The Clarisonic Alternative


Of all the facial cleansing tools, the Clarisonic is the undisputed king. Since its conception, it has been subject to a boundless wave of affection that puts manually operated face scrubbers to shame. Tales of models who never knew true love and clear skin until they brought it into their bathroom cabinets were classic bait for reeling me in.

And reeled I was—all the way into Sephora. Then I started scrubbing— probably for too long, while applying too much pressure. If 30 seconds per use makes your skin glow in a week, then 20 minutes should turn me into Liv Tyler, right?

OK, maybe I wasn’t quite that bad—but I did overdo it initially. I made the mistake of using the normal brush head twice a day, which was far too harsh for my skin, especially in winter (during which this saga is set). I also wouldn’t wash my face first, leaving the day’s makeup, oil and grime attached to my face before applying the spinning brush of the Clarisonic. I’ve come to learn the error of my ways: for maximum results, something light and milky should be used to cleanse before commanding the reassuring ‘burrrr’ of the machine. But that felt like a lot of steps.

Soon, my average rate of buffering was in decline. I figured that the best way to recommit to the regime was to spend more money and I bought the Cashmere Cleanse Luxe Facial Brush Head Brush Head. Admittedly, it sort of worked—the texture was just lovely and at first, I outright doted on it. Me, standing in front of the mirror, wide cloth headband in place, petting a little brush head. It feels that good, and my face takes far better to it. Still, my rate of use fell further and the quiet hum of its patented oscillation is now to be heard at a maximum frequency of twice a week.

It’s true that the morning after (I always use my Clarisonic at night), I’m often glowing. It can be a great little device. But, you know what I’ve been reaching for more often? This little loofah. A dollar at any beauty supply store. Did you know it’s a plant? Google it. Super earthy. Hold it under the hot tap for a few seconds, and its stiff little fibers soften. Take it for a brisk trip around your face, and it rejuvenates your circulatory system while leaving you freshly exfoliated. And it’s a quick, too: without the routine of initial washing and rinsing, cleaning the darling brush post-use, it is encouragingly efficient. A truly lazy, luddite indulgence.

I invested in the Mia, the Clarisonic’s micro-version of its full-sized sister, with the ambition of traveling with it; it would be my partner in crime as I glowed around the world. The reality is that the loofah has accompanied me many more places. And if I had to choose between the two? I might be going the cheaper, natural route...

—Trace Barnhill

Photo courtesy of the author.