Healthy Skin

I Tried a Low-Cost LED Face Mask by Beautimate

An at-home product isn’t going to be as effective as light therapies you might receive from a physician, said dermatologist Rebecca Baxt.

injection into the forehead

Your dermatologist may inject a steroid into cystic acne to reduce inflammation.

Nitin Chavan / EyeEm


Baxt is a board certified dermatologist at Baxt Cosmedical in New Jersey.

Dr. Tina Alster, an LED expert and dermatologist, thinks some at-home masks work pretty well.

doctor's office



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Alster is also director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and clinical professor of Dermatology at Georgetown University. She added she recommends them to patients with skin issues like acne and dermatitis between in-office treatments.

There is a lack of research on whether LED masks work the same on all skin types, Baxt said. Alster thought there is a small chance the LED light might not penetrate darker-pigmented skin as well, “but I haven’t seen that to be the case,” she said.

emoji of handshakes in a range of different skin tones


Emojipedia



Discrimination against people with darker skin is pretty prevalent in dermatology, from textbooks to insurance coverage to treatment disparities, according to Stat News.

So, with the information available and non-celebrity budget in hand, I set out to test whether I would see an impact in a relatively short period of time with a lower-cost face mask: this $109.95 model from Beautimate.

A white box has a brown haired woman next to a whole-face mask with LED lights.

Beautimate’s face mask box.

Gabrielle Bienasz


You can also get a slightly cheaper version from Walmart’s website: Beautimate, Walmart.

Disclaimer: While LED face masks can get FDA clearance, the Beautimate mask I tried does not have it. “Very few” do, because it’s time-consuming and can be expensive, Alster said. She thinks the masks are pretty safe.

Outside the FDA offices in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 in Atlanta, GA.

Outside the FDA offices in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 in Atlanta, GA.

Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images


FDA clearance allows companies to make therapeutic claims in marketing, and it can provide safety reassurance, Alster noted. 

Still, LED light is pretty low-risk. “It’s more harmful to go into the sunlight for an hour,” for your skin, Alster added.

Beautimate told Insider it’s “considering” getting FDA clearance but pointed out, generally speaking, UV light, not LED light, hurts the skin.

Disclaimer two: You should protect your eyes while using an LED face mask, both doctors, and the company, advised.

The Blenders Eclipse sunglasses



Antonio Villas-Boas/INSIDER


One of Neutrogena’s face masks was recalled in 2019 for eye damage concerns, for example.

Source: Refinery 29.

Beautimate’s mask arrived a few months ago to my apartment.

Blue and purple shiny face mask in white box on glass table with bubble wrap in the background.

LED Face mask unboxing.

Gabrielle Bienasz


It’s kind of scary-looking!

A purple and blue shiny face mask in a white box covered in bubble wrap.

The LED face mask emerges.

Gabrielle Bienasz


The back looks a bit like a circuit board, and you use soft velcro straps to attach it to your face.

The back of an LED face mask, which has tiny square circuit-like structures and pads for your eyes.

The back of the LED face mask.

Gabrielle Bienasz


The instruction manual had a bunch of typos but was still readable.

A manual that says "light beauty instrument: instructions" with a woman's face and an LED face mask near it.

Manual.

Gabrielle Bienasz


The manual also referenced closing your eyes while using the mask because the lights can hurt your eyes, the company confirmed to Insider.

An instruction manual discussing the various uses of different types of LED light.

The manual.

Gabrielle Bienasz


So, even though I have my eyes open in the following photos, make sure to keep yours closed!

A person lying down with an LED face mask on a couch.

Close your eyes during use!

Gabrielle Bienasz


The mask has different color modes that purport to have different effects on your skin.

Person with LED face mask on with red lighting and blue wall in the background.

Mask testing.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Red light helps with collagen production, Baxt noted. Blue light is often used in the treatment of acne.

A person wearing an LED face mask in profile.

Red light, in profile.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Source: Healthline

The company claims additional colors, like purple, have effects like helping “lymphatic drainage.”

A person in a purple glowing face mask.

Purple light.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Beautimate says the green “brightens complexion.”

A person wearing a shiny LED face mask lit with green lights.

Green light glow.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Alster said the strongest evidence, research-wise, is that in various types of light therapy treatments, red, blue, and amber light have specific effects on the skin.

Person in office with LED face mask with blue lighting.

Using the face mask in the office.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Beautimate pointed out that other doctors have supported the idea that green has specific effects on the skin. However, doctors and others have noted a lack of research on this. There is also some evidence for the therapeutic effects of violet light.

Sources: Vogue, The New York Times, JDEAV

Either way, I decided to test it on the red light, because the idea of a mask zapping bacteria in my face made me nervous.

A person in an LED face mask with their hand underneath their chin.

Thinking about LED face masks.

Gabrielle Bienasz


I initially thought I was too young to worry about collagen repair, but I was wrong. “Anybody who has ever been in the sun needs collagen repair,” Alster said.

I had two false starts while trying to test this product. One time, I set out to do it for a month, which was too ambitious for me, and the next time, I got food poisoning.

An LED face mask on a granite countertop.

The face mask looking back.

Gabrielle Bienasz


As a result, I used the mask intermittently in March, April, and May.

A backlit red LED mask against a dark living room background.

The mask lit in red in the living room.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Alster said you should probably give most at-home products a month of consistent use.

Still, “even doing something, even for a little bit of time is better than nothing,” Alster added.

The company said some people use it three times a week and see a difference in a few weeks, some who used it less often in a few weeks. 

That speaks to my big critique with the product. It’s kind of hard to remember to use every day. I often had to remind myself:

A hand with black marker on it that says "test face mask."

Reminding myself to test the face mask.

Gabrielle Bienasz


So, because of general ADHD and food poisoning, I began my first successful, continuous week of testing on Thursday, May 5. Here’s a picture of me before the official week of testing in May.

A person against a blue wall.

Me ahead of my official testing week!

Gabrielle Bienasz


Right away on day one, I remembered a favorite feature of the product. After about 10 minutes in, the red light setting gets really warm. It’s like when you pull clothes from the dryer, but on your face.

An open clothes dryer with clothes inside



James_Davidson/Getty Images


I also felt really relaxed after using the mask for about 10 minutes, which surprised me.

cruise spa

Spa in the Norwegian Cruise Ship.

Anthony Weller/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


The company said that’s not uncommon.

“A few customers mentioned they felt really relaxed after using it… and they love the mask for that. They use it more for relaxation than anything else,” Beautimate said via email. 

Studies have indicated that red light therapy in general can help with melatonin production.

bucky 40 blinks eye mask



Amazon


Alster said the relaxing effect is a little difficult to “tease out” in a research setting for LED face masks specifically, since it’s also nice to take some time out of your day to do self-care with the masks.

Source: Healthline, Med Hypotheses.

 

On a less fun note, the day before I began testing this product for the official week, I hurt my nose playing sports. I’ve broken it a few times, so I ended up testing it while mostly holding it rather than strapping firmly to my head.

A person holding an LED mask off their face.

Holding up the LED face mask.

Gabrielle Bienasz


It hurt sometimes on my face. However, red light LED therapy, could actually help with this sort of face pain, Alster advised. Beautimate said they haven’t heard of this type of issue before from a customer.

My phone’s 30 minute timer is up for day one. I feel like my skin looks redder because of the pressure and blood flow but it does feel dewier (not from sweat) and brighter after the treatment. It’s nice, like a tiny spa treatment.

A person giving a thumbs up wearing a striped blue shirt with a blue wall in the background. On the hand, "test face mask" is upside down.

Post treatment!

Gabrielle Bienasz


The redness also seemed to fade quickly. I can see why people might use this before the red carpet. It just makes you feel a little shiny!

A person with reddish skin against a blue wall background wearing a striped shirt.

Vibing and collagen repairing

Gabrielle Bienasz


To celebrate day two, I decided to test the mask’s multicolor feature. On the eighth touch of this button, it just rotates through them.

A person pointing to a sticker-demarcated button on an LED face mask against a blue wall with a flower poster on it.

The button in question.

Gabrielle Bienasz


I didn’t love it. It’s kind of distracting, and I’m not sure how effective it is to rotate through all the colors.

A person in a red-lit LED face mask.

Color turning.

Gabrielle Bienasz


The mask also beeps really loudly when you press the button to get to the color change setting. It’s easy to press it again accidentally then have to go through the button-tapping cycle all over again.

Timer’s up, and I feel DEWY! Okay! Good night until day 3!

A person with a pink shirt against a blue wall background.

Day two pre-testing.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Bonus: Use this while sitting on your cat’s heating pad.

Days three and four: I forgot to use the mask on Saturday, so I used it twice on Sunday.

A person holding an LED face mask against a blue wall.

Holding the face mask slightly off my face.

Gabrielle Bienasz


Day five, Monday! I got my ear pierced and now cannot use the straps at all and have to hold it to my head even more, so it’s also easier to press the color change button.

A person with an LED face mask and a green striped shirt.

Testing, testing!

Gabrielle Bienasz


A few hours after use on Monday, I feel like my skin looks nice still. Or maybe that’s just the post-work glow?

A smiling person.

Post Monday treatment!

Gabrielle Bienasz


The difference is subtle, but I also felt more relaxed!

But, if you really love your skin, want to start working on your collagen or acne, and have the patience to sit down and use it and the discipline to do it every day, I say: go for an LED mask, generally speaking, and maybe even this one.

A face mask next to a surge master.

Beautimate’s mask in the kitchen.

Gabrielle Bienasz


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