With a rise in at-home skincare technologies, LED (light-emitting diode) skin therapy is becoming a go-to for those seeking radiant and younger looking skin. From social media influencers to celebrities to even your co-workers, it feels like everyone is singing praises of these futuristic facial gadgets. But what exactly are LED face masks, and more importantly, do they actually work? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of LED skin masks, explore the science behind them and review how you can add them to your skincare routine.
What is LED Skin Therapy?
LED Skin Therapy, also known as Light Emitting Diode Therapy or Phototherapy, is a non invasive skincare treatment that does not involve chemicals or abrasive procedures. Instead, it uses varying wavelengths of light, primarily red and blue, to address different skin concerns. This treatment harnesses the power of light energy to activate the skin’s natural healing processes.
Whilst it might seem like a modern cosmetic trend, the therapeutic use of light goes back centuries. However, the application of specific light wavelengths for skin treatment was further cemented by NASA in the 1980s. They used LED lights to speed up the healing of astronauts’ wounds. Since then, further research has been done and devices developed to harness LED therapy to treat a wide range of skin concerns.
How Does it Work & What is it Used For?
LED lights penetrate the skin at different depths to produce varied biological reactions within the skin. The specific light frequencies stimulate cellular activity. This includes your cells increase production of collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for the skin’s elasticity and strength. Overall, LED Skin Therapy is versatile and as such it addresses a variety of skin concerns. The main uses of LED therapy include treating:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Acne and blemishes
- Sun damage
- Uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation
- Inflammation and redness
- Texture and scars
How Long To Expect Before Seeing Results from LED Skin Therapy
The time it takes to see visible results from LED Skin Therapy varies and depends on a number of factors. The main ones are your skin concern, individual skin response, the type of LED light used and the frequency of treatments. However, here’s a general overview of what to expect.
Some people notice a subtle change immediately after their first treatment. Their skin may appear plumper, more radiant and better hydrated. This is mainly due to the increased circulation and oxygenation.
After a few weeks of regular treatments, you might start to see some early results. These include a reduction in inflammation, less active acne and a brighter complexion. This could be within as little the first 4-6 weeks of consistent treatment.
It takes several months of regular treatments to see more significant improvements as these require skin to turnover which takes least 6-8 weeks. You’ll need to be patient if treating wrinkles, fine lines, texture, pigmentation issues and skin tightening. For example, red light therapy, known for boosting collagen production, may improve wrinkles and skin elasticity after 8-10 weeks of consistent use.
Once you’ve achieved your desired results, you should still use your LED mask to maintain them. However, you can get away with using it less regularly like once a week or even less. This will depend on what your original skin problem was and if you are using other skin boosting treatments in your skincare routine.
That being said, always remember that everyone’s skin is unique. As such response and results will vary from person to person. Additionally, the effectiveness of LED Skin Therapy is amplified when combined with a consistent skincare routine which we’ll discuss below. Similarly, certain professional skin boosting treatments and a healthy lifestyle will also enhance your results.
What Are LED Face Masks?
LED masks, or light therapy face masks, are devices that use varying wavelengths of LED lights to target specific skin concerns. These masks often look a little strange but they’re usually designed to sit well on the face and deliver LED therapy.
There are several types of LED face masks but they broadly work and you use them in the same way. The main thing that differentiates the masks is the lightwaves they emit. Promarily, LED masks emit three colours and each of these addresses a distinct skin need:
Targets acne-causing bacteria and regulates oil production. This is is particularly beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin types. It can help reduce active breakouts and prevent them from reoccurring.
Stimulates collagen production and vascularisation. It helps firm up skin, heal wounds and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As such, this is the best wavelength for anti-ageing. It can also help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation.
Yellow (or Amber) Light
Soothes the skin, reduces redness and enhances lymphatic flow. This can be useful for puffiness, flushing, sensitive skin and Rosacea.
Helps lighten hyperpigmentation spots, reduces redness and calms irritated skin. It’s also known to improve the overall skin complexion. That’s why its usually used to target dark spots, discolouration and redness.
Purple (or Combination of Red and Blue) Light
This light combines the anti-aging benefits of red light with the acne-fighting properties of blue light. It can be an efficient way to target both acne and ageing at the same time.
White (or Infrared) Light
This is the deepest penetrating light. White light can reduce inflammation, improve skin’s elasticity and offer a tightening effect. Its used for skin ageing laxity and inflammation.
This helps brighten the skin to help it look more radiant and fresh. It’s best for a tired or dull looking complexion.
Blue and Red Light are the most commonly available wavelengths in standard LED face masks. Advanced devices also offer additional wavelengths like green, yellow, amber, purple, orange or white. When choosing a device, consider your skin concerns and goals. Then, make sure that the device you select has the wavelength of light appropriate for you.
What Evidence is There For the Benefits of LED Face Masks?
The appeal of LED masks is because they non-invasive treatments that you can have at home. They are often promoted as having the benefit of professional treatments like lasers, chemical peels or microneedling but without the cost or downtime. But how true is this? The main claimed benefits of LED light therapy are:
- Reduction in acne breakouts
- Minimised appearance of ageing signs
- Improved skin tone and texture
- Enhanced circulation
The mechanism of action behind LED masks is a process called photobiomodulation. In layman’s terms, it means that certain wavelengths of light can stimulate, heal, regenerate and protect tissue. Basically, when specific light wavelengths penetrate the skin, they activate cellular processes that can speed up healing, boost collagen or kill bacteria.
What The Scientific Research Says
There have been various studies over the years on the benefits of light therapy for the skin. In general, most studies validate the effects of LED skin therapy that are claimed. Below is a concise overview of the scientific research on the benefits of LED face masks:
- Collagen Production and Anti-Aging: Red light LED therapy has been consistently shown to promote collagen and elastin production across a wide range of studies. There is consensus that it can help to some extent reduce the visible signs of skin ageing including wrinkles and fine lines.
- Acne Treatment: Blue light, in particular, has been documented for its acne-fighting properties. There is strong evidence that supports blue light’s ability to target and neutralise the bacteria responsible for acne.
- Hyperpigmentation and Skin Tone: Several studies also suggest that green LED light holds promise in managing issues like melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: The anti-inflammatory properties of both red and near-infrared lights have been widely studied in the scientific literature. Studies show that these lights are beneficial in treating a variety of inflammatory skin conditions.
- Wound Healing: There is a plethora of data that supports the wound healing effects of red light. Consistent findings suggest that red LED light not only speeds up wound healing but can also reduce scar prominence and boost overall skin health.
It’s worth noting that while the scientific community has validated the efficacy of LED therapy for various skin conditions, individual results may vary. Furthermore, the effectiveness of at-home LED face masks might not be as potent as professional grade devices used in clinical settings. That’s why, it’s always best to use these masks under the guidance of a skincare professional. As always, it’s also crucial to be patient and maintain realistic expectations.
Safety & Side Effects
One of the biggest advantages of LED Skin Therapy is its safety profile. It doesn’t contain UV rays, so there’s no risk of skin damage or downtime post treatment. So, for the majority of people, LED masks are safe if you use a device from a reputable brand. However, some individuals might experience minor reactions like redness or rash especially if you overuse them. It is also possible that your skin might become more sensitive to light so its a good idea to be even more cautious with sun protection. Always follow your skincare provider’s advice or manufacturer’s instructions to get the best results and avoid side effects.
Choosing the Right LED Mask for You
There’s a vast number of LED face masks to choose from so finding the right one can be daunting. Frankly, there isn’t one that stands out above all others because there are so many good devices on the market. The most important thing that will help you pick the right mask is to figure out your primary skin concern and which wavelength(s) are best to target it. For example, if acne is a major issue, then you’ll need a mask with blue light. For age related concerns, red light might be better. If you have more than one issue then you may need a device with more than one wavelength.
The next top tip is to pick a device that’s FDA approved. You also don’t need to spend too much money as the FDA approved devices all have similar safety and effectiveness profiles. For ease of use, go for a mask instead of a hand held device since you need to regularly use it to see good results and a mask makes this easier.
How to Use LED Face Masks
Most LED masks are simple to use. Make sure that your device is on the right setting and fully charged if it is wireless. make sure you familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions and if you are using prescription skincare, check with your doctor how to add an LED skin mask into your routine. As a general rule, this is the most common way to use LED face masks:
- Cleanse your face thoroughly or even better, double cleanse.
- Put on the mask and make sure it sits comfortably.
- Switch it on and relax. Most sessions last between 10-30 minutes.
- Follow up with your regular skincare routine.
Try to use your device at roughly the same days and time of the week as this will make it easier to have a consistent skincare routine and get results. For most skin concerns and wavelengths, aim to use your mask 3-5 times a week. For treating hyperpigmentation with green light LED therapy, this is usually 4-6 times a week.
Complimentary Skincare Treatments
There are several treatments that can help you boost the results of LED face masks. Consider adding the following in your skincare routine:
- Exfoliation: regular use of an exfoliating acid can allow better light penetration and make your mask more effective. These exfoliants can also help with acne, texture, skin ageing and uneven skin tone.
- Retinoids: Retinol or Tretinoin also help treat acne, hyperpigmentation and skin ageing. Retinoids can significantly improve your skin by themselves and deliver even better results when used alongside LED therapy. Just use them at least 20-30 minutes after your LED face mask to avoid irritation.
- Antioxidants: Vitamin C will also enhance the skin brightening and anti-ageing effects of your LED skin mask. Incorporate this into your morning skincare routine for best results.
- Moisturisers: Use a rich moisturiser to hydrate and lock in water into your skin at the end of your routine. This will reduce irritation, support your skin barrier and enhance your results.
In addition to the above, a number of professional skin treatments can help compliment the results of LED skin masks. Microneedling, Ultherapy, chemical peels and injectable skin boosters like Profhilo can all help with skin ageing. Microneedling and peels can also help with scars and texture. Acne-prone skin may also benefit from laser treatments or chemical peels.
LED skin therapy is an exciting and promising advancement in the world of skincare. The beauty of it is it offers a non-invasive solution for various skin concerns. This treatment is also backed by years of scientific research. However, there is no such thing as a silver bullet in beauty. Whilst LED masks offer impressive results, you will need to be patient and use them consistently. You will also reap the most benefit by using LED face masks as part of a wider skincare routine targeted to your skin goals. Although there are many LED skin masks on the market, take the time to do you r research and find one that can cater to your specific skin needs. If you have existing skin conditions or need help, always consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional before adding something new to your skincare routine.
At City Skin clinic, we are obsessed about personalised skincare. Through our virtual skin clinic, we connect clients with doctors for safe and effective treatments like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone. We treat skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, melasma and skin ageing. To get started on your personalised skincare protocol, book a virtual video consultation or use our online consultation form. The journey towards great skin starts here.