LED light therapy is a popular, non-invasive skin treatment used by leading experts to treat common concerns including fine lines, pigmentation, and breakouts. Now, beauty brands have embraced it too, with wearable LED face masks designed for use in the comfort of your own home.
These clever devices claim to deliver targeted results for all skin types and concerns when used consistently. But are the at-home versions worth introducing to your beauty routine? We investigate how at-home LED light therapy works – plus share the best, expert-selected, LED face masks on the market for you to choose from.
What is LED therapy?
“LED light therapy – or light emitting diode – is an effective, non-invasive, pain-free treatment that involves exposing your skin to an array of coloured wavelengths,” explains the aesthetic practitioner Dr Ayah Siddiqi. These wavelengths of light are visible to the human eye, and are not the same as the sun’s potentially damaging UV rays, which also means you won’t get a ‘tanning’ effect from them.
Depending on the type of light utilised, LED therapy is popular for targeting many skin concerns. That includes signs of premature ageing, mild-to-moderate acne, and skin dullness. Results get gradually better with sustained usage.
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What do the different LED light colours do?
The different colours we see as visible light are caused by different wavelengths. Most importantly for light therapy treatments: the longer the wavelength of light, the deeper it penetrates into the skin.
Blue light, for example, works predominately on the skin surface. It is particularly helpful for breakout-prone skin, due to its antibacterial effect, and is “the most clinically proven wavelength” according to Georgina Mackley, the training specialist at Déesse. Red light is also clinically proven for skin benefits, but it can penetrate deeper to stimulate collagen production. This means it can help reduce signs of fine lines and uneven texture. Yellow, amber, pink, and green lights are also used in some LED face masks.
Green and yellow light is increasingly popular for boosting skin radiance, and may also have some effect on reducing pigmentation. Visible light is also frequently used alongside ‘near infrared light’ – white light which is invisible to the human eye – which is said to increase the skin’s healing ability, by boosting circulation and improving blood flow.
Confused which is best for your skin? Luckily, nowadays you don’t have to choose just one colour. Many masks use a combination, or have different settings that can be alternated for the best results.
How do at-home LED face masks work?
At-home LED face masks are wearable pieces of beauty tech – often secured to the face with straps – which are either battery or mains-powered. It’s becoming more popular to have targeted masks for the eye area, lips, and neck too, with Dr. Dennis Gross and CurrentBody leading the way.
Whichever LED mask you choose, it is likely to be made up of lots of diodes (or bulbs) that emit the tailored wavelengths of light to treat the skin. Importantly, these aren’t as strong (and therefore also not as quickly effective) as their in-salon counterparts, but they are safe to use at-home. Depending on the mask’s design, the overall material can vary, although it’s often either sturdy plastic or softer silicone. Most are designed to be worn for around 10-15-minutes per session, up to five times a week to see the best results.
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Who are LED face masks suitable for?
Broadly speaking, LED face masks are suitable for all skin types and colours, as their non-invasive nature means they don’t cause irritation or redness. Moreover, when used according to the safety guidelines and purchased from a reputable supplier, there are minimal health risks associated with them. However, to avoid any risk of eye irritation – especially if you have sensitive eyes or are prone to headaches – you may wish to wear eye protection. Or, at the very least, we recommend you close your eyes to ensure maximum comfort and safety throughout treatment.
How quickly can you see results?
At-home LED face masks aren’t as powerful as the light therapy techniques used in-salon, so you will need to wait a little longer to see results. Consistency is also really important because light therapy has a cumulative effect on the skin.
“At-home LED masks tend to deliver about 50 per cent of the power of the machines I use in my clinic, but with at-home convenience you can enjoy light therapy more frequently”, explains the leading aesthetics doctor Dr. Maryam Zamani. While slow and steady may win the skincare race, most LED masks deliver visible improvements in skin appearance within 8-12 weeks. Some even claim initial results in as little as 5 weeks with regular use. That’s not dissimilar to starting a solid skincare routine from scratch…
If you’re inspired to invest in a LED face mask for your at-home beauty routine, we’ve reviewed the very best LED face masks on the at-home market – for all skin types and concerns:
A beauty editor favourite, this sturdy, rather futuristic-looking mask is a multi-award winner for a reason. Not least because Dr. Dennis Gross was one of the first dermatologist-founded brands to recognise the power that LED devices could have for at-home use. Containing 100 red light emitting diodes and 62 blue light LEDs to improve overall skin quality, there's three modes to choose from: the 'anti-ageing' red light, the 'acne-fighting' blue light, and a combination setting. Sessions only need to last three minutes for visible results within 10 weeks.
CurrentBody is the leading retailer for all your beauty-tech needs, and this LED face mask demonstrates the innovation at the heart of the company. It's made of flexible silicone, which not only allows for a more comfortable universal fit, but ensures that the maximum amount of light is delivered to the skin. This means better results in a shorter amount of time. As well as goggles to protect sensitive eyes, the facial mask is also available with a neck mask, which can be bought together or separately. With lines of the neck, often called "tech-neck", quite tricky to smooth away, the set takes the stress (and discomfort) out of improving skin appearance, especially uneven texture.
Dermalux is said to be the most powerful (and still pain-free) at-home LED light therapy treatment available. It utilises three key LED wavelengths – blue, red, and near-infrared – with seven targeted treatments to treat the full range of skin concerns, including acne scara, eczema, and fine lines. The highlight though, is that the device can be easily used on the full body – the face, neck, stomach and legs – where required, due to the domed, free-standing design. It's the epitome of a head-to-toe treatment.
Offering the 'complete works' option for at-home LED light therapy, Déesee's Pro LED Mask utilises not only red and blue light, but green and near infrared light too. It aims to tackle almost all common skin concerns across all skin types, from fine lines to uneven tone. It also has six treatment modes to help you personalise your light therapy routine, it's hands-free, and is super lightweight – making it perfect for pre, post, and during your holiday travels. No wonder it's rumoured to be a firm fixture in A-lister luggage.
Forget harsh scrubs and spot treatments that merely dry out the skin, Omnilux's LED face mask aims to take the pain out of calming mild-to-moderate acne. One of the latest exciting additions to the LED face mask market, this mask uses a combination of blue and red light diodes to decrease pore size, tame inflammation, and reduce acne-causing bacteria on the skin. The best results come after four 10-minute treatments per week for six weeks, but, it is also designed to keep breakouts at bay. Simply use as soon as tell-tale redness starts to form.
If you're new to the concept of LED light therapy, this Magnitone mask is a brilliant gift for yourself (as well as making a lovely present to others in your life who are intrigued by the treatment). It's easy-to-use and simple-to-wear due to the glasses-like arms. Plus, it isn't a massive investment despite utilising three light settings – red, blue and yellow, the latter of which is said to help boost your skin's overall radiance.
Specifically targeting signs of ageing around the eye area, including fine lines and uneven texture, Dr. Dennis Gross' eye mask is like a high-tech pair of sunglasses. The eye-safe device pairs collagen-boosting red light LEDs with less usual amber light – a type of light therapy that is said to be especially calming and soothing for sensitive and rosacea-prone skin – it's ideal for the delicate eye area. With a softening of fine lines reported in just two weeks – and the best results over a 10 week period – we'd recommend for frequent flyers who are looking to fake a few more hours of beauty sleep.
This rechargeable LED mask has amassed great reviews for its relatively fast ability to improve the appearance of fine lines and breakouts – specifically within a four-to-six week time frame. It benefits from four colour treatment modes: red light to tackle fine lines, blue and purple lights for blemishes, and yellow light for overall skin appearance. Plus, it has a comfortable and flexible silicone/fabric design, meaning committing to regular treatments feels like less of a chore.
The Light Salon put in-clinic light therapy treatment on the facial map, and this mask is specifically designed to deliver the next best thing to booking in for their Signature facial treatment. Focusing on the clinically-proven combination of red and near-infared light diodes, the mask works to improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin firmness. If you need a little more convincing, you'll see lots of before and afters on the website. We love how proud the brand is of its results.
If you're still worried that LED light therapy masks are a bit of a fad, the fact that No7 have released their own version should strongly suggest otherwise. The high-street retailer has a real eye for enduring beauty trends, and avoids chasing after those that it predicts will vanish in a flash. This mask was specifically developed for individuals who might be thinking about getting their first in-clinic anti-ageing beauty treatment. Trials showed that after using the mask, 8 out of 10 women were so impressed with the skin-revitalising effect of its red and near-infrared light therapies, that they would put their in-clinic appointment on hold.
MZ Skin has not one but two LED face masks to choose from, both of which aim to treat a full scope of skin concerns using LED light therapy technology. The firmer, more traditional, full-face mask is a favourite on social media, perhaps because it turns you into a gold Academy Awards statue. Our preference, though, is the more flexible silicone version. It's designed to fit comfortably and closely on the skin, even around the tricky nose area, due to patented silicone wraps. That ensures the duo of light options – red and infrared or blue and red – are put to use most effectively for plumping, soothing, and smoothing.
This luxurious mask from celebrity esthetician, Angela Caglia, combines the high-tech science of LED light therapy with Eastern acupressure techniques, so you can supercharge your at-home spa day. It's fitted in total with 132 red and blue light diodes to focus on boosting collagen and elastin production, as well as soothing redness, aka the secret to youthful-looking skin. Rose quartz crystals have been placed at the key pressure points to leave your skin and mind feeling refreshed and revitalised.
If you like to keep a simple, streamlined routine, SwearBy's 3-in-1 LED light mask will slot in nicely, as it keeps LED light therapy simple. The easy-to-wear visor-style mask uses the popular trio of red, blue, and yellow light to help keep breakouts and unwanted fine lines at bay. In fact, the idea is that you have the flexibility to switch the modes depending on how your skin looks and feels on the day you are using it. Whatever your skin goal, you can expect to see visible results when using it for 10 minutes, 3-4 times a week over a two month period.
Some of the first signs of premature ageing appear around the mouth and CurrentBody has just released the first wearable LED mask innovation for this tricky lip area. Specifically, it uses the power of light therapy to treat feather lines, smile lines, and lip thinning. Impressively, it does so without pain or heat, using 56 LED diodes in a mouthguard-esque design that can also be used by those with lip injectables. For the best results, you should use for three minutes everyday, for eight weeks.
Image credit: Magnitone