tips for clarisonic usage // tale of a former skincare heathen

this is a story about a girl who grew up with great skin who turned into a mom with recurring monstrous blemishes. this is a story about how pregnancy may end up giving you the facial skin problems of a 13-year-old boy. this is a story about a glorious tool that is revolutionizing the world my face.

this is a story about the clarisonic.

if you have never heard of the clarisonic, you clearly don’t read a lot of makeup and skincare sites.

good for you.

clarisonic mia

but the clarisonic is a fantastic exfoliating brush. it isn’t fairy-dust magical, it isn’t medicated, but it works wonders because it cleans the face so much more thoroughly and evenly than hands or towels. (it is possible that other brushes may have similar powers, but i have read that its strength is much better than copycat or drugstore brands. supposedly. i can’t tell you about other brands.)

previously, my way of taking care of my face was to wash with it with cheap drugstore soap on my hands, then moisturize. i wasn’t really used to ever having complicated skincare routines, so i often skipped toner and only incorporated an exfoliating cleanser after my mom saw me one day and was like, “what happened to your face? it’s so BUMPY! use an exfoliant!” and shoved a tube of it into my purse. but even the pricey clinique exfoliating scrub didn’t really get rid of the bumps or the blackheads. i had also been dealing with a constant rotation of ginormous ill-placed pimples on a regular basis pretty much since the time i found out i was pregnant. (damn children!!!) but mostly, i felt like skincare products were a huge marketing trick designed to bilk desperate people out of thousands of dollars a year.

well, i still basically believe that most overpriced skincare products are bottles of snake oil, wrapped in beautiful pictures, unfulfilled promises, and endless hope and disappointment. but the clarisonic is something else.

in my new routine, i wash my face with the clarisonic brush and still use drustore face soap. i don’t even need the exfoliating scrub, and i’ve started using diluted bragg’s apple cider vinegar as toner. (sometimes when i don’t feel like dealing with the eau de stank feet on my face, i still use my normal “face softener.”) then i moisturize, and one of my newfound fave moisturizers is Cerave PM, which you can find at the grocery store. i use face lotion with SPF during the day.

it’s been about two months since i’ve started using this brush (i have the mia, $119), and i’m already a hardcore groupie… and i’ve transformed into a bit of a skincare obessive. my face feels softer, i’ve had less bouts of crazy huge pimples, the little bumpy patches are now gone, and my nose looks cleaner. i’m still tinkering with my skincare routine and my face isn’t totally blemish free, but it has already made a very noticeable difference.

basically, the way i view the clarisonic is sort of like the way i view therapy. you may be able to live your life without it, but pretty much everyone could really use it.

i know there are a few friends out there who have been using the clarisonic too, and probably some who are considering buying it, since we’ve been engaged in long facebook comment threads. so instead of continuing this accidental commercial, i thought it would be useful to start a communal clarisonic tip sheet.

you got tips? clarisonic success stories?? let’s hear em… i’ll keep adding to this list as i continue to learn more.

top tips for making the most of your clarisonic:

  • before you use your brush for the first time, let it charge for a full 24 hours. on the mia, the charger is just a magnet, not a base, so make sure it stays put and connected for a whole day.
  • stick to your usual face soap, as long as it doesn’t have exfoliating particles in it. even though clarisonic offers its own line of cleansers and products (and they give you a trial size in the box), there’s no need to get anything fancy. even the instructions say so. the benefits are really in the brush more than the soap.
  • squeeze the soap onto the brush. even though the instructions say you can put it on your face OR your brush, i find that it does a better job of lathering and distributing across the whole face when i put it on the brush first.
  • when it turns on, the brush goes into scrubby scrub mode for 1 minute. the instructions advises spending about 20 seconds on the forehead, 10 seconds on each cheek, and 20 seconds on the chin. the mia2 even has a timer that makes the scrubbing pause at these intervals so you know to switch locations. but really, you don’t HAVE to follow their guidelines on the timing either. i like to concentrate on my t-zone area since that’s where most of my problems and oiliness are. i barely gloss over my cheeks.
  • brush in small circular motions, making sure that the brush head is flush against the skin. but don’t press it down hard into your skin. it’s unnecessary and actually makes it less effective.
  • when the brush turns off automatically after one minute, rinse the soap off your face, rinse the brush and put it away until the next time. you can leave it on the charger, but i prefer not to. you can also periodically disinfect the brush head with peroxide or vinegar. alcohol, apparently, will be too harsh on the bristles and can wear them down faster than they would otherwise.
  • let the brush dry out between uses, so you don’t get mildewy buildup. for this reason, i keep it out of my shower.
  • there’s another reason why i don’t use it in the shower… i find that my face gets too inflamed (literally red and puffy) when it’s steamed and scrubbed all at once. so i prefer to use the mia outside of the shower.
  • try using it once a day. the brush can be used as often as twice a day, but i find i can get away with good results from just one use a day, and i don’t want to overdo it
  • follow up with something to tone and something to moisturize. i keep a spice jar with a small solution of one part bragg’s apple cider vinegar and one part water that i use to wet a small cotton pad and swipe over my face after scrubbing. apple cider vinegar has germ-killing qualities as well as astringent qualities that seem to make my skin feel tight and not immediately dried out. also, apparently the bragg’s brand in particular is what crazy people on the internet recommend because it is “live” (as opposed to “dead’?). i don’t know man, all i know is that it feels good.

2 thoughts on “tips for clarisonic usage // tale of a former skincare heathen

  1. I’m intrigued. I want one especially because my skin has been looking dull and flaky. I have to admit though that having J changed my skin completely and except for the random zit here and there, I have not had any breakouts. I went from oily to bone dry. I’m sure if I was breaking out like crazy though, this baby would ready be mine. These days I just can’t seem to find a lotion that is moisturizing enough. Suggestions?

    1. i think you should try out the cerave PM lotion, at least for nighttime. i only just started using it, after seeing recs for it online. but you can buy it at the grocery store, and it seems to do a good job of actually sinking into the skin and making it soft. my cheeks are really dry & t-zone is slightly oily, so i’ve only put it on the dry parts.
      i also have heard of people using a thin film of coconut oil to combat dryness… but i haven’t tried it.
      i originally was using vaseline/aquaphor/eucerin for the dry parts, but it really felt like it was just sitting on top of the skin, so protecting from the dry air but not hydrating, and really greasy feeling.
      the shiseido/clarins/estee lauder random lotions i take from my mom NEVER make enough of a difference in the dryness.

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