By Brenda Stolyar

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Ask any beauty junkie, and they’ll likely tell you face masks are the answer to all your skincare problems. Face masks require you to set aside some time, which can be therapeutic in a busy week, but it can also be tough to squeeze them into your schedule. That’s where theForeo UFOcomes in. Now available for purchase, the UFO promises all the benefits of face masks, but within a speedy 90 seconds.

We took the UFO for a spin to see if it’s effective, and if it’s worth replacing your face masks.

Compact, but an odd shape

Foreo is no stranger to the skincare space. Known mainly for its Luna facial cleansing brushes and ISSA electric toothbrushes, the UFO fits right into the company’s lineup of devices with the same silicone material, as well as a compact body. While the UFO can replace the entire ecosystem of face masks whether that’s cream, clay, gel, or exfoliating masks it’s meant as an alternative to sheet masks. Since each treatment is simply a shrunken version of the sheet mask, you no longer have to place a face-shaped piece of paper over your face, and wait for the product to soak in over time.

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The UFO does have a steep price tag, compared to sheet masks, but the simple setup and quick execution had us easily incorporating it into our skincare routine. Whenever our skin felt dull or dehydrated, it was quick and easy to feel refreshed with the UFO, even if our schedule was jam-packed.

The circular device is small enough that it fits comfortably in the palm of a hand, and the silicone around the body helps with the grip. One side is flat, and this is where the magic happens, whereas the other side has a ribbed, metal texture with the Foreo logo, purely for show. On the flat side, you’ll find a plastic outer ring that detaches — this is where you add the sheet mask. The sheet mask is shaped similarly to the UFO, allowing you to easily line it up correctly and re-attach the ring back to the UFO’s body with the thin mask in between.Since the sheet mask is soaked in product, the ring can also become quite slippery. It’s important to make sure the ring is turned upward though (with the Foreo logo facing you) otherwise, you’ll have trouble securing it.

The main qualm we have about the UFO’s design is its shape. Since it’s just a flat object you’re moving in a circular motion around your face, it’s difficult to distribute the product evenly on places like the nose. With regular sheet masks, this isn’t a problem since it hugs all parts of your face.The UFO does feel a bit heavy out of the box, but it’s not noticeable once you start using it. We would’ve liked to see the UFO modeled after its LUNA facial cleansing brush, which curves just the right amount that allows for you to reach those tougher parts of the face.

In terms of travel and storage purposes, the UFO is still light and compact enough to carry around in a purse, or keep in your bathroom mirror shelf.

Using the UFO

The UFO connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and the Foreo UFO Beauty Tech app, which is available in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. You’ll have to pair the UFO with your smartphone each time you want to use it with the app, which is inconvenient, but the app lets you see how much time is left for your session; they all last 90 seconds. You can also control the T-Sonic pulsations, temperature, and the LED lights emitted from the device.

There are two kinds of masks at the moment — “Call It a Night” and “Make my Day” — and the treatments are slightly different for each. There will be different types of masks in the future, but you’ll need to activate each one by scanning the barcode on the back of the mask’s packaging. It instantly syncs to the app’s library of available masks, and tells the UFO which treatment to start. The UFO will then begin to work its magic, massaging the product from the sheet mask into your skin in circular motions. When the UFO was done after 90 seconds, we patted the remaining product to make sure it was fully absorbed.

You can also use the UFO without the app. One short press of the power button will automatically activate the day treatment mask and a second press will activate the night mask. The device will automatically turn off to indicate the treatment is done.

Between the two, the night mask is a lot rougher — its T-Sonic pulsations vibrate more harshly, and the thermo-therapy mode (which is what opens up the pores to allow the ingredients to seep into the skin) was a bit too hot for my sensitive skin. I preferred the morning mask. The pulsations and light therapy were far more gentle, leaving my skin feeling refreshed, plump, and soothed.

The plumpness of my skin is attributed to one of its main ingredients highlighted in the Make my Day mask — hyaluronic acid.

“Hyaluronic acid is a molecule in the skin that retains water, so it keeps the skin nice, supple, and full,” Natalie Yin, M.D. and chief resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital, told Digital Trends. “[It’s] a component in a lot of skincare products, but it’s also a component of skin fillers. So, [it’s] what we use to inject of build up the skin and try to redeem the youthful appearance. So, there’s really good evidence that by replacing the hyaluronic acid you can have this anti-aging effect.”

Other ingredients in both masks include ginseng which tightens and brightens skin, along with red algae that’s used to strengthen the skin barrier and is also an antioxidant that helps to neutralize damaging free radicals. Lastly, there’s also olive oil, which Dr. Dennis Gross, dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology, recommends to take precaution using it in abundance.

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“I would avoid using too much olive oil,” Gross told Digital Trends. “It is heavy and does not absorb into skin very well, causing acne. It sits on the skin’s surface, creating a thick layer, clogging pores.”

But when used sparingly, Gross explained that it’s another hydrating ingredient that contains antioxidants.

As for whether the UFO works on my skin, I can say that after using it a few times a week (switching off between morning and night) my skin feels more hydrated and smooth — especially with how easily my makeup glides on. I did see a bit of redness after using the night mask, so those who have sensitive skin may not want to use it too often or should make sure to turn the heat settings off, and to turn the red LED light settings up (which helps to reduce inflammation).

I was able to complete a Foreo UFO session, with time for my normal routine, all within the usual 10 minute cap each morning. You can’t do that with a sheet mask.

I do, however, know that it has allowed me to incorporate what feels like a facial into my quick skincare routine. Living in an apartment with one bathroom and two other roommates, time in the bathroom needs to be spent quickly and wisely. I was able to complete a Foreo UFO session, with time left to brush my teeth and complete my normal skincare routine, all within the usual 10 minute cap each morning. You can’t do that with a sheet mask.

Foreo recommends thatyou wash the UFO after each use — for hygienic purposes — as it can get a bit messy. The masks do seep out excess product onto the the UFO’s body, but it’s easy to clean up by running the UFO under the sink since it’s waterproof. You do need to charge the UFO as well, but thankfully the battery doesn’t drain quickly at all. It takes about two and a half hours to charge the UFO up to a full battery, which then delivers up to 40 uses.

Foreo app needs a bit of improvement

Foreo recently updated its beauty app with the ability to control the settings on the UFO. After registering the mask, you have the ability to adjust the T-Sonic pulsations (1 being the lowest vibrations, 10 being the highest), which LED lights you want turned on and how high, along with whether you want the device to cool or heat your skin or if you want it turned off completely.

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While controlling the different options is simple, the doesn’t save your settings for each specific mask. You have to manually change them each time you start a treatment, even if it has been used before. For instance, when I noticed the night mask was too hot for my skin and the vibrations were too rough, I was able to adjust it so that the treatment felt comfortable. But when I used it again a few days later, I spent most of the treatment trying to figure out what I had set it to last time — which takes the “relaxation” out of the entire process. It’d be nice if a future update allowed users to save preferred settings for each mask type.

Is it worth the cost?

At $280, the Foreo UFO is expensive, especially since you can purchase traditional sheet masks for incredibly low prices. You also need to continue purchasing UFO sheet masks, which cost $10 for seven masks. If you use the UFO once a week, that leaves you with three face masks to spare for the next month. In comparison to purchasing four traditional sheet masks per month — at about $6 each — you’ll be paying about $6 more for the Foreo masks each month in addition to purchasing the UFO for the first year.

After that, it’ll add up to about a couple dollars extra per month — but that’s only if you’re purchasing the cheapest face masks available. There are traditional face masks on the market as expensive as $135. If you frequently use face masks, it just may make financial sense to go for the UFO in the long run. For a cheaper alternative, Foreo will soon be releasing the UFO Mini — for $190 — the only difference is that it doesn’t include the LED light therapy feature.

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