Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Should You Get A Sonic Cleansing Brush? December 26, 2011

About two months ago I started using a Clarisonic Mia cleansing brush in the evenings to remove my make-up.  From time to time clients have asked me what I think of these cleansing brushes, and I also knew that many estheticians use the professional version of the brush during facials.  I even heard from the nurse at a dermatology practice that I should be using one.  The reason I waited so long to try one of the brushes for myself was the cost since the cheapest version is over a $100.  (Keep in mind that Olay does make a much cheaper version of the brush)  Eventually I saved up my credit card points and got my brush.

If you read women’s fashion magazines regularly, like I do, you will inevitably come across mention of Clarisonic brushes and how great they are.  Touted as the best way to remove make-up and truly cleanse the skin these sonic cleaning brushes have a loyal following.  But do you really need to use one?

What Are The Benefits of a Sonic Cleaning Brush?

According to the Clarisonic website using one of their brushes:

  • Leaves skin feeling and looking healthier
  • Removes 6X more makeup than cleansing with hands alone
  • Helps skin care products absorb better
  • Pores appear smaller
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes
  • Gentle enough for use twice a day
  • Soft, non-abrasive for different skin types

Without proper cleansing, pollutants, oil and bacteria accumulate on the skin, clogging pores and causing blackheads, blemishes and dullness. This prevents serums and moisturizers from performing to their fullest potential.

Sonic cleansing better prepares your skin for skin care products. Compared to manual cleansing, using the Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System allows for up to 61% better absorption of Vitamin C. Better absorption allows creams, serums and moisturizers to work their best.

Additionally, Clarisonic says that their brush is good for all skin types and is gentle enough for people with acne and rosacea and can be used twice daily.

And how does it work exactly?  This is the same sort of technology like your electric toothbrush (and indeed the company that created the Clarisonic brush first created a sonic toothbrush).  The sonic frequencies from the brush create 300 movements per seconds, once again according to the company website, in order to remove make-up and dirt more efficiently from the skin.  These movements also whisk away dead skin cells sitting on top of your face and this, of course, makes your skin feel softer.

But Is A Sonic Cleansing Brush Really For Everyone?

So after reading the Clarisonic website or a fashion magazine article about the brush you probably want to go out and buy one immediately.  But I want to caution my readers about a few things before you spend your hard-earned money on a sonic cleansing brush.

Dr. Leslie Baumann pointed out a few interesting things about such cleansing brushes on a post on her Yahoo! blog:

… anyone with sensitive skin – and acne-prone skin is indeed sensitive – should actually avoid these vigorous scrubbing products, which can exacerbate inflammation.

Rosacea and the tendency to experience skin allergies are further indications that you should not be using an abrasive exfoliant or a vigorous cleansing brush. Similarly, anyone with very dry skin should avoid exfoliating, which may compromise an already impaired skin barrier and worsen dryness.

That is not to say, though, that facial brushes are universally bad. Resistant types in particular can benefit from more intensive exfoliation. Remember, in my skin-typing system, “resistant” is the opposite of “sensitive” – but resistant types have their own set of concerns:

Because their skin is literally thicker, they have to work a little harder to get beneficial ingredients to penetrate. And one great way to do that is by sloughing off dead skin cells before applying other products.

 So if you have skin that can tolerate facial brushes, there’s no reason not to use them. Just be aware that they offer no more benefits than a good facial scrub (I love the Alchimie Forever Excimer Plus Gentle Antioxidant Refining Scrub, for example), although they may be a little more fun! When you consider some of the brushes out there, though – like Clarisonic’s Skincare Brush, the gold standard of facial brushes that retails for almost $200 – fun might not be worth the premium.

Paula Begoun has even harsher words for these brushes.  Here are some highlights from her Beautypedia review of the Clarisonic cleansing brush:

We’re not saying that Clarisonic’s brush is not a good way to clean skin. What we are saying is that it is not the only nor is it the best way to clean skin or remove makeup. Without question, it is needlessly expensive and not something anyone should go into debt for out of concern their skin is not getting clean enough. Besides, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can check out the similar cleansing brush system from Olay’s Pro-X brand (this retails for around $30).The only other published piece of information about Clarisonic simply described how the sonic cleansing worked to provide consistent results and help loosen debris trapped in pores due to the oscillating brush head. Sounds promising, but the piece was written by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the company that, you guessed it, sells Clarisonic (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2006, pages 181-183).This brush will certainly help clean skin (and for that reason it deserves a Good rating), but it won’t reduce wrinkles, pore size, or blemishes–at least not to a degree where you’ll be glad you splurged on the system. The basic system includes two brush heads (for normal and sensitive skin); a Delicate brush head is available for separate purchase (all brush heads cost $25 apiece). The Delicate brush is recommended for very sensitive skin; however, regardless of brush head chosen, I’d use caution if you’re attempting to use Clarisonic and have rosacea or sensitive skin.NOTE: If you decide to use this or any other cleansing brush on your skin, please be gentle. Overzealous usage can lead to inflammation that can hurt your skin’s healing process. Pay attention to how your skin responds and discontinue (or reduce frequency of) use if you see signs of irritation.

 So Should You Buy A Sonic Brush?

I think that if you wear a lot of make-up daily or have very thick and/or oily skin then investing in a sonic cleansing brush is a good idea.  If you have rosacea and/or papules and pustules from acne (or from severe rosacea) then I don’t think a sonic cleansing brush is for you.

My experience with my Clarisonic Mia has been interesting.  The first time I used it I was shocked by how soft my skin felt immediately after using it.  But when I went to use my brush the following morning my skin turned red and felt irritated.  Now I use my brush every evening, and only in the evening, with my gentle cleanser to remove my make-up and then I cleanse with my GloTherapeutics salicylic acid cleanser.  I’ve wondered for a long time if I am really removing all my make-up completely at the end of the day before bedtime.  There are so many make-up products, especially foundations, that are close to impossible to remove.  Since I strongly believe in making sure your face is properly cleansed at the end of the day, I felt like a Clarisonic brush would be the perfect way to make sure that was accomplished.  I am glad that I invested in a Clarisonic because now I feel that I am truly removing all my make-up in the evening, but having said that I am making sure that I don’t over do it with the brush as well.  Even though I have oily, resistant skin I am only using my brush once a day, and I use the sensitive skin brush head for the brush.

If you own a Clarisonic brush, or one of the similar brushes, please share your experience below.

Further Reading:

Photo from clarisonic.com

 

Reasons to Remove Your Make-Up and Wash Your Face April 14, 2011

It always surprises me how many people admit to me that they don’t wash their face at night.  They admit that they are either too tired or uninterested in taking one minute of their time before bed to remove their make-up and wash their face.  Personally, and this won’t come as a surprise, I simply cannot imagine going to bed without removing my make-up and washing my face.  Certainly both removing your make-up and washing your face shouldn’t be seen as a burden.  Instead it should be an automatic part of your pre-bedtime ritual.

I wrote a post in the past – How to Properly Remove Your Make-up – which includes tips on how to remove your make-up (as the title of the post explains).  I still find it hard to remove my eye make-up really well.  My go-to eye make-up remover has become jojoba oil because it not only gently removes my eye make-up but also moisturizes that area of my face in the process.  As a matter of fact I sometimes I use jojoba oil as a make-up remover for all my make-up since it is gentle, moisturizing, and won’t clog pores.  (For more information on jojoba oil see my post Ingredient Spotlight: Jojoba Oil)  I’ve also written a post in the past about how to properly wash your face, Is There a Correct Way to Wash Your Face?, which explained different ideas about how and when to wash your face.  But now I would like to add to all of that previous information and give all those people out there who don’t remove their make-up or wash their faces at night lots of reasons to reconsider.

You need to remove your make-up at night so that your make-up doesn’t sit on your face and clog your pores.  According to Dr. Howard Sobel, quoted in the April issue of Allure, not removing your make-up at the end of the day will mean that go to sleep with lots of free radicals, caused by pollution that is clinging to your make-up, on your skin.  These free radicals contribute to early aging and cellular damage.  As you go about your day dirt, residue, and pollution all collect on your face.  You need to remove all of those pollutants before going to bed.

Washing your face doesn’t need to be complicated.  Keep a few things in mind:

  • Don’t use a cleanser that is too harsh for your face.  You NEVER want to have that squeaky clean feeling.  That means that you have gone overboard with cleansing.
  • Be sure to wash with your facial cleanser for 30 seconds.
  • Be sure to work your cleanser all over your face.  Make sure you cleanse from the browline, into the hairline, and past your jawline.  Make sure the cleanser reaches all the way to the sides of your ears and slightly below your ears as well.  And don’t forget your neck.

If you currently don’t remove your make-up and/or wash your face at night please rethink that decision.  Investing 30 seconds in yourself each evening should be doable for everyone.  Think about those 30 seconds as some well needed “me time”.

Sources and Further Reading:

 

How to Properly Remove Make-Up November 1, 2010

Ok – so even if you don’t always follow this advice everyone knows how important it is to thoroughly remove your make-up and properly cleanse your face at the end of the day.  I already wrote a post about how to properly wash your face – Is There a Correct Way to Wash Your Face?  – and recommended some make-up removers as part of that post.  Truthfully, I am still searching for the perfect eye make-up remover since I normally wear both waterproof eyeliner and mascara and they are very tough to remove.

If you want to make sure that your face is properly clean before applying your bedtime serums and moisturizers you need to do a double cleanse.  First you need to thoroughly remove your make-up and then you need to wash with your cleanser of choice. 

So what are the best products for make-up removal?  I am very partial to cleansing oils.  Oil dissolves oil so these products are great at removing make-up and will not dry out your skin.  An added bonus, and take this from me as someone who has been breaking out for 20 plus years, they will not clog your pores.  You apply the cleansing oil to dry skin, massage into skin, wet your face, and rinse.

Two of my favorite cleansing oils are:

 

Jane Iredale has an intriguing make-up removal product, the Magic Mitt, that claims to remove all make-up when just water is applied to the mitt.  I haven’t tried the product, but I would be very interested in getting feedback on it from someone who has.

 

Eye Make-Up Removal

 

I do find that even when I use my cleansing oil I need to go back over my eyes with an eye make-up remover to properly remove all my eye make-up (like I stated above I use waterproof eye make-up which is difficult to remove).  It is important to be gentle when removing eye make-up.  If you yank, pull, or tug too hard or too much on the area around your eyes you risk damaging the elastin fibers in that area and causing premature sagging there.  So the next time you remove your eye make-up observe yourself in the mirror and see if you are being too harsh when removing your make-up.  Then adjust your routine accordingly.  You can dip a q-tip in your eye make-up remover in order to make sure that you get rid of every last remnent of make-up in that area.

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

 
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