Light Therapy Acne Mask: Does It Work and What Are Your Options
With all the amazing medical breakthroughs researchers make every day, you may be wondering why no one has discovered a cure for acne.
It’s true that acne doesn’t make you sick and usually doesn’t cause long-term harm, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult to deal with. You’ve likely tried some of the many over-the-counter treatment options available — but have you tried an at-home light therapy acne mask?
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy uses different wavelengths of light — blue and red, most commonly — to penetrate the skin’s surface. It treats a wide variety of skin conditions, is non-invasive, and has virtually no side effects.
Blue light penetrates the epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin, to kill acne-causing bacteria and prevent future breakouts. In some cases, it also reduces inflammation, irritation, and itching.
Red light reaches deeper layers of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, strengthening the skin and boosting elasticity and hydration. Red light also energizes cells, encourages new cell growth, speeds up the skin’s healing process, and, like blue light therapy, reduces inflammation.
Benefits of Light Therapy in an Acne Mask
Light therapy effectively reduces the frequency, duration, and severity of acne breakouts:
- Hundreds of clinical trials (see below) have proven the positive effects of light therapy on acne.
- Light therapy treatment sessions for acne take just minutes per day and are appropriate for both teens and adults.
- According to research, the best way to fight acne breakouts with light therapy is through a combination of blue and red light.
Light therapy also effectively treats the lasting effects of acne, such as acne wrinkles, scarring, and discoloration. When acne is chronic or severe, the constant inflammation and swelling can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation. Natural signs of aging, like wrinkles and thinning skin, can worsen the appearance of these acne remnants. Light therapy treats acne wrinkles by improving blood flow, stimulating collagen production, and smoothing the skin.
Light therapy devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but if you want to treat your whole face — the most common problem area for acne sufferers — a light therapy acne mask provides the best coverage and effectiveness.
Besides treating breakouts, light therapy acne masks can make an impact on your appearance in other ways. Red and blue light therapy also treat signs of aging by encouraging:
- Collagen production: Increased collagen and elastin production reduces wrinkles and fine lines, leaving skin softer, smoother, and more youthful.
- Increased blood flow: Better circulation is wonderful for your skin’s health. It replenishes nutrients in the skin cells and helps everything work more efficiently.
- Increased energy production: Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the energy source of our cells. Boosted production means improved cellular activity!
Light therapy’s benefits apply beyond even acne and aging concerns. This therapy can also treat:
What Does the Science Say?
We mentioned that 100s of clinical trials and studies have shown positive results from light therapy treatments for acne. Here are just a few:
- Over four weeks of self-administered treatments using blue and red light, participants in one study saw nearly 70% improvement in inflammatory acne breakouts.
- Participants in another four-week study saw a 77% reduction in inflammatory acne breakouts and 54% reduction in noninflammatory acne.
- Before and after photos of participants in another study demonstrated the improvement in collagen density and smoothness after red and near-infrared light treatments.
Numerous studies have also concluded that light therapy, especially the type used in at-home devices like light therapy acne masks, is safe and free from side effects. Even so, many light therapy innovators have demonstrated caution in promoting their devices.
For example, Neutrogena and its parent company Johnson & Johnson made the decision to recall their Light Therapy Acne Mask in 2019 after reports of “visual effects,” such as seeing spots, from users. Complaints accounted for just 0.02% of masks sold, and no one reported permanent damage to their eyes or eyesight. The decision to recall the mask was made “out of an abundance of caution” to protect consumers.
Light Therapy Acne Masks Available Now
Want to invest in a light therapy acne mask? Consider the options below, along with their cost and reviews, before deciding which product is right for you.
Aphrona Moonlight Facial Treatment Mask
Aphrona makes several light therapy masks that use both blue and red light to reduce acne and improve the skin’s appearance. Their Moonlight line offers two masks, a three-color version and a seven-color version. While these other light colors may offer benefits, none have as much clinical research behind them as blue and red light.
Cost-wise, Aphrona’s masks fall into the mid-range of what you can expect to pay for a light therapy acne mask. The two versions are $169.99 and $179.99 respectively, with coupons available at times.
To use, you can strap the mask to your head or lay it on your face while you lie back. Treatment sessions last 15 minutes for each light color, and the company recommends three to five sessions per week to start.
Amazon reviewers seem pleases overall with the Aphrona masks, which earns an aggregate 4.3 stars at the time of this writing. Many users share about positive results, both with reducing acne and rejuvenating their skin. Criticisms include technical problems and a small nosepiece that’s uncomfortable for larger noses.
Dr. Dennis Gross SpectraLite Faceware Pro
The Dr. Dennis Gross SpectraLite Faceware Pro is a pricier option offered by one of the leading LED mask manufacturers, retailing for $455. It features 100 red LED lights and 62 blue LED lights, marketed as a way to treat acne and signs of aging.
The SpectraLite has a more upscale design than many other masks, with rose-gold accents and attractive lines. Celebrities like Charlotte McKinney and even Jimmy Fallon have shared images showing that they incorporate the SpectraLite as part of their skincare routine.
Reviewers rave about the quality and effectiveness of this light therapy acne mask. If you’re willing and able to spend the extra cash, this is a great choice!
illuMask Anti-Acne Light Therapy Mask
The illuMask Anti-Acne Light Therapy Mask uses a combination of red and blue light to treat and prevent acne breakouts. Other listed benefits include a smoother complexion, reduced wrinkles, and skin rejuvenation. To see visible results, wear this mask for 15 minutes once per day.
Reviewers generally find the illuMask easy to use and effective for both acne and signs of aging, but some unhappy comments complain that the device arrived broken or stopped working after a few sessions.
While the illuMask Anti-Acne Light Therapy Mask is out of production at the moment, you can still find it available on third-party seller websites like eBay for a very good price. Its sister product, the illuMask Anti-Aging Light Therapy Mask, is still available, though it does not offer blue light treatment.
Caution: VeRosky LED Face Mask
The VeRosky LED Face Mask offers treatment with several colors of light and includes a separate, neck-targeting attachment. While a neck bib can be an excellent addition if you want to treat both your neck and face at the same time, this set is a good example of why it’s important to use caution when reading product reviews.
At first, this product seems like a top choice, with an overall score of 4.6 on Amazon. If you look closely, however, almost all of those reviews are for a different product — one completely unrelated to light therapy. Of the reviews that talk about the mask, most are quite negative, and some even concerning.
So, while the VeRosky LED Face Mask looks like a good deal with its extra attachment and lower price point, it’s not a product to risk your money (or your face!) on.
Light Therapy Acne Mask: Final Thoughts
A light therapy acne mask can be a valuable investment in your health and well-being. Looking for one that’s right for you? There are many more options available, so be sure to pay close attention to product specifications, and read the online reviews written by people whose skin concerns are similar to yours.
And as the VeRosky product demonstrates, it’s always important to use caution when evaluating a medical device. Look past the star rating and watch out for fake, mistaken, or concerning reviews.
If you do try out a new light therapy acne mask, leave a review of your own! You never know who you might help.