LED face masks: what they are, how they work and top picks

Want to get clearer and brighter skin? Here’s everything you need to know about LED face masks

Best LED face masks
(Image credit: Dinç Tapa / Pexels)

Perfect skin that’s bright, clear and wrinkle-free is something everyone is trying to achieve. Whether you follow a strict 18-step skincare routine or choose to shave away the top layers of your skin by dermaplaning, a new-ish skincare advancement has arrived in the form of LED face masks.

I’m not talking about the slimy clay-like face masks that you can get from your local Boots. No, I’m talking about LED light therapy masks that you used to only see and use at spas. LED face masks have had a huge surge of popularity, and while they do give off a creepy Hannibal Lecter vibe, the benefits of this skincare are truly incredible.

To find out more, I’ve detailed everything you need to know about LED face masks below, including what they are, how they work and the top three masks you should try at home.

What are LED face masks?

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LED or Light Emitting Diode face masks use light in and beyond the visible spectrum to treat the skin. They emit varying wavelengths of light which penetrate the skin and are absorbed by the skin’s receptors. As the wavelength increases, so does the depth, meaning the skin absorbs more light further into its layers. LED light therapy comes in many different colours, including red, blue and yellow. Each light type tackles different skin problems or conditions (more on this later) as the colour stimulates a different response within the skin’s cells.

LED face masks have become increasingly popular, mainly due to TikTok and Instagram, and provide a variety of benefits to the skin. Like normal face masks, LED face masks sit over the face and many come with fastenings that tie to the back of the head. I’m not going to lie, they look pretty freaky but with so many 5-star reviews, there’s something to be said about their effectiveness.

It’s important to note that if you want to use an LED face mask, always make sure you’re using one that’s approved and has been tested. If you have any eye or skin conditions, you should also speak to your doctor or dermatologist before using an LED face mask.

Which light colour should I use?

Different coloured lights do different things, although the most common light therapies you’ll find are red, blue, yellow and infrared.

Red light is best for reducing inflammation, promoting blood circulation and giving the skin a plumper, healthier glow. Blue light is commonly used to treat acne and scarring. It does this by targeting the skin’s oil glands which kills bacteria inside the pores that leads to fewer breakouts. Red and blue light is often used together for these reasons. Yellow or amber light stimulates collagen production and firms the skin to give a healthier and more glowy complexion. Near-Infrared is used to reduce inflammation, redness and pigmentation.

How to use an LED face mask

Doctors and skincare experts recommend removing any make-up or products from the face and thoroughly cleaning it before using an LED mask. Doing this will ensure your skin properly absorbs the light and gets the full benefits from the light therapy. After using the LED mask, make sure to moisturise or simply complete your nighttime skincare routine.

When it comes to how often you should use an LED face mask, it’s always important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most LED face masks are safe to use every day if you want to, but experts recommend starting with using one 3 times a week for up to 20 minutes a day.

Someone using an LED face mask with red lights

(Image credit: Dinç Tapa / Pexels)

LED face mask pros

LED face masks are primarily designed to clear the skin and remove bacteria to prevent further breakouts. For those who experience acne, LED face masks reduce inflammation, redness and scarring. Depending on the coloured light that you choose, they also improve skin texture, tone and pigmentation, and can reduce wrinkles and signs of ageing. Essentially, using an LED face mask should make your skin look and feel brighter, clearer, smoother, healthier and more radiant.

Another benefit that many users have commented on is LED face masks can improve your mood and stress levels. As LED face masks use light therapy, this light stimulation can boost serotonin levels, leaving you feeling more relaxed and happier. The technology used in LED face masks is similar to the best SAD lamps which are recommended for people who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Of course, using an LED face mask isn’t going to solve any depression or anxiety symptoms but if they give you a bit of relief from those feelings, that’s a major bonus.

LED face mask cons

Despite their many benefits, LED face masks do come with a few negatives. If you’re constantly exposing yourself to bright light, this can damage the eyes, leading to pain, irritation and changes in vision. If you have any eye conditions, it’s best to speak to a doctor before using an LED face mask, or using protective eyewear underneath the mask. Some experts also say that LED face masks can bring about headaches and sleep disturbances.

The best LED face masks

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations!

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!