Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution Review | A dark spot revolution?

A couple months ago I introduced you to the new Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution from Clarisonic. This revolutionary line consists of a unique bristle brush, serum, and two cleansers all designed to work together for one purpose: to produce luminous skin and to fight hyper-pigmentation. As it takes time to truly see the effects of brightening products, I started testing the entire line back in January and now am finally here to provide you with my results!

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening Solution Review

The Product
As I have a lot to say about this line, I'll just be lazy here and quote the description I wrote previously:

Consisting of a special rendition of the Aria cleansing brush alongside an exclusive Radiance brush head, day cleanser, serum and night cleanser, the Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution is designed to prevent and eliminate hyper-pigmentation. 
As we age, melanin deposits in our skin react to elements like sun damage and acne by creating excess melanin. Normally, melanin helps to protect our skin, but when produced in excess, it surfaces onto the skin as ugly dark spots and uneven skin tone. This type of damage takes years to develop, so it's key to start a prevention program as early as possible. Wearing sunscreen and limiting sun exposure helps, but for those of us who didn't listen very closely to this (*raises hand*), repair is the only solution.
Every product in the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution is designed to combat hyper-pigmentation. The two cleansers are specially formulated with a mix of powerful antioxidants and glycolic acid to prevent future dark spots, while the special Radiance brush head exfoliates away existing ones. With regular use, after just one week 37% of testers felt improvement in their skin's texture. After 12 weeks, over 86% of testers saw a difference in their skin in terms of radiance, smoothness and texture - pretty impressive results!

To test the full effects of the Sonic Radiance line, I followed the instructions closely, which were to use the Aria brush twice daily, with the Brightening Solution Illuminating Cleanser in the morning and the Brightening Solution Renewing Peel Wash in the evening, as well as the Brightening Solution Brightening Activator Serum twice daily. As well, I also had to use the Aria at medium speed in the morning and at high speed at night. My poor face was to be exfoliated like never before!

The Guts
The primary ingredients in the Brightening Solution Brightening Activator Serum are:
  • Glycerin - a common moisturizer
  • Isocetyl Stearate - acts as a lubricant
  • Caprylic/Capric triglyceride - an emollient derived from coconut oil
  • Butylene glycol - a common lubricant
This serum also contains 0.5% Ellagic acid (inhibits melanin growth) and 0.5% Phenylethyl rescorcinol (lightens dark spots).

The primary ingredients in the Brightening Solution Illuminating Cleanser are:
  • Sodium cocoyl glycinate - a mild cleanser
  • Coco-betaine - a foaming agent and cleanser
  • Glycerin 
  • Sodium chloride - aka salt! Has a variety of purposes in beauty products, but in this case, it's likely used as a thickening agent or for its exfoliating properties
This cleanser also includes Salicylic acid (fights blemishes), licorice root extract (skin lightener), peppermint leaf extract (anti-inflammatory), and gingko biloba leaf extract (brightens skin).

The primary ingredients in the Brightening Solution Renewing Peel Wash are:
  • Coco-betaine
  • Propylene glycol - a humectant (helps retain moisture in skin). Some studies warn that it could be an irritant.
  • Peg-120 Methyl glucose dioleate - a cleanser
  • Sorbitol - another humectant commonly found in gel cleansers
This cleanser also contains Sodium laureth sulfate (cleanser), Salicylic acid, 0.2% LHA (exfoliating for skin renewal), 3.5% Glycolic acid (skin brightener).

Price & Packaging

You can purchase each of these products separately or as part of a package. As a package, the Sonic Radiance Solution costs $265 and includes the two cleansers, the serum, a Sonic Radiance brush head, the Aria brush and a charging stand. Individually, this breaks down to:
  • Aria brush with included brush head = $230
  • Brightening Solution Renewing Peel Wash = $31
  • Brightening Solution Illuminating Cleanser = $31
  • Brightening Solution Brightening Activator Serum = $81
for a total savings of $109!! 

Each of the cleansers comes packaged as a tube, which makes it very easy to use and are 3.4 oz each. The serum comes as a simple pump bottle and is 0.98 oz. The packaging of each product is very straightforward, but I do wish they were transparent so I could see how much I have left. With pumps especially it's hard to tell when you're close to finishing until the pump runs out.

The Aria brush comes with a cord charger and charging stand. While the charging stand looks neat, I found it really annoying to use as you have to loop the charging cord through the bottom of the stand so you can stand the Aria up and charge it simultaneously. Too much work!

Here is the baseline that I started with going in. I have mild hyper-pigmentation sprinkled across my cheeks, particularly on my left side. As well, I have some acne scarring around my mouth and chin area. 

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening Solution: before starting
Right side of the face: light hyper-pigmentation across the cheekbones, scarring around the corners of mouth and chin

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening Solution: before starting
Left side of the face: hyper-pigmentation across cheeks, light scarring on chin

After just one week, Clarisonic claims that 37% of testers saw a change in their skin's texture and radiance, however I didn't notice until probably after my first month. My first impression was actually that I was quite surprised by how soft the Sonic Radiance brush head was. I'd only used the Sensitive brush head before, which is the default brush that comes with all the Clarisonic systems. The Sonic Radiance brush head feels much softer, though not as soft as the Delicate brush. 

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening brush

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening brush

As instructed, I used the Aria on medium speed in the mornings and high speed at night. Both speeds provide ample exfoliation, with high leaving my skin feeling tingly, but not tender or raw, thanks to the softness of the Sonic Radiance bristles. What quickly became my pet peeve with this system though was having to switch the speed setting each time I used it. When your hands are wet and slippery, it's very difficult to slide the speed button up and down, wasting precious seconds between cycles. As the Clarisonc runs on a timer, with 20 seconds for your forehead, 20 for the nose and chin and 10 per cheek, I found that I would sometimes use up 10 seconds just trying to switch my speed setting! This left me feeling irritated at shafting my forehead from getting its allotted cleaning time. If I could change anything, I would make it possible to change the speed setting before turning on the brush. Eventually, I got so fed up with it that I just kept the brush on medium all the time.

As for the cleansers and serums, I'll outline my thoughts on those in order of use. 

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening solution review
Left to right: serum, morning cleanser, night cleanser

The Brightening Solution Illuminating Cleanser is a milky cleanser that is very watery and silky in texture. It spreads easily and foams slightly. If you're a fan of foaming cleansers, this one won't foam enough for you, but foam is not super good for your skin anyways, so I didn't miss it. I found this cleanser to be a gentle morning cleanser that is mild enough to not strip your skin of moisture, but was able to softly wash away any residue or dirt accumulated overnight. It did leave my face tingling a teeny bit, perhaps from the salicylic acid, so if you're extra-sensitive, you may want to patch test first.

The Brightening Solution Brightening Activator Serum is a creamy, milky serum that feels more like a moisturizer than a serum. It spread easily and absorbed quickly, leaving no residue behind except for a very slight tackiness. It's also unscented, which is nice. I didn't really notice any "refreshing" or plumping action going on as I've experienced with other serums, so for $81 this one felt a little "meh" to me. 

Lastly, the Brightening Solution Renewing Peel Wash is a thick, almost squishy, gel cleanser. I call this cleanser squishy because the gel is so thick, it almost feels more solid than liquid. This cleanser is not the most spreadable cleanser around, but once it touches wet skin, it almost dissolves and becomes very creamy and foamy. It does a decent job at cleansing, but I feel like you'd need to ensure use of a good cleansing water or oil beforehand if you wear a lot of makeup. Post-cleanse, my skin didn't feel tight or dry and I just needed a light toner to reset my skin for moisturizing. 

After around 2.5 months of daily use, I have to say that the results are... okay. My skin does appear brighter, but I didn't notice any significant difference in the coloration of my dark spots. The biggest changes that I've noticed is that my skin is a little less oily and that it also became more sensitive.

During the last couple months, I've had persistent blemishes around my mouth and chin area with a major breakout a a few weeks ago. This could have been due to other products that I was trying out and stress, but I believe a contributing factor was also over-exfoliation. While using the Clarisonic, I was also using my regular exfoliating scrubs a couple times a week. After reading online how over-exfoliating can damage and irritate the skin, making it prone to breakouts, I immediately cut out all use of the Clarisonic and anything exfoliating for a week and a half. Immediately, my skin seemed to calm down and my blemishes finally disappeared; however, they did leave behind some pretty bad scars. Slowly, I incorporated back in the Clarisonic and now use it once a day, on the lowest speed setting, and am using a clay mask instead of a scrub when I want a deep clean.

Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brighening solution: after
After: minimal change in hyper-pigmentation and additional scarring due to increased skin sensitivity

Final Verdict
Buy - the Aria brush and Sonic Radiance brush head. In general, I'm a fan of the Clarisonic system. It offers a fabulous deep clean and prevents breakouts, if used correctly for your skin. The daily exfoliation it offers as well also improves your skin's radiance and leaves it feeling smooth. I've already bought 2 replacement brush heads!

Ditch - I am not a fan however, of the rest of the Sonic Radiance products as I have yet to notice any significant lightening of old or new dark spots and scars. Despite the solid ingredients list, I personally am not a fan of Clarisonic products. For whatever reason, I feel very "meh" about their effectiveness and for the price point, they didn't have any wow factor for me. As well, the instructions for this system were overly harsh for my skin and contributed to breakouts, which left me in a worse off state than before I started!

TL;DR version
  • Sonic Radiance brush head feels softer than the Sensitive brush and deep cleans
  • The Brightening Solution Illuminating Cleanser is a decent morning cleanser that feels nice and creamy while not stripping skin of moisture
  • After 2.5 months of use, my skin felt softer and brighter
  • Following the instructions could irritate your skin to the point of breakouts!
  • The Aria speed setting button is really stiff to use
  • The brightening effects of the entire system are very subtle and didn't change my hyper-pigmentation
  • Over-exfoliating proved damaging to my skin

Have you tried the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution? What were your thoughts?

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