by Andy

IT WORKS!  It really works. The Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device looks like a prop from Star Trek, but it’s had a significant impact on my mild breakouts. 

Solta Medical, Inc. manufactures Claro (along with dermatologist and medispa staples Fraxel and Thermage). Their website says:

“CLARO is the only device using [Intense Pulsed Light] technology – combining both heat and light – in a hand-held device that is safe for use at home or on-the-go.  Based on the same sophisticated IPL technology that dermatologists rely on to treat acne patients in-office, CLARO is compact and easy to use, so users can treat acne where and when they want to – without a prescription.”  

The product’s official website wasn't available when I checked, but online retailers had this additional bit of information about how , but this is the more specific breakdown from online retailers about how the Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device works:

 “Blue light stimulates the production of oxygen to kill bacteria while red light with heat soothes inflammation and redness, also speeding up the healing time.  Infra-red energy boosts the effectiveness of the blue light.”

 A wall charger and small safety goggles, like the eye protectors used in tanning salons, are included, but I found it was much easier to just close my eyes while Claro’ing.

Here are the basics:

  1. Charge the device for at least 8 hours before first use—then perform the recommended test for light sensitivity.
  2. The Control button will be ringed with a solid green light when ready for use.  Hold the device firmly against the skin, and there will be two loud BEEPS.
  3. The device flashes (blue and red light, but your eyes are closed or goggle protected!).  There are ten flashes in six seconds, and then it locks out.  That’s only half a treatment.  Lift the device off the skin.
  4. The user immediately places the device back on the same spot.  It BEEPS twice, and you press the green-ringed button.  The booklet advises, “Start the second application right after the first…for best results.  Waiting more than five minutes…allows the skin to cool too much.”
  5. There are again ten flashes in a six second window.  This is now a “complete treatment” on one pimple.
  6. After one full treatment, the device times out for a minute, blinking green around the Control button.

It’s super easy.

I’ve been raving about it to my friends in their late 20s and early 30s, equally plagued by annoying breakouts. Here’s what they asked me:

Does it hurt?

Usually, I feel nothing, but there is occasional discomfort. If I use the device close to my mouth or on the thin skin near my eyes or bridge of the nose, it sometimes feels hot and prickly on the second half of the treatment. The feeling is similar to a rubber band snap.  I’ve had no experiences where the Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device hurt or damaged me.

Does it leave any marks?

Sometimes my skin is a little red immediately after treatment, but it fades quickly.  I use it morning and/or night, sometimes in the early evenings before meeting friends because there is no significant recovery time needed. The red will fade before you finish applying mascara. I use it whenever I see the beginnings of a blemish. 

Did you always see miraculous results?

In my month-long testing period, I never had a raging, pulsating pus-filled whitehead to test (or “pustule” as the booklet terms it).  My blemishes are all mild red bumps.  None of those pimples progressed to bigger or more irritated stages so YES, the Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device always delivers for me. The booklet does not endorse treating cystic acne or blackheads with the device, and I saw no effect for better or worse on any blackheads sharing facial real estate with my Claro-inflamed acne.

Are there any downsides to this device?

It’s expensive!  The Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device retails for $195. Beyond that, my only real complaint is the timeout periods in between treatments.  After one full treatment, the device won’t work for a minute.  After four full treatments, the timeout period is three minutes.  In general, that’s not a big deal because this device isn’t meant for intense acne—it’s spot treatment for a handful of blemishes.  Anything more severe and the Claro would be too time-consuming for an at-home treatment.

I find that if I use the Claro in between my usual “get ready” routine (floss, use Claro, brush teeth, use Claro, apply or remove eye make-up etc.), the timeouts aren’t that irritating. 

What’s the Claro’s life-span?

Per the booklet, the “flash lamp” will stop functioning after four hundred treatments. I’ve been zapping about four pimples a day which gives my Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device a roughly three month lifetime. That price and timeline is still significantly more cost effective than visiting a dermatologist or medispa for monthly light treatments.

Did you use any other acne treatments while testing the Claro?

First, I called the customer service line at #877-778-2263 and asked if this device is safe to use with other topical treatments. I typically clean with a salicylic acid face wash in the evenings and prescription Retin-A Micro .1% every few nights. The official response: “Claro is safe to use with other treatments as long as the medication does not increase sensitivity to light.” 

Retinoids are notorious for their light sensitivity, and the literature warns against prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths and sunlamps. I abstained for the first week of Claro use, but once comfortable with the device, I returned to my usual Retin-A routine. I never apply the medication before zapping.  Since Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device is only good for a few topographically limited zaps, it didn’t eradicate my need for some other COMPREHENSIVE treatment to manage my oily face.

Is the Claro suitable for darker complexions?

While on the phone with customer service, I asked this question in case anyone who’s not totally sallow and pasty like me wants to give it a shot. Their response:  “Claro is suitable for all skin colors and complexions.”

What’s your overall impression?

I wouldn’t have purchased a Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device of my own volition as it sounds too good to be true, but now that I’ve experienced such quick and dramatic results, I’ll continue to use it.  Finances willing, I’ll purchase a replacement when it burns out (circa December 2013).