Here’s What I’ve Learned Using an LED Mask for 4 years
Main image – Courtesy of writer
As someone who has lived with acne since their early teens, you can put me down as “up for anything” when it comes to skincare. I’ll try pretty much any product or treatment that claims to help prevent breakouts or clear congestion and scarring—and I have.
Microneedling, laser, tretinoin, peels, short contact therapy, snail mucin—you name it, I’ve tried it. While I’ve seen varying degrees of success with the various treatments I’ve tried over the past 17 years, at the top of my list comes LED light therapy (those colourful red and blue-lit devices you so often see on social media).
But even as a beauty editor and trained aesthetician, it was actually a treatment which I disregarded for quite some time. And that’s because like many people dealing with acne, I’ve always been drawn to the treatments that sound most “active”.
After all, if you can feel it doing something, it must be working, right?
As it turns out though, that’s not always the case, and certainly not where LED is concerned.
A gentle treatment which doesn’t disturb the skin barrier or cause irritation really is a win-win situation. Plus, light therapy is the kind of treatment that you’ll actually want to book in for, it’s relaxing, and it has multiple benefits beyond helping to clear acne and breakouts.
But how exactly does a device that emits brightly coloured light help you to get a clearer, healthier complexion? Ahead, aesthetic doctor and Omnilux LED expert Dr. Hany Abi Ghosn and holistic facialist and skin coach Charlie Perry, explain everything you need to know about LED therapy, its benefits, and their thoughts on in-salon vs home treatments.
I also share my own results after using an LED mask for four years.
What is LED light therapy?
“LED stands for ‘light emitting diodes’, and they work through a process called phototherapy where the LEDs emit certain wavelengths of light into your skin to stimulate biochemical reactions, such as re-energising cells and stimulating collagen production,” explains Abi Ghosn.
“It’s a non-invasive and completely natural process for treating a variety of skin concerns and conditions.” Indeed, it’s one of the few treatments that works really well for all skin types and for a wide variety of skin issues.
LED light for skincare comes in all sorts of forms, from (slightly intimidating-looking) masks to handheld wands. There are also LED treatments available in some facials.
“I try to include LED in most of my facials as I’ve seen such incredible results over such a range of skin types and concerns,” says Perry. “I see a lot of impaired barriers, acne, redness, or pigmentation and I love LED therapy to treat all of these concerns.”
Light therapy is by no means an invasive treatment, it doesn’t hurt or make skin tingle, and there’s no downtime. In fact, in my experience you won’t feel it doing anything at all, but—as I’ve come to learn—that’s the beauty of it.
The different types of LED light therapy
Of course, the lights used in LED therapy aren’t just any old lights. In fact, the magic of LED light therapy devices is that they’re only effective at very specific wavelengths of light, which are measured in nanometers (nm).
The wavelength determines the colour of light coming from the device. There are multiple LED colours available, but the two with the most proven benefits are red light (mainly used for stimulating collagen and treating scarring), and blue light (mainly used for tackling acne and breakouts).
“The wavelengths, or colours, of light that are best for anti-ageing and overall skin rejuvenation are red (633nm) and near-infrared (830nm+),” confirms Abi Ghosn. “The red wavelength helps to reduce inflammation and redness while near-infrared is able to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to target fibroblast cells and stimulate collagen production.”
If, like me, you’re interested in the benefits of LED light therapy for treating breakouts and acne-related concerns, then the best wavelength is blue light (415nm). “This can neutralise and kill p.acnes bacteria in the skin, and if you combine this with red (633nm) light to reduce inflammation and redness it’s a wonderful way to naturally treat breakouts,” adds Abi Ghosn.
The benefits of LED light therapy
It’s not just the experts- and me!- who agree that LED light can help skin, plenty of studies have shown the benefits of LED light therapy.
- Reducing appearance of signs of skin ageing (loose skin, fine lines, and wrinkles)
- Fading hyperpigmentation (especially from sun damage)
- Improving uneven texture and tone
- Killing acne-causing bacteria
- Stimulating collagen production
- Reducing inflammation (including inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and eczema)
- Relieving stress and improves sleep (by lowering cortisol and increasing melatonin and serotonin)
What should you keep in mind when buying an at-home LED light therapy device?
The great thing about LED light therapy is that this isn’t a treatment which is limited to professional use. While the devices used by skincare professionals are typically more powerful, there are a number of great at-home devices available, including the Omnilux mask I use.
Both Abi Ghosn and Perry agree that the most important thing to keep in mind when purchasing an at-home device is the wavelength.
“It’s the single-most important factor because without the correct absorption, you can’t achieve the desired reaction,” explains Perry.
“And more colours are not necessarily better, wavelengths used should have good research behind them to back it up.” You might notice devices offering yellow, green, and amber light, but there’s actually very little evidence to support the efficacy of light at these wavelengths.
“Choose a mask that uses clinically studied wavelengths like 415nm blue, 633nm red and 830nm+ near-infrared,” advises Abi Ghosn.
“With regard to quality and safety, it’s important the device you choose is not only FDA-cleared or CE-certified, but that it has passed regulatory and safety standards and has clinical data backing it up,” he adds. “There are a lot of masks out there that do not have the proper clearances.”
Abi Ghosn recommends the Omnilux CLEAR (which uses red and blue light simultaneously) for treating breakouts, and the Omnilux Contour for concerns that are anti-ageing related.
“Omnilux uses medical-grade LEDs. Our patented technology is backed by over 40 peer-reviewed clinical studies, our devices are FDA-cleared, TGA-approved, CE-certified, and have passed all regulatory and safety requirements,” he explains.
Of course, it’s only worth investing in an at-home mask if it’s something you’ll actually enjoy using. Which is why Perry advises clients to choose devices that are comfortable, flexible, portable, and that provide good facial coverage, especially if you’re looking to target concerns like hormonal acne on the jawline.
I can definitely agree there. While you don’t feel anything from the LED lights while your mask is on, an uncomfortable strap or mask shape definitely make this a less enjoyable experience.
How often should you use an at-home device?
With the Omnilux devices (I use the CLEAR myself) it’s recommended to use the masks three to five times a week (if this sounds overwhelming, don’t panic).
Each session is only 10 minutes long, and because the masks are comfortable and portable, it’s easy to fit them into your everyday routine.
I’ll often wear mine while I’m watching TV or in bed while I’m winding down to sleep.
Other devices may differ, but on the whole, Perry has found that usage three times a week offers significant results for her clients experiencing redness or inflammation. “Once the skin becomes calmer and stronger, I advise increasing as skin permits to five to seven times per week.”
When will you see results?
Again, this depends on the device you’re using and on what skin concern you’re treating, but Abi Ghosn explains that with a high-quality mask used consistently, you can expect to start seeing results after four weeks of treatment.
“Consistency is key with LED and the more you do the more you gain,” adds Perry. “It’s the same principles as exercise and going to the gym. One session will boost cellular activity, but multiple sessions will offer visible results.”
After a series of in-salon treatments notably helped to calm a particularly bad acne flare up I had a few years ago, I decided to purchase the Omnilux CLEAR mask to use at home—and my skin has never looked clearer or healthier.
Now I find that using my mask a few nights a week means that spots rarely surface, and when they do, they heal quickly and without scarring my skin.
Trust me, if you deal with any kind of inflammation, scarring, post-acne hyperpigmentation, or signs of skin ageing like loose skin, fine lines, and wrinkles, then you’re going to want to try an LED mask.
My mask itself is comfortable and easy to wear, and since the sessions last just ten minutes, it fits seamlessly into my everyday routine.
Studies show that consistency really is key, and from my own experience, this is so, so true.
Don’t be put off if you can’t feel or see any immediate difference from using an LED device. It was a few weeks before I really noticed a difference to things like my pore size, redness, and stubborn jawline congestion.
It’s also important to note that LED light therapy is only really effective when used in conjunction with an efficient skincare routine. Much like once weekly exfoliation or going for a facial, it’s a great way to boost and complement your everyday regime, but will never singlehandedly clear skin or erase wrinkles.
If you want to target breakouts or signs of skin ageing, and have the time to fit an extra step into your routine, then invest in a high quality device, use it regularly, and you will see the results.
Meet the experts
Charlie Perry is a London-based holistic facialst and skin coach. She regularly shares her skincare tips with her followers on Instagram.
Dr. Hany Abi Ghosn is a world expert in Medical Aesthetics, speaker at international conferences and Key Opinion Leader for numerous International Labs: CosmoSoft France, Cutera USA, Be Ceuticals Switzerland, SRS Belgium, Biotech UK. He was the winner of the prestigious title: Best Medical Practice Award Europe 2018, granted by the European Medical Association (EMA) & the Oxford Royal Academy in England.