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Is This $200 App-Connected Skincare Device Really Worth It? We Found Out

The Foreo Luna 3 uses vibrating silicone parts powered by an internal battery (and controlled by an app) to clean and massage your face.

foreo skincare device
Evan Malachosky

No, we haven't quite reached the point of robot-owned and -operated spas, but we're close. The Foreo Luna 3 — for men, specifically, which plainly means it's black instead of pink, but they do have one for sensitive skin as well — proves it. Its vibrating core shakes silicone bristles or raised silicone ridges across your skin's surface as you move it in slow, circular motions. The pulsating massage that comes from this dual-sided device helps you clean, massage and tone your skin. It's your own at-home, pocket-sized facial. Excessive? Maybe, considering both its price — $200 dollars, which is steep but definitely not extreme — and that you need to open an app and connect it via Bluetooth to use it. To be fair, though, two trips to the spa down the street will cost you more, and the Foreo Luna 3 can do 650 sessions on a single charge.

The front side is for cleaning...
...and the back massages and sculpts. 

Ask any dermatologist which part of the skincare routine should happen first and most often, and they'll say cleansing — a simple face wash. The 2-5 minute routine will remove dead skin cells, unclog your pores and leave the skin's surface clear and receptive to whatever products you put on next. The same can be said of massaging your skin. (Our stint with SolaWave's massaging Blue Light Wand taught us this.) Doing either in excess, though, to the point where you damaging your skin's surface, is easier to do than you'd think.

"You're going to do this twice a day — morning and night," Dr. Jeremy Fenton, Medical Director for Midtown Manhattan's Schweiger Dermatology Group, says of face washing. "I generally recommend some sort of gentle skin cleanser. You don't want something that's going to strip the oils away or is overly harsh... Too many people think they need to be stripping their skin of all of its oil in order to get it clean. If you strip all of the oil off of your skin, you're going to create an imbalance and end up doing more harm than good."

.Dr. Fenton's mostly talking about the damage an overly intense cleanser could do — something filled with ingredients you should really be avoiding or not intended to be used for your face (i.e. a body wash). But you can also be too rough with your skin, whether by scrubbing too hard with your crusty, dingy hand towel, massaging too intensely (you're more likely to bruise here) or incorporating an exfoliant for too long. Soft-bristled brushes — even loofas — designed to lift dirt off the skin's surface can inflict the same damage if used incorrectly or for too long.

Cleaning your face should be easy. Foreo promises to make the process even easier... I think.

That's what's made me a purist, someone who steers clear of gadgets and tools (at least when it comes to cleansing) and washes my face with clean hands and a coin-sized dot of face wash. I'm naturally skeptical of any device (like the Foreo Luna 3) that promises to remove "99.5-percent of dirt, oil and makeup residue" or "drastically reduce lines and wrinkles." A small serving of a physical exfoliant and a pair of clean hands does wonders for my skin. If I'm tense, a few presses on my temples will loosen things up. Why would I pay for a device that does things I think I'm already OK at doing? I'll be damned if a robot takes my job.

But, in the name of product journalism, I obviously gave the Luna 3 a try. I was happy I did — at first. Then an uneasiness creeped in. Is this really worth the money? This feeling's known to spoil a lot of otherwise objectively good things: i.e. sneakers and ritzy, old-timey restaurants. But to really understand the Foreo Luna 3 is to spend more than just a few mornings with it. The app you're required to download in order to use it feels like an iOS update: long, complex and about something you definitely want done but would rather not think much about. Cleaning your face should be easy. Foreo strives to make the process even easier... I think.

Within the app you create your own go-to cleansing routine. It’s like the fancy cars that can move your seat to your preferred position with the press of a button.

When you open the app, you're greeted with a pairing page where you scan the serial number on the bottom of your device to register it. Once registered, the device appears in the app's top ticker. Tap its icon to open an eight item menu where you can manage the device's registration, watch how-to videos, read up on how to care for the device, locate it if you somehow lost it, download additional treatments (like a brow or neck massage), set the duration and vibration levels (from 1 second to 1 minute per area and 1-16 intensity, respectively) of your standard treatment and, of course, start a cleansing or massage.

Level 2 has the power of a video game controller reacting to something on screen, while 16 is quite intense. It isn't massage gun intense, but that's kind of the thought here. A full minute on 16 might make you a little dizzy, kind of high and a little imbalanced. My preferred program only lasted for a total of 75 seconds: 25 seconds on the forehead and chin (at level 13) and 15 seconds on both cheeks (at level 10). I'm someone who really benefits from exfoliating, so while I wasn't nervous the silicone bristles would hurt me, I didn't care for the constant buzz the avocado-sized device on full blast delivered to my brain.

I'll admit it, though. I felt cleaner than I had in weeks. (For the record, I wasn't dirty, OK?) The device, at least to the touch, made my skin softer, smoother, and to the naked eye, maybe even a bit brighter. The "Nothing But Neck" treatment, which lasts 2.1 minutes, made me unclench my jaw a little bit. Was it as life changing as the 10-minute facial massage I got at a nail salon in NYC? No, but the benefits are more so for the skin on your face than the muscles beneath it.

foreo luna 3
First, you apply the cleanser to a wet face. Then you pass over the applied product in circular motions.

The pulsations promote blood circulation, which increases oxygen levels and brightens your complexion. The bristles do, by all accounts, a better job at clearing the pores so they can better absorb the lotions and serums you apply after using it. Clear pores mean less acne, too. But I'm one of the lucky few that don't suffer from acne at all, if ever, so I suppose what I was already doing worked fine for me.

While other reviews have touted the Luna 3 as the "ultimate skincare tool" or "ground-breaking," I felt less starstruck by it. Is it something I'd totally recommend for someone who has a hard time keeping their face clean and could undoubtedly afford it? Definitely. It's a traditional brush imbued with loads of technology. Plus, the head never needs replacing and it deters bacteria growth.

If you're that person, then buy away. Please. But if you're just setting out on your skincare journey, this isn't the right place to start. It's a helpful tool, yes, but no shortcut. In order you to use it you need to know a lot about your skin, own a smartphone and apply the face wash for it. If you've made it that far, you might as well lather it by hand and save the money you would've spent on the Luna 3 on better products.

Still Curious? Go Ahead, Treat Yourself

Luna 3 for Men
Foreo Nordstrom
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