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Do Red Light Therapy Masks Really Work?

Do Red Light Therapy Masks Really Work?

beauty mask led

LED light therapy masks are the “must-have” beauty item of 2024. However, some new evidence indicates that they might not actually be all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re interested in beauty or skincare, you’ve no doubt seen influencers and blogs touting the benefits of these items. However, you probably also know that the health and beauty sector is no stranger to fads. In some cases, those fads fizzle out because they don’t actually provide the results that they claim to.

The good news is that light therapy is indeed a very real and very effective way to treat your skin. This is especially true of red light. That’s because RLT devices use specific wavelengths of light to penetrate the dermis, reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production, a protein responsible for younger-looking skin.
But here’s the thing: if you’re looking to do red light therapy at home, a $400 Omnilux LED mask might not be the right choice – and not necessarily for the reasons you think!


The Promise of Red Light Mask Therapy

RLT masks claim a range of benefits, making them attractive to those seeking skin rejuvenation. As mentioned in the intro, many LED masks piggyback off benefits associated with red light therapy. For instance, they often claim to be able to stimulate collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, and provide a more youthful appearance.

There’s even evidence that regular use of red light therapy can help reduce hyperpigmentation, even out skin tone, and improve overall skin texture, making your face appear smoother and more radiant. Finally, RLT has proven anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce acne breakouts by decreasing inflammation and bacteria on the skin.

According to makers of the top-selling LED masks, their products can also promote faster healing by enhancing blood circulation and encouraging the repair of damaged tissues. So, if you suffered an injury or had a particularly bad bout of cystic acne, their products will help you heal faster. You can also calm redness and irritation caused by rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions.

The way the reviews, Amazon descriptions, and TikToks make them sound, LED masks are a convenient and non-invasive product that you can easily incorporate into your existing skincare routine. After all, it only takes a few minutes, and who wouldn’t want to give themselves a daily facial with an LED mask?

But here’s the problem: while the benefits associated with RLT are very real, many of these masks don’t actually provide the right amount or concentration of light to generate them.




The Problem With Mask Red Light Delivery

If you’re buying an LED mask because you want a red light therapy device, you need to know that very few of these devices are actually designed to provide real RLT. Moreover, the light they do provide – while beneficial in theory – often isn’t powerful enough to have the effects they claim without long-term wear.

You see, the companies who make these masks often back up their claims with published clinical trials, but if you actually click on the studies, you’ll find that they typically use medical light panels, not the masks themselves. This is because in order for LED therapy to work, you need high concentrations of light. The problem is that these concentrations aren’t applicable to masks because they would put the light source too close to the skin, leaving the user at risk of burns. As a result, most masks are very underpowered, and that’s precisely why they can’t deliver results.

According to one expert, there’s a popular mask out there that claims to deliver 30 milliwatts per square centimeter. However, actual measurements reveal only 14 milliwatts per square centimeter directly over the LEDs. Moreover, this intensity is only achieved in places where the skin touches the LED directly. Upon looking at the distribution of the lights in the mask, it’s clear that there are areas of the mask where the wearer only gets around one milliwatt per square centimeter of treatment. And it’s not just one type of mask that suffers from this problem – the vast majority of them do.

After some calculations, the expert determined that if you wanted to achieve the same results you could get from a few minutes with an RLT panel, you would need to wear the mask for roughly 18 hours per day.



LED Masks vs. RLT Masks

at home led face mask

You may have noticed that many of these masks bill themselves as LED masks. This is because they often use several different wavelengths of light, allowing buyers to “dial in” the type of therapy they want. This is because LED simply stands for “Light emitting diode.” In most cases, these diodes can produce different light spectrums, from ultraviolet to blue, green, red, and into the infrared.

The issue here is that some of these masks claiming to offer the benefits associated with RLT don’t actually have the capability of producing that wavelength of light. That doesn’t mean they're useless, of course. Blue light, for example, is known for its antibacterial properties and is effective in targeting acne-causing bacteria, thereby helping to clear up acne. Green light, on the other hand, can be used to reduce pigmentation and even out skin tone, addressing issues like hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and age spots.

However, only red light therapy is associated with the intense collagen production necessary to reduce wrinkles and promote skin rejuvenation. This light generally comes in red and near-infrared wavelengths, typically between 630 to 700 nanometers for red light and 800 to 900 nanometers for near-infrared light. These wavelengths penetrate deeper into the skin compared to other LED light colors, where they stimulate the mitochondria in cells, enhancing cellular function and boosting the production of adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP.

This, rather than the presence of LED light in general, is what leads to improved cellular repair and regeneration. Unfortunately, simply having “red-colored” LEDs isn’t enough.



Masks Are Not an Efficient Light Treatment Delivery System

led face mask therapy

The biggest point of contention here is that even if a mask could deliver the promised light intensity and the right type of light, it would still be quite lacking as a way of performing red light therapy. A wearable device might seem beneficial at first, but there are far fewer benefits to having a light source right up against the skin than positioned further away.

So, not only are most masks simply not up to the job of penetrating your skin deep enough to be beneficial, but they’re also uncomfortable and inefficient. Rather than focus on wearables, the better solution is to use an external RLT panel or other light device. Because they can be positioned away from the skin, these can use adequately powered LEDs that provide real red light to the cells.

While some might prefer the portability of a mask, the efficiency of a panel far outweighs any perceived convenience. In fact, studies show that a real red light therapy device can deliver the same amount of total light in six seconds as a 10-minute mask session. Remember, those studies cited by many mask manufacturers are done using panels, making them the bellwether for how this therapy can be performed.

Comparing Mask Red Light Devices to “The Blaze”

light therapy skin mask

If you and your friend had similar skin goals and one of you wore a make while the other used an external LED device like this one, the difference would be stark!

Remember, the benefits of RLT extend beyond skin rejuvenation, wrinkle reduction, and improved skin elasticity – it also aids in pain management, inflammation reduction, and accelerated wound healing.

Having a non-wearable device like The Blaze would allow you to perform spot treatments on your face using much higher intensities, which is crucial for effective treatment. Of course, unlike masks, which are limited to facial use, a device like this could be used for a wide variety of therapeutic purposes across the entire body.

It begs the question: why invest in a device that can only perform low-level facial rejuvenation when you can get an adequately-powered device that can also handle everything from sports recovery, wound healing, and inflammation reduction to treating joint pain, body pain, chronic back pain, and migraines?

Final Conclusion

Despite their popularity, red light therapy masks and other wearable LED devices simply can’t deliver the same way a full-powered RLT panel can. It’s simple science – a wearable device can’t provide the same amount of light at the same intensity without risking burning the skin, forcing mask manufacturers to provide masks that often fall short when it comes to delivering the promised benefits. For those serious about red light therapy, investing in a high-quality device that offers effective and even light distribution is a far better choice.


led face light therapy mask

Targeted Red Light Therapy From Home.

The Blaze. Designed For Targeted Red Light Therapy Treatment.

Small But Powerful Device For Skin Care, Sports Recovery, Wound Healing, Surgery Healing, Inflammation, Joint Pain, Body Pain, Chronic Back Pains, Migraines & More!

Clinical Grade Treatments With Up To 100 Watts Of Intensity!
Targeted Light Therapy Device

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