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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About LED Masks Before Buying One

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Main image – Omniluxled/Instagram

This morning, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and was greeted by a picture of my friend’s wife, sitting on the sofa, wearing her pyjamas, looking at her phone. Oh. And she was wearing an LED mask.

Whilst a few years ago this scene might have seemed a bit odd, scrolling past a photo of someone casually going about their Sunday evening, looking like something out of Star Wars, now feels like the norm. 

But what on earth are these funny, light up masks?! What exactly do they do for the skin? And how do you use one safely? 

Thanks to world expert in medical aesthetics Dr Hany Abi Ghosn, and dermatologists Dr Andrei Guerghina and Dr Jeannette Graf, the answers to these questions, and all the other ones you almost certainly have, are in this article. 

Welcome to your comprehensive guide to everything you can think of when it comes to LED masks. 


What is LED light therapy and how does it work?

“It’s a non-invasive and completely natural process for treating a variety of skin concerns and conditions,” says Dr Ghosn. And LED stands for ‘light emitting diodes’. “They work through a process called phototherapy where the LEDs emit certain wavelengths of light into your skin,” he explains. 

These lights can be red, yellow, blue or green. “The wavelengths the bulb emits will help determine what treatments the mask offers,” says Dr Graf. “For example, red light can aid in reducing fine lines, while blue light is great for acne or breakouts.”


Image – Omnilux


What are the benefits of using an LED mask?

There are many, and each coloured light provides a different benefit. 

Red and blue are widely known to be the most popular thanks to their results as there are numerous studies to back these claims up. There is less research on yellow and green, but the experts believe they still have their perks. 

You can also buy masks that have a multi-coloured setting to tackle multiple skin concerns at the same time. “Combining different coloured lights in an LED mask should be based on individual skin concerns,” says Dr Gherghina.  

Here is how each colour works.


Red LED lights:

“LED masks that use red and near-infrared light can reduce signs of ageing skin such as fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation (especially from sun damage), uneven skin texture and tone,” explains Dr Ghosn

“LED red light’s main mechanism of action is to stimulate biochemical reactions, such as re-energising cells and stimulating collagen production, along with cell regeneration,” he adds. “LED red light has also got soothing and calming properties.” I think red just became my new favourite colour…

A study testing red LED light on 24 testers concluded, “the home-use LED device, with a combination wavelength of 637 and 854 nm, is safe and can be used as an adjunctive treatment for self-administered facial rejuvenation.” 

And another reported to have seen an improvement in the skin’s finish. “Most of the observed areas, including the forehead, and both cheeks showed improvements in brightness.”


Blue LED lights:

“A mask with blue light can be used to treat acne,” Dr Ghosn continues. “LED blue light has anti-bacterial properties. It treats acne by killing p. acnes, the acne-causing bacteria.” Sign me up!

“In-vitro studies have demonstrated that blue light is effective for treating P. acnes because it produces the strongest photoactivation of endogenous porphyrins through a process known as endogenous photodynamic therapy (PDT),” said another study. 

“The result is free radical formation and destruction of the P. acnes cell membrane.”


Green LED lights:

It should be noted that studies on both green and yellow LED light are thin on the ground and so neither colour is widely known to be officially beneficial to the skin.

But Dr Graf has noticed a difference with green. “The LED mask, when using a green light, can actually help reduce the look of pigmentation on the skin,” she says. I have also heard it’s meant to boost collagen and improve energy levels.


Yellow LED lights:

According to Dr Gherghina, yellow, or amber LED light similarly to green can be used for anti-ageing and pigmentation. It has also shown to be a positive treatment for skin irritation but with inconclusive results.

“Much of yellow LED application has been focused on photoaging and as an adjuvant therapy to laser treatment,” said a study. “Recently, it has also been shown to decrease the intensity and duration of erythema (skin redness) after fractional laser skin resurfacing.”


How long will it take to see results?

“Results from LED masks can show improvements in skin tone and texture within a few weeks,” says Dr Gherghina. “However, more significant results like reduction in acne or fine lines typically require several months of consistent use.”


Image – Omnilux


Are there any risks of using an LED mask?

‘LED light therapy is a non-invasive and safe treatment,” says Dr Ghosn. “Home-use LED masks are great as long as they have been cleared for safety by the FDA/TGA and/or have CE certification.”

So, first let’s clear up a few rumours. “No, they cannot cause pigmentation and no, LED masks do not emit UV rays onto the skin,” says Dr Graf. Phew. “Light is scaled by a spectrum. LED lights transmit weaker rays versus UV rays that transmit a stronger light that can disrupt the DNA in our skin cells.”

 You also don’t need to worry about your eyes either. “There is absolutely no need to protect your eyes while wearing the mask,” says Dr Ghosn. “Safety for the retina is already established.” Good news all round, although I would recommend keeping your eyes shut while you wear it.

And there’s more good news if you have a skin condition like melasma, rosacea and eczema, because you too can hop aboard the LED train. “The conditions listed above can actually be healed by regular use of LED therapy,” says Dr Ghosn

He does add however that there are a few people who shouldn’t use an LED mask. Those with “lupus, thyroid problems, skin cancer, open skin wounds,” he says. “And of course [in] pregnancy.”


Image – Grace Day


OK, so do you actually need one?

Let’s do a half-way summary. If you’ve got a common skin concern that you want to address on top of your daily skincare regime, an LED mask will be beneficial to your skin. Issues like fine lines, acne, uneven texture, pigmentation or even eczema fall under this category. 

Those with more serious health conditions like lupus, an under-active or over-active thyroid and, of course, skin cancer, should avoid them. Women who are expecting a baby should also steer clear. 

If you don’t have any concerns when it comes to your skin, an LED mask might be an unnecessary expense and your usual skincare routine should suffice. 


How to use your LED mask

First of all, you’ll need to know where in your regime to use your mask, for best results.

Using it over clean skin is best. “By using the mask on clean skin, it allows the wavelengths of the light to penetrate the skin,” explains Dr Graf.

“Use the mask after cleansing and toning the skin. The LED mask can leave the skin a touch dehydrated so it’s best to use serums, moisturisers and hydrating products after the mask.”

Ok, morning or evening? “The LED mask can be used at any point of the day,” Dr Graf says. “It’s best to get a second opinion with a dermatologist before any changes in skincare routine to ensure it’s aiding the skin.”


PRO TIP: In between uses, make sure you clean your mask too, to keep it skin friendly. “You can simply wipe it with alcohol and let it dry,” says Dr Ghosn. 


Image – Milanmarkovic78/Adobe


Is it possible to overuse an LED mask?

Yes, it is, according to Dr Gherghina. “Overuse can potentially lead to skin damage or reduce the effectiveness of the therapy,” he warns. “The recommended treatment times vary with each manufacturer’s guidelines, however 10-20 minutes per session a few times a week is typically recommended.”

Dr Graf agrees. “Using the LED mask for about 20 minutes or less would be best for the skin,” she says. “Using it for over 20 minutes may cause the skin to lose its moisture, which in turn could amplify the skin issue.”


How often should you use it?

“Using the LED mask 3 to 5 times a week is ideal but it’s best to talk to a dermatologist to ensure that this will not damage or cause further issues with the skin,” Dr Graf warns. 

And she says to introduce it to your skin gradually. “When using any new device or product for the skin, it’s always best to slowly incorporate it into the routine.”


Can you use retinol and acids alongside your mask?

As always with these ingredients, proceed with caution! “Actives like retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids can be used after LED therapy, but caution is advised,” says Dr Gherghina

“Start with a patch test and use lower concentrations to see how your skin reacts post-LED treatment as the skin might be more sensitive.”


Image – Adobe


What age should you start using an LED mask?

Dr Gherghina says there is no set age! “However, LED masks are generally used by adults looking to address specific skin concerns such as acne, ageing or hyperpigmentation.” In other words kids, embrace your youth and don’t waste your money!

But, in all seriousness. If I’d had the option of a home LED mask when I suffered with teenage acne, I would have jumped at the chance. 

So, whilst LED masks are typically used by adults with age-related skin issues, the lack of age limit might just help for those who are younger too.


What should you look for when buying an LED mask?

The first thing you should tick off the checklist are safety features. “Consumers should look for FDA clearance, safety features like eye protection and a timer,” says Dr Gherghina

“Other important measures are power output (usually measured in mW/cm2) and wavelength specifics (nanometers for each colour). Brand reputation and quality are also important for overall safety and efficacy.”

Dr Graf recommends looking at the LED light itself. “Look into the number of LED bulbs and the grade of bulb the mask has,” she says. And this is one area where usually, the higher the price tag, the better the performance. 


Image – Drdennissgrossuk/Instagram


“Depending on the brand, higher quality LED masks that are on the pricier end tend to use intricate and better-performing equipment to suit skin care needs,” she adds.

Dr Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro (£465 from Cult Beauty UK /$455 from Dr Dennis Gross US) consistently gets amazing reviews online, plus a few colleagues of mine say it has worked wonders for evening up skin texture. 

And check out journalist Grace Day’s article on her favourite Omnilux LED Mask, which helped to clear up her adult acne.


The takeaway

Watching a LED mask in action, you may think that wearing one might involve pain, excessive heat and possibly a few side effects. Because, let’s face it, they do look a bit scary.

But remember what the experts said. There is no age limit (so even the youngest skin can use one, if they really need to), there is no danger to your skin or eyes, and it’s non-invasive, meaning it’s pain-free. It just looks a bit funny, which I’d take for better skin.

Make sure you choose yours wisely and that it’s going to help with what you’re actually concerned about (not forgetting to look out for the right safety features). And try to choose one with a multi-coloured or even double light setting (eg red and blue) to help tackle more than one issue at a time.

LED masks aren’t cheap. But if you bear our experts’ tips in mind and shop around you may find one that suits their criteria, your skin, and your budget.


Meet the experts

Dr Hany Abi Ghosn is world expert in medical aesthetics and founder and CEO of Omnilux LED masks.


Dr Andrei Gherghina is a dermatologist based in Florida.


Dr Jeannette Graf is a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mt Sinai School of Medicine.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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