Out Damn Spot: A Review of the Clarisonic and Lyes and Lathers’ Charcoal Face Soap

It’s effects are controversial, but knowing my love for scrubbing, rubbing, and poking my face with all manner of gels, sponges, and enzymes, my mother graciously gave me a Clarisonic for Christmas, complete with Kieth Haring artwork. I had been using a powder cleanser, which to my dismay didn’t provide enough lather to lubricate the brush and my skin, and the double exfoliation of the cleanser and the Clarisonic left my face red and irritated. So, during the January HBG Flea, I picked up a face soap from Lyes and Lathers, which has become a perfect compliment to my new toy. After a few weeks, I have enough experience with both to write about both.
First, to discuss the Clarisonic. I am not stranger to pain in the name of beauty, and have jokingly called some of my skincare rituals the “slash and burn” technique, but the rest of my family has discontinued their own use of the tools.  I have more oily skin than them, so I am probably a more reasonable candidate for its use; however, it’s worth noting that 2/3s of the recipients have either halted all use, or use it very infrequently. I recommend just barely pressing it against your skin, and to reiterate my previous point, using a soap that has a nice lather. More on my new soap to come.
The Clarisonic exists in the nebulous realm of scientific unknowns. There are probably few independent researchers willing to spend the time and money necessary to research the long term effects of using it, and as such, the only solid information available is from the researchers at Clarisonic, itself. Any study paid for by the people who benefit from the conclusion is highly suspect. Here are some things I’ve heard on the internet about them and the best sources I could find to confirm or deny them:
Myth: it puts micro tears in the skin
False: Because it vibrates, or oscillates, instead of spinning, it is much less damaging than cheaper versions, as the Beautypedia writes. Beautypedia is one of my most trusted resources; headed by Paula Begoun, the high queen of cutting through bullshit in the beauty industry, it provides honest, thorough reviews on nearly everything. I’ve heard this claim thrown around from back when I was a beauty adviser at Estee Lauder, but there is no evidence supporting it.
Myth: Cleaning will reduce wrinkles
Probably false: I can’t find any evidence either way. If it contributes anything, it’s cleansing the skin deeply enough to improve the effectiveness of your skincare.
Myth: It cleans 6 times better than hands alone
Not enough data: It cleans the skin very well, and I like the way it feels, but I’m not about to believe the studies cited by Clarisonic, for the previously mentioned reason that no third party has verified the claims.
Now, onto the soap! I’ve never used a bar soap for my facial skin before, but I was willing to try, and if you’ve followed me for a while, you know I review soaps and cleansers unintentionally often. The bar has a subtle smell, but I wouldn’t call it perfumed — which is a good thing. Aromatic soaps and scrubs on the body are evocative and alluring, but on thinner, more sensitive facial skin, I find perfume to be unnecessary and irritating. Its’ lather is luxurious and it doesn’t leave a residue, whether with the ‘sonic or with one’s hands. If a soap leaves residue, any skincare you put on top have to penetrate through that to reach your skin. Considering my two main criteria for a good soap: without perfume or residue, this looks like a winner.
I have combination oily skin, and it’s mattifying without being stripping. The Charcoal in it helps pull out impurities thanks to carbon’s porous nature. The Is this a lovely soap? Yes. Should you expect it to solve all of your skin problems? No. You shouldn’t expect that of any cleanser, because they wash off. I will continue to use it because it’s a cost-effective alternative to expensive cleansers that work equally as well.
TL;DR version: The Clarisonic is great, but expensive. It’s not necessary, but if you’re obsessed with skincare like I am, you should consider buying one. Just keep in mind to get the softer, luxe, brushes if you have sensitive skin. The Lyes and Lathers soap is mild, yet clarifying, and I’d recommend it to anyone with combination to oily skin, even those with sensitive skin, who wants an effective cleanser for half the price.


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