Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System Review

Facial Cleansers

Product Grade
Report Card Grade
0 Reviews
Best Feature:
Removes 6x more makeup and 2x more dirt/oil
Worst Feature:
Very expensive
Best Uses:
Enhances effectiveness of all skincare products
$195 (2-year warranty)

Where to Buy

Store Name


The Clarisonic Classic is a rechargeable battery-operated skincare tool that uses sonic technology to take the simple act of washing your face to a whole new level. One of primary inventors of the Sonicare toothbrush led the Clarisonic development team, and, just as the Sonicare became the ultimate tool in dental care, so has the Clarisonic for skincare. The Clarisonic Classic is the original sonic skin cleansing device manufactured by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, and it is one of the most beloved skincare tools among consumers, as well as a product trusted by aestheticians and dermatologists alike. The dual action brush head is gentle enough to be used twice a day, but still powerful enough to remove 6 times more makeup and 2 times more dirt and oil than manual washing alone. During the treatment cycle, the rotating brush head massages pores to loosen impurities and sloughs them away along with dry skin cells. The result is smooth, soft skin with a healthy glow. Your pores will start to appear smaller, and you will have less embarrassing breakouts and dull, dry skin patches. What's more, the Clarisonic also helps to enhance the effectiveness of your skincare products because it is easier for those products to be absorbed into your skin and work their magic when they aren't obstructed by impurities. You can customize your treatment routine based on your skin type/concern by choosing between the two different speed settings, a one or two minute treatment cycle, and the 6 brush head options (includes one for your body). Forget cleansers with harsh chemicals and abrasive manual exfoliants, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories has redefined daily skin cleansing with its Clarisonic products!

You can purchase the Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System on or from other authorized online and offline retailers for approximately $195. It is important to check whether you are purchasing your device from an authorized retailer otherwise you might not be eligible for the manufacturer's warranty or 90 day money back guarantee.

Product Report Card Grade

We give Clarisonic's Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System an A- because it is a great device to exfoliate your skin and to enhance the effectiveness of all of the skincare products you use. Hardly anyone is disappointed with their Clarisonic, but we had to deduct a few points because it is very expensive.

This Product
Overall Score
Our Awards
Date Reviewed
April 2013
February 2012
February 2012
Excellent cleanser and exfoliator that improves skin's tone and texture; can adjust brush heads and speed based on skin type; device is waterproof, so you can use it in the shower or bath; can use brush heads on other areas of your body such as your back, neck and décolleté ("Body" brush head is basically just a larger version of the "Normal" brush head); comes with 1 oz. trial sizes of Refreshing Gel Cleanser, Gentle Hydro Cleanser and Nourishing Care Cleanser
Gentle and effective cleanser; does not contain sulfates, synthetic fragrances or dyes, phthalates, GMOs or triclosan; rosewater and cucumber extract give it a pleasant smell; gentle enough to be used on eyes; it is soap-free so it won't leave behind any film or residue
Affordable; gentle and effective cleanser; non-comedogenic
$200 is very expensive for a tool to help wash your face; brush heads cost $20 - $25 each and should be replaced every 3 - 4 months; only receive a "Normal" or "Sensitive" brush head with purchase and have to purchase others brush head types separately
Expensive; you will still need to use makeup remover
Tested on animals; contains fragrance, so not good for sensitive skin; you will still need to use makeup remover
Skin Type
Suitable for all skin types (including sensitive)
Suitable for all skin types (including sensitive)
Suitable for normal, oily and combination skin types
Skin Concern
Provides gentle cleansing and exfoliation to maintain healthy skin and/or alleviate skin concerns such as seborrhea dermatitis, rosacea and acne
Very gentle cleanser for soothing and softening skin that is easily irritated
Basic, affordable cleanser with no frills
$195 (2-year warranty and 90-day satisfaction guarantee)
$15 or $38
$6.80 - $12
The device measures 7" x 2.8" (L x W) and weighs 2.2 pounds. The brush heads are about 2" in diameter.
1.7 or 5.1 fluid ounces
8 or 16 fluid ounces
Technology or Active Ingredients
Hand-held device features a dual action brush head that oscillates at a sonic frequency of over 300 movements per second. It enhances the effectiveness of your cleanser by gently massaging your pores open to loosen dirt and oil and exfoliate away dead skin cells. It has rechargeable batteries that last for 30 minutes, and it comes with one of two replaceable brush head options - "Normal" or "Sensitive". There are four additional brush heads options sold separately including "Delicate", "Deep Pore", "Acne" and "Body".
The cleanser's active ingredient is soy protein, which provides amino acids that help maintain skin's moisture, elasticity and firmness. Additional important ingredients in the cleanser include borage seed oil for nourishment, as well as cucumber extract and rosewater. Cucumber extract is known for possessing powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It provides an immediate cooling effect and helps to calm skin. Rosewater is known for its calming, balancing and toning properties and helps to reduce redness in the skin.
This cleanser has a very basic formula consisting of water, gentle detergents and glycerin, a humectant.
No, it does not contain synthetic fragrances, but it is formulated with rosewater and cucumber extract, which give it a pleasant smell.
Yes, it does contain fragrance, but a fragrance-free version of the cleanser is available.
Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Centaurea Cyanus (Cornflower) Flower Water, Coco Glucoside, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Xanthan Gum, Peg-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Peg-40 Sorbitan Peroleate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Methylparaben, Sodium Propylparaben, Polysorbate 20, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Peg-35 Castor Oil, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, BHA, BHT.
Water, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, acrylates/steareth-20 methacrylate copolymer, glycerin, PEG-200 hydrogenated glyceryl palmate, sodium laureth sulfate, butylene glycol, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, phenoxyethanol, masking fragrance, panthenol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, disodium EDTA, methylparaben.
Product Design
It comes in three colors - Graphite Gray ("Normal" brush head included), White ("Sensitive" brush head included) or Pink ("Sensitive" brush head included).
It comes in an opaque white tube to limit exposure to light and air.
It comes in an opaque pump bottle to limit exposure to light and air.

ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review

Pros And Cons


  • Excellent cleanser and exfoliator that improves skin's tone and texture
  • Can adjust brush heads and speed based on skin type
  • Waterproof so you can use it in the shower or bath
  • Can use brush heads on other areas of body such as your back, neck and décolleté. There is a specific body brush, but apparently the only real difference is the size of the brush head.
  • 1 oz. trial sizes of Refreshing Gel Cleanser, Gentle Hydro Cleanser and Nourishing Care Cleanser


  • $200 is pretty expensive for a tool to help wash your face
  • Brush heads should be replaced every few months and are about $25 ($20 if you buy two at a time)
  • When purchasing the device, you can only choose between the Normal and Sensitive brush head. Other brush head options have to be purchased separately.

Key Features

Skin Type
The Clarisonic is approved for all skin types (including sensitive).
Skin Concern
This is a great device for just about anyone since gentle cleansing and exfoliation is essential for healthy skin. It is also helpful for many skin concerns, including seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea and acne. Please also see the "Warnings" section for exceptions.
How it works
The Clarisonic devices all use a dual action brush head to gently and thoroughly clean your skin. The outer brush is stationary and the inner brush oscillates at a sonic frequency of over 300 movements per second. The brush head massages your pores open to loosen dirt and oil and exfoliate away dead skin cells.
  • Brush Head Options: Delicate (for very sensitive skin), Sensitive, Normal, Deep Pore, Acne and Body. Your device will come with a Normal or Sensitive brush head, and you can purchase a different brush head if you want based on your skin type or specific concern.
Clarisonic recommends that you use the device twice a day (morning and night) for a 60 second treatment cycle each time. You can also choose to do a 120 second cycle, but Clarisonic's instruction manual says that most people will see benefits from just 60 seconds.
  1. If you have eye makeup on, you want to remove it by hand.
  2. Using warm water, wet your skin and the brush head.
  3. Apply a gentle cleanser to your skin or directly to the brush head.
    • Clarisonic includes 3 trial cleansers (1 ounce each) with the device, and you can continue to buy its cleansers or you can use any non-abrasive cleanser you like. It's important to avoid cleansers with mechanical exfoliants (i.e. microbeads) or acids because they could really irritate your skin. If you use a non-Clarisonic cleanser, it's probably a good idea to just test it on your forearm before using it on your face.
  4. Choose from one of the two speed settings "Normal" or "Low" (for more sensitive skin).
  5. Starting with your forehead, gently run the Clarisonic along your skin for 20 seconds. The device has a built in timer ("T-TIMER") that beeps and pauses briefly to indicate when you move to the next section of your face. For a 60 second cycle, you will spend 20 seconds on your forehead, 10 seconds on each cheek and 20 seconds on your nose and chin.
  6. Once you are done, you can dry the brush head by rubbing it against a towel for 5-10 seconds while it is powered on.
Care Instructions
To avoid dirt and residue buildup on your Clarisonic, you should wash the brush head and the handle (separately) at least once a week with warm soapy water. You should not use any abrasive cleaners or chemicals to clean any part of the handle or brush head. For obvious reasons, you shouldn't share your brush heads with anyone else, and you should replace the brush head every 3-4 months.
Product Size
I couldn't find this information online, so I spoke with Clarisonic's customer service. The unit is 7" long, 2.8" in height and weighs 2.2 pounds. The facial brush heads are about 2" in diameter and the brush head for your body is slightly bigger.
Product Design
The Clarisonic Classic comes in three colors - Graphite Gray (normal brush head included), White (sensitive brush head included) and Pink (sensitive brush head included).
Consult your physician before using the Clarisonic if you are currently being treated for any skin conditions, think you may have a skin condition, are taking medication that can cause skin sensitivity or if you have recently gotten a facial cosmetic procedure (i.e. chemical peel, etc). You also shouldn't use the Clarisonic if you have serious sunburn or skin allergies and/or open wounds or lesions in the treatment area.
Power Source
The Clarisonic has rechargeable batteries that last for 30 minutes. When it is running out of batteries, the device will beep immediately following the treatment cycle to remind you to put it back in the cradle for charging. Another indication that the device needs to be charges is if both the green and orange light on the back of the device blink at the end.
Clarisonic offers a 2-year warranty. Also, if you aren't 100% satisfied with the product, you can return it within 90 days for a full refund (less shipping costs). However, your product must have been purchased through Clarisonic or an authorized distributor.


The Clarisonic Classic has received excellent customer feedback online. It has scored a 4.9/5 on (959 reviews), a 4.9/5 on (937 reviews), a 9.2/10 on (117 reviews), and a 4.5/5 on (82 reviews). It was a 2011 Best of Beauty award winner in Allure for "Best Splurge", it was a 2012 award winner on, and it was also chosen as one of Oprah's Favorite Things. For all of the overwhelming support Clarisonic has received from customers, aestheticians and dermatologists, I was somewhat surprised to read a pretty negative review from one of my trusted, online skincare resources, Paula Begoun. To summarize, Ms. Begoun basically believes that Clarisonic isn't worth the $200 price tag and that you could get the almost same cleansing and exfoliation results from a washcloth. I don't personally use the Clarisonic, but I have many friends and family members who swear by it. What I like most about Ms. Begoun's reviews is that she helps me find great inexpensive skincare products, but she has given negative ratings to some more expensive products that I absolutely love, and so I don't necessarily trust her opinion on everything.

That said, price is definitely the biggest "con" that I could come up with when I was researching the Clarisonic. Unhappy customers were few and far between. In general, the negative reviews I read came from people who were looking for a $200 miracle or who were complaining that the device caused them to breakout. Regarding the breakout issue, I have had at least two aestheticians tell me in the past that I should always use a gentle makeup remover towelette before exfoliating/cleansing because sometimes you can actually push makeup further into your pores and cause breakouts. It could just be based on your skin type (mine is acne-prone), but it's definitely something to think about if you use the Clarisonic to remove makeup and suspect the device is making you breakout. If price is your main deterrent from buying the Clarisonic, you might want to consider one of Clarisonic's less expensive models (starting at about $120) or even the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System (about $30). The cleaning power of the Olay device obviously isn't as great as the Clarisonic, but it has received positive online reviews and could be a good product to start with if your budget won't allow for the Clarisonic Classic just yet.


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