Curious about how this skincare tech works and most importantly, is it worth the money? Gemma Watts breaks it down.
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Published: August 2022
Initially, my love for a techy skin device was akin to my love of “giving facials” to my parents when I was 5 or 6 years old - I loved the idea of running a day spa, with absolutely no idea what I was doing.
The difference was that at age 5 I was using liquid hand soap as a cleanser and moisturiser in one, while as an adult I was using microcurrent, sonic tech and LED and just… hoping for the best.
Since my first introduction to skin tech some 7 years ago, give or take, I have done something 5 year old Gemma hadn’t considered- I’ve done my research.
With reading, questioning, and near-countless interviews with dermatologists now under my belt, I’m no longer dazzled by the initial excitement of beauty tech and only use and recommend devices that can actually deliver a change in the skin.
I’m fussy and particular about what I work into my routine, and LED Therapy is one form of skin technology that I now, sincerely, cannot imagine my beauty routine without.
LED, also known as Light Therapy, emits infrared lights in different wavelengths. Those wavelengths show up to the naked eye as different colours, with each colour/wavelength delivering a different skin benefit.
An LED device, be that device in-clinic or at home, will send lightwaves deep within the skin to trigger a reaction in the cells.
It’s important to note that LED light therapy does not use any UV light rays, so LED light therapy cannot cause skin cancer. LED is also completely painless.
Red is the most common LED colour/wavelength used in both clinical treatments and home LED masks.
Red LED has the ability to increase the skin’s natural production of collagen, leaving the skin looking younger by plumping up fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing out the skin’s surface.
Given that the neck, décolletage and hands are typically the first areas of the body to display visible signs of ageing, red LED neck, chest and hand masks are popular both in salon and at home.
Although instant results are possible, the effects of LED light therapy on the skin are cumulative. As LED is non-invasive, it is suitable for all skin types.
As I’m a beauty writer and not a dermatologist, I can’t categorically tell you whether or not a product or treatment is “worth it.”
What I can tell you, however, is that in my own experience regular use of home LED light therapy masks and devices has been of major benefit to my skin.
The argument against home LED devices is, usually, something along the lines of how much more powerful a clinical device is, which is the case for just about any clinical skin treatment - a peel, laser hair removal, skin needling, you name it.
This is absolutely true, as a device developed for use in the home needs to be safe to use without the supervision of a skin professional which means, more often than not, a home device will be a bit “weaker” than what you’d get in a clinic, salon or spa.
While the above is true, I think it’s worth reiterating that the results of LED are cumulative, so while we lose some treatment strength with a home device, we gain the ability to treat our skin to light therapy far more often than most of us could afford (or fit into our schedule) if we were relying solely on clinical treatments.
I personally use a LED face mask as well as a separate neck and décolletage mask, and have done so a few times a week for roughly two years.
The biggest changes I’ve seen in my own skin have all come back to inflammation, both in terms of breakout healing (I find any spots that may arise heal in next to no time when I’m using an LED mask a few nights per week) and general winter dryness and irritation (the cooler months used to be of detriment to my skin barrier, leaving my with dry, slightly red skin, however I have not experienced this since implementing regular light therapy into my routine).
I am 29 years old so I can’t comment on any anti-ageing benefits, however I have my fingers crossed that some preventative action is at play.
My mother also uses a home LED mask regularly, and has found the red light to be incredibly beneficial for her rosacea.
LED light therapy should be undertaken when the skin is clean - after removing makeup and thoroughly cleansing the skin, and before you apply any serums, moisturisers or treatments.
Topical skincare can act as a bit of a blocker for the light wavelengths, so having clean skin and clear pores is important in order to achieve the best possible results.
If I have the time, I like to use my LED masks in bed as a bit of a meditative moment, so I’ll cleanse my skin then pop a moisturiser beside my bed that I can quickly apply following my light therapy.
The amount of time you need to wear your LED mask for, and how many treatments you can enjoy each week, is dependent on the mask itself. Refer to your devices' user manual for specific details on this.