Latest in Gear

    Image credit: Cherlynn Low / Engadget

    No one needs this $279 vibrating face puck

    The Foreo UFO is supposed to make sheet masks "smart," but it doesn't do enough to justify its cost.
    140 Shares
    Share
    Tweet
    Share
    Save
    Cherlynn Low / Engadget

    I'll admit it: Any combination of tech and skincare gets me super excited, and I was stoked to try out the Foreo UFO. It's a puck that heats up, vibrates and glows to enhance the traditional facial-sheet-mask experience, and it can be controlled via an app. But I didn't just relish the excuse to pamper myself in the name of work. I was also intrigued by the potential for the device to not only cut down application time from 15-20 minutes to about 90 seconds but also help my skin better absorb the mask's essences.

    Gallery: Foreo UFO smart mask review | 7 Photos

    Engadget Score
    Poor
    Uninspiring
    Good
    Excellent
    Key

    from $279.00
    73
    Pros
    • Heat and vibrations make masks more intense
    • App is generally helpful
    • Individual masks feel and smell good
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Must scan Foreo sachet barcode before each session
    • Device is slightly heavy

    Summary

    The Foreo UFO speeds up the application of facial sheet masks by heating up and vibrating, and purports to boost your complexion with its LEDs that glow red or green. But it doesn’t produce enough results do justify the $279 price tag. For most people, anyway.

    Instead of chilling out while the essences seep into your skin, you'll first have to turn on the device, pair it to the app (which is consistently quick) and select the mask you're using. During each session, the companion app guides you through the process and explains what the puck is doing while you rub it all over your face. It's all very comforting and makes me feel like the device is actually doing something more than a regular mask. The heat, in particular, is pleasant, although sometimes it can sting if you let it linger on one spot.

    It only weighs 146 grams, about the weight of an iPhone 8, but as I dragged it all around my face and neck for 90 seconds, it started to feel heavier. Switching hands usually alleviated the strain, so it's not a huge deal. I typically used the UFO standing up, but on the rare occasions when I'd lie down and use it for a more relaxing session, the weight was less of an issue. But then the risk of accidentally dropping the puck was real, and potentially painful.

    What I struggled to get used to was scanning the bar code of each mask's packaging. The first time I used it I had actually thrown away the sachet and finished attaching the mask to the puck before launching it in the app. I had to gingerly pick up the packet from the trash, avoiding contact with food scraps from dinner, and point my phone at the bar code to move on.

    Scanning that bar code does nothing other than tell Foreo you're using a mask it supplied -- you can't use masks from other companies. It doesn't automatically tweak settings to optimize for the type of treatment you've picked, and you have to select whether you're using the day or night mask before you get to the scanning page. This seems like an oddly overbearing feature with no real purpose.

    Otherwise, the app is actually pretty good. I like that there's a brief pause after you hit the start button before the puck starts heating up and vibrating, so you can prepare yourself. In general I found that there was less essence left on my face compared to when I use traditional sheet masks. I squeezed out every last drop of the fluids from the sachet onto the disk, and at the app's suggestion, I repeated each 90-second cycle once to get all the juices into my skin.

    According to Foreo, it "uses your skin's natural reactions to heat and cold as well as signature T-Sonic pulsations to ensure you get the most out of every mask treatment." Basically, your pores open up in reaction to heat and better soak up the goods.

    Gallery: Foreo UFO smart mask app screenshots | 18 Photos

    After a week with the UFO, my skin doesn't seem significantly firmer, brighter or moister than usual. I notice changes with few products in general anyway, so I'm not bothered by the lack of immediate results. I did find my complexion a bit more even, and some parts of my face felt a bit sensitive afterward, which is slightly concerning. After just a week with a new beauty regimen, it's hard to attribute results or side effects, since there could be so many other factors (like hormones or conflicting products) at play. But one thing is obvious: The UFO definitely helps your skin soak up a mask's ingredients. That's all it appears to be doing.

    The more interesting question is whether Foreo is going to spur other beauty brands to make similar products the way Clarisonic inspired Neutrogena, Proactiv and Olay to make their own motorized facial brushes. It's an unnecessary addition to your routine and you can still enjoy a face mask without a vibrating puck, but the UFO feels more effective than the traditional alternative. Plus, I'm curious to see how the touted Cryo Therapy mode works for cold masks when it rolls out.

    Even though Foreo has just launched a mini version of the UFO that costs $179 instead of $279, that's still a hefty price to pay when you consider that you're basically tied to the company's masks, which cost $9.99 for seven. On its own, that's a fair price when you consider most sheet masks cost between $2 and $10 each, although those are usually bigger. Without Foreo's masks, though, the UFO becomes an expensive paperweight.

    It's a nice way to pamper yourself and may actually be beneficial, but I have a hard time believing it will revolutionize the beauty industry. Like most high-end beauty products, the Foreo UFO will appeal to a select group, drawn by the presumed benefits and the bougieness of it all.

    Cherlynn is reviews editor of Engadget. She grew up in Singapore and came to New York in 2012. After earning her master's in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she fell in like with tech at her first job, covering smartphones and wearables for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide. Nowadays, she spends too much time coming up with ideas for podcasts, IGTV shows and creative out-of-office messages. She also tweets excessively and thinks there aren't enough selfies and crop tops in the world.

    140 Shares
    Share
    Tweet
    Share
    Save
    Comments

    From around the web

    ear iconeye icontext filevr