If you’re looking to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and redness – and you’ve tried just about every skincare product out there – you might have better luck with an LED mask. Particularly one that offers red light therapy at home.
All LED masks use light therapy of different coloured LEDs to stimulate cells deep in your skin and help improve your overall appearance. Depending on the colour of the LED, the length of the wavelengths of energy determines what skin concerns (and which skin cells) the light therapy targets. The most popular masks on the market tend to concentrate on red light therapy, as well as blue, but you can also get them with yellow, purple, orange and green light therapy as well.
To find out how these masks work, and just how much of an impact they have on the skin, we’ve spent the past three months putting the bestselling models to the test. We wore each of these masks exclusively for a week at a time and used each of them daily on its red/infrared wavelength setting.
Following the end of each week, we scanned our skin using the Himirror Smart Mirror – you can read more about how we test skincare and skin gadgets here – and it took readings that revealed how much of our face was showing signs of ageing, pigmentation, redness and large pores. This meant we could compare the before and after readings to get a true indication about how well (if at all) these LED masks worked.
With LED masks, non-thermal, narrow-band energy emitted in the wavelengths of certain coloured lights goes deep into the skin. As this energy enters the skin, it triggers the body’s natural cell processes, which in turn, increases cell turnover and helps speed up repair and rejuvenation.
The benefits of each colour include:
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£75 | Buy now
Not only is this best LED face mask we’ve tested, but it’s also the most affordable – a double win when you’re looking to improve your skin while on a budget. Worn like a pair of glasses, the LookLit LED face mask emits three wavelengths of light – blue, yellow and red. These LEDs are fitted inside a plastic visor that both rests comfortably in front of your face, and is transparent meaning you can wear this mask while getting on with your day.
Each treatment lasts 10 minutes and you can easily cycle through the options using a button on the side of the visor. The mask will automatically power down at the end of 10 minutes, but if you want to carry on with the next colour, you simply switch it back on again and select the new hue. The beauty of this is that you can target multiple skin concerns in a single 30-minute session. All while getting on with your day.
After just one week, we noticed visiabl reductions in redness, pigmentation and dark spots. What’s more, it completely balanced our skin out from being an oily, shiny mess to one that look cleared and fresh. No single skincare product in our history of buying skincare has ever had such a substantial impact. The smart mirror confirmed and quantified these changes as well with percentage reductions across the board.
The catch – and it’s a relatively big one – is that because of the rigid, plastic design, it’s not easy to pack this mask in an overnight bag. Nor is it that easy to store in a drawer. However, we’ll take that hit for the many benefits it brings!
£1,899 | Buy now
We’re aware that very, very few of us will be able to buy this LED face mask from Cellreturn, but we wanted to showcase just how great it is in case anyone is feeling flush, or they’re looking to make a serious impression on a loved one as a gift.
Inside the helmet is more than 1,000 LED lights – 342 near-infrared, 342 red wavelength and 342 blue wavelength. You can cycle through red, blue and pink modes (pink being a mixture of the red and blue LEDs) and each of these modes lasts for 20 minutes at a time. There is also a fourth, Fast Mode which increases the intensity of the lights to cut the total session time down to just nine minutes – and seven minutes of Red, a minute of Blue and a minute of Pink mode.
You can choose to wear the helmet with a separate mask over the top, which allows you to see through eye holes. This means that you can see what’s going on around you if the helmet alone makes you feel claustrophobic, or you need to keep an eye on little ones etc. However, in our experience you can’t do much more than this – certainly not to the extent you can with the LookLit mask – so you may have to set some time aside to use the Cellreturn.
In terms of results, this mask made a dramatic impact on our fine lines and wrinkles, in just one week. The skin around our eyes looked less crepey, and our skin mirror confirmed there was a dramatic drop in fine lines. Our complexion was also noticeably clear, and less red, as well as being smooth and more balanced.
This won’t be the LED face mask for everyone, but if you’re looking for instant and dramatic results (and can afford it), this is the LED mask for you!
£149.95 | Buy now
Although the No7 Age-Defying Mask breaks the design mould, in comparison to LookLit’s and Cellreturn’s mask, it most closely resembles what traditional LED face masks look like. That is, it’s made of silicone fitted with eye and nose holes and it wraps around your face. Kept in place using an adjustable, fabric and velcro strap.
It’s more firm than other flexible face masks in this list, which means it still presses against your face, but only in key areas – your nose and cheeks, and your forehead. Inside the mask are then rows of red and near-infrared lights, and this means it only offers red light therapy.
Instead of on-mask controls, as seen on our Editor’s Pick and Luxury Buy, the No7 Age-Defying is controlled via a battery pack that attaches to the mask via a port at the bottom.
Performance-wise, the No7 mask sits had a positive impact on our fine lines, wrinkles, redness and skin texture but the differences weren’t visible until we looked at them through the skincare mirror. Even then, the percentage drops were smaller than those seen in other models. Since we’ve used this mask more regularly, the difference has become more noticeable but you don’t get the immediate results as seen on rivals.
One point to note: this was the only silicone mask that didn’t cause a warming effect and, despite the lack of ear holes, was the most comfortable of all the masks to wear. We could even work on our laptop while wearing it because the fit was so good. The battery pack makes it difficult to walk around and do much more than that, but it was still a welcomed feature.
£349 | Buy now
Just like the No7 LED face mask, this model from Current Body is made from flexible silicone. It wraps around your face using a velcro strap, and rows of red and near-infrared lights line the inside to deliver red light therapy.
The Current Body mask also similarly works via a battery pack attached to a wire extending from the bottom of the mask. This pack weighs the mask down somewhat if it’s left to hang on its own, so you need to either hold it or rest it on a table, thus making it less portable and wearable than the SwearBy Skin, and Cellreturn’s masks,
All the LED masks in this list suggest you cleanse your face before use, to make sure that no product blocks the light wavelengths from getting through. You can also use serums with these masks because they penetrate the same layers. The former is particularly key with the Current Body mask because it wraps so tightly to the skin. You also need to make sure to wipe down the mask after use, so as not to transfer any dirt or bacteria.
Out of all the silicone masks in this list, Current Body performed best in terms of reducing redness and fine lines. It just didn’t fit quite as comfortably as the No7 model, so we marked it down.
£335 | Stress No More
The iDerma Youth Restoring Masque, as you may have guessed from the name, is specifically targeted at reducing the signs of ageing. It’s a cross between the visor-style LookLit mask, and the Cellreturn helmet but doesn’t have any eye holes or similar. This means, out of all the masks in this list, the iDerma is the one that requires you to stop – for eight minutes at a time – what you’re doing and chill.
The reason it claims to work so well is that it uses a combination of red and infrared LEDs with its proprietary Derma Pulse Technology. This technology promises to boost the efficacy of red light therapy (administered by 14 red lights which line the inside of the device) by delivering pulses of infrared light from a total of 114 LEDs at the same time.
Unsurprisingly, given this specific and tailored approach, the iDerma LED face mask had a noticeable and substantial effect on our fine lines and wrinkles. After just a week, the skincare mirror showed that the number of fine lines around our eyes and mouth had been reduced by half. It also helped to almost remove the wrinkles on our forehead. At the same time, it had an impact, albeit a much smaller one, on blemishes and redness.
A large part of this success is undoubtedly due to the fact there are no eyeholes or areas for light to be lost in the same way as on other LED masks. This makes the iDerma’s light therapy more intense meaning you must wear the eye protectors that come with this mask. These are also a tad uncomfortable. And finally, this mask doesn’t come with a battery pack and is powered by the main. This means you need to be plugged in at all times. However, given that you can’t see anything when you’re wearing it, it’s unlikely you’ll be walking around with this on.
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget