Red light therapy is known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, tighten loose skin, even out skin tone, and repair sun damage.
But are masks the most effective products when it comes to red light therapy treatment? The short answer is that there are quite a few reasonable doubts.
You’ll get much better and faster results with a more powerful LED panel, and there is plenty of evidence to support that.
What Are Red Light Therapy Masks?
LED face masks are designed to apply targeted red light treatment in this specific area. They put the individual LED lights close to the skin to increase the light intensity and come with straps to keep the device secure.
LED face masks deliver specific wavelengths of light onto the facial skin. As confirmed by hundreds of studies, the most potent skincare wavelengths are red and near-infrared (NIR). Whereas red wavelengths range from 620 to 750 nanometers (nm), near-infrared wavelengths range from 780 to 1200 nm.
This is known as the “therapeutic window,” which is why these wavelengths are often featured on LED masks.
Red wavelengths are powerful for anti-aging, wound healing, and scar reduction. Longer NIR wavelengths absorb into the body’s tissue to stimulate healing mechanisms and address the underlying causes of many skin disorders such as rosacea.
Red and NIR wavelengths have been shown in countless clinical trials to reverse sun damage, reduce symptoms and outbreaks of chronic inflammatory skin disorders, and even out skin tone.
There are four primary ways that LED light therapy masks can support skin health:
1. Increased cellular energy production through mitochondrial stimulation. Mitochondria are tiny organelles inside cells that produce cellular fuel called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When mitochondria are unable to produce enough energy, this leads to depleted cells that can’t perform their functions properly.
On the skin, this manifests as fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, crepey or sagging skin, and uneven skin tone. Red light treatment aims to correct mitochondrial dysfunction, which is at the heart of most skin disorders.
2. Increased collagen and elastin production. Collagen is the protein that gives skin its firmness, whereas elastin is the protein that gives skin its elasticity. Boosting these proteins for natural production is essential to rebuilding more youthful skin.
3. Improved microcirculation of blood and lymph, meaning the fluid that drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. This microcirculation to the skin supports skin cells with oxygen and nutrients and removes waste.
4. Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, which could contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction.
Read on to find more information about how RLT works as well as how it treats skin and overall health.
Now that you know how red light therapy masks are supposed to work, let’s get to the big question: do they?
Do Red Light Therapy Masks Work?
Advances in light-emitting diode (LED) technology have made it easier and more affordable to use LED devices to reduce unwanted skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles. It also treats a dull complexion, acne, sagging or crepey skin, and redness.
This is great news for anyone with sensitive skin who’s had adverse reactions to topical products. LED treatments are painless, free of side effects, and don't require recovery time.
Also, you’ll get a lot more for your money with an LED light panel.
People often discover that light therapy treatments have many applications beyond facial rejuvenation. LED masks, however, are suitable only for the face and do not treat any other body part.
LED masks only have very limited applications. Meanwhile, LED panels treat everything that LED masks treat, only with far more coverage. In short, you’ll get much more value from a powerful light therapy panel.
Are LED Masks Safe?
LED lights generate very little heat, which makes them safe for prolonged skin contact on all skin types. Red/NIR light is considered safe for long-term use in treating chronic inflammatory skin disorders. Some individuals may experience tightness and redness due to increased blood flow, but these are minor and temporary side effects.
The most serious concerns we've seen are from mask recalls due to the potential for eye injury,.
Misconceptions about the effectiveness of LED mask light wavelengths could lead to suboptimal treatment decisions. Not all red light bulbs are necessarily equal.
If you have a serious ailment, it’s important to contact a medical professional and put serious consideration into any treatment options, red light or otherwise.
Which Wavelengths Are Best?
Hundreds of research studies have shown that red and NIR wavelengths are the most beneficial wavelengths. They work together to support skin health in each skin layer, as well as in the tissues beneath the skin.
LED lights are available in a variety of colors, and some masks use a rainbow approach:
- Blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin surface
- Green light to soothe redness
- Amber light to soothe redness and stimulate rejuvenation
- Red light to stimulate skin rejuvenation, boost circulation, and build collagen
- Near-infrared light to stimulate skin rejuvenation and reduce inflammation
Be sure to keep the following points in mind as well.
If you aim to reverse signs of aging, avoid LED masks that feature blue light or red and blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria.
To maintain youthful skin and treat acne, you could use a red/NIR LED device and support skin health through excellent nutrition, stress management, and gentle skin care.
It’s best to avoid LED face masks with a rainbow of colors, particularly those that ostensibly feature “white light” – because there is no “white” wavelength. White light is actually a combination of all color wavelengths, including ultraviolet (UV) light, which is known to accelerate skin aging and contribute to skin cancer.
The Problem With LED Masks
LED masks are designed to put light in close contact with the face. This theoretically helps more light photons absorb into the skin, which is the primary argument for using these devices.
LED masks are easy to use, lightweight, and portable. You don't need to wear goggles, and you will save money over a series of in-office treatments. However, there are several cons to consider before you choose an LED mask to improve skin health.
Lower Power = Slower Results
First, let’s talk about irradiance, which is the light power output of LED lights. Irradiance is a big determining factor in how quickly you will see results. Panels deliver significantly more light energy than LED masks.
But if masks are designed to be in contact with the skin, wouldn't that help light absorb into the skin more than panels, which are farther away?
To clarify, the depth to which light absorbs into the skin depends on light power output, the wavelengths used, and your proximity to the device, hence the following factors.
- The more powerful the device, the more light photons are “pushed” into your body’s tissues
- The longer the wavelength, the greater the absorption depth
- Also, the closer you are, the more light absorbs into the tissues
If you move closer to the light source, irradiance increases, no matter which device you’re using.
However, with closer proximity to a device, it’s also important to be aware of any EMF emissions. PlatinumLED Therapy Lights safeguard users from EMF exposure. Our therapy lights have zero EMF emissions at the minimum usage distance of four to six inches.
The amount of light energy delivered by a more powerful device means you can be farther away and still receive more light than you would from a face mask.
Wireless LED masks deliver even less light power. As they gradually lose battery strength, they lose benefits.
Even wired LED masks are not as powerful as panels because fewer light photons absorb into the skin. You may get results, but they will be much slower.
With a panel, you could expect results comparable to those of scientific studies within one to four months of consistent treatment.
Do RLT Masks Have Proven Results?
Red/NIR light therapy works, as evidenced by this 2017 study with 52 female participants, who saw improvements in eye-area wrinkles after treatment. However, this study does not mention masks.
In fact, no current studies or clinical trials, including one that specifically mentions the effects of red/NIR light on intradermal collagen increase, used masks. By contrast, numerous studies are now using LED panels with great results.
LED Masks and Skin Treatment
Many symptomatic skin problems and diagnoses are difficult to treat effectively due to the challenge of not knowing the root cause of the condition.
When toxins accumulate within the layers of the skin, inflammation may occur and manifest into conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, rashes, and psoriasis, which also disrupt collagen production in the skin.
Many organs play a significant role in maintaining the health of skin. This means that targeting treatments to the face independently may not always provide the best results.
The liver is a major contributor to the processing and breaking down of toxins. If the liver is unable to facilitate this process, then the body in many cases will eliminate toxins through the integumentary system, which can cause an inflammatory skin condition.
The heart and circulatory system are responsible for pumping and sending oxygenated blood to the integumentary system to allow for efficient collagen production.
With the use of PlatinumLED panels, the body receives a strong level of irradiance allowing for the skin as well as other systems that contribute to skin health to experience improvements, whereas LED masks provide inadequate coverage to treat quite a few conditions.
Are Red Light Therapy Masks Comfortable?
Comfort is important in an LED mask – otherwise, you wouldn’t enjoy wearing it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
Manufacturers say their masks are comfortable even though most are hard plastic, which doesn't conform to the face and may be entirely the wrong shape for your face.
Are Red Light Therapy Masks Convenient?
One of the most attractive selling points of LED masks is their ‘convenience.’ Companies claim that users can multitask while wearing their masks and receiving treatment. But, for the most part, that has turned out to be a marketing gimmick.
Unless you’re using one of the battery-operated LED masks (which are underpowered), you’re still tethered to a cord, and we’ve seen several critical reviews, claiming that the positioning of the eye openings leaves some users with limited visibility.
Panels can be set up easily, and they work for anyone, but with a product intended to fit over one’s face, a lack of customization can lead to suboptimal user experiences for some customers. There have even been concerns and product recalls over the potential for mask-associated eye injury.
The Limited Treatment Options of RLT Therapy Masks
LED therapy masks are designed for facial skin care only. If that is your only aim, then a mask could potentially work for you.
But, you’ll get a lot more value for your money by taking advantage of the many therapeutic uses for LED panels. Panels treat not only your face, but support weight loss and treat sagging belly skin. They help with weight loss, arthritic knees, low back pain, swimmer’s shoulder, neuropathy, muscle recovery after a workout, and much more.
If you’re considering using LED masks for anything other than facial rejuvenation, we recommend a panel, which has beneficial applications for your whole body.
LED Panels: More Value and Versatility
As we stated earlier, masks lack the power of panels, and you are limited to only treating your face. Quality LED panels can give you the medical-grade benefits of an in-office treatment in the convenience of your own home.
Here are a few of the many reasons why LED light therapy panels are a much better value.
LED masks are not always as affordable as LED panels. High-end LED light therapy masks can cost $950, $1,200 – even more than $2,000. At $569, the BIOMAX 300 is much more budget-friendly and gives you at least a dozen more treatment options.
LED light therapy masks are made thin to minimize weight, and their thinness means that lightweight components have to be used that aren't as powerful or durable as panel components.
Over the 10,000+ hour lifetime of an LED panel, you can improve overall health as opposed to just your facial skin.
A quality LED therapy panel will deliver versatility, such as accelerated muscle recovery, pain relief for aching knees, a smoother complexion, and/or better sleep.
Larger panels are more versatilities, since you can choose between targeted applications and whole-body well-being.
What can you do during your treatment if you’re feeling antsy about having a lot to do? Since the recommended treatment time is 10 to 20 minutes, and you will be wearing eye protection to prevent eye strain, we recommend a stress-busting medication to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and support skin health.
You could also listen to an audiobook or podcast, or take a nap. Either way, it’s an opportunity for essential self-care or “me time."
Panels feature superior light power output over face masks, which means faster results.
Curious about what LED light can do for you?
The PlatinumLED Therapy Lights Learn page offers a wealth of information on the many ways you can use panels to boost your health and well-being.
Achieving Results with Light Therapy Devices
Here’s how to get the most from your LED light therapy device.
A Powerful Panel with Right Wavelengths
Quality light masks and panels feature both 660 nm and 850 nm wavelengths. This is a great start, but there's a better option.
The BIOMAX series from PlatinumLED Therapy Lights features a patent-pending combination of five of the most widely studied red/NIR wavelengths (630 nm, 660 nm, 810 nm, 830 nm, and 850 nm). Hundreds of studies have demonstrated the significant benefits of these wavelengths. Multiple light settings allow for personalized treatment.
There are numerous benefits to using an advanced LED therapy light spectrum.
Consistency: Facial Rejuvenation Takes Time
Consistency is the key to success, since red light therapy treats skin conditions at the cellular level. Expect one to four months of consistent use at home to see results through the ripple effect of improved cellular energy; increased collagen and elastin production; reduced inflammation, and increased circulation.
You’ll achieve the best results with 10- to 20-minute treatments. Since skin cells can only absorb a certain amount of light at once, 'more is not always better.' Consistency is more important to get healthier looking skin. Everyday use at home is best, but three to five times a week will still yield good results.
Are LED Panels a Better Treatment Option?
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand LED light therapy, and whether to choose a mask or a panel (we would opt for the latter).
To sum it all up, if treating facial skin concerns is your only objective, an LED face mask could be a solid choice. But don’t sell yourself short. Research proves that red/NIR light successfully treats not only the skin on your face, but many other conditions that affect your whole body.
The SaunaMAX Pro are panels designed specifically for home sauna use. They're perfect for red light therapy enthusiasts who are also home sauna users.
If you have even one ailment that could be improved with LED light therapy, it makes sense to invest in a medical-grade panel for home use.Learn more about the industry-leading BIOMAX series, and start on a natural way to a younger-looking skin today.