It’s the best time in history to have acne.
We know, we know. But seriously, hear us out on this one: There are more treatments for acne than ever before, ranging from creams and serums to medication, lasers, and other facials that can help nab acne at the source and help eliminate it. The most trendy treatment right now? LED therapy using face masks. These masks make you look vaguely a hockey goalie, but they’re legit — and celebrities like Chrissy Teigen are big fans.
But with so many on the market right now, we have to wonder: Which brand has the best LED light therapy mask? We consulted pros to get the details on these home devices and figure out the best LED face mask to help alleviate your acne and other skin problems.
Do LED Face Masks Eliminate Acne?
But first, you need to understand what these devices do before you can settle on the best LED face mask for you.
“Light-emitting diode face masks (LED masks) emit blue and/or red light,” Erum Ilyas, MD, dermatologist with Montgomery Dermatology, tells Celebribody.
“These wavelengths of light are thought to target P acnes (the acne-causing bacteria in the skin) to reduce the population of bacteria in the skin to result in improving acne,” she adds. “The blue targets bacteria and red targets inflammation.”
Dr. Ilyas cautions that she hasn’t found any large-scale studies that delve into whether the store-bought LED face masks do what they say they’ll do to treat skin conditions. However, there are several studies for in-office treatments for acne using blue and red lights that have produced varied results.
“Some show that patients have been shown to have a reduction in the amount of acne and inflammation associated with it,” she says. “Others have shown variable results. Most have very limited numbers of patients enrolled in these studies.”
Some people experience an improvement in their acne and skin elasticity by using one of the best LED face masks — and others don’t.
“The bottom line is that this is a safe option for treatment,” says Dr. Ilyas. “I can’t say that I recommend them as first-line treatment.”
Instead, she recommends more proven methods for more moderate-to-severe acne cases, like acne medications and in-office treatments prescribed by a dermatologist.
Do LED Face Masks Help Eliminate Wrinkles?
Some research shows red light-based led masks may help improve skin tone and texture by reducing fine lines and wrinkles, according to Dr. Ilyas.
“The science behind this is that 660 nm LED light (AKA the red light) has been shown to boost collagen production and reduce the presence of a molecule called MMP (matrix metalloproteinase) that normally degrades proteins in the extracellular matrix.”
In other words: Light can help your skin’s natural collagen production, which aids in skin rejuvenation. Our bodies naturally produce less collagen as we age, leading to those fine lines and wrinkles. Boosting production can help restore some of that youthful glow and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Dr. Ilyas tried an LED face mask to measure its anti-aging effectiveness.
“I can’t say I saw much of a result but most say that it will take a few dozen treatments to see results,” she said. The reason: They’re nowhere near as strong as in-office treatments.
“However, it’s not unreasonable to give these a try,” she adds. “With one caveat: because the results are variable and difficult to predict success, try ones with a money-back guarantee!”
The Best LED Masks: 5 Legit Options
Not all LED face masks are created equally.
Sure, they might all look the same — but unless you really look at it you won’t know if it’s the best LED face mask for you.
The three biggest things you should look for in an LED face mask are:
- Wavelength. The best LED face masks should operate between 600nm and 800nm.
- Treatment time. Unless you’re in a dermatologist’s office, you should look for LED face masks that have short treatment times (around 10 minutes or so). The reason: Longer treatment recommendations may mean the mask is less powerful — and likely less effective.
- FDA approval. While FDA approval doesn’t guarantee that an LED face mask will work for you. What it does show is that it’s safe, both electrically and for the amount of light that is beamed toward your face.
We’ve rounded up the seven best LED face masks that do all of that — and they’re getting good reviews, too.
The iDerma Youth Restoring Mask looks like a welder’s helmet: You simply fit it over your head and close your eyes (or wear eye protection) during the treatment.
The white mask produces red and infrared light at 660nm and 940nm frequencies and only takes eight minutes for a full treatment. Every-other-day treatments will show you results within three weeks — and after that, you only need to do it once or twice a week to maintain results.
This pick for best LED face mask is another more expensive option. But you’re getting a lot for that investment. The Dermashine Pro 7 Color LED Face Mask is a color led mask that comes with seven different colors of light therapy to target different skin issues. The main two — red and blue light — is common with most LED light therapy face masks.
However, this LED light therapy device also shines:
- Green light (527nm). Said to help improve pigmentation, reduce fine lines, and acts as a brightening agent for the skin.
- Yellow light (590nm). Said to promote lymphatic drainage, blood circulation, and improve oxygen to the skin.
- Purple light (600nm). Combination of red and blue lights that are said to help relax you and reduce acne scars.
- Light blue light (510nm). Said to help soothe the skin and help with allergies.
- White light (400-700nm). Said to help reduce fine lines and sagging skin.
The treatment time is also longer than with the iDerma mask: 15 to 20 minutes a day, rather than eight or 10 minutes.
The mask also has an automatic turn-off switch, meaning if you fall asleep you won’t risk side effects like skin overexposure while doing a facial treatment.
The biggest complaint about the Dermashine Pro 7 Color LED Face Mask is that the size is either too big or too small, depending on the person.
At less than $50, the Norlanya Facial Toning Mask is another affordable option that has three color lights — red, green, and blue LED light — to help reduce acne blemishes, stimulate collagen production and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Treatment time with this mask is 15-20 minutes every two to three days — and it’s important to be consistent.
One downside? It doesn’t have bulbs pointing to the nose, so it won’t receive the same acne treatment.
This pick for the best LED face mask is like the Dermasmoothe Pro 7 Color LED Face Mask in that it offers seven different LED colors to target different skin concerns. The Project E Beauty 7 Color LED Photon Therapy Skin Care Mask uses slightly different names for one of the colors (cyan instead of light blue), though.
This pick for best LED face mask also includes a USB cord that’ll plug into computers, along with an electrical power cord and remote control for easy use.
Each treatment with this mask is designed to go for 10 to 15 minutes. Those who didn’t like the mask said it’s a bit on the heavy side, so be prepared for that.
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Why do celebs love this pricy mask so much? It works. Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden offers specialized facials using the devices in her Los Angeles office.
Should You Wash Your Face Before Using an LED Face Mask?
For best results, use the best LED light mask for you after cleansing the skin with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil — or a facial, if possible.
“If you have a hydrating serum or a moisturizer that you want to penetrate deeper into your skin, you can use it before the mask,” Darden told HypeBae. “[However], make sure it’s suited for your skin type so it won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts.”
Many of the reviewers said the devices made their skin feel dry and tight after treatment, so be sure to follow up with a moisturizer — or your favorite anti-acne or anti-aging serum — to replenish the skin and bring out the natural glow.
One good choice? The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. The formulation of hyaluronic acid plus vitamin B5 brings to most hydration to your skin after using the best LED face mask — and for a price you can’t beat.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.