Ultrasonic technology is big in beauty right now. The subtle vibrations are said to help shake dirt and impurities from your skin and even help clean your teeth.
I had the chance to test out two ultrasonic beauty gadgets; the Foreo Issa toothbrush and the Luna face brush. Scroll to the bottom for an update from my dentist on how well the Issa toothbrush performed.
What is Foreo Luna and what will it do?
The Foreo Luna is a skin cleansing device, designed to use ultrasonic waves to help clean your skin more thoroughly.
There are different styles of Luna from very smooth to a more obvious silicone bristle. I tested two models — a white one with no visible bristles on it (it’s simply a smooth silicone device, that looks somewhat like a bar of soap, with fine ridges on it), and a pink one with subtle silicone nubs.
Foreo says the Luna with its “unique combination of T-sonic pulsations with silicone touch points will gently exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pores of make up residue as well as 99.5% of dirt and oil, enhancing the absorption of your other skin care products”.
It also makes claims that using this device will reduce the signs of aging, by offering “lower frequency pulsations that when applied to wrinkle prone areas reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles”, and makes skin look firmer.
A cleaner way to clean?
The Luna devices are coated with silicone, making them very smooth and streamlined, and easy to grip. That same silicone, according to Foreo, makes it resistant to bacteria, and easy to keep clean, presumably easier than some of the bristled face brushes that other companies sell, such as the Clarisonic.
I have been using the Clarisonic for several months now, and enjoy the feeling of deep clean I get using the brush. Read my review of the Clarisonic device here.
Knowing how much I enjoyed the Clarisonic experience, I was very much looking forward to testing out the Luna.
Which Foreo Luna is right for you?
The Luna comes in three different models with cleansing brushes it says are tailored to specific skin types. You can take a quiz on the Foreo website, and it will help you select the correct model for your skin type. The quiz wants to know if your skin is fine, has any red patches or oily areas, as well as information on imperfections and acne breakouts.
The quiz recommended I use the normal/sensitive brush, with its touch points for gentle cleansing, and some broader touch points near the top. But since I also had recieved a sample of the brush for sensitive skin, I decided to start with that one.
Luna for sensitive skin
On the day I received it, I charged the device and then put it to work right away. My immediate reaction was I found it uncomfortable and not enjoyable to use. The device is smooth and, even though it is wrapped in soft silicone, it’s very hard. I was rubbing it across my face, and pressing it lightly onto some areas, but it’s ultrasonic buzz really just made me feel as though my bones were being rattled. Particularly on areas of my face where the skin and flesh or thinnest, I felt as though my bones were being vibrated.
I cleansed my whole face and then stopped. I can’t say I was looking forward to the next experience after that. Even so, the next day I repeated the process, and got the same bone jarring experience. Now, what I mean by bone jarring here, is not that it is going to drill holes in your head. It has a very gentle vibration, but when those vibrations are applied directly to certain areas of the face, I found them rather uncomfortable.
Luna for normal skin
I had a much more enjoyable time using the Luna for normal skin. While the bristles are very soft, at the same time it makes it feel as though your skin is being cleansed deeply.
After my first use, I have to say I felt like the brush didn’t do as good a job as my Clarisonic device. But when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning, I was surprised my skin felt velvety, soft, and new. I was impressed.
I found that using this brush with it soft silicone bristles was much less bone buzzing than the Luna for sensitive skin. I think the little silicone nubs act as a bit of a buffer between the device and your skull. So, using this brush I felt I was getting the benefits of the ultrasonic vibrations, without the uncomfortable feeling.
Foreo Luna: The Verdict
I did feel like I needed more cleanser with the Luna, at least initially. While other brushes will foam up your cleanser, the Luna doesn’t. So the first few times I found myself adding a second dose of cleanser. After a few uses, however, I started soaping up my face, not the brush and found I could use the normal amount. You still won’t get that foamy effect, though.
I also found the shape of the Luna a bit awkward to get into narrow areas, like around the nose, and it wasn’t as natural to cleanse the neck or the jawline, as the brush is not at all flexible. I preferred the normal skin brush of the two I tried as I liked getting a bit of a deeper clean. I also liked the variety of settings. Overall, I’ve been enjoying the ultrasonic technology, and I think my face is smoother, cleaner, and less prone to the occasional breakout, even just using it about twice per week.
The Luna brushes retail for about $229 Canadian.
Ultrasonic toothbrush: the Foreo Issa
The Issa is a silicone toothbrush that uses ultrasonic waves to clean and polish your teeth. The brush is made up of two parts; the base and the brush head, and the brush heads are interchangeable and replaceable.
I love the idea of this toothbrush; it incorporates both the vibrations of an electric toothbrush, with the softness of silicone, and the ability to keep it bacteria free, unlike most regular toothbrushes that are simply gross toothpaste residue and bacteria magnets.
Testing the Basic Foreo Issa Toothbrush
The first model I tested out was the regular Issa brush. It has a rounded silicone brush head, that has a bit of a contour taking the brush from short bristles too tall bristles.
Foreo says “the combination of sonic pulse technology with a unique silicone design cleans and whitens teeth like never before”. The company says its toothbrush brushes teeth effectively, but gently. I can definitely attest to that. Using this toothbrush is a very unique experience.
All my life, I have been used to using plastic bristled toothbrush is, and more recently plastic bristled toothbrush is with electric or battery powered technology. The feeling of this brush is completely different. It feels very gentle and more like you are merely rubbing a finger around your mouth. There is absolutely no sensation of bristles or brushing or, scratching, if you will. The sensation of this brush is really just soft and edgeless. While that’s a significant difference and a nice touch, I didn’t really feel like it was getting into the nooks and crannies of my teeth and cleaning them. I did feel like the brush was definitely polishing the flatter surfaces of my teeth, but in terms of a feeling of overall clean in my mouth, I didn’t have that with this brush. It’s worth pointing out that the is a hybrid brush has slightly different bristles. The company says “the hybrid is stronger on plaque and still gentle on gums.” More on that below.
I love the fact that the handle of this brush is nothing but smooth silicone, with no cracks, crevices, or griplines. I find the handle is the part of any regular toothbrush that gets the grimiest after months of use; it can be downright gross. But with this brush, even if it does get a bit dirty, a quick rinse under the top and everything is clean. The silicone dries quickly as well, preventing gunk buildup. Amazingly you can also wash Foreo products in the dishwasher if you do want a cleaner clean!
Testing the Hybrid Foreo Issa Toothbrush
This brush was my favourite from the get-go. The brush head has more regular toothbrush bristles in the centre, and silicone bristles surrounding those. From my first test use, I felt like I was getting a proper clean while still being gentle.
Help for ‘Aggressive Brushers’
I’m what’s called an ‘aggressive brusher,’ according to my dentist. I use more force than I need, apparently, and over many years that’s resulted in my wearing away grooves at the base of my teeth near my gums. It’s a problem because you can get cavities or extreme sensitivity in those areas, and some will even need to be given fillings to protect your teeth. My dentist recommended an electric toothbrush to tone down the back and forth cutting motion I was using brushing by hand, and that’s been effective for the last few years. Now, with the Issa hybrid, I feel like I’m getting a good clean, but with much less force.
I asked a Doctor for his opinion
I spoke to Dr. John Huynh, DMD,MS,D.Ortho, FRCD(C) who’s a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics about the Issa brushes. He told me a quick search of PubMed (a database for medical publications) found no published articles about the Issa toothbrush at all, meaning not a lot of professional medical research has been done on the Issa, or if it has it hasn’t been published.
Dr Huynh had a look at the Issa line and told me, “I think the bristles on the Issa tooth brush are rather large. I don’t feel as thought they would be able to get into the tight spaces between the teeth. Basically, a tooth brush works by mechanically debriding plaque, biofilms and debris off of your teeth. If the bristles don’t actually contact your teeth because they are too large to fit into the small spaces, then it doesn’t really work. Pretty much every other tooth brush out there has fine bristles that can get into the nooks and crannies to clean your teeth.”
Regarding aggressive brushers, Dr Huynh said, “I can see it possibly being gentler on the root surface of a tooth though. That part of the tooth is made out of cementum which is a lot softer. That’s the part of the tooth that tends to get damaged when people have gum recession and are aggressive brushers. Usually using a soft or extra-soft tooth brush can help prevent this type of wear from occurring.”
Of course taking care of your teeth is about more than just the brush, which Dr John pointed out. “You have to remember that flossing is the other half of the equation that needs to be done. Brushing alone isn’t able to get right between your teeth to clean out all the gunk from between your teeth. The thing is…how many people actually floss daily? I bet not too many. So it’s extra important that you have a tooth brush that can get into the smaller nooks and crannies.”
Battery lasts a year on a single charge
Foreo says the brush can last a full year on the single battery charge. That’s impressive when it comes to an electric toothbrush, and so far I have indeed only charged it once.
There’s a kids version of the Issa and there are also several different attachment options for the is so brush. One is a tongue cleaner, one is a simple replacement head, and the other is what’s called the hybrid brush head. It incorporates more traditional bristles (but made with polymer) into the center of the silicone bristles. This is meant to keep the antibacterial properties that set this brush apart from traditional manual toothbrushes.
The Issa toothbrush comes in several colours and costs $229. Replacement brush heads are about $25-30.
Foreo Issa: The Verdict
It’s a bit weird getting used to the new brush shape and feel, so I’m not using it all the time yet, but I’m working up to it. I feel like the brush is extremely gentle, maybe too gentle; it doesn’t quite feel like it’s getting the teeth in the back, and I need to really concentrate to get in the nooks and crannies. But the tradeoff here is that I’m damaging my teeth a lot less, I guess.
I’m also a bit concerned about the cost of replacing the brush heads. They’re about $25, but Foreo says you only need to replace them once per year. While this whole set up is much more expensive than a traditional $5 toothbrush or $10 drug store electric one, there’s longevity to consider, as well as the fact there are no batteries to replace, as I usually need to do in my $10 brush about 3 months in. Yes, the Issa is an investment, but if you’re like me, it may help you cut down on cutting into your teeth.
I am also interested to see what my dentist will say; whether she feels I’m getting as good of a clean from this brush after 6 months. On that front, I’ll let you know.
UPDATE: The dentist’s view!
May 2016: I had my 6 month checkup, the first since starting to use the Issa brush. I brought the brush in to my dentist and showed it to both her and the hygienist. They had both heard about silicone toothbrushes, but hadn’t been hands-on with one. They were interested in the Issa, and even more so at what my results were. After a thorough dental exam by each of them, they proclaimed my teeth clean and healthy, and with perhaps slightly less plaque than they’d usually find on me.
While it was hard for either them or me to definitively say the Issa did a better job than a regular electric toothbruth, what was clear was that it did just as well and maybe even slightly better. Both the dentist and the hygienist agreed I should keep using the device, and I can say that was comforting news. So now, more than 6 months later, I am still using, enjoying and having good results with the Issa brush.
For more information on these products, head to Foreo.com