Does The Clarisonic Help Or Harm Skin?

by Gio

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.

Cos this is one of those things that, in the wrong hands, can cause complete havoc on the skin.

So, what the heck is the problem with the Clarisonic? And, should YOU use it?

What is Clarisonic?

An electric toothbrush for skin.

I’m not kidding. The Clarisonic was created using the same technology that was used to cleanse your teeth. That’s why it has a giant soft and gentle brush, which oscillates back and forth over your skin at sonic speed.

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

A cleansing or an exfoliating system?

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 over exfoliation is 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 much 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?

The Clarisonic isn't a cleanser. It's an exfoliator in disguise. Here's why that's dangerousClick to Tweet

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?

Ok, so you are one of the lucky folks who can use this stuff. But does that mean you should 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 glycolic acid for now.

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

Do you think the Clarisonic is good or bad for skin? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.



Chic Readings October 21, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Great review, very detailed and professional!:) I have no interest in using it since my skin is very sensitive and sometimes even gentle rubbing with towel makes it red and flaky.

Gio October 21, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Helena, oh no! Better stay away from it then.

Hannah May 21, 2016 - 4:40 am

Oh! Good post about these devices! Now I actually know some good info about them. At least for sensitive skin now they sell a brush head specifically for that.

Gio May 23, 2016 - 11:35 pm

Hannah, glad you found it helpful. That’s definitely an improvement, but these devices are still better used only once in a while. Just to be on the safe side.

Laurie October 21, 2014 - 4:51 pm

Thanks for the information, Gio. I have used the Olay version of this brush and have found that chemical exfoliation (BHAs) just works better for me. I also wonder about that brush from a sanitary perspective.

Gio October 21, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Laurie, I prefer chemical exfoliation too. It works better and is less irritated.

I think the brush is ok to use if you wash it regularly. But that’s just a hassle and I doubt many people do it…

smashinbeauty October 21, 2014 - 9:32 pm

I exfoliate once a month anything more is horrific for my skin. I have also read that this clarisonic isn’t actually good that it does over exfoliate your skin.

Gio October 22, 2014 - 4:55 am

Smashing, I guess that depends on how often you use it. Twice a day, like the brand recommends, would probably be too much for a lot of people.

smashinbeauty October 22, 2014 - 8:12 am

True, I agree. I found that for me it’s max twice a month

Gio October 22, 2014 - 8:44 pm

Definitely not worth getting it to use it just twice a month. πŸ™‚

Naomi Ganzu October 23, 2014 - 3:36 pm

Thank you for this post. Def helped me solve the dilemma I was in! πŸ™‚
Do join the international giveaway on my blog.
In case you add me via GFC G+ and Bloglovin. Do let me know would love to add you back πŸ™‚

Gio October 23, 2014 - 8:28 pm

Naomi, glad I could help. πŸ™‚

I have already added on Google Plus. I don’t use the other two, or I would have you added you there too. Do you have twitter?

Annette November 2, 2014 - 10:35 pm

I bought my Clarisonic in December 2010 and used it about 5 times. I could never understand how much pressure to apply to my face and didn’t know what kind of cleanser worked best. I thought it was a waste of money but I know others swear by it!

Gio November 3, 2014 - 6:10 am

Annette, sorry it didn’t work for you. I think a gentle cleanser would work best. The Clarisonic can exfoliate skin and if you use anything too harsh it may be too much and irritate it. I think the Clarisonic can work well for some skin types, but so far, I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that it’s better than traditional cleansers and exfoliants.

Sandra March 22, 2016 - 7:02 pm

I have been using the Clarisonic for over 5 years now and I love it! I had the worst acne you can have (Cystic Acne) because of adult acne. The Clarisonic has smoothed over a lot of the acne scarring and enlarged pores I had. I would definitely recommend it to people who can use it. I use mine once a day and it has really worked for me. My face doesn’t feel that clean when I don’t use it.

Gio March 22, 2016 - 9:40 pm

Sandra, I’m glad to hear the Clarisonic helped you so much. It can do wonders for some skin types. It’s all about knowing your skin and what it can take.

Jade January 30, 2017 - 4:57 pm

I know this post is a couple of years old at this point, but I just found it. Great info and advice, thank you!

One li’l boo-boo, however: you say “But if your skin is normal or dry, using it two or three times a day may be best. If it’s sensitive, just the once would do.” I’m pretty sure you mean two or three times a *week*, not *day*.

Gio February 12, 2017 - 8:05 pm

Jade, oops, thanks for spotting that! I’ll fix it right now. πŸ™‚

Angel February 12, 2018 - 11:05 pm

I have been using this device for four years now. I started out with very oily, acne prone skin. I now have very dry, irritated acne prone skin. I started looking into things thinking it could be the Clarisonic causing all the dryness. I have cut down on the usage and the irritation is slowly diminishing. I also used a chemical defoliant as well. SMH… I should have done the research years ago. I have decided to ditch the Clarisonic for a while and see what happens to my skin. I am tired of all my skin care products burning my face. Even my foundation can burn some times!

Angel February 12, 2018 - 11:06 pm

Exfoliant, not defoliant. Dang spellcheck! πŸ™‚

Gio February 17, 2018 - 8:18 am

Angel, oh no! I think the Clarisonic is a good product but it’s marketed very irresponsibly. They say it’s for all skin types when some, like acne-prone, would do better to avoid it and pretend it’s a cleanser when it’s actually an exfoliant. Lots of people have trusted these claims and ruined their skin in the process. πŸ™ Definitely leave your skin alone for a while and go back to a basic skincare regime. Once your skin’s returned to normal, you can go back to exfoliation – but only with salicylic acid. That’s the safest way to exfoliate your skin type.

Kris March 6, 2019 - 6:42 pm

I am 54 with dry skin. I’ve been using the Clarisonic for over 2 years and my skin has never been better. I do only use it once a day but one thing to note to your readers is that they do have several different brush heads. Even for sensitive skin! If you don’t try it you’ll never know and your skin will regret it! It is honestly the best thing I have ever done for my skin and smartest purchase.

Gio March 8, 2019 - 4:54 pm

Kris, thank you for sharing your experience. So glad it’s working so well for you. I do think this is one of those products your skin will either love or hate.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.