It’s been a few years since at-home LED light therapy became a thing, and they’ve got a great deal of attention. Mega popular now, these foreign-looking tools make their apparition on TV, influencer’s Insta-stories, basically everywhere. While LED masks have multiple applications in skincare, the most popular one is the treatment of acne.
But can such a device really treat acne? Surely, something about that is true; the best LED masks for acne bring you closer to a flawless look but don’t expect to entirely eliminate your acne. LED masks won’t give dramatic results compared to professional interventions, but their use is painless, safe, and doesn’t need recovery.
Light therapy has been long research-backed and it turns out is safe for most people and relatively free of side effects. So are these devices really worth the struggle if you want to kill acne?
How does LED therapy clear acne?
Briefly, LED masks emit varying wavelengths of light that go into the skin to help reduce inflammation and breakouts over time. Unlike topical products that work on the skin’s surface, light therapy eliminates the acne-causing bacteria before it starts to feed on the oil glands. While LED devices can have up to 8 different color spectrums, blue and red lights are believed to improve acne the most.
Blue light works by reducing sebaceous glands’ activity, so they produce less oil that can plug the hair follicles. Studies also found that blue light can help kill acne-causing bacteria, purify the skin and soothe inflammation. The bacteria that cause acne, P. acnes, produce porphyrin (coproporphyrin III), which generates free radicals when irradiated by 420nm and shorter wavelengths of light. When LED is applied in the long term, these free radicals effectively kill the acne bacteria. “LED light is essentially acting as the sun to a plant,” says dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD for Vogue. “It is penetrating the skin to a cellular level and subsequently causing different intra- and intercellular reactions.”
On the other hand, red light penetrates deeper into the skin, where it may directly target sebaceous glands and exert anti-inflammatory properties. Also, red light is known to trigger collagen production, which, in turn, promotes pimples healing and decreases scarring caused by breakouts.
The best LED masks for acne
Here, the best LED masks for acne and scarring anyone can use.
1. Dennis Gross FaceWare Pro
This one is the most popular LED mask for a reason — it does wonder and is considered one of the best LED masks to diminish acne. Just three minutes per day is enough to kill that acne-causing bacteria with Dr. Dennis Gross’s LED mask. On top of that, you can prevent aging signs apparition since it also features a program that addresses fine lines and wrinkles. For acne skin, though, there are other two therapy modes (blue light and blue + red light) meant to help you get rid of breakouts due to its antibacterial traits. One hundred sixty-two LEDs target all your concerns, from pimples to fine lines to dark spots, and rest assured as the device is FDA-cleared.
2. Project E Beauty Face and Neck Mask
The new, improved version works helped by seven light colors. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, stimulate collagen production for cell renewal, improve microcirculation and relax your skin with 5 intensity levels. You just need 10 minutes to give skin that healthy boost it needs. The most exciting part is about to come: 102 LEDs work to improve your complexion, while 40 are dedicated for the neck area — two birds one stone. Did I mention it’s hands-free?
3. HyperGlo Luxury LED Mask for Face
For some reason, this mask gives me a Freddy VS Jason feeling, but as long as you don’t go out wearing it, you’re fine. Don’t go out wearing it! With only 20 minutes every other day, it will give your skin the reboot it needs. It boasts a combo of 119 medical-grade LEDs with 3-color wavelengths (blue, red, and yellow) to fight acne, inflammation, and aging signs. A multi-tasker, HyperGlo mask is comfortable, weightless, having silicone padding for extra eye protection and mouth ventilation for increased airflow and breathability.
4. Silk’n Titan Blue Acne Eliminator Device
Sure, this is not a mask and does not feature a multitude of colors and programs. It does one thing, and it does it well! Designed for acne-prone skin, it uses blue light energy and deep thermal heating to penetrate the skin’s surface and control excess oil, helping eliminate pimples and acne. The FDA cleared this device for safety, so you can breathe easily. Worth mentioning, this device was actually tested in clinical trials for acne treatment. Michael H. Gold and other two researchers reported a significant decrease in mild to moderate inflammatory acne in 17 people after 1 to 3 months with home use of Silk’n Blue LED device (405–460 nm). Now you know why is among the best LED masks for acne.
5. YOOVE LED Face Mask
If you want to try the LED masks trend without breaking the bank, this device is for you. Apart from providing seven types of treatment, including destroying acne-causing bacteria, minimizing hyperpigmentation, and anti-aging benefits, it works hands-free, featuring 100 LEDs to pamper your skin. The result? Better skin condition and a long-term diminishing of acne, scarring, dark spots, and small fine lines. Three times a week, 20 minutes per session is just enough to achieve glowing, flawless skin.
6. Foreo UFO LED Thermo Activated Smart Mask
Ok, IK, this is not a mask, but I couldn’t skip it — is that good. Technology meets beauty in this handy gadget that’s pretty clever. It not only features LED lights (blue, red, green) but a warming mode to prep your skin, opening up pores to stimulate products absorption, cooling, which is great at reducing large pores’ look, and T-sonic pulsations to boost blood flow and spoil you with a calming massage. In plus, it’s app-driven for a customized facial treatment. Want an insight into models backstage at @victoriabeckham? Cuz they love this device!
7. Project E Beauty Acne Light Therapy
You don’t need an all-over mask if you just want to clear some patches of acne. This is where this handheld LED device steps in. The 40 blue LED bulbs and two modes ( continuous mode and pulse mode) aim to regulate sebum secretion and kill acne bacteria. Plus, you can use it on occasional annoying blemishes on the body as well, on your back or chest.
8. Hime Sama LED Skin Mask
A do-it-all mask, one of the best LED devices for acne, helps with all your skin concerns, either pimples, dull skin, itty-bitty fine lines, discoloration, or scarring. Look no further: seven light therapies within 192 lamp beads, five levels of intensity, neck coverage, and FDA-approved. Yes, just strap this around your head, turn it on and let your skin receive what it needs to look and feel better! Keep in mind that the comfort may be reduced with this mask — given the high number of LEDs, it’s heavier.
9. Aphrona LED Therapy Device
Another LED mask that uses the holy grail of LED light colors to give you better skin — blue, red, and green. So it does it all, from smoothing fine lines to fighting bacteria and improving skin texture. Lay down, relax, listen to your fav audiobook while the 150 LEDs do all the hard work.
Fast facts about LED therapy for acne
- Light therapy is a research-backed treatment for acne.
- Blue and red light are most effective in reducing inflammatory acne; they work less effectively on noninflammatory lesions.
- Most studies found blue light effective in the range of 405–420nm, while red light can go up to 660nm.
- Sebaceous follicles absorb light wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm, with 415 nm wavelength within the most effectively absorbed blue light spectrum.
- LED therapy is generally considered safe with minimal side effects.
- Most self-use LED devices are cleared by the FDA and are considered effective and safe for home use.
FAQ about LED therapy for acne
- Does blue light really reduce acne?
Welp, it can do it — and there’s a lot of data to support this! Research found that blue light, particularly in the wavelength range of 405–470 nm, reduced acne-causing bacteria in 77% of cases after five weeks of diligent use. “Phototherapy using blue light source was effective and well-tolerated in acne patients and had an ability to decrease numbers of P. acnes by 64%,” suggests research. Similarly, a combination of blue-red lights has been reported to reduce inflammatory lesions from 69% up to 77%, with minor effects on noninflammatory lesions.
- Are LED masks safe for acne?
LED devices are unlikely to burn your skin. However, “it’s essential to shield your eyes from the light while using them,” says Dr. Elizabeth Buzney, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.
- Is LED treatment for everyone?
No. Dermatologists warn that LED devices aren’t for everyone, such as those suffering from rosacea, severe hyperpigmentation, melasma, or easily reactive skin. If you check one of these, it’s advised you visit a dermatologist before making a light therapy home-treatment plan. When you’re prepped to take the LED plunge, it’s essential sorting out which is the best device for your kind of concern and type of skin.
- Can you use other products while you follow an LED treatment?
“An LED device is never going to replace your moisturizer or sunscreen, but you get maximum benefit by using LEDs and topical ingredients in conjunction,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, a board-certified dermatologist, and dermatologic surgeon. The treatment is not supposed to replace topical products but to work in synergy with those. Actually, many brands developed their signature serums to be used with their devices. Yet, experts agree that you can use any serum or oil you like. In fact, “more effective treatment of acne may be achieved if light therapy is combined with agents with anti comedogenic and comedolytic properties such as topical retinoids,” suggests data.