Disclaimer: The following Clarisonic Mia 2 review was written by me and originally published over at the now-defunct Skincare Addiction Blog.
I tend to face ultra-hyped products with a certain degree of skepticism. After all, we’ve all plunked down money for something that just couldn’t live up to the marketing and was too good to be true. That doesn’t mean I am not interested in trying them, but it does mean I take a little more than two-days-worth of convincing before I dub something, “game changing,” or, “holy grail.”
I wanted to try a Clarisonic for a a while but could not bring myself to shell out for it. I had an Olay Pro-X which was a mere fraction of the price, and when it comes right down to it, how many buttons and internet* and whatnot do we really need in our skincare routine? Eventually, the motor in my Pro-X began to falter – even with fresh batteries and a fresh brush head I had to use it longer to achieve the same level of clean that I was accustomed to. I started looking into the Clarisonic Mia 2, as I tossed around the idea of replacing my 2+ year old Pro-X device. To my delight, my now-husband gave me a Clarisonic Mia 2 as a very early Christmas gift last year (so Clarisonic doesn’t know me).
I wasn’t seeking a miracle worker in the Clarisonic Mia 2; I neither believe in miracle beauty products nor have any severe skin conditions to contend with. That said, let’s talk about my skin, about which I have few complaints:
- Normal/Oily T-Zone. Cheek dryness during winter
- Larger pores throughout T-Zone
- A few Hormonal (cycle-related) blemishes around, “that time”
- Sebaceous filaments on and just to the area just below and next to my nostrils
- Occasional flakiness around nose & odd texture (not dryness) between eyes and across the upper-bridge of my nose
- Not sensitive
Although I wanted to gush about it right away, I decided to be patient. I know I tire of reading/hearing how life-changing this new-fangled (and often expensive) product or gadget that the reviewer has had for oh, three days. It very well may be, but some things deserve a greater level of assessment (this isn’t drugstore lipstick, after all) before being published.
Especially considering that this may be more of an investment item for some folks, I decided to use it for a whole year before talking about it.
Out of the box (or at least the box I received), you get the Clarisonic Mia 2, the compatible P-Link charging cable (which is dual-voltage and therefore travel-friendly), a clamshell case, a Sensitive brush head with cover, literature on the product, and Clarisonic-branded cleanser (last two not shown). Like many electronic personal care devices, the Clarisonic Mia 2 requests a full twenty-four hours of charge-time before use. This was excruciating, but I got through it.
Just as we all have been led to expect, my first use was magical – easy to operate, not too harsh on my skin, no hiccups or learning-curve with operation. On initial use, my skin definitely felt softer – I was using a drugstore BHA toner at the time and did not wind up with anywhere near as much ilk on the cotton pad as normal. We were off to a great start. I continued using my trusty Cetaphil Gentle Skin cleanser; all other aspects of my routine remained the same. Two weeks later, I phased out that toner; I was no longer pulling any extra dirt off with it, and it wasn’t doing much for my skin since it wasn’t in a format designed to sit on the skin. Why bother with a product that isn’t performing for you any more?
Before ever using the Clarisonic, I only washed my face once per day, as I found twice did not do much for me and sometimes left my skin dry. After a month of using it once per day, I tried the Clarisonic Mia 2 twice daily for science. The first few days of that were fine, but after that my skin started to show signs of irritation: tightness, increased flaking around my nose, a few blemishes popped up. Not Mt. Rushmore, but given that my skin is typically clear save cycle-related sass, I knew it was the change in my routine stressing my skin out. Some complaints about the device causing break-outs seem to be due to twice-daily use without experimenting with a lower usage frequency, or without choosing a gentler cleanser. It is easy to get upset when a product (especially an expensive one) doesn’t deliver as you’d hoped…but when you have invested in a tool like this, it is worth trying to make it work. I dropped back after a week to using it only once daily; my skin calmed down, and I have kept it that way since.
The Clarisonic Mia 2, unlike its predecessor, features two speeds for cleansing. I have used both but prefer the, “normal,” speed. I would be inclined to use the lower speed more often if my skin were prone to irritation, but I do not bother with it as is. Like most of their devices, my Clarisonic came with the Sensitive brush head, and that is the head I have repurchased since. Described by Clarisonic themselves as their middle-of-the-road all-purpose head, I have been satisfied with how it treats my skin. I have not felt the need to try the firmer Normal brush head, nor is my skin sensitive enough to try their Delicate or Acne brush heads (purportedly the acne head is even gentler than the standard one).
Brush heads are recommended, like a toothbrush, to be replaced every three months. At $25 a pop (regular retail), I decided to push it to four to see how big of a deal it was, and it turns out that it isn’t at all. I was comfortably able to get four months out of my brush heads without deterioration of the integrity of the brush or the results I had gotten used to. I do take care to remove excess water from the head after use and I give them a wash with dish soap or antibacterial soap (be sure to thoroughly rinse) once every week or two.
Another important matter is the battery – the Clarisonic Mic 2 has a non-removable battery that recharges via induction with the magnetic, “P-Link,” cable. I have counted and get at least twenty-two uses out of my device at the normal speed before it needs to be charged. Consider that a “use” is one minute of active cleansing with the device, plus the fact that batteries do slowly lose charge over time as they idle. Since I typically use it once daily, I’m getting over three weeks’ worth of cleansing off a single charge. As the battery nears the end of its charge, it buzzes at you at the end of a cycle to tell you, “Hey, you should plug me in. I might not last another full cycle.” Easy.
Confession: That popular apricot scrub that is, in fact, pretty horrible for your face? I used to be utterly enamored of it. Even after I learned it was bad it remained in my routine longer than I care to admit. Eventually, I swapped it out for their gentler (but still containing walnut shells) version with AHA – and I was still using it when I introduced the Clarisonic to my routine. After a while, it seemed like a pointless step so, for science, I nixed it – after all, how effective is an AHA that you rinse off your face after a minute? Pretty pointless when you think about it. I haven’t missed it for a moment.
As someone who likes a mix of manual and chemical exfoliation, and I have found the perfect balance (for my skin!) between the device and an AHA treatment (currently Alpha Hydrox’s 10% AHA moisturizing lotion).
After two months of establishing what I consider my current routine (so about 4 months in), I hit smooth sailing and it has been that way ever since. I wash my face with Cetaphil Gentle (available here and at drugstores) with my Clarisonic once a day, usually during my evening shower. Sometimes I change it up and use Philosophy Purity or CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (available here and at drugstores). My skin is cleaner with fewer products and smoother with lesser effort. We already know that regular, gentle exfoliation makes our skin appear brighter, healthier, (the marketing folks love to toss around the word, “radiant!”) and all that jazz. That much is true, but would be true with any gentle exfoliation regimen.
Though my usual routine includes removing my makeup with a makeup-removing wipe, I have definitely found that the Clarisonic is competent to remove makeup at both speeds (when used with a decent cleanser, of course) in a single cycle, including long-wearing matte-finish foundations. I prefer to go in with a wipe first and remove as much as I can so I’m cleansing and exfoliating my face, not just any makeup I might have worn.
I never experienced a “purge” as some other users have mentioned, so that is not a sure-thing with this product. Any change you make in your skincare routine carries the potential for an adjustment period during which you may experience an extra few blemishes (though I did not), but do bear in mind that this should never be painful.
When I moisturize after the fact, I do indeed find that a smaller amount goes a longer way – this is true for my CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, both varieties of argan oil that I use, and an AHA lotion from Alpha Hydrox. I can’t speak to Clarisonic’s Vitamin C claim because I have not tested a Vitamin C serum (I don’t use one), but I do notice a difference in how my post-cleanse skincare is working for me.
It has not prevented or ended the blemishes I experience in concert with my monthly, but making my skincare routine easier has helped them to clear up faster than they were otherwise. My oil production is unaffected. Though they have not ended entirely, the flaky areas around my nose definitely have decreased, to my delight. The texture I mentioned is intermittent; it is a little harder to work in this area unless you disassemble the brush head and only use the smaller, inner-portion of the brush. My sebaceous filaments are under control – you cannot remove, fix, or stop them…but they can be managed with regular exfoliation.
After a year of use, I have completely eliminated products from my routine and have cut back on others and no new ones have been introduced. This means my routine is simpler – so I’m saving space in my bathroom (which is at a premium in my tiny apartment), time, and money. You could certainly argue that the cost of the replacement brush heads offsets those savings; you would be partially right, but my time is extremely valuable to me and I avoid paying full retail for the heads anyway. The trade-off is worth it to me.
The Bottom Line
The Clarisonic Mia 2 is a good device, and I am happy with it. At a year in, I am only halfway through the warranty period and have had no signs of trouble with the motor, battery, or other functionality. I like what it does for my (not excessively problematic) skin and enjoy using it.
- My skin is cleaner than I could get it before, softer, and brighter.
- I’m using fewer products to achieve the same results.
- It has not put an end to my cycle-related acne, but it did confirm my suspicion that those were influenced by hormones (since introducing it didn’t reduce or end them).
- My pores aren’t as glaringly obvious to me. We know that you cannot actually shrink them, so I’ll take it.
- No impact on oil production.
- No impact on my fine lines (all this skepticism leaves lines in a forehead, and the pleasant surprises leave smile-lines); some days they may seem less visible than others, but they are most definitely still there. I don’t want to crush dreams, but I think it is important to have realistic expectations: the Clarisonic Mia 2 is not a miracle worker. This isn’t going to firm up your face, but regular stimulation and exfoliation may make it seem more lively.
As much as I like it and would recommend it to someone who wants to add a little luxury or gadgetry to their skincare routine, I will eagerly tell them, “You want this!” because I find it fun to use and have enjoyed positive results. For me and my lifestyle I find it a worthwhile investment. I won’t tell anyone, “You NEEEEEEED this,” because you can certainly achieve gentle daily exfoliation without the device, and The Addicts are a fantastic resource for advice (I turn to them, too). If you expect it to be a miracle cure, it isn’t. There’s simply no such thing; with the powers of science and technology combined we can achieve a lot for our skin, but it isn’t going to be 100% flawless skin (because that does not exist). If I could do it over, I would seek the original Mia to save a little money since I do not use the slower speed. If your skin is more prone to irritation, though, I would get this one and use the lower speed.
If you find yourself on the fence, try picking it up from a reputable retailer with a generous return policy and give it a shot. Even if you wind up returning it it is at least worth the effort to check it out and you have little to lose. Don’t write it off if you aren’t seeing results/improvement in a couple days because your routine may need to change (I strongly recommend trying a gentle, basic cleanser with this regardless of what you use currently use such as the ones I mentioned above).
* Clarisonic devices do not interact with the internet. Not yet, at least.
Tried Clarisonic Mia 2 for a whole year. Liked it, made enough of an impact to recommend it overall to those without hypersensitive skin, but not enough to play into the hype or buzz by falling over myself proclaiming it a game/life-changing miracle-worker.