Once upon a time during our 1980s teenhood most of us equated clean and clear skin with the rigorous cleansing and scrubbing that removed every last bit of oils from the surface. Those were the days of Noxzema for cleansing and Oxy5 (or 10) when that failed. The result, of course, was usually tight, dry and flaking patches of skin, but hey-- isn't dry better than greasy?
Most of us know better now.
Our skin is more complex than that. We want it soft, smooth, and supple. We want it to look healthy and full of life, which means well-hydrated. And we want it clean, which means a full removal of makeup, grime, goop and skin debris. We also know that active skin care as well as nourishment is more effective on clean skin, so removing dirt and dead skin cells is just as important for moisturizing as it is for clear pores. These days I achieve this sloughing through gentle chemical exfoliation (glicolic, lactic and mandelic acids) as well as as by using a Clarisonic brush a couple of times a week.
It's nothing new. I bought my Clarisonic about two and a half years ago, so I've certainly had enough time to figure things out. I liked it from the very beginning because this is a very effective tool, but my love for it has grown the more I've learned and as I've refined its use. It can be summed up as "If it hearts you're probably doing it wrong". Here are a few points to consider:
1. Clarisonic has several brush head options. Unless your skin is ultra thick and coarse, go with the Delicate brush head. There's absolutely no reason for anything abrasive to touch your skin.
2. The one and only secret for using the Clarisonic is to hold it parallel to the skin, touching lightly, and just moving it in circular motions, never ever ever (ever) pressing or pushing it. It takes a while to fully get it because the first instinct is to brush or "help" it. Don't. Just don't. The whole point is the sonic oscillation that does the work, just like with your sonic toothbrush. You already know not to scrub your gums forcefully, right? The same goes for your face.
3. Use your favorite rinse-off cleanser. Skip the stuff that comes with the brush and don't start experimenting with new skincare when you first learn to use the Clarisonic.
I see two main benefits from using this little gadget: an improved skin texture, as the brush truly removes the stuff that doesn't belong on my face; as a result, everything else that I apply to my skin is more effective: serums, creams, oils-- they all go in faster and work better. The result is a more hydrated, clearer, and healthier looking face. As far as I'm concerned this isn't about scrubbing and exfoliating. It's about getting my sort-of-normal-leaning-dry-42-year-old skin to look its best.
I have the basic Clarisonic brush ($159) that comes with a charger that sits on my bathroom counter. I usually use it in the shower 2-3 times a week with various creamy rinse-off cleanser or whatever I'm testing at the time. I only use the Delicate brush heads which I sanitize with alcohol every once in a while (and once with Listerine when that was the only thing I had on hand) and replace when the hair looks like it has seen better days. I love my brush enough to consider also getting the travel-friendly Clarisonic Mia. Both can be found at Nordstrom, Sephora, Beauty.com, and Dermstore.
Images: Top Models Of The World and Clarisonic.com.