Clarisonic Mia Review

Back in March, I ponied up for a Clarisonic Mia on Carrie’s recommendation. Carrie is very smart with her money, so if she said a $150 face-cleaning gadget actually worked, I was inclined to believe her. The Mia is a little rotating brush attached to a handset. You turn it on, pass it gently across your forehead, T-zone, cheeks, upper lip, chin, and below-the-chin area for one minute to remove residue, dirt, and makeup. (Eye makeup is removed separately. Scrubby brush on eyelids = ouch.)

Although my experiences with the oil cleansing method were mainly positive, my skin remained a bit splotchy and I still dealt with the occasional breakout. So I nabbed a Mia on sale and dove right in.

AND I actually remembered to take some “before” photos! Here I am, completely makeup-free, before I began using the Mia back in March. As you can see, my cystic acne is under control, but I’ve got some chinstrap zits going on. And I’m a bit blotchy.

I didn’t want to abandon the oils, so I’ve been using the Mia only at night and with my oil blend as my cleanser. Since the brush head looks really ookey after I’m done with it, I clean it after each use. The instructions say to clean the brush head after a week of use, but I wear very minimal makeup and mine is discolored and loaded with residue after one use, so I just clean the thing. I don’t want to grind old makeup back into my skin each night.

It’s recommended that you purchase a new brush head every three months, and I’ve just ordered one so I’m yet to swap out and see if the system has some renewed efficacy with a fresh brush. But for now, here’s what I look like after three months of use.

As you can see, I’ve still got a few zits. That doesn’t surprise me in the least since my acne is triggered by hormones, stress, food, and countless other factors so no single product is going to cure it. But I’ll tell you this: The pimples I do get heal MUCH faster than the ones I got pre-Mia. It would typically take about 10 days for full healing before I started using this device. Now most pimples are gone within three days. A huge improvement. I also feel like my skin is a bit less splotchy and sensitive, and a bit softer to the touch.

I certainly plan to continue using it myself. I don’t feel like it has been a transformative purchase or that all my skin worries are over now that it has become a part of my cleansing routine. But it has improved my complexion in some important and beneficial ways so I’ll stick to it.

Would I recommend this product to others? Well, most of the ads I’ve seen appear to over-promise, claiming that regular use will bring younger-looking, healthier, gorgeous skin. I’m sure the Mia will do that for some folks, especially those who aren’t acne-prone and who haven’t been doing any regular deep cleansing before. And it’s certainly possible that the system would be more effective if I used a traditional cleanser instead of my oil blend.* I like it and will keep using it and would recommend it to folks who feel like regular cleansing and occasional exfoliation aren’t doing the trick to remove makeup and residue thoroughly. The Clarisonic Mia is good at evening tone and removing face gunk, that’s for certain. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is seeking an actual cure for acne, or who hopes to completely transform her skin with just this one product.

Who else has tried a Clairsonic cleansing system? Anyone had truly miraculous results? How long have you been using yours? Anyone had minimal or negative results using a Clarisonic Mia or other Clairsonic cleanser? How about the knockoffs – I know Oil of Olay sells one in drug stores. I’d love to hear about your own experiences!

*Everything I’ve read in user reviews says NOT to use the cleanser that comes free with the Mia. The system is supposed to work using any cleanser, so if you’ve got one you love, just keep using it.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. This is NOT a paid review. I purchased this product with my own money and have never been contacted by Clairsonic under any circumstances.

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  • Helen

    This review is really helpful, Sal. But I have to say, I appreciated the post just as much for your willingness to share photos of yourself sans makeup. You look great in both sets of shots. I have nothing against makeup (I dearly love it, in fact), but, boy is it refreshing to see a non-made up face.

  • Thanks for this Sal. I’ve been postponing buying one, for lack of bathroom space. But I may do it, based on your refreshingly normal review (it *won’t* make me look 25 again? : > ). Your skin looks fab, all makeup free and in the sunlight!

  • I’ve actually contemplated selling my MIA. Maybe because I expected a dramatic change and overall I don’t get much from it. Overall my skin isn’t bad, but I definitely have clogged and huge pores, especially on my nose. I’ve tried nightly use, every few days, and nothing really seems to impact it. But I’m also convinced no skin care product actually does for me what they promise it does.

    Tip: if your skin is at all sensitive, avoid the deep cleaning brushes! They irritate my skin like WHOA. It’s always blotchy and red. Yikes! Definitely sticking to the gentle or normal from here on out.

    • Sam

      Really? I would consider buying it from you, if you’re willing to ship to Canada. (I just can’t force myself to spend $150 on a new one.)

      If you’d like to discuss, my email is sam . anne . scott @ gmail . com (sans spaces).

  • I have one and was impressed enough to buy my 22 year daughter one as well. We are both very oily with frequent break outs and clogged pores ( i am fighting 50+ aging skin issues)

    I didn’t see a miracle. but felt like my clogged pores seem smaller and that my face was smoother and responded better to products I put on my face (like anti-spot treatments) I switched to the deep pore brush recently – jury’s still out.

    My Daughter saw remarkable improvement with body breakouts. Her chest cleared immediately and when she went away for the weekend and didn’t take with her – it broke out the next day. She is convinced. Her face, to me, looks better and the breakouts still come but heal faster and her face looks less blotchy and angry. But, alas, she is a picker and there is no cure for that.

    We are trying different cleansers to find one that might work better.
    We both agree that the Mia works best with a foaming cleanser. Creamy cleansers produce less clean skin and mucks up the brush. So far Kiehls Ultra Facial oil-free is our favorite.

    I think it is worth the investment just for the smoother skin – makeup goes on better, pores smaller. I think my face looks better with it in my routine.

  • I purchased one of the original Clarisonic devices a couple of years ago (slightly larger than the Mia) and I’m still a True Believer™. 😀 I’m not acne prone but my post-menopausal skin really had turned dull and “textured.” The difference after just a couple weeks of using this thing were amazing, and I still use it daily.

  • Erin

    After reading a lot of reviews of both the Clarisonica & the Olay one, I picked up the Olay version & have been using it for 2 weeks now. I can definitly notice the difference between cleaning my face with the brush over just using hands or even a facecloth. I have acne too & it hasn’t made a huge difference, but I do appreciate that my face is a lot cleaner now, I’m hoping it will make a difference in the long run.

    • Cindy

      I bought the Olay ProX brush last year after reading a lot of reviews comparing the 2, as well. There were several reviewers who claimed to like it better than the Clairsonic, so at $120 less it wasn’t a hard sell. I do like it, though I wouldn’t say there’s been a noticeable difference in my skin. It feels better when I use it vs. not. However, I don’t like using exfoliating cleansers (either chemical or physical) with it because it feels too harsh on my moderately oily skin.

  • This is actually quite tempting, and the “oil cleansing method” sounds strangely like what my mother did for years for her skin, so I’m going to read more about it and think about a Mia for Christmas. (Had a birthday in March; need to save my dosh.)

  • I bought one about a year ago, and I love it. I, too, get cystic acne and I have sensitive combination skin. Using the Mia has actually been transformational for me. Several people have said that my skin is looking great. It also means that I’m using less in the way of foundation, etc. I’m also a picker (bad, I know) and now I have less to pick so I look better. My cleanser is Dr. Haushka Cleansing Milk.

  • LauraB

    I have the Oil of Olay version and it works very well. I use the exfoliating cleanser that goes with it. Basically what you get is a deep exfoliation, like a mini facial. For some people can make a lot of difference in their skin, especially if they are prone to dryness and breakouts at the same time (like me!). My skin tone is a lot better when I use the brush regularly, but sometimes I just use the exfoliating cleanser and it also does well. My husband says my face feels like a “cloud” now. I am pregnant and when my skin started going crazy, it was the only thing that would reduce my dry patches. I got my brush at Costco with a cleanser for $35 last year, so I am very happy with the purchase. Not a miracle but a very good tool for exfoliation and deep cleaning.

  • Mrs.M in MI

    About three months ago, I was getting some nasty breakouts and major scaly dryness, so I decided that it was time to overhaul my skincare routine. After some online research, I purchased the Olay knock-off brush and the Olay 3-step acne protocol kit. About six weeks ago I also started using a Neutrogena retinol cream at night instead of the last two steps of the protocol. (This may or may not have been due to a looming birthday.)

    My breakouts have definitely abated to the occasional zit, and they usually pop up when I’ve been a little lazy about using the brush, so it seems to work. My skin feels smoother and less dry than it used to be, though it’s still somewhat blotchy.

    Whether all this is due to the brush, the protocol, the retinol, or the fact that before I was super lazy and didn’t wash my face every night and never washed it in the morning, I couldn’t say. But I think the brush is fun to use, and that keeps me picking it up.

  • missjulied

    I’ve been using a clarisonic for a few years now, and I’ve had extremely positive results. I have large pores, and I find that it gets them very clean, which makes them appear smaller.

    I did a test when I first got it where I washed my face in my “normal” way (which was a 2-step process, first remove makeup and then cleanse), and then I took a pass over it with the clarisonic. I was amazed at how much extra makeup it cleaned out of my pores! I was sold!

    In the past 6 months or so I’ve been alternating days between using the clarisonic and the oil cleansing method. I use the clarisonic when I want to use a treatment (AHA) on my face after, and oil cleansing when I’m too tired and just want to slap some moisturizer on.

    I tried to use it on my chest, but my skin there is far too sensitive. I think that if you have thin or sensitive skin the machine might be just too much. But for my face it’s been fantastic.

  • VAMarcy

    I have the Olay Pro brush, and it does leave my skin feeling so smooth. I’m not a skin professional, but my personal feeling re: skin cleansers (after years of reading Paula Begoun’s info) is that something you wash off your body after a couple of minutes doesn’t really affect your skin that much–just not enough time. What you leave on your skin (good and bad) does make a difference. Gentle cleansers with good ingredients and a gentle rotating brush are helpful, but probably not miracle workers. Just my two cents!

  • Cystic acne is my menace and must be stopped. I currently have two giant painful friends on my face, I have never had an acne problem until a couple of months ago. Sad

    • Sam


      Sadly, in my case I suspect this came from dabbling in OCM (oil cleansing method). My skin does not want.

    • SuzRN

      I am getting ready to try clarisonic mia, but wanted to share how I got rid of my cystic acne….dermatologist put me on Ziana…broke out a bit initially as it pull all the gunk out of your pores, but now my ance problem is gone…the Ziana also has anti wrinkle benefits too.

  • R.S.

    I recieved my Clarisonic Mia as a Christmas gift (hooray for having a gay brother!), but hadn’t intended to purchase one. I started using it in the mornings in the shower, in place of my exfoliating scrub. I use it with Cetaphil. At the 6-month point, I can definitely say that my skin is softer to the touch. I still get some occasional acne (mostly hormonal), but my acne was never too bad to begin with. My one disappointment is that the Clarisonic does not seem to help with the clogged pores on my nose and chin.

  • Aziraphale

    Based on what you all say, I’m tempted to try such a brush. Maybe I’ll give the Oil of Olay one a try, since I bet they have that at my local drugstore.

    I think I agree with VAMarcy when you say that something you wash off after a couple of minutes doesn’t affect your skin that much. I don’t have tons of experience with cleansers and facials, since my skin is pretty run-of-the-mill, and any old cream seems to work (or at least work well enough for me; perhaps my standards aren’t high!), but I have experienced a healthy crop of “chinstrap zits” (love that term!) every cycle pretty much since menarche. I’m now 39 and still get them if I don’t use the one magic product that has virtually cured the problem, and it is…wait for it…good ol’ benzoyl peroxide! And you do leave that on your face overnight, so it can sink in and oxygenate your skin. It turns out that if you actually follow the directions on the tube, which are to just put a very thin layer over the entire area that you think may develop zits, then they never come. A thin layer just five or six days each month doesn’t seem to dry out my skin. This is the only truly transformative product I’ve ever used. It’s been on the shelves since I was a teenager, and back then I’d gob it on individual zits, and it totally didn’t work, so I didn’t bother with it back then. But then several years ago I was talking to the pediatrician about the sudden development of newborn acne on my three-month-old’s face, and he said there’s nothing you can really do about it except benzoyl peroxide, which is the only topical product that has ever been proven to reduce acne, but you’re not going to put that on a baby, of course. So I said how does it work? And he said that it helps oxygen get at the tissues just below the surface, which in turn discourages the growth of the bacteria which eat the oil (sebum) that comes out of your pores. People who get acne have slightly thicker oil than those who do not, and the bacteria/oil mixtures clogs up your pores more easily. So it makes sense that a cleansing approach that loosens clogs and then oxygenates the skin will reduce zits.

    I’ve got to say, I almost never get a chin-zone zit since I started applying benzoyl peroxide at strategic times. I wish I’d discovered it sooner. Now I just get the occasional “surprise” one on some random spot on my face, but you can’t really plan for those!

  • Sal

    You all rock. Thank you for sharing your experiences with these products! Skincare is so personal, and this conversation is just re-proving that point. Clearly, these brushes are absolutely amazing for some folks, slightly helpful for others, and useless to some.

  • Trisha

    Your skin looks really good. I have heard that over time it will thin your skin. I’m not sure if I’d use it everyday but maybe once or twice a month.

  • That’s pretty amazing! Your skin looks so healthy.

  • Laurel

    I used the Clarisonic Mia for about two years, and I would not recommend it to a friend. I am thinking about selling mine, actually. I have very acne prone skin (cystic, regular inflamed ones, and blackheads) which is not particularly sensitive, and tends towards combination/oily. The Clarisonic does *feel* nice. It made my skin very soft and helped deal with the dryness. However, it did nothing for my acne. I continued to break out, and it wasn’t a miracle blackhead remover, like I’d hoped.

    For anyone suffering with persistent acne, I cannot recommend ‘s Regimen highly enough. After using the Regimen for a bit over six months, my skin is the clearest it has been since I was about 10 (I am 24 now). If there was a way to, I would share my own before and after pics, because I am so amazed with the results. The Regimen is also very affordable (my starter set cost about $40 and has lasted me for over six months.) I use the jojoba oil offered on, rather than the lotion he sells, fwiw. After a couple months on the Regimen, my skin was still pretty dry/flaky (a side effect of the benzyl peroxide treatment, which does go away eventually), and I tried using my Clarisonic again for the first time in a couple months. Well guess what? I immediately broke out with a few cystic pimples! Since that, I haven’t used the Clarisonic at all.

  • Laura

    Thanks for sharing this. And thanks to all of the commenters who chimed in about the Olay system. I’ve been been trying to decide between the two, and I think I’ll try the Olay first.

  • Hi Sally!
    I really want to try the Mia, but I heard you can get an initial bad break out. My skin has been pretty acne free since starting retin a so I’m a bit scared. Did you get one?

    • Sal

      Hey Kristine! Hmmm, no, I didn’t get an initial breakout myself. Has anyone else experienced a bad breakout just after starting with a brush cleansing system?

      Also, if you’re doing Retin-A, you might want to chat with your dermatologist before diving into a new cleansing system. I’m not sure how the two would interact.

      • I have sensitive combination skin, so on the advice of my facialist, after splurging on my Mia (happy Christmas to me!) I started off only using it 3x a week for the first few weeks. I also got the sensitive brush-head and cleanser.

        Is it a miracle? No. But no product is. What it *does* do is keep my skin feeling as good every day as it does after I have a facial. I rarely have breakouts any more.

        I was originally tempted to get the Olay option but then I decided that my over-40 skin is worth the gold standard rather than the knockoff. No regrets.

  • I have been using the clarisonic professional brush for about 3 years now. My sister, an aesthetician, bought it for me as a gift. I definitely saw a difference in the size of my pores within a couple of weeks, but wasn’t blown away. It wasn’t until my first brush broke that I realized what a difference cleansing with the clarisonic had on my skin! After a week not using the brush my face was much rougher in texture, and not glowing. Make-up didn’t go on as smoothly, and my pores became larger. My sister sent my broken brush back to the company, and they replaced it with a new one for free! I am so thankful, and don’t know if I could go without mine again.

  • ParisGrrl

    I’ve got the Oil of Olay version, and although I have no idea if it does as good a job as the Clarisonic, it certainly is a good little tool to have around. My skin is extremely sensitive, but if I use the lower setting and avoid pressing hard, I have no trouble using it. For a cleanser I use the olay exfoliating cleanser or similar products. While it’s a good overall deep-cleaning tool, I’ve found it to be especially good for dry patches on the face, and for back exfoliation in the shower.

  • Kathleen

    I use a Clarisonic and it has kept my enlarged pores much cleaner and my overall skin tone much more even. As far as cleansers, I use different ones (not wedded to any particular brand or formula) and notice that my skin seems cleaner but also more dry after using the Clarisonic. Perhaps the combination of brush and ingredients means that I should use a milder cleanser. I have combination skin and breakouts happen when I don’t replace the brush head after 3 (?) months of use.

  • I was lucky enough to win a Mia from a Lucky magazine giveaway. I never would have bought it myself, as I’ve always been blessed with non-troublesome skin. But – I love mine! It feels nice to do and my skin feels softer than before. I just use raw African shea butter soap with mine, which can be drying just on it’s own so I only use the Mia a few times a week.

  • Ruby

    If you have sensitive skin issues, talk to your dermatologist before buying one. I bought one on sale and even the setting for delicate skin gives me redness and little white rosacea bumps. My derm is absolutely opposed to them for sensitive skin. I gave it to my husband (who doesn’t have acne, but does have large, clogged pores and aging skin) and I have noticed a difference in his pores since he started using it. Perhaps it’s just because he is bothering to wash his face more often.

    Anyway, I am sticking with a washcloth and astringent after cleansing to get my cleanse on.

  • Margaret

    My 18yo daughter got one of these and really likes it but she did have an initial breakout when she started using it. Also just to clarify for anyone not familiar, the brush does not rotate but instead vibrates, like a sonic toothbrush does. Hope this helps!

  • LaChina

    I started with the Neutrogena Wave, which I absolutely loved, but for a while I couldn’t find the refill pads. So I bought the Mia, but was not very impressed, considering the expensive price. The Wave gave me a glow, and prevented acne, I didn’t see additional improvement with Mia.

    Currently, I use Neutrogena Deep Clean with a disposable exfoilating pad. It’s amazing to see all the dirt on the pad, despite washing my face 2x a day. Occasionally I still use the Wave, but sparingly as I believe it may be discontinued soon. I think the real key is using a “fresh” medium to clean my face each time instead of a used washcloth, already filled with yesterdays singe.

    Maybe at some point I’ll use Mia again, but no rush.

  • AmyO

    Thanks, Sally, for the post. It was also fun to read the comments. I have been using the Clarisonic Mia for about 8 months and I LOVE it. I use it twice a day (morning and night) and have noticed several things. The number of breakouts has greatly reduced and when I do get them, they last for a much shorter time period. My skin is smoother and my make-up goes on more smoothly and seems to stay longer. I still have an oily t-zone but use blotting papers twice a day to deal with. I would highly recommend this product. My three favorite electronic products I own are my the Clarisonic Mia, my Sonicare toothbrush and my iPod!

  • Cat

    Hi Sal,
    I have a long long history with crippling teenage acne, adult acne, and now rosacea – yay me! I got the Mia in December and had meh results. One month ago, I started using the Paula’s Choice (super sensitive/rosacea appropriate) products in conjunction with the Mia and Yowza! I love it. Because I’m soooo very sensitive, I only use the Mia every second or third day and never for the whole two minutes … I am truly amazed at my skin these days. Not sure if it’s the Mia, the PC, or the combination, but I don’t care.
    Oh, another variable to add… I started using a drug store topical ointment called Prosacea every second day or so too (it’s about $10.00) and attribute some of my improvement to that too.
    Great post – as per usual.

    • VAMarcy

      Just want to second the Paula’s Choice products! Anyone with skin issues can become better educated and make informed decisions about their *own* skincare, and not fall prey to advertising campaigns and hype.

  • You look really cute without makeup! Your lips are amazing.

  • Eileen

    I have one and really like it. I have dry, sensitive skin, and I feel like it helps make my skin appear less dull. It helps with flakiness, too. I only use it about once a week, and I use Clinique foaming cleanser or the ‘Take the Day Off’ cleaning milk with it, and it works well! When my skin is really dry, it seems to help my evening moisturizer work a little better.

  • Heather

    I don’t know if you have ever tried alpha hydroxy lotion… This stuff is amazing. Evened out my complexion and I rarely break out anymore. I tell everyone I can about is that good. It runs between $11-15 a bottle depending on where you get it but it is far superior than any high end brand. Give it a shot. It took about a month for me to notice a change but I use it religiously…morning and night. Just wash my face with soap and use this. Awesome!!!!

  • JII

    I used it for a year and the brush broke, so I dumped the whole thing. Ok, then I got another one recently after considering a facial peel and now I am using it daily. I have very sensitive skin, no breakouts, redhead skin.
    My skin is so bright and soft…I love it.
    The only problem is that when I do my nose area, it makes me sneeze. Seriously. I use it at the health club, in the shower, and I have a sneezing frenzy every time.

  • I bought the 20-something-dollar Oil of Olay system about a month ago and have been using that every morning in the shower. Since I haven’t used a Clarisonic, I can’t compare them, but the Oil of Olay WORKS! I have gotten rid of clogged oil ducts around my nose and chin, my skin is smoother, and I’ve had very few breakouts since I started using it.
    It took about two weeks for me to notice the difference.

  • Copy Czarina

    This is inspiring me to dig my Mia out of the closet where I keep the products I’m not quite ready to get rid of. It didn’t do much for me (and was too intense to use every day), but so many people recommend it that maybe I should give it another chance. Actually, I preferred the Neutrogena Wave, but now those pads are too drying for me (even though I still break out, especially around the “chinstrap” area).

  • Jessica

    I have followed you for a while and know that you used to love Cetaphil but stopped because of the chemicals. I did the same thing a year or so ago. I was THRILLED that Whole Foods is now making a natural version of Cetaphil. I use my Olay brush (the clarisonic knockoff) with the Whole Foods cleanser and I have been very happy.

  • I have sensitive skin and tried the Clarisonic briefly (my mom has one; it was while I was living with her, and I had an extra brush head.) my skin did NOT like it- it quickly became overdressed and over dried, even to the point of getting scaly eczema patches on my face.
    I’ve learned over time that even though I’m primarily oily, I can get very painfully dry patches if I over-exfoliate. Now I use a modified oil cleansing method with jojoba oil on a cotton ball, and tea tree oil applied with my bare hands. Even a terry cloth washcloth was causing too much skin stress!

  • Dana

    These are my thoughts on the Clarisonic. It is a unique product, it cannot be duplicated and cheaper “versions” do not accomplish the same thing. There are tons of comparison videos on youtube to confirm this. I think sometimes people expect things from the product that are not part of what the product does ie. remove blackheads, exfoliate dead skin patches. I would highly recommend watching some of the videos on the Clarisionic website to see what the product is actually intended for. Also, I dont know anyone that pays full price for this product, always wait for a sale. Many companies offer it at at least 20% during family and friend sales.

    Also, just like washing you face you should never do it once. The first time you wash your face is to remove makeup the second time is to cleanse the skin. I follow that same philosophy with my Clarisonic.Its not meant to be a makeup remover, so I wash my face to get rid of all makeup first, then I use my Clarisonic to actually cleanse my skin. Its amazing how much more dirt and makeup comes out even after I have cleansed my skin.

    I never had bad skin to begin with, so I cant speak to it clearing up any acne, but I can say that one of the main reasons why I bought it other than to deep clean and remove the makeup in my pores, was to prep my skin so that the products I put on afterwords like serums and moisturizers can sink in more effectively.

  • Clarisonic Mia is really make face shine. Everybody who takes care face-skin should try it now!

  • I started using my Mia2 today and was glad to read your review. Now that I’m in my 40s (still with oily skin!) my breakouts have mostly subsided but cell turnover has slowed down, so my skin is looking uneven and I’m just not getting the “clean” I used to. That’s what I’m looking for from the Mia – a more even skin tone and deeper cleaning, so I think I’ll be pleased!