I love my Clarisonic Face Brush. My Mia 2 was a Christmas gift from my fiancé who (is wonderful, but also) was tired of me dragging him to Macy's to look at the Clarisonic display counter. The first two weeks of using it were awesome and my normally dry skin looked positively dewy. Then, about three weeks in, I started breaking out around my mouth and chin.
My skin is quite dry but gets horrendously oily around my T-Zone during my period when my hormones are out of balance. The combination of very dry and very oily skin is the perfect storm for deep black heads, subterranean blemishes, and scales. That's right. Sometimes, my face gets scaly. Moving on...
After reading about and yearning for a Clarisonic brush for over a year, I was not about to throw in the towel over a few pimples. I dug in my heels, did some research, learned the phrase "transient acne," and decided to stick it out with my brush. Here are three and a half things I learned about why Clarisonic brushes can lead to breakouts and how I dealt with them:
1) I started cleaning it more thoroughly
Just because you're using soap every time you use your Clarisonic does not mean your brush doesn't need its own separate cleaning regime. I've read that you should use everything from shampoo to lemon juice and baking soda to dish soap (ew?).
For a while, I used the cleanser that the brush came with, but after that I just used a diluted amount of my regular foaming cleanser and warm water. When I started breaking out while regularly cleaning mu brush before the brush head's three month expiration date, I realized I wasn't cleaning it thoroughly enough.
I use an exfoliating scrub with a gentle brush head and so I need to remove and clean behind the brush head more often. Once I figured out that bacteria and crusty grime can live inside the Clarisonic (Duh, right? I know, I know), my skin improved.
2) I replaced the brush head at the right times for the right reasons
I have rigidly followed the "replace every three months" shelf life Clarisonic standard. It has not been easy. I use razors for way too long so replacing an expensive brush head when I was supposed to was a commitment.
When I started breaking out, I had a brilliant idea: I will change my brush head more often, that will clear up my skin. My brilliant idea was wrong because clarisonic brush heads need replacing, in part, due to wear and tear on the bristles. I wasn't keeping the protective little plastic cap on my brush and when the bristles clumped together I simply added a little water and fluffed them back into shape.
You can extend the life of your Clarisonic by keeping it's protective brush shield on whenever you're not using it and by not leaving it face down in a general state of disarray somewhere in your bathroom, (not that I have ever done that).
3) I figured out what brush head worked best for my skin
I haven't yet tried all the available Clarisonic brush heads, but here's what I've learned about the ones I have tried (as a person with mainly dry, but sporadically oily-in-my-T-zone skin):
sensitive brush head, $27 - This is the brush head that my Mia 2 came with and it's great. It's soft with first bristles, but I never really felt like I was getting a deep clean because I was used to harsh exfoliating.
cashmere brush head, $30- This plush, incredibly soft, brush offers way more exfoliating power than I was expecting. After using it, my skin felt smooth in the way that it does after a seriously deep clean.
deep pore cleansing brush head, $27 - This brush head is the firmest that I've tried so I feel like I'm getting into my pores when I use it. However, using this deep cleansing brush head with an exfoliant caused a lot of irritation on my skin.
acne cleansing brush head, $27 - This brush head is very similar to the deep pore cleansing brush head. If you have sensitive acne prone skin, I would look into the Cashmere, Delicate, or Satin brush heads (I haven't tried them, but they're the softest of the soft). However, if your breakouts are linked to dryness, this brush provides a nice, deep clean.
3.5) I stopped using an additional exfoliant
Due to my aforementioned propensity for deep blackheads, I initially used an additional exfoliating scrub with my Clarisonic. When I told my best friend in all the world (her name is Mesa and she's delightful and glamorous) about my exfoliating habit, she rightful scolded me for double-exfoliating and Clarisonic skin experts back her up.
Despite breakouts, I stuck it out with my face brush and I'm so happy I did. After five months of using my Mia 2, breakouts are a rarity and the dark spots I have (AKA what pimples leave behind when you have olive skin even if you never try to pop them) are a thing of the past.
In closing, I offer you one last piece of expert advice from an actual expert. In a recent interview, Dr. Robb Akridge, one of Clarisonic's co-founders and squeaky clean skin professional, had this to say:
"Transient acne is a potential side effect for first-time Clarisonic users. The stimulation of the skin can cause bacteria to rise to the surface in the form of a pimple...scale back your use to once a day, but keep with it. Things should clear up after about two weeks of continual use."
If you're still still convinced that your Clarisonic brush is causing breakouts, trust your instincts (and your dermatologist) and find another way to keep your face fantastic. Courtney has suggested some great (affordable) alternatives and so has Alison. And, of course, I want to hear all about your alternative skincare solutions, leave a comment so I can try them.
If you've got a Clarisonic that you've broken up with, will you give it a second chance after reading this article? What more affordable options are you a fan of? Let's talk about it!