Mind & Body

The LED Masks You Need To Know About And Why They Really Work

A-listers swear by LED treatments for pre-event skin prep and – with so many home-use light-therapy tools to choose from – clear, glowing skin is easier to achieve than ever (no red carpet required). NEWBY HANDS sheds some light on the best ones to use – and how…


How does LED work?

“Think of the light as an ingredient,” says New York-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, who has created a range of home-use, FDA-cleared LED devices. “Like an active ingredient, it works via receptors in the skin cells, as retinol does, to stimulate more collagen and have a biological effect.” Drug-free and non-invasive, with no downtime – it’s actually rather soothing – LED is proven safe for skin and eyes, “as none of the colors penetrate the eye,” says Gross. In fact, it was developed by Nasa to help with healing wounds on astronauts injured in space, “as the light increases blood flow, feeding the cells with nutrients and oxygen, which is excellent for repair.”

What are the differences in LED colors?

“Using blue light is very straightforward,” says Gross. “It kills the bacteria that cause acne without affecting anything else.” When the acne bacteria absorb blue light, they release porphyrins (pigment molecules) that destroy the bacteria without damaging the skin. Using red light is less simple, however, “as there are different shades that work at different depths of the skin” – from red to amber and near infrared (which penetrates even deeper than red light for healing at a cellular level). Some work to increase blood flow, helping to ‘feed’ new cells and encourage wound healing (even eliminating scars), and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Others directly work on stimulating new collagen. “There’s so much today about ingesting collagen, but that’s really just protein – essentially, no different from eating a steak,” says Gross. “The only real way to get new collagen is to start within the skin itself; by stimulating the fibroblasts that make new collagen, which is what red light does.”

What are the benefits of LED light therapy?

Many LED masks offer an assortment of light color, depending on what your skin needs. Whether you want to target blemishes or pigmentation or boost collagen production, the key to success with any LED mask is consistency – it’s not an overnight treatment; you need to use it three to five days a week, since results are cumulative. The newest devices offer highly targeted treatments for a specific facial feature, and are ideal for focusing on areas where the skin tends to be thinner and fine lines and wrinkles often show up first. Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx Spectralite LipWare Pro tool focuses on plumping the creases that can occur on and around the lips, while boosting your natural lip color and plumping your pout at the same time. For eyes, Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx SpectraLite EyeCare Max pro Eye Mask and MZ Skin’s LightMAX Minipro Eyeconic LED Eye Patches are excellent for smoothing the hard-to-target undereye area. What’s more, the NET-A-PORTER beauty team have found that if you’ve had a bit too much sun, or too much peel, the MZ Skin patches are great for applying anywhere you may have patches of irritation – not just around the eyes, as they stick to skin with soothing hydrocolloidal patches (making multi-tasking a breeze).

How to make the most of an LED mask

While layering skincare is usually a great thing, our creams and makeup (especially anything with SPF) act as a barrier and literally block the light. To get around this, Dr Maryam Zamani tells me she just layers a light serum under her flexible LED 2.0 Light MAX Supercharged mask when using red light (it offers a blue light setting, too). Even better, save your actives to use after a treatment, when the face is warm and the blood circulation is stimulated, as both help ensure skincare works better. Look out for Shani Darden’s Déesse Pro LED Light Mask, which is one of the only LED masks to include a custom neckpiece. What’s more, it not only comes with country-specific adaptors that are ideal for travel, but it can also be taken in your carry-on for an in-flight treatment. Every little helps.


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.