why clarisonic is bad for skin

When Oprah recommends something, I’m usually all over it.


Cos even the best people can give you bad advice, sometimes.

Case in point: the Clarisonic. It made Oprah’s list of favourite things. But you may want to take a hard, honest look at your skin to see if that’s really what it needs. Why?

The Clarisonic is one of those things that, in the wrong hands, can cause complete havoc on the skin. Should YOU use it?

What Is The Clarisonic?

The Clarions is an electric toothbrush for skin.

I’m not kidding. The technology they use is the same. Like an electric toothbrush, the Clarisonic has a giant soft brush that oscillates back and forth over your skin at sonic speed.

This helps remove dirt and makeup, unclog your pores, and get rid of dead skin cells.

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is The Key To Unclogged Pores And Spot-Free Skin

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Is The Clarisonic A Cleanser Or An Exfoliant?

Did you catch that last part? The bit about getting rid of dead skin cells?

Because, my dear Clarisonic, it doesn’t matter how much you swear to me that you’re a cleansing device, if you get rid of dead skin cells, you’re just an exfoliant in disguise.

And that’s not something you should tell people to use twice a day, Clarisonic. Especially to someone with dry or sensitive skin.

I know you’re doing it because you want people to change their habits, ditch their usual cleanser and use you instead. But, that much exfoliation could seriously ruin someone’s skin.

Related: 10 Reasons Why You Should Exfoliate Skin

Why Is Over-Exfoliation Bad For Skin?

Exfoliation is awesome. I’ve written an entire post about the top 10 reasons why you should exfoliate. So, yeah, big fan here.

Once you get rid of those old and damaged dead cells that are dulling your skin, you can bring to the surface the gem that was hidden underneath: new, healthy, glowy skin. Wrinkles and dark spots look less obvious, too. And your serums and moisturizers penetrate more easily into the skin. Did I mention it also prevents breakouts?

BUT, and this is a very important but…

Those old, damaged dead cells are there for a reason. No, it’s not to annoy you and make you look ugly.

They protect the raw skin cells that aren’t ready to come to the surface just yet. Remove too many layers of them, and you’ll expose your raw skin. It won’t be pretty. And it’ll hurt as hell.

There’s another thing. Even if you don’t get that far down, exfoliating too much can disrupt your skin’s protective barrier. That lets moisture out and germs in (hello dry skin and irritations!).

Related: 5 Skincare Treatments That Can Harm Skin (If Abused)

How Often Should You Use The Clarisonic?

Here’s the deal. If you buy the nonsense that the Clarisonic is a cleansing device, you’ll want to use it daily. Even twice a day. Cos that’s how often you wash your face, RIGHT?

But not everyone should exfoliate their skin every day. If you have pretty thick, oily skin, you may be able to use the Clarisonic daily without any problems.

But if your skin is normal or dry, using it two or three times a week may be best. If it’s sensitive, just the once would do.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t use it with AHAs or BHA based exfoliants or scrubs. Too much exfoliation is a never a good thing, remember?

Related: Chemical VS Physical Exfoliation: Which One Is Right For You?

Can Anyone Use The Clarisonic?

If you take a look at their website, you may think so. It’s full of studies done on people with acne, rosacea and all kinds of skin conditions.

There’s only one problem with that. Those studies were commissioned by Clarisonic. They tested the device on a small group of people (for example, only 14 people took part in the rosacea study).

Plus, they don’t mention how the study was done or how the results were measured. They just tell you what THEY want you to know. Obvs.

I have more trust in dermatologist Leslie Baumann. She says that anyone with thicker skin can use the Clarisonic safely. Then, adds:

“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.”

To recap, avoid the Clarisonic if you have:

  • Acne-prone skin
  • Very Dry skin
  • Rosacea
  • Sensitive skin

Related: 3 Safe Ways To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

Is The Clarisonic The Best Way To Cleanse And Exfoliate Skin?

If your skin type responds well to the Clarisonic, should you invest in it?

The cheapest model costs $129.00. Then, there’s the cost of the brush heads. Those must be cleaned and replaced regularly. It’ll set you back $25.00 every time.

That may be worth it if the Clarisonic turns out to be the best cleansing AND exfoliating method ever. But, is it?

We know this: the Clarisonic Brush removes 6 times more makeup than manual cleansing. Wow! That just makes you wonder how much makeup is left on your skin every day. 

Well, if you feel the urge of giving your dirty face a good scrub to remove it all, don’t. You don’t need to.

Manual cleansing means removing makeup by hand with only water. Of course, that’s not going to remove makeup very well!

What you need to know is if the Clarisonic removes more makeup than oil-based cleansers or exfoliates better than glycolic acid. Guess what? No one has done a study on that yet.

So, it’s totally up to you. If you think your skin can tolerate it and you don’t mind the high price tag, go ahead and use it. I’ll stay here and stick to salicylic acid for now.

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid: What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It

The Bottom Line

I know, I’ve been a Negative Nancy in this post. I don’t think the Clarisonic is bad. But I DO think it’s marketed wrong. And that can do a lot of harm. I don’t want to put you off the Clarisonic, but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. You don’t want to throw $100+ only to discover it doesn’t get along with your skin.