Few tools have earned such instant rave reviews as the Foreo Bear. When the microcurrent treatment launched in late 2020 - during the boom of top favorite at home facial cleansing brush sales — it seemed like just about every beauty influencer and commenter was comparing it to the famed (and wildly adored) NuFace.
On the surface it's not hard to see why, considering both use microcurrent technology to lift, tighten, and smooth your skin. Add to the fact that derms swear by the treatment, and sales skyrocketed during the pandemic when it was harder to get in for facials and injectables.
Microcurrent devices are handheld electronic gadgets that have two metal spheres on them. There are lots of claims about how they tone and contour your face, so here’s the science behind microcurrent, how to use a microcurrent device and the results I’ve gotten after using the Foreo Bear on the right side of my face only for 3.5 weeks (this is probably the most asymmetric I’ve gotten for a review so far!).
The video is here, scroll down for the written version.
What Is MICROCURRENT That Foreo Bear Use?
Microcurrent is basically a really weak flow of electricity, so weak that you generally won’t be able to feel it.
There are a few types of microcurrent devices. I’ve talked about iontophoresis devices before, where the current goes through your arm to push skincare ingredients into your skin. In those devices, there’s one electrode on your skin and one in your hand.
The more popular microcurrent devices I’m talking about in this post have both electrodes on your face, so the current only runs through a very short portion of your skin. These devices have currents in the 10 to 500 µA (microamp) range. For reference, 1 mA (milliamp) or 1000 µA is the detection threshold (the minimum you need to be able to feel it), while 10 mA or 10 000 µA will give you a painful electric shock.
How Does Foreo Bear Microcurrent Work
So how does microcurrent work? This is actually a pretty complicated question.
There are a lot of benefits that microcurrent devices claim to have. These are the most common ones:
- tightens and smooths skin
- tones, contours and lifts face
- more defined cheekbones and jawline
- boosts collagen and elastin
- reduces fine lines and wrinkles
- boosts circulation
- increases cellular activity
- decreases puffiness
The biggest problem is that there aren’t many direct studies on humans using microcurrent devices, so there isn’t much data to back up the claims, nor (more importantly, to me at least) to give us a better idea of how they actually work.
Let’s talk about the background behind what microcurrent could potentially do so we can understand what to realistically expect, and demystify some of the jargon behind these devices.
How do you use the Foreo Bear?
As with any device, you should use the Foreo Bear on clean skin. When I say “clean,” I mean that your face needs to be totally free of oils, which prevents the microcurrent from going where it needs to go to work its magic. Skip the oil cleanser (or do a thorough double cleanse afterward).
Next, you're going to need a conductive layer to guide the microcurrent past the surface of your skin. Foreo recommends its water-based Serum Serum Serum, which gives my complexion the sheen of a fresh dewdrop. In the interest of cost effectiveness, I have also been known to use ultrasound gel with microcurrent devices because it's water-based, contains conductive polymers, and comes in vast quantities. The last part is important because you're going to need to slather a ton of whatever you're using on your skin. No skimping here, please—you need to frost your face with a thick enough layer that it doesn't evaporate before you're done. I like to work in sections to make sure nothing dries out, first tackling my midface (jawline to cheekbones) before I move on to my forehead and neck.
The Foreo Bear runs on a three-minute cycle, which you can extend if you need more time. To turn it on, you simply press the middle of the silicone-wrapped body once. Lights come on, indicating intensity levels 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest intensity of electrical current. You can double-press to turn the accompanying T-Sonic pulsations on and off. It automatically switches off at the end of the three-minute cycle, but you can also long-press to turn it off earlier. I split my face into the aforementioned three sections, going horizontally from chin to neck on my midface, then using upward motions for my forehead and neck. The steel balls that conduct the current should glide right over your skin. I move it in gradual swipes, with light to medium pressure, and pause for a couple seconds on each of the landing points.
The full process gets repeated once every 24-hour cycle; think of microcurrent like a daily workout for your face, with time in between for your muscles to recover. You can choose if you'd rather set aside the time to do it in the morning or at night. I personally prefer to do it in the morning, since that's when I could use the most toning and depuffing.
In order to illustrate this process in detail, I filmed an entire four-slide video carousel that takes you through the step-by-step on one side of my face. You're welcome.
I've tested the Bear on each intensity setting, and am happy to report that even the highest one doesn't come with the hot, prickling shocks that sometimes accompany microcurrent. I've experienced a barely perceptible tingling on several occasions, but that's about it. The brand chalks this up to its patented Anti-Shock System, which uses sensors to measure your skin's resistance to electricity in real time. I can't exactly claim to have a low pain threshold, given my love of injectables, but it's always nice to have a feature that makes for a more relaxing experience.
Foreo Bear Before and After
Microcurrent results are most visible when you use the device consistently, over an extended period of time. Beki Hoxha, general manager for Foreo, recommends using the device every day for two months to see full results. After that, you can gradually scale back to three times per week. For my own experiment, I was curious about whether a short seven-day time frame would make a difference—I don't know about you, but I like knowing there's some kind of change early on with a device—but even those results were impressive.
As for all its comparisons to the NuFace, let me say this: I've always loved my NuFace and still do. If you already own one microcurrent device, investing in a second is a significant splurge. But I still highly recommend adding the Bear to your routine—and I'll break down exactly why in case the pictures above don't convince you. According to Foreo, the Bear packs significantly more power and faster delivery time than other microcurrent devices on the market. While that's a big claim, I think my results—and the fact that I saw an obvious difference way sooner than expected—speak for themselves.
Then there's the genius addition of those T-Sonic pulsations I mentioned earlier. If a microcurrent device and a vibrating jade roller had a baby, this would be their extremely beautiful and talented progeny. It delivers the results of a microcurrent facial and lymphatic drainage treatment at the same time, and I have a theory that's why the effect is so noticeable even after one use. As the microcurrent gradually lifts my facial muscles and plumps my skin, the added vibrations boost circulation even more and impart the same depuffing benefits I'd experience from a thorough face-rolling session—with barely any effort expended. After one week my cheekbones looked like they had returned fresh from a filler tweakment, and my jawline sharpened up as well (a lovely surprise, considering the vast amounts of pizza I enjoyed during those seven days).
At $299, the Foreo Bear falls firmly into the splurge category. If you don't want to spend quite that much, the brand also offers the $199 Bear Mini, which features the same T-Sonic pulsations and microcurrent pairing (with a smaller size and range of intensity). It's expensive, but when something works well enough to make a friend say it looks like I got a face-lift, it's well worth it. I'm not claiming that this will totally replace my visits to the derm's chair, but it does things to my face that simply can't be replicated with topicals.