Have you heard of the Clarisonic? According to the company, it is a “Sonic Skin Cleansing System.” Which means it is essentially a large electronic brush used to clean your face. If you, like me, have been using your hands for this task for 20+ years, you might question the necessity for such a tool.

But over the past few months, my friends and acquaintances appear to have become paid spokespeople for Clarisonic, because I have not stopped hearing about the thing. Does it make sense to pay over $200 for an electronic toothbrush for your face? No. But the company recently came out with the Clarisonic MIA, which retails for around $100. So I decided to try it out and see if this thing makes sense to own.

Again, spending $100 on a product that is meant to replace my hands (cost $0), still seems silly. But about a month ago, I was getting bothered by my problematic winter skin and decided it was time to get a facial.

I have gotten exactly one facial in my life. I didn’t find it particularly enjoyable. And three days afterwards, there was no noticeable difference in my complexion. This time when I started researching spa options in and around New York, I found out that most facials come in around $100-$150. And if I was going to spend that kind of money, why not purchase something that has more than an hour shelf life?

Since I have been hearing non-stop chatter about the Clarisonic, I went online to research the thing.  On Amazon, I found out that the Clarisonic MIA can be purchased for $106.

I went into Sephora to ask about these brushes and she told me I should skip the regular Clarisonic (retail cost $225 ) and just get a MIA. According to her:

“The MIA only has one setting, but it’s half the price and I only use one setting on my regular Clarisonic, so it just makes a lot more sense. Also, it’s smaller so you can pack it easily for trips.”

Sold! I stowed it in my purse and excitedly brought it home with me that night. I was careful not to turn it on while at a bar that night, for fear that everyone would suspect I carried an emergency vibrator with me wherever I go.

The first week, I was more than pleased with my purchase. The Clarisonic has a soothing sound and gives you the enviable impression that in fact you are actively making your skin better while setting aside two minutes to use it and stare at your pores in micro detail.

Other than the confusion it induced in my husband, I had no complaints. (As a side note, explaining the logic behind purchasing an electric brush for my face reminded me why there is a stereotype that women are a strange and frivolous species.)

However, if I looked around my apartment, I would likely be embarrassed by any number of tools and products lying around the place. Onward!

About five days in, I started to have a problem with the Clarisonic. Or rather, what it was doing to my face. One morning I got to the office and noticed that my cheeks were splotchy, red and teetering on raw. When I expressed my concern with my new wonder-product to Ashley and Jennifer, they laughed in the general direction of my purchase. I believe their words went something like this:

“Hahaha. Silly earthling. WHY would you buy a Clarisonic? What is wrong with you!?”

Again, this is probably a conversation I should have had before making my purchase, but oh well. Ashley had received a Clarisonic, tried it and promptly tossed it aside as useless. Jennifer had the foresight to realize that it was a dumb product that would only antagonize her skin problems.

But I was unfazed.

I decided I would give my new face brush the entirety of my 30 day return policy to see if my skin would be magically improved with continued use.

Part of the reason had to do with multiple product reviews warning that the Clarisonic actually results in worse skin during the first two weeks of use, and that such problems should be ignored as your skin correcting itself. For example:

“I have read on other sites that many women experienced the cystic-pimple breakouts after beginning this new regimen. Well, I did too! I get a pimple here and there once in a great while and they’re usually POP-able and gone the next day. These suckers were the “6 ft. under” kind that irritate the heck outta you b/c there isn’t a thing you can do about them! But, b/c I knew this was going to happen, I just backed off using it every other day or even skipping two days and now I have broken through to the other side!! Hallelujah!! “

So I soldiered on. With a slight modification. I would only use the Clarisonic once a day. And since my skin was on  the verge of meltdown, I obsessively monitored my face for the next two weeks to make sure I wasn’t rubbing off integral layers of skin.

Over those days, I was glad to see that I wasn’t tearing through my epidermis, but there were a few disturbing things. For starters, a tiny mole on my face turned into a white head. I was unaware that there even was a pore in this mole. And I can now tell you from experience: Do not attempt to pop a whitehead that appears in a mole on your face. This is extremely dumb/painful.

After three weeks, the flare ups had calmed down, but I was a little disappointed that some of the miraculous results I’d been hearing about weren’t happening t for me.

Granted, my sample time frame was somewhat diverted. I bought the Clarisonic because of my disastrous winter skin. Due to the cold weather, my skin often flakes off throughout the winter months. I had assumed that the exfoliating action of the Clarisonic would help alleviate this problem. But I’ll never know about that – at least until next year – because promptly after I purchased this thing, the weather turned a balmy 60 degrees in New York. In the Spring and Summer, I don’t really have problem skin, so the need for such a product is not so dire.

However! Contrary to Ashley and Jennifer’s derision, I found myself liking the Clarisonic and looking forward to washing my face. Has it drastically improved my skin? I would say no. I hoped that all of the blocked pores I’ve been developing would be completely cleared up a month in. Probably that was foolish. I do see some difference in my skintone, and the pores on my nose appear a little smaller. I think.

But maybe that’s just the placebo effect of me staring at my face all the time and losing perspective. Because this is what I learned about the Clarisonic:

1: I do still get pimples. However, the breakouts seem more minimal. And their duration has been reduced. That’s a nice thing.

2: The Clarisonic feeds into my obsessive compulsive face staring. Depending on your approach to your skin, this is either a good or bad thing.

While talking about this product with people who have used it before, I found they fell into two camps. One told me they felt “eh” about the product, got bored with it, and forgot they own it. But the second group got a look of glee in their eyes when I mentioned it in passing. These people are vaguely addicted to the Clarisonic and sang its praises.

I imagine that this group, like me, has a tendency towards face obsessiveness. If there is something wrong with my skin, I have a lot of trouble leaving it alone. I want clogged pores off my face and have a tendency towards aggression toward pimples, which isn’t the best habit. The Clarisonic helps me feel like I am actively doing something to improve my skin without simply gouging at my pores.

Also, using the Clarisonic allows me to stare at my pores for at least two minutes a day. And once I’m done with that, my compulsive picking tendency is fulfilled.

In the end, I am planning to keep my Clarisonic MIA. And I am comfortable knowing that it may only have a placebo effect of letting me think I am improving my skin every morning rather than actually making nay grand changes to my skin.

If you do not have this inclination, you may carry on feeling superior to the purchasers of this product and laugh at us all visibly. Jennifer and Ashley are likely available to join you at this very moment.