Bottom Line: An amazingly comfortable and well manufactured pillow that will lull you off to sleep – if you can stomach the steep price tag.
$199 MSRP, available from Essentia.
Once you get a memory foam bed, you tend to evaluate every other foam product in your house with a critical eye. The couch seems just a tad lumpy. You feel bad about having a guest bed made of mere conventional foam. And your pillows, previously ignored as an afterthought in your bedroom, now seem lacking that viscoelastic comfort you’ve come to know and love.
Alright, maybe it’s just me. But back to pillows – making your own seems to be well within the realm of possibility given an appropriately large piece of memory foam and a hot wire cutter. Today however, we’re going to take a look at the latest and greatest pillow the commercial memory foam world has to offer – the Essentia Forma Spa.
If you’ve read my site you know that one of my major frustrations with the memory foam industry is the seeming willingness of some vendors to trade quality for cost while lying through their teeth about it. Getting a handle on the manufacturing process can allow us to determine if a memory foam vendor is truly top of the line or just doing their best to make it sound that way. I described the typical memory foam manufacturing process in What is Memory Foam?, but this doesn’t apply to Essentia. While typical memory foam is made of polyurethane foam with additives to create viscoelastic behaviour, the Essentia process involve putting a latex foam through a similar process. The result is a memory foam that is supposedly more breathable, more eco-friendly, and with less offgassing.
The package arrived after a slight delay, but hey, it was the courier’s fault and this is a pillow review and not a courier review. The pillow itself ships sealed in clear plastic inside a box. Slight damage to the box was noted as a result of shipping, but nothing unexpected and nothing that would cause damage to the pillow itself. It is packed flat, and is not compressed at all. No need to wait for it to expand like a memory foam topper.
After removing the pillow from the packaging, a slight odour is noted if you bury your nose in it. From six inches or more away, the smell is effectively undetectable. This is a giant improvement on all the previous memory foam products I have used, and a major point to consider if you’re allergic or sensitive to other memory foam products. A light fabic covers the pillow itself. The cover itself is not removable for cleaning, but if you’re like me and most of the civilized world, you use a pillowcase so this isn’t much of a concern.
The pillow itself threw me for a loop the first time I saw it – it’s much larger and flatter than I thought from the pictures on the website. This isn’t a good or a bad thing, it’s just something to note.
This is what really matters – how you feel when you’re sleeping on it. In general, the pillow feels very supportive, yet yields easily. Frankly, it’s ridiculously comfortable in general. Everyone sleeps differently though, so I did my best to test it out in all possible positions.
Side Sleepers: This is how I tend to sleep, so I’ll go through it first. My first impression when I laid down on the pillow was that it was too high, and I was in for a neck-twisting delight. This worry quickly disappeared as I actally laid down on the pillow and my body heat worked it’s way into the formerly room-temperature foam over the next 5 minutes.
Essentia claims consistent performance from 1 to 30 degrees Celcius – while it’s certainly far better than polyurethane based foams (it doesn’t get that “stiff” feeling if your room is slightly chilly), there is certainly some degree of temperature responsiveness.
Back Sleepers: This had the same initial worry of being a bit too high, but again, I think this is largely psychological. I tend to move around a bit if I’m sleeping on my back, and I found one very interesting property – the foam “recovers” extremely fast. By this I mean that the dent you normally leave in memory foam will fill in very quickly. I found this made it easier to settle down and not toss and turn.
Front Sleepers: Personally, this is a no go for me. It works quite well if you sleep in a half-side, half-front sprawl which I tend to do, but if you sleep chest down like a corpse (honestly, who does this, you freak me out) it doesn’t work for me. Then again, my girlfriend will steal the pillow and spend a half hour hitting snooze in exactly this position.
Remember that personal preferences vary greatly – I would recommend this pillow for people who enjoy medium-soft to firm pillows. If you prefer very (emphasis on the very) soft pillows, it may be just a bit too high/firm for your tastes. This depends on your mattress as well – mine is a bit softer, if your mattress is more firm you’ll likely find that the height is a nonissue.
In short? It may seem a bit too high at first, but as soon as it warms up it’s a wonderfully comfortable memory foam pillow with zero odour issues out of the box. If you sleep on your side, back, or sprawled halfway between your front and side it’s almost too comfortable on cold mornings, but if you’re a corpse-style front sleeper you may want to try out similar products to make sure it’s what you want. The product is of extremely high quality, and this is reflected in the price – don’t expect it to be cheap.