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Whatever happened to Clarisonic? (And why you never needed one).

For a period of time, the Clarisonic was THE big ticket skincare item.

All of a sudden, our hands felt deeply inadequate - how on earth could they achieve what this fancy oscillating brush could? Of COURSE our pores loved and appreciated us for scrubbing at them daily with this face toothbrush, it's the cure to all skin woes - deep cleaning!

Only, it wasn't. Clarisonic officially closed its doors in September of 2020 (almost quietly, although lots of media outlets picked up on it, but with the backdrop of everything else going on, it seemed right down the bottom of things to be concerned with), and devotees could scramble to get super discounted stock to ensure they could keep their faces squeaky clean for years to come.

Clarisonic spawned generations of copycat products, often cheaper with very similar results (read: not always good). Then you have the fancy rubber face cleansing tools like Foreo, konjac sponges and special microfibre makeup-removing towels - now it seems less about a specific cleansing tool, and more about double cleansing for thoroughly clean skin.

The reason the Clarisonic couldn't continue to boom in the market, I think, comes down to the availability of information that suggested we needed to be gentler to our skin. The New York Times wrote about the brand's closure, and this quote stands out from the article:

“Initially we thought, ‘Oh, you need the skin to be squeaky clean,’ and we thought that oil was causing acne,” said Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York. “Then we learned, ‘Wait a second, actually you need healthy robust bacteria to protect the skin.’” Dr. Bowe briefly carried Clarisonic in her office, recommended it to patients and even used it herself. She gave it up by 2014."

There's no data suggesting our skin benefits (or needs) this kind of cleansing on a daily (sometimes people used it twice-daily) basis, and if you combine something like a salicylic cleanser for congested skin with manual exfoliation that the Clarisonic provides, you've just got yourself an express ticket to Irritationville.

Now, we're all more interested in tools and treatments that are used post-cleansing - red light therapy, microcurrent gadgets and gua sha, aiming to support the skin, tone and soothe. When Clarisonic was all that, buyers could feel that they were doing the most for their skin, because you could have been mistaken for thinking that your skin was rebelling because of some leftover foundation from the night before, or a lack of encouragement for those old skin cells to exit stage left.

Today, dermatologists are all over social media and what's the message they have for us? "Less is more."

In this world of skincare enthusiasts who are looking to the experts, it seems that the buzz of the Clarisonic has just petered out.


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