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12 September 2011 @ 01:27 pm
Let me wax poetic about my magic loofah. No seriously, let me.  
In some ways, I regret making what amounts to not only a non-fandom-related post, but a promotional post of a thing. But I cannot contain my silence any longer! I absolutely had to write something about this little device I bought about a month ago, that has literally changed my life.

I'm talking about my Clarisonic Mia.

I know a lot has been said about these little guys in the last year in a bit, but sometimes when I'm nattering on about how much I love my Clarisonic to a complete stranger in the street, I still find there are people who have no idea what I'm talking about, or why I'm so excited. Maybe it's my birthday? Maybe I'm crazy? Perhaps. But mostly I'm just really fucking in love with this thing.

Still, for those not in the know, here's the company blurb:

While cleansing is the first step in any skin care ritual, it is often overlooked. Typical manual cleansing can leave behind dirt and oil trapped in pores. This build-up can damage the appearance and health of your skin and keep your skin care products from working like they should.

Used and recommended by spas and dermatologists, Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing Systems use a patented sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to gently, yet thoroughly remove 6X more makeup and 2X more dirt and oil than cleansing with your hands alone. Cleaner skin is the first step toward healthier skin. And healthier skin is smoother, more radiant and more beautiful.

Sonic Cleansing Benefits:

- Removes 6X more makeup than manual cleansing
- Leaves skin feeling and looking smoother
- Removes impurities that keep creams and serums from working their best
- Gentle enough to use twice a day
- Reduces oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes
- Minimizes the appearance of visible pores

I know it might seem extreme to say buying a Clarisonic changed my life, but to me, it isn't. I've always had bad skin - excessive oiliness, red patches, large pores, bad acne, the works. I used to get pimples that would actually distort the shape of my face and refused to go away. For weeks they would hang around and leave behind an ugly red mark, only to be replaced by four more of their brethren. Going on the Pill did very little to clear that up, and because I'm deathly allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide (as I found out in a trip to hospital after my first time using it), my only real solution was medicated cleansers or moisturizers containing Salcylic Acid or willow bark, which most of you can attest does diddly with a side of squat. I shudder to think how much money I threw away on stuff for my face, including makeup to hide the fact that these various concoctions were doing absolutely nothing. To add insult to injury, because I am so fair, there are literally only 2 types of foundation I've found that match my skin tone exactly - Georgio Armani Face Fabric in the lightest shade, and Cover FX liquid foundation in the same (E0, I think?). Both of these are insanely expensive - we're talking $65 and $40 respectively here in Canada. Not that it mattered much, because my face still looked like an oil slick an hour after I put it on. My acne wasn't quite bad enough to warrant something like Accutane, but it was enough to make me very self-conscious of my skin at all times. I was to good skin what the Little Mermaid was to dry land - I was never gonna be part of that world. Even after I hit my 20s, I was still getting acne the way some people do in their teens. I literally tried everything, and nothing was doing the trick. (And no, the suggestion that having oily skin would keep me looking great at 50 was not much of a comfort.)

Anyway, long story short, I started thinking about purchasing a Clarisonic after a commenter on the Jezebel site talked about how it had literally changed her life, and that she had, in her 50s, better skin than she'd ever had before. Intrigued, I started reading up on the product on other blogs with no affiliation to the brand, and I kept seeing the same message over and over again: Women and men who had suffered awful skin their whole lives, or even those who were just never quite satisfied with the quality of their complexion, suddenly experiencing the type of skin only seen on models and celebrities with excellent genes or piles of money to throw at their dermatologists. It seemed too good to be true.

Now, the Clarisonic isn't cheap. It took me over a year to cave and finally buy one, because the cheapest model they offer - the Clarisonic Mia, which is the one I own - starts at $150. For those with money to burn, you could easily spend up to $300 on the deluxe model, but most of us plebs don't have that luxury. $150 is a lot of money. However, I took stock of how much dough I was already spending on facials that had no effect or products I knew wouldn't work, despite my hopes to the contrary. (With each new purchase I always thought, "This is it, this is going to be the game-changer," but it never was. It was kind of novel to consider it wasn't what I was using to clean my face, but how I was cleaning my damn face.) I was even starting to consider more extreme solutions like chemical peels or microdermabrasion, which would have cost a hell of a lot more than $150. (Those who know me know I also routinely think little of spending $300 on a pair of shoes, so it seemed reasonable to just visit Mr. Kors a bit less and invest on something that has to last me a lifetime, ie. my face.)

So I kept researching and started to look on EBay, and lo and behold, found a Mia for $115. (American buyers can also find them on Amazon.com for much cheaper.) A small difference, yes, but every little bit counts. Each Clarisonic comes with a trial size of their house-brand cleanser, which also sells for $25 for the full size, and your choice of brush head. (The brush heads need to be replaced every ~3 months and are about $40, but again can be found for cheap elsewhere if you don't feel like buying off the Clarisonic site or Sephora.) I eagerly awaited the arrival of my little sonic loofah, and started using it straight away.

After a week, my skin was totally changed. I'm not exaggerating. After two days my previously existing pimples were gone, and no new ones had popped up to take their place. So you can imagine what my skin looked like after 2 weeks. If you can't, let me tell you - no redness, no acne, no blackheads, tighter pores. I was still getting a bit oily during the day, but I chalked that up to my luck. I stopped wearing foundation after a few days of purchasing the Mia, using only primer, a little bit of concealer to cover up under-eye circles or places where old spots had left a bit of redness behind, and translucent powder to set. I couldn't believe it. The sample-size cleanser that came with my Clarisonic eventually ran out while I was visiting cautionzombies and daggomus_prime in Texas (and yes, they were subjecting to my excited nattering about my Clarisonic, too), and so I took the opportunity to stock up while I was there, since they don't sell the cleansers at Sephora in Canada, and that shit ain't cheap to ship.

My new beauty routine consisted of using the Clarisonic twice a day, morning and night; you spend just 60 seconds (20 seconds/cheek, 10 seconds each on the chin/nose and forehead) scrubbing in small circles, followed by whatever moisturizers you'd normally use. I would follow with my old Clinique clarifying lotion for oily/combination skin and my Burt's Bees moisturizer (I'm also a fan of Clinique's moisturizing gel, though because it seemed to leave me oilier than the Burt's Bees in the past, I'd stopped using it... might start again, though, because it's the shit). Perfect. My makeup routine went from taking 1 hour to taking 15 minutes, because I like to get fancy with eyeshadow.

Hilariously, however, I noticed that my skin started responding weirdly again after a few weeks - I was getting more oiliness during the day, and pimples were beginning to reappear. I was prepared to cut the Mia some slack, because it isn't actually a magic bullet for clearing up skin entirely - I'm still susceptible to hormonal fluctuations around my period, which causes pimples, but even this I'd noticed was less extreme than before (ie. 1 or 2 pimples vs. 8), but I was still concerned that this, too, would fail me, another colossal waste of money.

However, I considered the idea that maybe my old routine was no longer working, and that I was in fact over-cleansing my skin. So I cut out the Clinique clarifying lotion, and that helped a bit; I switched from using the acne-fighting cleanser I'd bought from Clarisonic to the gentle formula, and that helped a little more. I was still getting pimples and oiliness, though (mind you, still leagues better than before), so eventually I tried something that had failed me massively in the past on account of being too mild: Spectro Jel (basically a Canadian version of Cetaphil, very gentle and unscented), which I used to clean my tattoos when they were still fresh, and the skin exceptionally sensitive. I started using that with my Clarisonic (because you definitely don't need to use their special cleansers), followed by moisturizer, and just like that... perfect skin. For what it's worth, I also had to switch from using the deep-cleaning pore brush I'd bought to the sensitive brush, which is so gentle that it doesn't over-clean the skin. It was strange to think that I'd been caught in such a Catch-22 for 15 years: forced to wage all-out war on my skin because of how awful it was, and yet only encouraging more pimples and oiliness because I was drying it out. But now that I'm using the gentlest routine possible (figures that the skin on my face should be just as sensitive as the rest of me, which is a connection I never made), I not only don't get pimples, but my skin is virtually oil-free twelve hours after I've put on makeup, calling maybe for a couple blotting sheets around midday, but that's it, whereas before I had to reapply my whole face to look fresh again. I'm not quite at the point of going makeup-free, but I know I could if I wanted; my complexion is so even these days, it looks the same as if I were wearing foundation.

I know this was a ridiculously long post, but I just had to write it. I think bad skin is something a lot of people deal with at one point or another in their lives, whether it's as teenagers or during pregnancy or just because they have the shit luck of having skin negatively affected by everything (especially those who live in a big city, as I do, pollution takes its toll). In more ways than one, I can't believe this one stupid device was the answer I've been looking for since I was 10. If bad skin is something you've been wrestling with, seriously... consider investing in this product. It will pay for itself as soon as you stop buying new cleansing systems or unnecessary makeup, and I have to say it actually makes washing my face kind of fun, and not a chore like it once was. As much as it's a great feeling to not have to go to such lengths to make myself fit to go out in public like before, it's also sort of amazing to see advertisements for makeup or cleansers on the telly or in magazines, and know that for once in my life, I actually have something better.

Thanks for sticking with me this far; I hope this was helpful to you in some way. If you're interested in learning more about the actual Clarisonic brush, you can find it through their website or through Sephora.
Lunalunasky3 on September 12th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)

I actually have two brush heads- the deep one for my back and the sensitive one for my face. As another someone who spent her entire life battling awful, awful skin, this was a total game changer. So completely worth it
Nansense: misha02nanoochka on September 12th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
I'm lucky in that I've never struggled with acne below the neck, but I admit I did consider getting a different Clarisonic so I could use it in the shower! The body brush doesn't work with the Mia, unfortunately. But so far I'm thrilled with it, if you can't tell. I'd gladly upgrade to the bigger one if it ever got to the point where my back started needing sonic magic as well. :P
peroxidepest17peroxidepest17 on September 12th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
I am linking this post to my roommate because I think she has a lot of the skin issues you described! (ALSO HER BIRTHDAY IS COMING SOON SO. THERE IS AN IDEA. LOL)
Nansense: jensen trailer smilenanoochka on September 12th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I feel like this is a crusade I've undertaken. A lot of people find it easier to save this kind of purchase for holiday gifts or birthdays, but I believe the Mia is even on sale right now from Clarisonic. So, pimp away!
(Deleted comment)
Nansense: mr. smithnanoochka on September 12th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I actually was trying NOT to make a bunch of sex toy jokes as I was writing the post, so you aren't alone... (FWIW, it would make a shitty vibrator since it shuts off after 60 seconds to prevent you from over-scrubbing your skin, haha.)

I'm 25, and yeah, I was still struggling, too. Recently it had gotten a *bit* better, but I'd despair every time I got my period or was stressed out or it was a full moon, or WHATEVER, and my skin would freak out for no reason. Hopefully this has solved that for good, and it stands to reason that even if your hormones are playing tricks on you, keeping your skin clean and free of build-up will go a long way to taming those breakouts as well, rather than making them worse. You should definitely treat yourself and let me know how much you love it! :D (I totally also just pimped this out to a colleague at work, hehe.)
(Deleted comment)
Nansense: pic#110236895nanoochka on September 12th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
I would have LOVED to try Proactiv were it not for the Benzoyl Peroxide allergy (seriously, it was bad... my face swelled up to three times the size and I couldn't breathe... but afterward my skin looked GREAT!), but I know that doesn't work for everyone, either.

You should be able to find Clarisonic in O-town if you can find a Sephora, which if memory serves they do have. Even if you don't buy one there, the staff are pretty knowledgeable about the product and can answer any questions you have. My only suggestion is that, because Ottawa is crazy dry (compared to Toronto at least... I used to love going to Ottawa and Kingston because my face would actually be less oily), be careful that you moisturize like crazy if you do go ahead and buy the Clarisonic. I think it's important to moisturize morning and night anyway, but my experience is that such thorough cleaning leaves you at risk for over-drying/over-cleaning your skin, which in turn will make it produce more sebum/zits like I mentioned in the post. It's been weird adjusting to dryness for the first time ever, but that seems to be a pretty consistent effect of getting your skin so much more clean. And especially with Ottawa winters, your skin will be crying out for moisture as it is!

Good luck, and I'm really glad this was helpful! <33333
Rachel Elisabethwritingpathways on September 12th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Okay, wishing I had a $150 to spend now, I might put this on a Xmas wish list.
Baublebauble on September 13th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
Hahaha, I love that you are still shilling for this thing ;)

It is on my to-buy list though, mostly because I am super lazy and one neat and adorable gadget to clean my face seems like the ideal regimen for me.
i'm a tiny bandaid?qthelights on September 13th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Ironically? I bought two creams today one for my face and the other for my arms.. This is intriguing..
I have a really oily nose and get what I suspect is rosacea (really red) which I cover with foundation (i'm white as a ghost too, so I just go for a light one that does not match the rest of me though). I would NEVER leave the house without foundation on.

I also have keratosis bumps on my upper arms and i'm wondering if it'd work for that too.. it's sorta the same principle.. hm.

I mean.. hm..I can't really afford it right now, but that might be a really really really good thing..

ETA. A bit of a mixed reaction both ways, but it seems it good work for both the rosacea and the keratosis pillaris. Damnit I need MONEY right NOW.

Edited at 2011-09-13 09:30 am (UTC)
I once narrowed my eyes at a platypus.jibrailis on September 13th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
You know, your story sounds a lot like mine. Well, I mean, I never had problems with my skin as a teenager, but once I hit my 20s, I was diagnosed with a hormone disorder that started making my skin all blotchy and ew. I've tried so much facial stuff that I don't even want to think about how much I've spent, haha. So I will definitely look into this! :D :D

Edited at 2011-09-13 08:26 pm (UTC)
twisting_vine_x: HTTYD - Friendstwisting_vine_x on September 20th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I was in utter despair over my skin a couple of days ago (21 years old, been dealing with acne for almost a decade), and then I remembered that someone on my flist had posted a love-filled entry about some scrubby cleanser thing... dealing with my face has been bad enough, but ever since I got my IUD two years ago, my shoulders and back have been brutal... and that shit just ain't gonna fly, my friends.

So yeah! As soon as I pay for this year's tuition, I'm definitely gonna see how much OSAP I have left, and then go hunting for this thing. Thanks for the suggestion. ♥
skullage on November 20th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
you've convinced me, i want this.