Using a Sonic Brush (Clarisonic) to treat rosacea and seb derm

Written by on February 15, 2008 in Cleansing Rosacea Skin, research with 10 Comments

Here are 2 more recent Poster Sessions promoting the usage of the Clarisonic Skin Care System.

Previous publications addressed treating seborrheic dermatitis with the Clarisonic brush. The manufacturers are now targeting their sonic brush as a treatment for rosacea itself. These papers are readying Clarisonic’s push into treating rosacea.

It is an interesting idea to approach cleansing from this angle. There are many reasons that topical cleansers are ineffective or poorly tolerated. Perhaps a brush that can be proven to be extremely gentle does offers an effective cleansing option for rosacea sufferers with sensitive skin.

Their publicity says that their skin care system uses “a sonic frequency to cleanse the skin”. It isn’t clear to me if that sonic frequency is just the oscillation of the heads at 300 times per second or whether something else is also involved. Any ideas about what the “sonic frequency” actually means here – surely it isn’t just a marketing term ?

Poster Abstracts, American Academy of Dermatology 66th Annual Meeting, February 1–5, 2008, San Antonio, Texas. Supplement to the JAAD, Feb 2008, Volume 58, Number 2.

Poster Session P103, Assessment of a sonic skin care brush used as part of a skin care regime and as an adjunct to prescription treatments for rosacea, Robert Akridge, PhD, Emily Henes , Katherine Ortblad, MPA, Gregory Peterson, PhD, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc, Bellevue, WA, United States.

Rosacea is a complex skin condition commonly characterized by facial redness, flushing, and visible blood capillaries. The National Rosacea Society (NRS) estimates that rosacea affects 14 million people in the United States. Its cause has been associated with everything from alcohol consumption, dietary triggers, stress, and nervous system disorders to a number of different microorganisms including the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and the skin mite Demodex folliculorum. However, the exact cause of rosacea has not been scientifically confirmed.

Rosacea triggers vary from patient to patient; the most common triggers include sun exposure, emotional stress, and heat. Whatever the underlying cause, oral antibiotics, sodium sulfacetamide cleansers, and topical creams (eg, metronidazole and azelaic acid) are commonly prescribed. While these treatments are effective, signs and symptoms often persist. The NRS reports in a multicenter study that the rate of relapse was 42% in those not using medication compared to 23% of those who continued to apply a topical antibiotic.

Dermatologists and their patients have reported improvement in symptoms and overall skin health when a sonic skin care brush is used as part of patients’ skin care regimen and as an adjunct to prescribed treatments. Historically, patients have been told to avoid mechanical methods of cleansing to avoid aggravating their skin or further disrupting the skin barrier. The sonic skin care brush has previously been reported as a safe and effective method of cleansing and additionally effective as an adjunct to the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. We enrolled several subjects under long-term care for rosacea in a study assessing the efficacy and safety of daily use of a sonic skin care brush and report favorable outcomes. Subject history, noninvasive skin measurements, photographic results, and subject assessments will be presented.

100% sponsored by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc.

Poster Session P313, Benefits of a sonic skin care brush and new sonic body brush assessed through noninvasive measures of the skin, Gregory Peterson, PhD, Emily Henes, Katherine Ortblad, MPA, Robert Akridge, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Bellevue, WA, United States.

A sonic skin care brush was recently developed for facial cleansing; a new sonic body brush model (SBB; with separate facial [FBH] and body brush heads [BBH]) will soon be available for use before in-office procedures or at home for use on the face and body. The sonic brush was optimized with consideration for the physical properties of the skin, gently and effectively cleansing using an optimized amplitude and frequency. The sonic skin brush has proven particularly effective in patients with uneven skin associated with acne scarring or various dermatologic conditions.

Dermatologists and other skin care professionals are using it in combination with cosmetic procedures (chemical peels, PDT, laser, microdermabrasion, facials, etc.) and as part of the cleansing regimen and as an adjunct to prescription treatments of rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and acne. Product efficacy of over the counter, in-office, and prescription topical products is partly dependent on their absorption into the skin. Factors affecting absorption include the chemical properties of the active ingredients, product formulation, and pH. Tape-stripping has become a useful tool for evaluating and comparing product absorption, allowing for the quantification of actives absorbed into the stratum corneum.

The stratum corneum can serve as a reservoir of topically applied chemical agents. Product absorption can also be enhanced through mechanical exfoliation (eg, microdermabrasion) in part through partial disruption of the skin barrier. Unlike many of these methods, the sonic skin care brush is gentle enough for twice daily cleansing. In this study, noninvasive measures of the skin (transepidermal water loss [TEWL; g/m2/h], colorimetric analysis, corneometry, and image analysis), artificial tanning exfoliation methodology, and a tape stripping method were employed to evaluate efficacy and safety of the new body brush, and product absorption following manual cleansing or cleansing with the sonic skin care brushes.

Under conditions of exaggerated use (1 minute in a 2 in 3 2 in area), differences in TEWL (post- and pre-measurements) were not significantly different between the SBB (with FBH), an adjacent untreated control site, or a nylon facial pad (P <.625 and .432, respectively). SBB (with BBH) studies are currently underway. Descriptions of methodology and outcomes will be presented.

100% supported by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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10 Reader Comments

  1. Denise says:

    I would be interested in trying a face brush for a couple weeks to see if it really improves the face however, $200 seems a bit much and I am a skeptic when it comes to trying anything and everything because all companies advertise that there product is great.

    • Jen says:

      You can find sonic brushes way cheaper. Just look for one that doesn’t rotate but instead vibrates and allows YOU to move it slowly around your skin. It’s done wonders for me! LED light therapy has also helped and can be very expensive but my local tanning salon has an unlimited package for $60 per month. I bought a flat LED bulb and just plugged it into a lantern socket. Worked good!

  2. Jenny says:

    I don’t blame you for being cautious about buying this brush because of the cost. If you do want to try it, purchase it at a Nordstrom store or their website. They have an excellent returns policy. I actually bought one of these a couple of years ago and returned it almost two months later because I wasn’t using it. I couldn’t justify having spent that kind of money on something I wouldn’t use regularly (at the time they didn’t have the delicate brush available, either). I had been really hesitant about purchasing it to begin with, but the esthetician I was seeing at the Nordstrom spa encouraged me to give it a try and feel free to return it if I didn’t love it.

  3. Charles says:

    I’ve been using the Clarisonic brush for about a month now and I was initially put off by the price of the unit. I have had moderate Rosacea for years. I have to say that the use of the brush has had a positive effect on my skin. I was a little afraid of the brush irritating my skin but it seems to love the brush. At first, I only used the brush on my face but soon thereafter, I was using the standard brush in the shower and the sensitive brush on my face. After use, your skin feels very clean with no irritation. After use, it seems like my skin soaks up the products I put on my face for Rosacea.

  4. Beth says:

    I decided to get a clarisonic system last April (2010) and it seems to have ‘cured’/greatly improved my rosacea. I don’t even use my medicine any more (metro lotion)

    I have no idea how it did it, trying to figure it out is how I found this page.

  5. Hi Beth,

    Great to hear that it worked so well for you. As you say it would be great to know why and how it worked for you. Interesting to think that cleansing can play such an important role in rosacea.


  6. JRB says:


    After looking around on the internet, it seems that “sonic frequency” is used to refer to a frequency of vibration. At first I thought that sound waves were used to clean, but several products use a frequency (cycles per unit time) that is related to sound waves. The description of a sonic toothbrush talks about sonic technology producing the speed the brush is moving. If you read about ultrasonic cleansers, sound is used to clean submerged objects in soap/cleaner. The sound shakes the water so fast vacuums are created that collapse and pull dirt off the surface of the objects. Turns out ultrasonic cleaning would not be an option for faces.

    Ultrasonic humidifier & cleaner:

    Description of sonic technology:

  7. Thanks JRB, seems that you came to the same conclusion as me – really just a cute marketing term being used.

  8. Sharon says:

    I just found the Nutra Sonic face brush at Bed Bath & Beyond for $40 (using a 20% coupon). My esthetician recommended I try a brush instead of an exfoliant.

    The review I’ve read compare the Nutra Sonic favorably to the Clarisonic Mia. The Nutra Sonic oscillates and comes with a normal and a sensitive brush. I’ve only used it one time, but it didn’t irritate my face.

    Olay also makes a face brush, but it spins and the brushes are coarser.

  9. Having had severe Rosacea for almost 30 years, I’ve been given every treatment avaiable on the NHS – every antiobiotic (Metronidazole, Tetracycline, Oxytetracycline, Doxycycline, Eurythmomycin, etc., etc) plus Metrogel and others. The ONLY treatment that worked was Roaccutane, and I had about 5 courses of it, years ago. I haven’t bothered with any treatment of any kind for about 6 years now, and my face has been bearable (red, broken veins, etc., but no papules like before). I recently tried a sonic face brush, and used it on 3 occasions – all it did was make my face sore and even redder. I won’t bother with that again.

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