What Are Light Therapy Masks and How Do They Operate?
Light therapy masks are wearable gadgets that emit varying wavelengths of light to address skin concerns, clarifies board-certified dermatologist Jean Charles, DO, FAAD. “They function by utilizing wavelengths of light to target distinct chromophores in our skin to stimulate cellular activities and functions resulting in specific outcomes in our skin.”
To delve into the scientific aspects— the photons, or light particles, discharged by the LEDs (also referred to as light-emitting diodes) in the mask are assimilated by light-responsive receptors in skin cells, leading to the process of photobiostimulation. “This process triggers several biological alterations in the skin, such as hastened wound healing, synthesis of collagen and elastin, elimination of the C. acnes bacterium causing acne, and a reduction in hyperpigmentation,” expounds Rosmy Barrios, MD.
At-home light therapy masks differ based on the product and manufacturer, but generally, they are worn for 10 to 20 minutes at a stretch. “It’s essential to note that at-home light therapy masks may not possess the same potency as professional treatments conducted in a dermatologist’s office,” acknowledges cosmetic beauty chemist David Petrillo. “The strength and efficacy of the light therapy can fluctuate depending on the device.”
Potential Advantages of Light Therapy Masks for Diverse Skin Conditions
At-home light therapy masks have enhanced the popularity and accessibility of light therapy treatment. Nonetheless, dermatologists have employed LED light to address skin concerns for quite some time. Here, board-certified dermatologist Dustin Portela, DO dissects the finer details.
- Red Light: Most frequently employed for anti-aging benefits, the red light invigorates collagen synthesis, aiding in diminishing the presence of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Blue Light: Deployed for its antibacterial properties, blue light alleviates inflammation, aids in preempting future breakouts, and targets the bacteria accountable for instigating acne.
- Verdant Signal: Frequently utilized to diminish hyperpigmentation and create an even complexion, verdant signal targets the cells accountable for generating melanin and aids in dispersing excessive pigment in the skin.
- Aureate Signal: Acknowledged for its pacifying and soothing effects on the skin, aureate signal can assist in reducing redness, inflammation, and irritation. Aureate signal can also be advantageous for individuals with rosacea-prone or sensitive skin.
- Thermal Infrared Signal: This form of light permeates deeper into the skin than other hues and is frequently employed to aid in enhancing circulation, diminishing inflammation, and promoting wound healing.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Light Therapy Masks
Experts concur that, overall, there are no significant hazards associated with utilizing light therapy masks at home. “Occasionally, individuals ponder whether these apparatuses can induce facial burns, but the infrared radiation emitted by these masks merely heats up the facial tissues without any potential for burning,” elucidates Barrios. That being said, she emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the light therapy mask purchased is from a reputable supplier—one that ideally possesses the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When employing an at-home light therapy mask, safeguarding your eyes is crucial. Employ the ocular protective gear that accompanies your mask. Additionally, operate the device in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. If your mask does not include ocular protective gear, contemplate acquiring a pair that fits your mask.
If you possess sensitive skin or are taking certain medications, employing an at-home light therapy mask may not be the most suitable choice for your skin. “While light therapy is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild, transient side effects such as erythema, xeroderma, or irritation,” posits Petrillo. “These side effects typically recede shortly after treatment.”
Reviewing the Scientific Evidence: Are Light Therapy Masks Effective?
Although at-home light therapy masks are a relatively recent product to enter the market, the outcomes derived from preliminary studies have been promising, asserts Howard Sobel, MD, clinical attending dermatologic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital. “According to numerous published studies, there is evidence that LED masks address fine lines and concerns related to aging by enhancing collagen, improving skin elasticity, and ameliorating acne,” A study published by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology discovered that at-home LED masks effectively reduced manifestations of aging.
However, most dermatologists concur that an at-home light therapy mask is not a swift solution or panacea for skin issues. “At-home light therapy masks can be advantageous, but only if you already possess a sound skincare regimen that you consistently adhere to,” states Portela. “If you are not accustomed to using sunscreen and incorporating retinol, do not rely on light therapy to reverse the effects of time on your skin.”
Are Light Therapy Masks Worth the Investment?
For at-home light therapy masks to be worthwhile investments, they must be utilized alongside a skincare regimen that encompasses proper cleansing and moisturizing, consistent SPF application, and retinol usage.
It’s additionally vital to mention that the outcomes require time to accomplish.
“These gadgets are typically secure because they employ reduced energies, which indicates results will require a prolonged duration,” states Portela. “Thus, remain patient and faithful when utilizing your gadget.”
As with any recently available skincare therapy, consult a skin specialist to assist you in comprehending the various varieties of masks on the market and which light colors are most appropriate for your skin kind and worry. “If you possess susceptible skin, your medical caregiver will be your finest origin of information,” states Portela.
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