My first impression of the Olay ProX Advanced Cleansing System was that it was dinky little thing that made a cell phone look clunky. Compact could be a big plus, I thought – until I saw that the brush head is not much more than the size of a quarter.  I was already unimpressed with accompanying chemical packed Olay facial cleanser, but I was prepared to give Olay’s new entrant into the cleansing brush market the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the ProX would punch above its weight.

The undisputed leader of cleansing brushes is Clarisonic. I own one, use it almost everyday and regard it as indispensible. However, at around $200 and with its compact Mia version coming in at $100, there are a host of lower cost pretenders, including Pretika, Nutra Sonic, and – in my view of the best of the low cost rest – the Skinsonic. Olay seems to have taken the view that if you can’t join them, then beat them on price.

The thing is that in life you do generally get what you pay for and Olay’s ProX Advanced Cleansing System ($29) is no exception. I’ve already mentioned that the brush head is tiny, more of an outsized toothbrush. But the worst thing about it is that the brush fits on to a stubby stem. And from this perch, Olay’s diminutive brush wobbles drunkenly. Oh Olay!

The movement of the cleansing brush is really what a cleansing brush is all about (otherwise, you may as well forget the whole thing and use a wash cloth). The movement is particular and it is called oscillation. Clarisonic does oscillation par excellance using the same technology that pioneered the Sonicare toothbrush that is now manufactured by Philips (a life changing product, in my view).

Many have tried to emulate the oscillations of Clarisonic’s two ringed heads that move in opposing directions and have not come up to snuff – presumably, competitors try to compete on cost and end up compromising on the sophistication of two ringed heads or other aspects of the mechanics. But at least they try to pull off something in the same kinetic ballpark. The Skinsonic, it has to be admitted, does more of a rotation than an oscillation. But it is a reasonably effective exfoliator and to the untrained naked eye it is a passable facsimile.

Not so, I am, afraid, the pin-wheeling Olay. This is a parody of oscillation. If ProX was a submission to the EuroVision Song Contest (which, of course, is a veritable pageant to not-quite-the-real-things and wannabees), there would be only one verdict: Nul points