The Ragdale Hall Clarisonic Facial – tested, twitched during, rated

If you check in this blog regularly, you’ll know I have been obsessing over whether to buy a Clarisonic cleaning brush or not.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question...

To buy or not to buy, that is the question…

In a nutshell, I have no patience and I don’t want to spend lots of money on something I won’t end up using because I can’t see noticeable results. In my book, it’s like vacuuming – unless you’re using one of those cleaners with a clear plastic bit that lets you see how much dirt you’ve sucked up, then what’s the point?

Hence my joy the other day when I got a press release regarding some new treatments they were offering at Ragdale Hall Health Spa, near Leicester. One of them involved the Clarisonic. This meant I could actually see what happened to my skin after using one and determine if I liked the results. Cue immediate begging email to let me visit.

It turns out I choose a great day to go – on Monday last week, Ragdale opened a completely new beauty area offering fast treatments and so I got to try an even newer offering than the facial I had originally wanted to try.

Called The Sonic Cleanse, this takes 25 minutes, costs £30 – and doesn’t just use the Clarisonic, it also uses an extra blackhead-busting iontophoresis device to leave your skin squeaky clean.

Here’s how it went…

You sit on your chair in the open salon. I admit some people may not like this as it does mean everyone can see you. I figure everyone in a spa is there to be pampered so there is nothing wrong with this arrangement (but there again I used to have my eyebrows tinted in the middle of Debenhams) but if you’re shy, you might want to book the longer, private Miracle Facial.

I look vaguely serene in this one

I look vaguely serene in this one

First, they put on a cleansing gel – then the Clarisonic goes on. At this point, do not do what I did and go ‘ooooh, take my photo’  and open your eyes. If you do this, the gel will get in them and it stings.

The buzzy bit begins. On the cheeks and forehead the Clarisonic felt fine – like the Ayvo I’ve been testing but with a bit more of a buzz – but then she hit my nose, and, just like when I tried exfoliating with my sonic toothbrush, I couldn’t handle it – there was much wrinkling and nose twitching (and I opened my eyes again, so then there was also pain). My first thought was ‘well no point in buying one then, if I can’t use it on my main blackheady area’  – but the therapist assures me you don’t get the tingles when you use it yourself as you can press harder which reduces the tickly sensations.

After two swipes of the brush (and a second tingle attack) next up was an exfoliating gel – and on went the iontophoresis machine (which I’ve discovered online goes by the name of the Sonic Peeler). This uses a very high frequency current to push potions quickly in the skin – once everything is loosened, they then use the scraper end of the device to mechanically remove dead skin cells. Do try not to feel like a piece of  old wallpaper as they do this.

The Sonic Peeler - not to be confused with the one that tackles vegetables

The Sonic Peeler – not to be confused with the one that tackles vegetables

Despite the fact that this is emitting a charge, you don’t feel anything when it’s on the skin, but when it gets close to your ear it does emit an annoying high pitched whine. Thankfully there are (to my knowledge anyway) no dolphins in the vicinity of Ragdale or I could image some kind of Seaworldesque leaping routine going on every time someone has a facial.

Finally, they finish with a hydrating serum, which again is given a boost into the layers with the iontophoresis machine.

Afterwards my skin looked squeaky and shiny, exactly the look I want. Now 24 hours later, it’s still looking brighter and my ‘congested area’  looks more like open pores than my normal nest of blackheads. The youthful shine has disippated though. I miss it already.

So, have I decided to buy a Clarisonic? I’m still a little undecided, but I think so. What I have I decided for sure is that I would like to move into Ragdale and become their blogger-in-residence (every spa needs one of those right?). I’ll explain more on why that is in my next post……

The Ayvo – Destroyer of Blackheads.

So, after my nose-vibrating ‘exfoliation with toothbrush’ experience the other day I have finally managed to purchase batteries and use the Ayvo.


Billed as the Clarisonic’s budget rival this is a rotating brush that you use with your cleanser to get deep down into the pores. It sounds simple and it is simple – once you realise it takes four batteries not two. I’m telling you this because I spent at least five minutes with no clue about this. I put two AAs in the little holder, placed it back in, switched it on – nothing. Fiddled about. Nothing. Swore a lot. Nothing – then I read the instructions and realised the little holder is double sided. Don’t make my mistake people,  it makes you frowny and then you need botox alongside your rotating skin brushes.

Once I had power all went swimmingly. It doesn’t cause any of the eye watering, nose itching or face vibration of my toothbrush exfoliation. It just whizzes nicely on your skin. I’ve used it three times this week now and my skin seems to like it. One noticeable change was with the large blackhead that took up residence on my forehead a few years ago. This thing is huge and stubborn, but after my first session I managed to extract it (sorry). This does leave me with a large hole in my head as it’s been there so long that the pore is stretched, but it’s proof that this does cleanse well. I’m noticing my nose looks less congested too. The only downside is that I’m having to apply moisturiser afterwards as it does leave my skin a little tight. Admittedly for most people this is not a hardship but a normal part of their day. I am however lazy. Looking on the bright side it’s probably increasing the benefits for my skin.

I can also safely it say it really does make me feel young. Why? Because as I switched it on I had a flashback of my pre-teen years and remembered I had one of these brushes about 30 years ago. It was smaller but exactly the same idea. The only difference is now I’m applying organic carrot cleanser with it, not Anne French. They say everything comes back again.

So, should you actually buy one?

That’s hard to say. On the positive side, it is cleaning my skin thoroughly, and more importantly because I like using it, I’m cleansing my skin more than normal which can only be a good thing. However what I haven’t yet seen is the glowing radiance and younger looking skin people claim comes with the Clarisonic – although admittedly it has only been a week. My gut feeling though is that on younger skin this could be a great addition to your care routine, on skin that’s 40+ it might not be the optimum solution as it is a little drying. I also don’t think it’s the solution I myself am after.

I want something that makes my skin glow and look vibrant and I’m still lured by the idea that because it uses sonic cleansing the Clarisonic has to have something extra to offer. But I’m baulking about spending the money on it in case it doesn’t. After all the basic version is £120, the Ayvo is £59.99, so if the Clarisonic doesn’t make me look like I’m having fortnightly microdermabrasion  I’m going to feel seriously ripped off.  Particularly as for £120 I can actually have a few sessions of microdermabrasion which I know makes my skin look amazing.

Ragdale Hall

Ragdale Hall

The good news is that Ragdale Hall Health Spa have started offering a facial using the Clarisonic which I’m going off to test in a few weeks. Maybe that might help me make a better decision (I’ll let you know). In the meantime I’m going to keep up using the Ayvo as, as I say, I’m pretty sure the fact that it means I actually do cleanse my skin can only be a good thing.


The Sonicare Face Scrub

Okay, so this is weird. Yesterday I exfoliated my face with an electric toothbrush – and I’m not totally sure why.

If it was a dream, I suppose it could have been worse......

If it was a dream, I suppose it could have been worse……

I’m pretty sure I read about this idea in a magazine this weekend – and that it was recommended by a dermatologist – but, when I went through all the pages I tore out of my mags, I couldn’t find it anywhere. This could either mean I had some odd cheese related beauty dream where a facialist angel spoke nonsense to me – or, it could actually be out there somewhere in the pile and I just can’t see it, who knows.

Anyway, once I’d got the idea in my head it had to be tried – particularly when fate intervened and The Boyfriend bought new toothbrush heads. This meant the old, broken in, soft one was going begging.

Now before you shriek euuuuwwwww – I didn’t use it as is. One of the ‘useful’ things I have learned in my job is that the average toothbrush contains 100 million bacteria. The brush head was therefore given a small bleach bath and a lot of dunking in boiling water. Then, on went the Carrot Butter Cleanser, on the forehead went the Sonicare and brrrrzzzzzzzzzz. Two minutes of vibration later and I’ve got watery eyes, an itchy nose and an unbearable urge to sneeze –  but my skin has a nice glow. today I seem to have a spot on the side of my nose but no other untoward side effects. I’m figuring it’s like a Clarisonic but without the three figure price tag.

A quick google seems I’m not alone in trying electric toothbrush exfoliation – other beauty folk have done it – and some swear by it. I’m not sure I liked the feeling myself. Thankfully, in today’s post appeared something I’ve been waiting for. The Ayvo which claims to be the Clarisonic’s budget rival (though from my reading I think it just spins to do its work, it doesn’t have magic sonic cleaning powers revving up the brush). Watch this space and I will reveal how it compares in the cleaning (and nasal/ocular aggravation) stakes….

Main image: @ Emma Innocenti