LED face masks - or LED light therapy masks - are the result of light therapy becoming mainstream. The latest in a long line of beauty tech devices that have made the transition from "salon-only" to "available at-home", LED face masks use red and near infra-red LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) to target multiple skincare concerns at once. And they're adored by beauty editors, influencers and celebrities world-over as a result.
Need proof? Take a scroll down the Instagram feeds of Victoria Beckham, Kourtney Kardashian, Madonna and Chrissy Teigen, who all swear by their transformative effects. Reigning supreme as the ultimate in skin rejuvenation, brands like MZ Skin, CurrentBody, The Light Salon have all released rechargeable, portable and professional home LED masks that can reduce signs of ageing, act as an effective acne treatment and make skin appear plumper in one fell swoop. Bog-standard old sheet mask, be gone.
But since they all have pretty hefty price tags (all tend to look a little scary), it can be tricky to pinpoint the best LED face mask for you. Are LED face masks worth it? Are LED masks bad for your eyes? What LED mask does Kourtney Kardashian use? And, um… What even is light therapy? We've got all the answers.
What is light therapy? How does LED light therapy work?
We’ve already answered all of your “what is light therapy?” questions in some serious depth, so you can head over there if you want a real deep dive. But in short, light therapy is a treatment that has been around for more than 30 years and which is suitable for use on all skin types and tones.
Light therapy refers to the process of exposing skin to different wavelengths of light - including red, blue and yellow - which penetrate deep beneath the skin's surface and whip your complexion into shape. As the light wavelength increases, so does the depth of penetration.
The light emitted by your LED face mask is absorbed by your skin, and each different colour stimulates a different response - which means every colour boasts different skincare benefits. More on that later.
What are the benefits of LED face masks?
When used regularly, there are lots of benefits to light therapy. LED light therapy can be used to reduce breakouts, pigmentation, rosacea symptoms, psoriasis and other side-effects of inflammation. If you don't suffer from the above complaints, LED light therapy can simply help to improve the general appearance of your skin and reduce visible signs of ageing.
And that's not all. The benefits of light therapy go well beneath the skin’s surface. In fact, LED light treatments have been applauded for improving mental health, too. Client feedback suggests that a short period of time spent under in-clinic LED lamps could dramatically boost our serotonin levels, which in turn lifts mood, spirits and reduces stress levels. Tempted? You bet.
Since the results for your skin and mind are cumulative, you need to have regular treatments to see an effect. You'll see that most of the best LED face masks come alongside recommendation of usage three-four times weekly. If you can’t afford regular LED treatments at your local salon, at-home light therapy could be the answer.
Are LED face masks safe?
Yes. Most experts agree that LED face masks are safe - since they’re non-invasive and don’t emit UV light - as long as you follow the instructions and use them for the recommended amounts of time only.
The LED used in at-home devices is much weaker than what it would be in-salon, and actually, the devices often undergo much more rigorous testing because they need to be safe enough to use without the presence of a professional.
To ensure your safety, never buy an LED face mask that hasn’t been FDA improved.
Can I use an LED face mask everyday?
Every LED face mask has a different recommended usage, but most should be used no more than three times per week for twenty minutes - or five times per week for 10 minutes. For example, No7 recommend that you use their Boots LED face mask for 10 minutes, five times a week.
What should I put on my face before LED light therapy?
What colour LED do I need?
Blue light: this is the bacteria-fighting LED light. It triggers photochemical oxidation in order to kill bacteria living on the skin. This makes blue light an excellent choice for those with acne, eczema or rosacea.
Red light: stimulates our fibroblasts for cell renewal and ATP regeneration.
Near-Infrared: has no colour but it can be used to reduce inflammation and redness in the skin. It also speeds up wound healing and reduces pigmentation.
Amber: Amber LED light is the least common in at-home devices, but works to revitalise the skin, reduce swelling and boost your skin's radiance.
What is the best LED facial mask?
The best LED face mask for you depends on your budget and the type of treatment you're after. LED face masks are great for a slip on, sit back and relax approach, but you can also get hand-held light therapy devices that are cheaper and allow you to target your treatment to a specific area.
The most popular LED face mask with GLAMOUR readers is the CurrentBody LED Light Therapy Mask. It's £279 (usually £349, but it's on sale right now), and clinically proven to reduce wrinkles by 35 per cent in just four weeks. What's more, 95 per cent of users of this LED face mask said their skin tone, texture, firmness and tightness was improved after use.
This device is a skincare routine game-changer.
There's also MZ Skin's new kid on the block: the Lightmax Suprcharged LED face mask, which uses clinically proven wavelengths to provide the same results as an in-clinic treatment. It emits a combination of red and blue light to target a range of skincare concerns such as laxity, inflammation, acne, ageing and hyper-pigmentation, stimulating collagen to firm and plump the skin, boosting luminosity through improved circulation and soothing damaged skin. It has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkle depth by 36% in four weeks, increase collagen in two weeks - and 98% of subjects reported firmer skin in 12 weeks.
- Best LED face mask overall = CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask, £265, CurrentBody
- Best LED face mask for acne-prone skin = Lightmax Supercharged LED Face Mask 2.0, £545, MZ Skin
- Best LED face mask under £200 = No7 LABORATORIES Age-Defying LED Mask, £150, Boots
- Best LED face mask for anti-ageing = The Light Salon Boost Advanced LED Light Therapy Face Mask, £395, Net-A-Porter
- Best LED face mask for a salon-standard treatment = Déesse Professional LED Mask Next Generation, £1,680, Cult Beauty
- Best LED face mask for pigmentation = Cellreturn Platinum by Angela Caglia LED Wireless Mask, £1,750, Cellreturn UK
- Best LED face mask for targeting the under-eye area = SpectraLite by Dr Dennis Gross, £175, Space NK
- Best Korean LED face mask = UNICSKIN UnicLED Korean Mask, £315, Net-A-Porter
- Best LED face mask Amazon = Rio FaceLite Beauty Boosting LED Face Mask, £349.99, Amazon
- Best hand-held LED device = CurrentBody Skin LED Precision, £139, CurrentBody