Light emitting diode face masks (LED masks) emit blue and/or red light. 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. The blue targets bacteria and red targets inflammation.
Are they a good way to treat acne?
This is where a distinction between the commercially available face masks and office treatments would need to be considered. I couldn’t find a large study evaluating the drug store face masks. There are several studies for in-office treatment for acne with blue and red lights. These studies actually have pretty varied results. Some show that patients have been shown to have a reduction in the amount of acne and inflammation associated with it. Others have shown variable results. Most have very limited numbers of patients enrolled in these studies.
Practically speaking, there are some patients that see results from these treatments. Traditional acne treatments and regimens are actually very effective. The patients I have that try light therapy for acne are usually people that need antibiotics or Accutane but have some contraindication to going on an oral medication so they opt to try something alternative.
In practice, the results are variable- some patients love it, others see no results.
The bottom line is that this is a safe option for treatment. I can’t say that I recommend them as first line treatment. However, it’s not unreasonable to give these a try- with one caveat: because the results are variable and difficult to predict success, try ones with a money back guarantee!
Are they good for anti-aging/wrinkle reduction?
I did try these masks out of curiosity for the purpose of anti-aging. Mostly because I have patients that will say they bought one and can’t tell if it’s working. Some research shows red light based led masks may help improve the texture of skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The science behind this is that 660 nm LED light (red) 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 (sorry for the nerd talk:)
I suppose if you use these masks routinely then there may be a benefit seen. I just found it difficult to take the time to do. If I boil down the effect I was considering, there are plenty of other quick fixes or routine products to use that can achieve similar and often better results. I used it maybe twice and stopped. I can’t say I saw much of a result but most say that it will take a few dozen treatments to see results.
Do you have a favorite brand of LED face masks?
I think the Neutrogena mask is affordable enough to say if you want to try it out it’s not unreasonable. I do believe there are plenty of other affordable, practical and effective treatments for the conditions these are intended to treat. For the tiny niche of those looking for an alternative option these are safe devices to try out.