Erase Wrinkles, Heal Acne, Firm Skin: Is LED Light Therapy Too Good to Be True?

If you've been on Instagram lately, then I'm sure you'll have come across a photo of someone wearing one of those futuristic-looking LED face masks. I've been seeing these high-tech beauty tools everywhere lately, with lots of people raving about the positive effects that LED can have on your skin. However, after having a look online, I quickly realised that these masks aren't cheap. In fact, some can set you back over £1000, so I was keen to find out what I'd be getting for this kind of money. As a beauty editor, I'm lucky enough to speak to industry experts daily, so I decided to reach out to Dr Raj Arora, NHS doctor and key opinion leader for Foreo, and Dr Maryam Zamani, oculoplastic surgeon and founder of MZ Skin, to find out everything there is to know about LED therapy, including how these at-home masks actually work. 

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(Image credit: @monikh)

I quizzed both experts on some of the most-asked questions when it comes to LED therapy, as I would never recommend investing in such an expensive beauty product without knowing all the facts first. That being said, after speaking to both Dr Arora and Dr Zamani, I think I just might have to give one a go…

What Is LED Light Therapy?

First things first, what actually is LED light therapy? According to Dr Arora, LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a non-invasive, pain-free treatment that uses light to address skin concerns. "Essentially, LED wavelengths enter the skin’s layers and stimulate the natural healing mechanisms," she explains. 

Dr Zamani says that LED has been used for over 30 years to heal the skin and stimulate

collagen and elastin. "LED therapy uses light from the visible spectrum to stimulate the cellular response to regenerate through a process called photobiomodulation. Shorter wavelengths target superficial skin whilst longer wavelengths penetrate more deeply." The light essentially re-charges the cells' "energy battery" and the skin is then able to use the energy as fuel to repair and rejuvenate damaged cells and boost the skin's natural repair process.

There are different ways that you can try this treatment out; either at an aesthetic clinic or at home by using an LED face mask.

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(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Types of LED Light Therapy and How They Can Benefit Your Skin

A lot of people often ask me which skin concerns LED therapy can help with. The great thing about this treatment is that you can choose from a range of light colours and wavelengths to help tackle specific things, such as fine lines or acne. According to Dr Zamani, red and blue light are the most commonly used, however, to give you a better understanding, Dr Arora has broken down each light and its benefits below: 

1. Red Light

This light stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which can help to firm and lift the skin. Dr Zamani adds that it can also reduce inflammation, heal blemishes and help improve scarring. 

2. Blue Light

Blue light can help to target acne-causing bacteria, in turn minimising future breakouts whilst also reducing inflammation and speeding up the skin's recovery time.

3. Green Light

Although it's not as commonly used as red and blue, green light can help to even out skin tone, tackle dark circles and brighten dull complexions.

4. Yellow Light

Yellow light can ease redness and swelling from things such as sunburn, rosacea or inflammation.

5. White Light

White light can penetrate deeply into the skin and can help activate the natural renewal of skin cells.

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(Image credit: @nnennaechem)

Who Should Avoid Using LED Light Therapy?

Before thinking about trying an LED facial or investing in an at-home mask, it's important to check whether this treatment is safe for you. Dr Zamani says that although everyone can benefit from light therapy, it isn't recommended for someone who suffers from seizures or epilepsy—either at home or in a clinical setting—due to the bright lights. She also advises that anyone suffering from migraines or eye conditions or taking certain medications should give this treatment a miss. Most devices also advise against usage for pregnant or breastfeeding women. 

If you're wondering whether you can overuse your LED mask at home, Dr Arora says not to worry. "Generally speaking, you cannot really 'overuse' an at-home LED mask if you are using it correctly and sensibly. The longer the exposure to LED therapy, the better the outcome, unless skin is sensitised or you are using active skincare ingredients that may make the skin more prone to sensitivity." She explains that LED light therapy does not contain UV light and therefore does not carry the same risk of burns.

How to Use an LED Face Mask at Home

If you're keen to give LED therapy a go at home, it's best to invest in a mask with the appropriate light settings for your skin concerns. To get the most out of your investment, Dr Zamani advises following the manufacturer's instructions, unless you've been told by your doctor or dermatologist to use the device differently. "I would also recommend building up [the duration of treatment] using the device to [increase] tolerance and reduce the risk of skin feeling dry or irritated," she explains. She also advises consulting your doctor or dermatologist if you're using medical-grade skincare or active ingredients to make sure that these won't cause any harmful reactions when combined with LED therapy.

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(Image credit: @emmahoareau)

Is an at-Home LED Face Mask Worth It?

So, now that you know everything about LED therapy, you might be asking yourself, is it worth buying an at-home mask? In my opinion, an LED face mask is a worthwhile investment if you're looking to tackle specific skincare concerns. The treatment has a wide range of benefits, and if used consistently over time, can make significant improvements to your skin. 

Although it might seem like a lot of money straight away, when you compare the price of an at-home mask to an in-clinic treatment, it's a lot more cost-effective. As summarised by Dr Zamani, "I love the skin-boosting effects of LED and think it is the best at-home device that can be done safely."

Pros and Cons of LED Masks

Pros:

- Can tackle a range of skincare concerns

- An at-home mask can be a lot more cost-effective than regular in-clinic treatments.

Cons:

- Has to be used consistently over time to see results

- Some masks are very expensive. 

Shop the Best LED Face Masks:

Next Up: I Put a £1400 LED Facial Device to the Test—These Are My Honest Thoughts

Junior Beauty Editor

Grace Lindsay is the junior beauty editor at Who What Wear UK. At the age of 18 she decided to train as a makeup artist before going on to study english and media at Goldsmiths University. It was during that time that she explored her love for journalism by interning at a small beauty start-up based in Shoreditch. Since then, she has worked at a number of publications including Marie Claire and Hello!, where her love for all things beauty continued to grow. 


As Who What Wear UK's junior beauty editor, she covers everything from the latest hair trends to the stand-out makeup products of the season.