Not just the cutest beauty device of the moment, it's also one of the most powerful. Victoria Woodhall spends a week trialling this energising new facial workout
I’ve tried many beauty tools over the years and while many entice and excite with promises of lifting, plumping and turning back the clock, I’m ashamed to say they often end up in the gadget graveyard at the back of the wardrobe along with my good intentions. Once you’ve deciphered those 'doorstep' manuals in every conceivable language, they beep, flash and whirr in the middle of your boxset, they often come with sticky conductivity goo that you then need to wash off. Sometimes they inflict actual pain.
But now one cute newcomer, BEAR by beauty and wellness powerhouse tech company FOREO Sweden has found a way around the niggles that can get in the way of compliance (i.e. actually sticking with it and getting your money’s worth). It's a microcurrent facial contouring device that's as easy as brushing your teeth (no surprise that its makers also create a funky electric toothbrush, the ISSA. You’ll also know them for their LUNA facial brushes and UFO smart-mask treatment devices).
BEAR has two metal spheres which look like teddy's ears, and which are key to delivering a youthful contoured complexion via microcurrent. What does microcurrent do? It's a perceptible form of electricity, which not only stimulates the muscles for an energising facial workout but increases the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the cells. We need ATP to produce collagen and elastin especially as we age when ATP is in shorter supply.
FOREO tells me that microcurrent facials increase ATP production by 500 per cent and boost the activity of the fibroblasts (the cells that make collagen) for up to 60 per cent. They also say that BEAR is the most powerful microcurrent device on the market, twice as strong as the other leading device and able to deliver the current into the skin six times as fast.
BEAR is made of antibacterial and washable biocompatible silicone (a big tick in our hygiene-conscious times) and uniquely for a microcurrent device has FOREO’s trademark and patent T-Sonic™ pulsations (the T stands for transdermal) creating a massage effect which goes deep into the pores to eliminate toxins and relieve facial tension for an instant perky glow.
The other innovation that stands out and makes me excited to road test it, is the new Anti-Shock™ system. I’ve tried microcurrent before (I used the NuFace Trinity) and it’s not uncommon to experience sudden electrical shocks when you are least expecting them, often rather painfully in the forehead, where the skin is thinner. It’s one reason why I haven’t stuck with it in the past, despite microcurrent being a proven face-firming technology. BEAR scans the skin one hundred times per second to measure its resistance to electricity and automatically adjusts microcurrent intensity so you’re getting a comfortable and personalised level of microcurrent in a way that's safe and without the nasty surprises.
FOREO challenged me to try BEAR for a week. If I could fit it into my life every day for seven days with minimal effort, I’d be on to a winner. You only need to use it for two to three minutes a day for the microcurrent to start to firm muscle and build collagen over time. How hard could it be?
My bijou BEAR arrives in a compact box with a hygiene pouch, USB charger and a sachet of FOREO's hyaluronic acid SERUM SERUM SERUM. I fire up the Foreo For You app, where I unlock and register my device and I’m away. The device has more microcurrent intensity settings than any other apparently, and I can choose my intensity level from five to a 25 via the app. I choose the max, naturally, and opt to switch the pulsations on. I apply a thin layer of serum to my face and neck and follow the video demo, which does the whole face in two minutes, sweeping the ergonomic metal spheres along the contours of the face and sculpting the neck and jawline. It’s over in a flash and because it felt so pleasant – the pulsations are very gentle – I go back for another round.
I aim to put my mobile phone away in the evenings if I can, so I’m keen to see how BEAR fares solo without the app. There’s just one button for everything - it’s all very simple and in a rather cute twist, when you have the device on full intensity, the light indicators make it look like your BEAR is smiling.
The routine on the app is easy to remember because it follows the contours of the face, from the chin to the jawline, from the corner of the mouth to the ear, from nose to temple and then in upward sweeps from the brows to the hairline. There’s an inbuilt two-minute, so it’s easy to dose your treatment on each side of the face without having to concentrate. I found myself turning down the intensity when I got the forehead, where it felt a little prickly. But there were no jolting shocks, the Anti-Shock™ system really does make a difference.
I’m using the device much more than the prescribed two minutes. I do three even four two minute sessions on each side of the face. Afterwards, I can definitely feel something’s occurred, there’s a slight tightening feeling as after exercise, which this is. When I post my routine on Instagram, a fellow seasoned editor comments, “this has been one of the most used beauty tools I’ve tested. So easy to use, which helps with compliance”. She read my mind.
I check in with FOREO Sweden’s Head of Education, Chris Luckham, who offers free virtual consultations to help you choose the right FOREO device for your skin type and to get the most out of it. He offers me some tips based on the areas of the face I want to target: drooping brows, eleven lines (between the brows) and the lines between my nose and lip. For the brow, he advises pressing and holding the device with the bottom sphere on the outer corner of the brow for five to ten seconds. To lift my cheek, I'm to grip and hold the cheekbone between the spheres. And for the eleven lines, I hold the device horizontally and lean my inner brow onto it like Rodin’s Thinker. Then, I’m to move my forehead against it “like a cat rubbing he corner of a sofa,” says Chris.
Other useful tips I learn from Chris:
* First let your serum sink in while you clean your teeth or make a cup of tea, put another layer on just before your session and you’ll be super hydrated, which will minimise any sensation.
* You can also put extra blobs of serum on the spheres as you go if you need more glide.
* You don’t have to use SERUM SERUM SERUM, any water-based gel or serum that’s not scented and doesn’t contain actives will do for conductivity. What I like about the Foreo product is that it’s not sticky, unlike other conductivity gels you don’t have to wash it off afterwards. Aloe vera gel is a good option.
* Make sure to cleanse your face first using an oil-free cleanser.
* Many BEAR users freestyle their own routines. All you have to remember is ‘upwards and outwards’ and do the same on both sides.
* When you get to the forehead, think ‘Dubai Palm’ fanning out from the brow to the hairline.
* There’s the ‘parcel shelf’ technique for extra jaw definition and lift: start at the collar bone, go all the way up the side of the neck, over the jaw to the cheekbone.
So far so easy peasy. My BEAR sits there in my bathroom with seemingly endless charge (90 sessions) and is simple to slot into my routine. If I haven’t managed a full-on Netflix session with it, I can just do two minutes after cleansing before bed.
After just a week, I can see an immediate glow from the pulsations and my face feels relaxed and less of its usual crinkled stressy self. I suffer a lot of jaw tension and can feel this easing thanks to the pulsations. For longer-term lifting, I'd expect to see visible results in a few weeks, just as I would if I was embarking on a new fitness routine. But I can definitely feel that everything’s a bit more ‘sucked in’, and depuffed and yet relaxed and glowing at the same time. After my initial blast, Chris tells me that three times a week is enough to make a significant change. But I can tell I’ll be using it much more than that.
Written in partnership with FOREO Sweden.
BEAR and BEAR mini are safe to use on all skin types. However, if you have any medical concerns such as epilepsy, if you have a pacemaker, electronic implanted device, or if you are pregnant, please consult your doctor before using the device. Never use BEAR without a conductivity serum, gel or cream.