t have sensitive skin and generally take things to the max so I merrily cranked my brush up to ‘powerful’ and ran it over my face willy nilly until I felt I was done. I didn’t bother with sticking to times per zone and totally ran over the minute mark. I also didn’t try Clarisonic’s included cleanser and used my own instead, currently Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser. (One tube will last you a thousand years. It simply never says die.) Afterwards, my face felt clean and had a subtle glow thanks to how the brush gets your micro circulation going.

As far as the larger body brush attachment goes, the bristles are a little less fine than the face brush’s and it’s a nice way to cleanse your chest but in the end I got lazy and simply used the face brush to do it. Call me a dirty girl, but in my book, the rest of my body doesn’t really need ‘intense’ cleansing, just the odd serious scrub down when I’m in between coats of self-tan.

Face brush on the left and body brush on the right.
Face brush on the left and body brush on the right. These should be replaced every three to four months and cost  R399 a pop.

In all, this is an awesome facial cleansing tool. Make no mistake, I certainly do feel like my face has gotten a better cleanse than on days where I simply apply my face wash with my finger tips. It’s kind of like how I feel about cleaning my teeth – my Philip’s Sonicare toothbrush somehow makes my teeth feel polished as opposed to my manual toothbrush that merely cleans. In saying that, do I think it’s a must-have beauty tool every girl just has to have or she’s doomed to a life of substandard skin? No, not at all. There are other ways to cleanse your skin well and Clarisonic has only lifted stats from their own trials where they’ve pitted their brush against manual cleansing as opposed to using a wash cloth or popping a gentle exfoliator in the mix. But in saying that, it is, hands down, one of the quickest, easiest ways to get an ‘optimal cleanse’.

Clarisonic’s own brand of exfoliator and cleanser. Nice to have, but totally not necessary.

As far as choosing the Clarisonic that’s right for you, my feelings are cut and dried on this one. Unless you have sensitive skin and won’t ever step into ‘powerful mode territory’, go for the Aria which serves up the same speeds as the Plus and pick the Plus if you feel strongly about wanting the body attachment. Seriously. Just close your eyes and swipe your blerrie card, ignoring its screams as you go. I mean, if you’re already prepared to part with so much cash for a fancy pants face cleanser then make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. When I was at the launch last year, they run the Mia on speed 2 across the back of my left hand and the Plus on speed 3 on my right and I really didn’t think there’d be a difference between the two but there was and it was marked. The Mia made my hand feel like I’d cleaned it using an exfoliating face wash whereas the Plus gave me that ‘Dermalogica Microfoliant feeling’. It really just did feel ‘cleaner’.

In saying that tho, you must know that the Clarisonic doesn’t replace your exfoliator. If you want to get a mental piccie of how it cleans, imagine a dirty shag-pile carpet that gets hit by a giant vibrating pad. It kind shakes up all the shizz that’s settled deep down in the fibres, bringing them to the surface to be washed away when you rinse. It doesn’t really mechanically ‘tug’ and wick away at any dead skin that’s lying on the surface. So in that respect, you’ll still need to exfoliate (which in turn will improve the results you get from your Clarisonic.

Sexy lines...
Told ya – just two buttons.

So! Let’s wrap this up, shall we? Using the Clarisonic has been fun. I like that it’s an easy way to get my skin feeling really, really clean. It didn’t cause any breakouts, something I’ve seen other reviewers mention and put down to an initial ‘purge’, but in saying that I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t really suffer from breakouts. As far as pore size goes (the Clarisonic claims to help reduce them by keeping them free of debris which essentially stresses them over time), I didn’t really notice any difference but in all fairness I’ve always kept my pores free of debris using methods other than the Clarisonic.

Is the Clarisonic one of the nicest ways to give your face a good clean? Yes. Yes it is. Are you a bad skin mommy if you don’t own no? No. No, you’re not.

Now tell me, have you used a Clarisonic before? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let’s chat in the comments section below.

Love, love


Update: I’m preempting a question here: In comparison to Clinique’s ‘sonic’ brush, the Clarisonic whoops its ass. (Sorry Clinique!) Hoekom? For starters, Clinique’s brush has only one setting and afterwards my face feels clean, but hardly ‘sonic clean’.

Another update: Yes, I’m well aware you can buy a Clarisonic for less from various international sites, many of which offer free shipping. This is true. Just make sure they’re legit, that you don’t get nailed via customs and that it’s coming via a courier company and not the post office which is still totally dodge thanks to the strike.

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