Spoiler: I do not know the answer
Like haircuts, bra shopping or your method of poaching eggs, skincare can become an arduous lifelong mission. An obsession, even, like a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment with no clear end point, carrying on doggedly in pursuit of THE perfect solution, THE answer that will change everything, until eventually you die and can finally stop caring.
I say ‘can’, because of course plenty of people don’t care to begin with. I envy those people. The people who can accept their lot in life, the size of their pores and their average level of radiance, say ‘yeah, this’ll do!’ and then go out to spend their money on sensible things and have fun riding their bike through a meadow.
Those people are not people who will ever buy a Clarisonic, the legendary sonic toothbrush for your face that might just change your life. Why would they? It is £100 and their face looks fine. But if you’re in my camp, the people who will never truly relax until they have tried out every bra and haircut and poached egg and newfangled skincare gizmo in christendom, just to be SURE, then you’ve probably already considered a Clarisonic.
Maybe you’ve lingered over one in John Lewis, until a white-coated assistant tried to help and you scurried away. Maybe you’ve even tried using an actual electric toothbrush on your face, in case it had the same results for the cost of a new brush head. And you’ve probably read every review on the whole of the internet, hoping that one day, one of them will definitively say: ‘YOU THERE, Sue Brown from Sutton Coldfield! BUY A CLARISONIC.’ and take the decision out of your hands.
I’m afraid this is not going to be that review. Sorry, Sue Brown. The truth is that I don’t know whether or not a Clarisonic will change your life, because I have been using my Clarisonic for three months now and I still don’t know whether or not it’s changed mine.
That’s the trouble with skincare, you see. Unless you’re living under strict test conditions, changing only one variable at a time and never yielding to pesky things like weather, hormones and the onward march of time, it’s very hard to know which product has done what. Are you looking better because of that £30 night cream, or because you stopped drinking wine? Can you blame that crop of whiteheads on your new cleanser, or your pill? Are you ‘radiant’, or just sweaty? When you’re a part-time beauty journalist who switches serums more often than she hoovers, it becomes even harder.
There are no end of joyful, exuberant Clarisonic reviews around to send you reaching for your purse. My pal Daisy Buchanan wrote so adoringly about hers that I spent months wondering if I could pop round for tea and surreptitiously use it in the bathroom without her hearing the buzzing. India Knight, a woman I fully believe would never, ever lie to us about these things, claimed hers was so good that she skipped her monthly facial for six months and her facialist thought she was cheating on her.
I don’t have a facialist to cheat on, but I do have dry cheeks, and oily T-zone and more spots than seems fair for a 27-year-old. I also have a conscience, which is why I’m bound to tell you that I was sent my Clarisonic Aria (usually £155, the Mia model is £99) by a PR for free. But hopefully that makes me even more sincere when I tell you: I do not know how I feel about it. I think I love it, I think it’s made my skin better, but if we were rom-com characters then I almost certainly wouldn’t go through with the wedding.
Here are the things I do know:
- My skin is softer.
- My skin is more even.
- My skin has that glowy, pink-cheeked freshness that you get from a long walk in the cold.
- My skin looks MUCH better in make-up, and also without it. BB Cream glides on like a dream and I don’t feel I need to use half so much.
- My skin feels tighter and dryer immediately after use, but then my serum and moisturiser sink in twice as fast.
- My skin does not like this level of exfoliation twice a day, and it left me with a few scaly dry patches until I switched to using it once daily.
- My skin is still spotty. If anything, it’s a little spottier. But that could be due to any number of different products I’ve been using, or stress. And the spots I have heal and disappear faster than before.
- The parts of my skin in between the spots look more clearer, if that makes any sense at all.
- The gadgety aspect is awesome. I love the magnetic charger, the variable speeds and the fact
- The vibrating is embarrassingly loud if you’re using it at your boyfriend’s parents’ house.
The Clarisonic’s main draw is that it gets your skin impossibly, squeakily clean. The kind of clean that sluttish wipes and foaming cleansers can only dream of. And in turn, very clean skin means that everything you put on it afterwards will penetrate more effectively, rather than just sitting on top. Serums and moisturisers are sucked up by those empty pores, and so stand a much better chance of doing the job you paid for them to do.
It’s by that logic that you can start to think about a Clarisonic as an ‘investment’, if you want. With it, you might be able to stop buying pricey potions and switch back to Nivea. It exfoliates as you go, saving time faffing about with scrubs and acids. With smoother, brighter skin you might spend less on fancy makeup too. Maybe you’ll feel more confident, ask for that promotion, get a pay rise and the thing will pay for itself! Maybe.
All I know is that everyone’s skin is different, and everyone’s eye for tiny detail is different. One woman’s ‘life-transforming’ might be another’s ‘slight improvement’, just as £100 for a sonic face thingumy is a drop in the ocean for one and unthinkable extravagance for another. But if you’re on a lifelong skin improvement mission, that combined effect of curiosity, potential and actual, tangible science is probably all that you need to want to give it a go – and I’m definitely not going to stop you.
Ideally there would be some kind of Clarisonic lending library, allowing everyone to take it home for a few weeks like the class guinea pig before committing to buying their own. That doesn’t exist, but the next best thing does: a 90-day money back guarantee.
Clarisonic Sonic Skincare System, from £99.