When Laura Evans, a freelance writer living in upstate New York, opened her Sephora Favorites box last year and found a Foreo Luna Play, she did not see a pulsating, silicone facial cleansing device: She saw a sex toy — and a damn good one at that. "It's a straight-up vibrator that Foreo slapped some Koosh ball bits on. It's like a soft, cuddly version of a classic bullet, with the perfect, mellow vibe intensity," she says. She's never used it to wash her face.
Sara*, a yoga instructor in the Midwest, discovered the Luna's powers after realizing she forgot to pack her vibrator for a trip. "It was so expensive, but I didn't notice it doing anything for my skin, so I was like, why not? It's not that intense, but it definitely gets the job done," she says.
They're not the only ones who realized possibilities beyond pore-cleansing. The trailer for the upcoming movie Blockers, about a group of parents determined to stop their kids from losing their virginity on prom night, features a horrified John Cena discovering a hot pink electric toothbrush in his daughter's underwear drawer. She grabs it, snaps the brush head on, and gets to work on her oral hygiene. (Foreo's Issa Play, which the brand says lasts up to 800 uses, looks very similar.)
Twitter users have also pointed out just how closely the Swedish brand's colorful facial offerings resemble the types of objects designed to deliver orgasms — specifically those made by another Swedish company, Lelo.
when my bf picked up a Foreo in Sephora and turned it on, he honestly thought it was a vibrator and was very confused as to why it was being sold in a makeup store— Angel (@nikalangot) January 21, 2018
Maybe everyone needs to get their heads out of the gutter — just because a thing vibrates doesn't mean it's for your clit, right? Except there are a few striking similarities between the companies.
But defining the relationship directly with the brand’s stakeholders proved difficult. When I recently sat down with Foreo CEO Paul Peros to hear about one of the upcoming product launches and get a comment for this story, he downplayed any connection between the two companies and insisted that the only commonality was a shared investor. R29 asked if he'd heard about people using the facial devices as sex toys and he declined to comment for publication.
A week later, after Foreo's Global PR Manager also told me over email that the connection is just that both companies were founded in Sweden and share a common investor, another brand representative finally confirmed the telling details: that Filip Sedic founded Lelo, his brother Pavle Sedic founded Foreo, and at one point, Pavle was the president and chairman of Lelo.
It makes you wonder why the brand doesn't promote this connection more. What's not to love about getting off and getting glowing skin? Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner says that sonic vibrations may help dislodge debris and enhance the effectiveness of cleansing ingredients, and the science is already there that orgasms can boost collagen production and decrease inflammation by lowering cortisol — it seems like a win-win.
But that's assuming everyone is of the belief that human sexuality is a beautiful thing you shouldn't be ashamed of — and we sure as hell know that's not the case. Foreo, it turns out, sells its products in regions with some pretty conservative ideas around sex, sex toys, and masturbation. Consider Alabama, where it's against the law to sell "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs" under the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act, and Saudi Arabia, where masturbation is forbidden under Sharia Law and sex toys are on the list of prohibited imports. A call to a Sephora in Huntsville and a brief scan of Sephora's Saudi Arabian site indicates the cleansing devices are available for purchase in both areas.
Foreo has not acknowledged this alternative use of its product, and does not promote its cleansing devices as a way to circumvent the law. But at the end of the day, horny humans have shown themselves to be a resourceful bunch. Whether under conservative Republican state government or Sharia, if there's a will, there's a way. If you do happen to be in the position to get yourself a Lelo Soraya, though, let's just say this: It's worth burning in hell for.
*Names have been changed.
The tweets included do not reflect the views of Refinery29.