If you’ve ever seen a celebrity wearing a Phantom of the Opera style facial device on Instagram, you’re at least familiar with the look of a light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy mask. These foreign-looking tools are actually scientifically-proven skincare treatments that work to fight the effects of aging and kick acne to the curb. Read on to find out more about them and where you can find your own personal fountain of youth mask. We’ve found the best light therapy mask for aging skin, wrinkles, acne, and more.
What is a LED light therapy mask?
Developed by NASA (yes!) as a method for stimulating plant growth and treating astronaut wounds, LED light therapy has since been adopted by beauty care professionals for skincare treatments. It works by using different wavelengths of light — most commonly red and blue — to target different ailments of the skin. “LED light is essentially acting like the sun to a plant,” dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD, told Vogue. “It is penetrating the skin to a cellular level and subsequently causing different intra- and intercellular reactions.”
Do LED light therapy masks really work?
Research shows that red light therapy can be an effective anti-aging tool. According to a study, red light, which is known to penetrate deeper than blue light, can be useful in reducing inflammation. A separate study the following year also showed that red light therapy subjects saw “significantly improved skin complexion and skin feeling” as far as roughness and collagen density went.
Blue light therapy, meanwhile, can be effective in the treatment of acne. A study published by The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that daily blue light therapy home treatment for mild to moderate acne “reduced the number of acne lesions significantly.” It also showed “a significant improvement” in overall skin conditions. The best light therapy mask will incorporate both red and blue lights.
How to Use LED Light Therapy Masks
Though LED light therapy masks do not contain ultraviolet rays and are largely considered to be safe for general use, they do come with some warnings about how best to use them. A 2016 recall of a popular Neutrogena model sparked some concerns over vision safety, as prolonged exposure to blue or red light can cause damage without proper eye protection. To avoid this, experts recommend using blackout or opaque goggles with these devices.
Masks will vary, but most range from three to 20 minutes per treatment, while the more focused devices call for around 30 seconds per problem area. Some recommend daily use of the best light therapy mask for you, while others suggest three to four times per week.
What serum should I use with LED light therapy?
When you reach a certain age, an anti-aging serum is an absolute must — and luckily, there are many excellent ones to choose from. Any day or night serum that you love will work with the best light therapy mask; the ultraviolet rays will help it absorb into your skin more effectively, making the results that much more dramatic. Haven’t found the serum of your dreams yet? We’ve got you covered: Shop our picks for the best anti-aging oils and serums!
Where to Buy LED Light Therapy Masks
Unlike your typical beauty products, these skin-changing devices won’t typically be found on the shelves of your local Sephora, so Woman’s World rounded up a list of the best LED light therapy masks on the market — and the places you can scoop them up. Keep scrolling for our top picks!
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Which LED face mask is the best one for you?
Why we like it:
- Comes with a detachable, adjustable head strap and a storage bag
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Clinically-proven to reduce fine lines and acne
This mask might look like a cross between a robot and a serial-killer Halloween costume, but actually, it’s a highly-effective FDA-approved treatment for acne and wrinkles. (And yes, we think it’s totally unfair that we have both at the same time.) Red lights penetrate deep to stimulate collagen production, while blue lights destroy acne-causing bacteria and soothe inflammation. I a clinical study, over 97 percent of subjects showed overall improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, and acne.
This mask won over one doubtful buyer: “I’m usually skeptical of fancy/flashy gimmicky tools. However, I recently had a facial where she incorporated a similar mask and my skin looked so much better afterwards and there was something very soothing about it. I researched different options … This one was a good price, had great reviews, and only three minutes needed per day. I was sold. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and just looked at my skin in a high magnification mirror which can be terrifying, let’s be honest, but I was floored. My skin looked tighter and smoother than it had in years. I’ve not changed products, just been using this and I really enjoy it and it’s actually doing what it says it does, which is fantastic! I highly recommend.”
Why we like it:
- Clinically-tested and shown to improve skin’s texture and reduce wrinkles
- Neck piece addresses skin texture beyond the face
- Serum included
Younger skin after just 10 minutes of treatment per day? Yes, please! The OPERA Lebody has been clinically-tested when it comes to improving skin’s dull, dry texture and roughness, reducing wrinkles and fine lines, and boosting skin elasticity and moisture. Its secret lies in its extra-wide angle of irradiation, which works to spread its 228 LED lights more evenly across skin. There’s a neck piece for the skin beyond your face and eyewear to protect your peepers from any would-be harm. It’s also got a charging port so you won’t have to keep it continuously plugged in.
This review saw changes in her skin after only a short time: “It’s only been a couple weeks, but I noticed some changes to my skin already! My face looks smooth, and the fine lines around my mouth were much harder to see … The neck attachment is awesome … I have a lot of lines around that area, and I think it’s tightening up there too.”
Why we like it:
- No cords, wires, or control panel — just tap your forehead to activate
- Three different light wavelengths to choose from (pink, red, or blue)
- Best-selling Korean LED mask
This wireless LED mask is pricey, but before you dismiss it as beyond your budget, stop and think how much you pay for professional facials and spa treatments over the course of a year. And, how much would you pay for amazingly younger-looking skin? This mask, created by celebrity facialist Angela Caglia using NASA-developed technology, is the number-one selling mask in Korea, where they take skincare very seriously. With no cords, no wires, and no complicated control panel to hassle with, you’ll find it easy to use this for the recommended 20 minutes a day, right after cleansing.
This happy customer did the math: “I decided since I was spending so much on expensive serums and moisturizers that I would trust Angela’s advice on the power of this professional strength LED. It’s made of beautiful quality, I love to use it almost every day and I see the difference!!!! In only a few weeks! My skin is brighter, brown spots almost gone, and I look and feel younger. Don’t buy the expensive purse or the expensive serums. Buy this. It’s an investment well worth it.”
Why we like it:
- Best-selling LED mask
- Shrinks pores, smooths and tightens skin
- Comes with hyaluronic acid serum
One of the most popular masks on the market comes in the form of this seven-color model from Project E Beauty. Promising to do everything from shrink pore appearance, smooth skin, lessen oil, tighten, and even reduce the appearance of freckles, this wireless device requires just 10 to 15 minutes of use three to four times a week in conjunction with its included hyaluronic acid serum.
One happy buyer wrote: “It’s easy to use and I feel like it is already helping my skin. After I use it, my skin feels tighter and I love it.”
Why we like it:
- Targets acne blemishes
- Blue light kills bacteria
Acne takes a serious beating from this Foreo blue light treatment pen when it’s pressed against the skin in 30-second increments. In addition to its bacteria-killing blue light, it’s got “T-sonic pulsations” to boost your blood’s natural microcirculation, which in turn helps skin cell turnover. It’s FDA-approved and works on all skin tones.
Customers say it definitely works right when properly cared for: “It’s super important to WASH the part if the device that comes into contact with your blemish to get rid of bacteria! At first I only washed the lens every few uses, but then I didn’t see results. When I did wash it every single use, the results are more obvious. … I used to get a blemish every single time i ate or drank sweets or spicy food, even coffee, but now I eat anything and I haven’t been getting any new blemish. I really think this thing is containing the bacteria growth underneath my skin!”
Why we like it:
- Great alternative for those who don’t prefer masks
- Reduces appearance of pores, scars, and hyperpigmentation
- Customizable programming
Although it’s not exactly a mask, this photon therapy machine from NORYLANYA works much in the same way, emitting a total of 420 red, blue, and yellow wavelengths of light to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of pores, scars, hyperpigmentation, and age spots. It also increases skin elasticity and improves circulation. A foldable design makes it easy to extend your treatment beyond your face to your neck, and it can be programmed to your liking: Choose a specific light hue for five to 20 minutes of treatment or run the gamut with a pre-set “program” that will combine optimal light choices for spring and summer or fall and winter seasons.
This rosacea sufferer found relief with this light: “I had been using medication for facial rosacea and eczema. I was looking for an alternative. I noticed during the summer months it all cleared up. So I thought why not, let’s look at light as a simple treatment. And by gosh it works for me! I rarely leave a review on anything I purchase, good or bad. But if I can help one person who suffers from acne, rosacea, or eczema. This is a product worth the money and the time.”
Why we like it:
- Targets blemishes
This FDA-approved LED light therapy option pairs bacteria-fighting blue LED light with inflammation-reducing red LED light to hone in on acne, blemishes, and redness at the source when used in increments of three minutes per spot. It features an automatic shut-off to save on its required AAA battery (sold separately, $15.99 for a pack of 20) and a one-year warranty to protect your purchase.
One buyer said she’s using fewer skincare products since she got this: “This little miracle light has totally transformed my skincare regimen. I feel as though I use fewer products and when I have a blemish coming on, I simply apply the Spot Lite and like magic it almost vanishes as soon as it appears.”
Why we like it:
- Comes with serum, eye-protecting goggles, and carrying case
- 72 LED lights stimulate collagen and elastin production
- Comes in pink, white, or blue
If you’re concerned about potential damage to your peepers, this handheld, dermatologist-recommended device offers up an eye-friendly solution with its included goggles. It also allows you to focus its 72 LED lights on the areas of concentration where you need it most to stimulate collagen and elastin production. In addition, you’ll get an adapter, an accompanying serum, and a carrying case. This device also comes in white or in a blue LED light version ($169) for treatment of acne.
One reviewer raves: “Love this device! So far I’ve seen results in just a few weeks! Love the warmth that it gives off, and the size is so nice for my big forehead.”
Why we like it:
- Works with the NuFace Trinity Facial toning device
- Uses red light therapy to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
Fans of the NuFace Trinity toning facial device (Buy on SkinStore, $325) — an FDA-approved machine which works to rejuvenate skin with interchangeable attachments — can get in on the LED game with this wrinkle reducer attachment, which offers up red light therapy to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Even with inconsistent use, this reviewer saw a difference: “Instructions say you will see results with consistent use after eight weeks. I have been using it a little inconsistently (less than recommended) but I am already seeing results — noticeable ones — after about four weeks. I have changed nothing else in my routine, but friends that had not seen me since Christmas all said OMG your skin looks great … what are you doing. Lines and creases are definitely lessened. I am going to stick with this device!”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.