The “Clarisonic” is short for the Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System, which is a facial cleansing brush that is available without a prescription. The system is available online or at select dermatologists and retail stores. The Clarisonic is reported to be safe for all skin types, is waterproof and rechargeable. (1)

According to the website, the Clarisonic “uses a patented sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to gently, yet thoroughly remove 6-times more makeup and 2-times more dirt and oil than cleansing with your hands alone.” (1) The brush is primarily for use on the face, but can also be used on the neck and chest area, and a cleaning cycle lasts for 60 seconds. According to the website, using the Clarisonic system removes impurities has been shown to “allow a 61% better absorption of Vitamin C, and better prepares skin for other products”. (1) The brush has bristles that are organized into outer and inner brushes; these oscillate in two directions to “work deep within the pores to loosen dirt and oil.” (2)

Studies done By The Manufacturer 

According to their website, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories has performed several studies. One compares the efficacy and safety of Clarisonic® sonic cleansing compared to manual cleansing with a mild cleanser. (3) This study enrolled 30 subjects with moderate to high sebum levels. A baseline sebum sample was collected from the center of the forehead, and cleansing was then conducted by an aesthetician (one side of the forehead cleansed manually and the other using the Clarisonic. After cleansing, three samples of casual sebum were collected from each side of the forehead and analyzed. (3) The results show that the Clarisonic was twice as effective as cleaning (removing sebum). (3)

Another study to evaluate mature skin by adding Clarisonic to an existing anti-aging skin care regimen during the late spring and summer seasons involved 55 women with extensive skin care rituals using anti-aging products in a 12-week home use test. (3) Subjects used the Clarisonic for one minute with their normal cleanser whenever they cleansed their face (morning and/or bedtime), and continued their anti-aging skin care routine. Photos and evaluations were completed at baseline, 4, 8, and 12 weeks. (3) Results showed that after 12 weeks of use, over 80% of subjects perceived an improvement in the appearance of skin tone, texture, skin elasticity and firmness, and reduced appearance of pores. (3)

A third study was performed to evaluate if Vitamin C was better absorbed after use of the Clarisonic. 20 subjects participated in the study, and the forehead was cleansed on one side with the Clarisonic and the other manually. Vitamin C was applied, and 20 minutes later 10 skin tape strips were applied and removed. Spectrometric chemical analysis was used to quantify the amount of Vitamin C on each tape strip indicating absorption into the skin at various depths. (3) The results showed “up to 61% greater absorption of Vitamin C after using Clarisonic sonic cleansing compared to manual cleansing.” (3)

Two of these studies were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2008. Additionally, a study published by the manufacturer of the Clarisonic in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology revealed that the Clarisonic brush is optimized to work with the skin’s own elasticity, and provide rapid oscillatory flexing (due to the brush movement speed) of the hair follicle at the infundibular opening. Reportedly the net result is the inelastic comedones become loosened and detached from the infundibular wall and are then cleared from the acroinfundibulum (place where the hair follicle opens onto the skin) and brushed away. (4)

Side Effects or Risks

According to the manufacture, the Clarisonic should be safe on all skin types, even those with Rosacea. (3) They do recommend that you do not share brush heads, especially if you suffer from any skin conditions. Additionally, the brush is optimized to use one of the Clarisonic cleansers and use the Clarisonic with jagged exfoliating particles can damage your skin. (5)


  1. Clarisonic Technology. Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. Accessed May 25, 2011.
  2. Research behind Clarisonic PRO Sonic Skin Cleansing. Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. Accessed May 25, 2011.
  3. Robert E Akridge PhD, Kenneth A Pilcher BSEE. Development of sonic technology for the daily cleansing of the skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 181–183June 2006
  4. Clarisonic Users Guide. Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. Accessed May 25, 2011.