You may remember your grandmother applying “cold cream” to her face before bed at night. She said it was to help her wrinkles — but you still noticed a lot of grooves in her skin!
People have been searching for the perfect anti-aging potion for generations. Although researchers have yet to develop the much-sought-after fountain of youth, one treatment has shown great promise: red light therapy.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the science and safety of light therapy for wrinkles, and we’ll look at several of the most popular light therapy masks for wrinkles.
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy, or phototherapy, uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to shine specific wavelengths of light, such as red, green, or blue, onto different parts of the body. This therapy has been around in various forms since the late nineteenth century, but the current age of LED red light therapy began in the mid-1990s.
Red light therapy uses specific wavelengths of light, between 620–750 nanometers, for their strong beneficial effects. For example, red light therapy can increase blood flow to the skin and decrease inflammation. Cells in the body can also use red light to produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
One of the biggest appeals of red light therapy is that it is safe, well tolerated, and doesn’t cause the negative side effects associated with pharmaceuticals and other treatments.
What Are Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are folds or creases in the skin that develop as we age. Over time, skin loses elastin and collagen, the springy tissues that keep skin resilient and taut. These losses lead to sagging, slack skin and the formation of wrinkles.
The fatty layer of tissue under the skin shrinks with age, resulting in less padding and support. Also, the outer layer of the skin becomes thinner, causing a more fragile, transparent look. The skin becomes more susceptible to injury and heals more slowly.
Factors that affect aging skin include personal habits, diet, sun exposure, genetics, and smoking history.
Is It Safe To Use Light Therapy Masks for Wrinkles?
Many people with wrinkles are curious about whether light therapy masks are safe for wrinkles. The answer is a resounding yes! According to research, LED phototherapy has an excellent safety profile.
Some people with safety concerns may remember Neutrogena’s recall of their Light Therapy Acne Mask. Neutrogena and its parent company, Johnson and Johnson, voluntarily recalled the Light Therapy Acne Mask in July 2019. Neutrogena recalled their product “out of an abundance of caution,” due to concerns over possible injury to the eyes.
At the time of the recall, Neutrogena stated that they received several complaints of “visual effects” from users of their mask for light therapy. These complaints included watering eyes, eye pain, blurry vision, and seeing spots. The complaints were rare, only from about 0.02% of masks sold. No permanent vision damage was reported.
Neutrogena issued the recall because, in theory, the product could pose a potential risk to a small number of people who have specific eye conditions or who take certain medications that increase sensitivity to light. One expert considered the recall “excessively cautious,” especially since the mask used low-level light and directions restricted use to one short session per day.
Can Light Therapy Masks Really Help Wrinkles?
Red light therapy improves blood flow to the skin, causing the face and neck to look healthier and more vibrant. Red light also stimulates collagen production in the skin, helping to plump the face, smooth skin, and reduce the visibility of wrinkles.
One small study used a light therapy mask to administer 633 nm red light therapy during 20-minute treatments three times a week for three weeks. No adverse events were reported, and participants noticed a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
A larger study randomly sorted participants into groups that received no treatment, 611-650 nm red light, or 570-850 nm polychromatic light. The treatment groups were treated twice weekly. After 30 light therapy applications, skin was examined for roughness, complexion, and collagen density. The treatment groups showed “significant improvement” over the control group.
One controlled clinical trial used red and near-infrared (NIR) light to treat participants, who experienced significant wrinkle reduction, greater collagen density, and increased elasticity. Additionally, patients tolerated the treatments well and experienced no adverse effects.
Light therapy can also help with acne wrinkles, fine lines that are accentuated by acne scarring.
Light Therapy Masks for Wrinkles
Light therapy masks are a popular option for addressing wrinkles and improving the skin’s appearance. There are a wide range of masks available that use red light or a combination of light wavelengths.
Below are just a few of the many light therapy masks available to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, starting with the most expensive.
Déesse Pro Mask Next Generation
One of the most costly options on the market is the Déesse Pro Mask Next Generation from Shani Darden Skin Care. A high density of LEDs and six wavelength options offer versatility, and the mask can be used for up to 20 minutes each day.
Light-Therapy Golden Facial Treatment Device
MZ Skin sells their Light-Therapy Golden Facial Treatment Device, which uses five colors of light, at a high price point. You can choose whether to use one wavelength or multiple wavelengths with each treatment. Sessions last for 10 to 30 minutes two to three times per week.
Boost LED Mask
The Light Salon’s Boost LED Mask is lightweight and made from medical-grade silicone. The mask is FDA-approved and uses a combination of red and near-infrared (NIR) light to reduce wrinkles and boost collagen levels. It calls for three to five 10-minute sessions per week.
SpectraLight FaceWare Pro
The Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLight FaceWare Pro is one of the leading masks in LED mask treatments. It includes red and blue LED lights and is a great light therapy mask for wrinkles, getting rave reviews for its anti-aging effects. The treatment time is short at three minutes, and the mask automatically shuts off when finished.
CurrentBody Skin LED Mask
The award-winning CurrentBody Skin LED Mask uses red and near-infrared light to treat skin. By using the flexible mask for 10 minutes, three to five times per week, you can expect to reduce wrinkles by 35% in one month. Several celebrities have been spotted with this product.
Aphrona LED Facial Skin Care Mask
Aphrona’s LED Facial Skin Care Mask is affordable and FDA cleared, so it’s a great place to start if you’re newer to light therapy masks for wrinkles and not looking to spend as much. This product distributes red, blue, and green light evenly across the entire face. It automatically shuts off when treatment is complete and comes with eye-protection goggles.
How To Glow 2.0 LED Light Therapy Mask
Solaris Laboratories offers its reasonably priced How To Glow 2.0 LED Light Therapy Mask with four light wavelength options to target wrinkles and aging skin. They recommend using the device for 15- to 20-minute treatments three to five days per week.
WrinkLit Heart LED Mask
Skin Gym’s WrinkLit Heart LED Mask is a heart-shaped light therapy mask with three wavelengths of light targeting wrinkles and blemishes. Skin Gym advises use of this mask three times per week for 15 minutes at a time.
reVive Light Therapy Lip Care
If lips are your concern, reVive Light Therapy Lip Care is a relatively inexpensive product specifically for reducing fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth and plumping the lips. You can use this device for three minutes up to three times per day, and it shuts off automatically when finished.
LUX SKIN® LED Facial Mask
The LUX SKIN® LED Facial Mask is a much cheaper option with red, blue, and yellow modes to treat a variety of skin issues, including fine lines. The mask has a convenient wireless design and treatments last 15 minutes.
NuFACE Trinity Wrinkle Reducer
Last but not least, the NuFACE Trinity Wrinkle Reducer isn’t a mask, but an attachment for the NuFace Trinity Device. It minimizes wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, forehead, and mouth. Each area only requires three minutes of treatment, and it specifically targets deep wrinkles in the skin.