This week, I rashly took the Nimue Challenge. In comments, Nimue posted the following:

"I have a suggestion: I think you should also try the Pretika knockoff of this device, "Pretika Lightsonic Pulsating Light Therapy" and compare the two.  The Pretika version is significantly, significantly cheaper. Pretika also has a brush which is a knockoff of the Clarisonic brush - again, much cheaper.  I have the Pretika brush.  I think it would be a good idea to compare the Pretika brush to the Clarisonic also."

A knock-off light therapy device seemed potentially risky to me and so I opted to take a look at the Clarisonic-like brush. Posts in other forums suggested that the Pretika SonicDermabrasion was fairly good considering it is about $60, against nearly $200 for Clarisonic. So I sent off for one and as soon as it arrived did a side-by-side comparison of the two.

Before I go into the details of the bake-off, I should say that I love my Clarisonic brush. I use it almost every day on my face before cleansing and on my body with my Japanese charcoal cleanser (due to the latter I no longer get body breakouts). Everyone I know who has bought a Clarisonic on my recommendation is thrilled with its gentle exfoliating and pore unclogging effects.

The Pretika device is lighter, but less solid than the Clarisonic. It has two brushes that are identical. The Clarisonic also has two brushes, one is soft for the face and the other has slightly more resistance when you press down on the bristles and is used for the body. The Pretika purports to achieve the same effect by having two settings that change the speed of brush rotation (or oscilation, I'm not sure). On the subject of brushes, one of the first things that struck me is that Pretika's has fewer bristles. Both of the Clarisonic's are denser and softer.

Clarisonic makes a big to-do about the sonic frequencies that move the bristles back and forth at 300 times per second. It is the speed of the action that makes it effective without the need to press firmly. Pretika, as far as I can see, does not mention speed.

Pretika comes with two skincare products, Hydrating Firming Complex and Microdermabrasion Scrub. I took one look at them and put them straight back in the box. To be fair, they aren't terrible, but there are too many chemicals, particularly in the scrub, that are potential irritants. I'm fussy and not about to take any chances.

I'll be the first person to admit that I am a cowardly wimp with a non-existent pain threshold, so I approached the entire exercise with trepidation. Using the lower power speed (green), I tentatively moved the brush over my forehead, down the sides of my nose and across my cheeks. It was so uncomfortable that I thought I'd got mixed up about the settings so I tried red. Bad idea.

This was an hour ago and I still feel as if I have been sandblasted. After using the Clarisonic, my skin feels clean and soft. The Pretika is much more an exfoliator and it is not for me. It may be appreciated by someone who isn't a dermatological Princess and the Pea. Someone with a thicker skin. Someone not very senstive. A guy maybe. Perhaps I should fob it off onto Jimmy as a small act of revenge for getting me to fall for his Q-Link.