Product: Super sonic: Skincare brush demonstrates safety, versatility


A new sonic brush has demonstrated its safety for use by patients with conditions including rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, according to several studies. The sonic brush also is safe and effective for removing makeup, and having sonically cleansed skin increases absorption of topical preparations, one of its developers says.

Key Points

National report - In several studies, a sonic skincare brush (Clarisonic; Pacific Bioscience Laboratories) has shown that it provides safe facial cleansing for people with rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis.

The device also removes makeup, improves absorption of topical cosmeceutical preparations, and even improves the performance of shaving cream, a Clarisonic executive says.

Because the Clarisonic is a cosmetic device, "We don't make any treatment claims regarding what it can do for improving a skin condition," says Robb Akridge, Ph.D., vice president of clinical research and cofounder of Pacific Bioscience.

To demonstrate the Clarisonic's safety, an early study examined the device's ability to remove layers of cells artificially "stained" with a commercial self-tanning solution. The artificial tanning solution darkened skin several layers deep into the epidermis, Dr. Akridge tells Dermatology Times.

"Then, by cleansing aggressively with various products (the Clarisonic, a nylon facial pad with water, a daily facial scrub and a no-treatment control) or using tape lifts to remove the outer layer of stained skin, we knew how far down we were removing epidermal skin with the Clarisonic," he says.

These methods, along with measurements of transepidermal water loss, skin temperature and color intensity taken before and after cleaning, showed the Clarisonic is gentle and safe enough for daily use without disrupting the skin barrier, he says.

Additionally, Dr. Akridge says, "We looked at some key skin conditions to show that the Clarisonic is safe to use for people with those conditions."

For instance, Pacific Bioscience initially advised people with rosacea not to use the Clarisonic, because this condition is associated with sensitive skin that is prone to flaring up if cleaned or manipulated too aggressively, he says.

But over time, Dr. Akridge says, "Women who had rosacea began buying the Clarisonic and telling us they were ecstatic because their skin was so clean and felt so healthy."


To test the device's safety with rosacea, Pacific Bioscience enrolled 14 subjects with stabilized rosacea in two pilot studies.

In the first study, investigators asked subjects to cleanse with the Clarisonic using a sensitive brush head for one minute, twice daily for six weeks.

In the second study, subjects used a delicate brush head one minute daily for eight weeks.

Based on clinical photos and noninvasive measurements taken at baseline and every two weeks, investigators concluded Clarisonic is gentle enough for people with rosacea to use daily with no adverse effects, Dr. Akridge says.

"Women with rosacea frequently tell us they don't like to do anything to their skin because they're afraid of making it red and inflamed. This means they don't cleanse very well, because they're afraid to," he says.

However, he says the Clarisonic doesn't rotate or twist the skin - it actually vibrates the skin back and forth 300 times a second.

"By just barely wiggling the skin very quickly, we are able to clean the skin but not overdo it," Dr. Akridge says. Subjects also reported improvement in their rosacea, he says. "But we don't claim that Clarisonic is a treatment device."

Makeup removal

Regarding makeup removal, the manufacturer conducted a 10-subject, split-forehead study in which researchers applied equal amounts of fluorescent makeup on the forehead of each subject. Then, an aesthetician cleaned half the forehead with the Clarisonic device, the other half manually.

Investigators photographed patients with a digital camera equipped with a UV flash to show how much fluorescent makeup remained on both sides of the forehead.

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