Ahh, the Clarisonic. Used by no less than 15 of our Top Shelf subjects (not to mention the majority of the Gloffice), and touted as “amazing,” “game-changing,” and “fool-proof” by our interviewees, the $120 (and up) gadget claims to employ “sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to gently, yet thoroughly remove makeup six times better than cleansing with your hands alone.” Whaaat?! No wonder. For those unfamiliar with the electric-toothbrush of skincare, a Clarisonic (gently) exfoliates the skin, smoothing away dead skin, clearing and tightening pores, and prepping your face for better absorption of all of the serums and moisturizers to follow.
But once you’ve shelled out two-weeks-worth of cold-pressed juice money for a vibrating face brush… what do you do with it? Will it change your life? Will you change its life? Will you ever learn to charge it before it's totally dead and you've got cleanser dripping down your face? We looked to some of our favorite faces and a dermatologist, Dr. Jeannette Graf of Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC, to answer some of our pressing questions...Well, mainly how often one should Clarisonic themselves (yes, it’s a verb now, stay with us), and what products to pair with it.
Regarding frequency of use, Dr. Graf advises: "Face brushes can be quite helpful in cleansing and exfoliating. But, generally, if you have very sensitive skin you should probably not use one. All other skin types can use it two to three times a week; the rule of thumb here is not to overdo it. You should use a brush with soft bristles and apply gentle pressure—applying gentle pressure to ultrasonic brushes such as a Clarisonic permits the vibrations to dislodge dirt and impurities. In terms of products, I recommend using liquid facial cleansers without beads or scrubs. Be careful of glycolic acid, too, as it is already exfoliating—it is possible to over exfoliate with a face brush. Using one too frequently, using bristles that are too hard, or applying too much pressure can all injure the skin and cause redness and irritation. Abrasive scrubs are not suitable."
Got that? With that soothing advice in our back pockets, allow us to present a few ideal face brush/cleanser marriages:
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser: Lily Aldridge keeps it simple with the low-foaming wash, and Who What Wear’s Hillary Kerr relies on the combination after on-camera appearances and events to help get the makeup (or, as Aldridge calls it, "gunk") off. Somme Institute's no-frills Nourishing Cleanser is in the same nice-'n-no-foam category.
Clarisonic’s own Gentle Hydro Cleanser: PR exec and restaurateur Kerry Diamond applies the company’s own cleanser to her sensitive skin daily with her hands, and a few times a month with her Clarisonic.
Dr. Brandt Lineless Foaming Cleanser: L’Wren Scott turns to the silver-and-pink bottle to remove all of the makeup from her self-described “oily and dry skin,” though Dr. Brandt recommends the cleanser for all skin types.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser: Julia Sloan, VP of Communications at Nars and self-proclaimed “big skincare person,” marries this "face cleanser milk" with her leopard-print Clarisonic twice a week.
Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser: Liv Tyler , Christina Huffington, ITG's Alessandra and Emily pair Martyn’s gentle enzyme-exfoliating cleanser with their machines to, as Tyler explains, “get your blood flowing. Your skin is flushed, awake, and alive.” The cleanser feels gentle and smells subtly .
Weleda Soothing Cleansing Lotion: Kate Young was turned onto this "pure" wash by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift and likes to think of it as part of her "95% holistic and 5% big guns" beauty regimen. Young employs the duo once a day to “rattle out” clogged pores.
In sum: adding a Clarisonic (or other brand of face brush) to your routine requires little more than doing just that. Just plug in your cleanser of choice (while remaining cautious of over-exfoliating), remember to charge it, change the brush head every three months, and you're good to go.
Photo by Emily Weiss.