I have to tell you about my new secret weapon for clear and glowing skin. A couple of months ago, I saw a commercial for the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask and was so excited I literally ran right out to get it.
My first foray into phototherapy
Years ago, I purchased handheld red and blue phototherapy devices for their promise of fighting both acne and premature aging. Blue LED light is said to kill acne bacteria, and red to stimulate collagen and speed wound healing (among other things…I’ll get to that later).
To treat my whole face with both lights it would take close to 30 minutes, and I must’ve ended up doing it three or four times the entire time I’ve had the lights. It just takes too long, and I don’t find myself making the time. It wasn’t practical for me, and they now sit collecting dust. I got them both for three hundred dollars on sale.
The Neutrogena mask: how it works
So, when I saw the Neutrogena mask on television I was pretty excited. It incorporates both blue and red LED lights into one mask that can be used hands-free, and it takes just ten minutes to treat your whole face! The plastic mask is built onto protective safety goggles, which is how you wear it. I got mine at Walgreens for 34.99. There’s a handheld controller called the “activator” that connects to the mask via a cord. You press a button on the activator to begin each treatment session. A window on the activator shows how many treatments you have remaining. You don’t have to purchase a new mask ever, just a new activator. The activator holds 30 treatments, and a new one can be purchased for around 15$. When you purchase a mask, your first activator is included.
Neutrogena doesn’t play up the benefits of the red lights on this mask as much as they could, in my opinion. They mention on the packaging that the red lights are good for healing and inflammation—which they are, and these are important issues for acne sufferers. Perhaps they feel there is more than enough of a market for their product with the acne-plagued crowd. Or that acne-sufferers don’t have wrinkles, ha!
How I use it
I’ve found it simple to incorporate the mask into my routine. After I shower, before doing any skincare, I put the mask on. I put the activator in the pocket of my pants or bathrobe, after pressing the button to turn it on. There is a window cut out of the mask for your eyes so you can see while you wear it and multi-task. I usually put product in my hair or pick out my clothes during the 10 minutes. The mask shuts off automatically when the time is up.
I’ve done this religiously for 60 days. (I should warn you: anyone who catches a glimpse of you in this mask will get a chuckle–it looks like a welder’s mask with purple light glowing through the eye slot!)
What it has done for me**
I have gone 60 days without a single blemish. My skin also has an overall more even tone. To give you an idea, I have combination 38-year-old skin. I have mild hormonal acne. Generally, I’ll have about one blemish per week, with up to three the week of my period. I also usually have a few clogged pores on my nose.
My acne is only considered mild because of prescription products I use faithfully. Someone with more moderate or severe acne may not go blemish free, but they should see a reduction in blemishes and inflammation. There are before and after photos on the Neutrogena website of moderate acne that shows good improvement after twelve weeks. (Scroll down their page) https://www.neutrogena.com/skin/skin-treatments/skin-treatments-devices/light-therapy-acne-mask/6810124.html?cgid=skin-treatments-devices#start=1
I kept all my facial products the same during the sixty-day trial period with the mask.
You can actually pay substantially more at a dermatologist to have blue light therapy done for the treatment of persistent acne. This allows you to do it at home in just 10 minutes a day. Obviously, the blue light therapy used at your doctor’s office will be stronger than the mask. The advantage with home devices like this though is your ability to be more consistent with them. My results make me a believer, 100%. There are actually quite a few positive reviews on Neutrogena’s website and elsewhere on the web. Based on my experience I trust that the majority of them are real.
Not just for acne
You don’t have to suffer from acne to get great results from this affordable device. Remember, red LED lights are fantastic for anti-aging. They’re good at fading post-acne hyperpigmentation, speeding the healing time of pre-existing acne, and can even reduce broken capillaries over time!
The way they accomplish the majority of this is by increasing circulation, thereby causing new capillaries to form. New capillaries mean more nutrients and oxygen can reach each skin cell every day. They also increase lymph system activity which can mean a reduction in swelling or puffiness. And lastly, red light therapy stimulates the production of collagen—which is what is responsible for the smoothness and fullness of the skin. Over time, stimulating collagen leads to a reduced pore size as well as a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
The key to seeing positive results from light therapy is consistency and time. It can take as long as three months for collagen cells to grow. But if you’re patient and consistent, red light therapy will produce a healthy glow, a smooth overall skin tone, repair to sun damage, a reduction in redness, reduction in flushing and broken capillaries, fading of scars, and a retention of moisture to the skin. I mean, I won’t miss a session if even half of these things are true!
What about possible side effects?
When I told my sister about the success I was having using the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask, she asked me if there are any harmful side effects from the lights. The answer is no! Neither wavelength is UV light. These are safe light wavelengths that have been used for years by dermatologists. There is no heat that builds up from the lights, so at no time do you feel hot or uncomfortable, nor do they dry out your skin.
Some people with acne have probably noticed that getting some sun helps to clear them up. The reason for this actually has nothing to do with the UV wavelengths in sunlight but rather the blue and red wavelengths that are also present. Heavy sun exposure can have similar effects on acne but with the disadvantage of damage from the UVA and UVB wavelengths. What you’re getting with this mask (or similar light therapy devices) is strictly the beneficial wavelengths. So, if you’re someone that finds that getting a tan clears up your skin, you should love led light therapy.
There are certainly more expensive options out there for red or blue (or combined) light therapy if you’re interested in spending the money. As someone who owns devices at different price points (and they go much higher than the 300 I spent the first time) I will say I’m very happy with my Neutrogena mask. The convenient wearable style makes it really practical for daily use. A ten-minute treatment window that does both blue and red light, while allowing me to multitask, couldn’t be more perfect for me. Are there better quality lights out there? Certainly. But I’ve yet to encounter an option that does both in such a quick and convenient way. (If you know of one, by all means, pass along the info!)
I have been really pleased overall with the appearance of my skin in the two short months I’ve been using this. I’m very excited to see how my skin might continue to improve as I keep using it.
Are you using a light therapy device that you like? I’d love to hear about it! What results have you seen? Are there any other benefits I’ve missed?
**I want to apologize for not having before and after photos of myself for this post for you all. I started this blog less than a month ago and didn’t anticipate blogging about the mask when I first got it. I thought the mask and phototherapy, in general, were worth sharing about, so I went for it, sans photos. I hope that as I continue to blog I will be able to bring you more personal photographs. Bear with me…😊
Impact of low-level laser therapy on skin blood flow
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A study to determine the efficacy of combination LED light therapy (633 nm and 830 nm) in facial skin rejuvenation.
Russell, BA, Kellet, N, Reilly, LR. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2005 Dec;7(3-4):196-200.