Celebs Are Loving This Odd Beauty Trend

In Hollywood, actresses are taught early on to find their light. That is, to master the delicate art of shifting one’s face to avoid shadows while effortlessly highlighting its best angles. Today, the idiom has a new meaning thanks to a noteworthy uptick in the appearance of LED-light therapy face masks on — where else? — Instagram. Yes, they look like they're straight out of a Freddy Krueger flick (which does make for double-tap-worthy posts), but do they actually work? Or is it just another Hollywood gimmick for the rich and famous? Better yet, do you need one? Let’s break it down.

Who’s Doing It?

It all started last year with a post by Jessica Alba, but recently Kourtney Kardashian, Kate Hudson, and Kelly Rowland have all posted photos; other celebs are rumored to be fans. Photos of Katy Perry wearing one are floating around, and we heard Emma Stone is such a devotee that she gives them as gifts (emoji hand raise!). Ask any skin expert — and we did, but more on that in a second — and they’ll tell you the science is not new. So why the increase in exposure? L.A. facialist Shani Darden, who treats Alba, Rowland, and Stone, among other stars, is a big proponent of at-home LED masking and has passed it down to her clients.

A photo posted by Shani Darden (@shanidarden) on

How Does It Work?

There are a few different types of LED light, all of which the eye perceives differently. Blue targets acne-causing bacteria; red stimulates the creation of collagen and elastin to decrease fine lines and wrinkles; pink boosts the skin's repair function. To that end, combinations of light are marketed to treat pain relief; Darden says LED-light therapy can greatly help clients with psoriasis. The strength of the light is key for efficacy. While weaker — and usually less expensive — models still work, they require more time and patience to see results.

A photo posted by Kate Hudson (@katehudson) on

Masks & More
According to the experts, the leading option is the Korean Deesse Premium LED Mask, which rings in at $1,800 — but smaller, handheld devices are available for under $300. “[The Deesse mask] is a little pricey. The cheaper, handheld ones are great; they're just a little bit more work,” Darden says.
LightStim, a leader in the handheld game, is a popular version. Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Harry Glassman, MD, launched the SkinClinical Reverse system just last week, and has impressive clinical trials backing up its efficacy. Translation: It may not be photogenic, but if you're willing to hold it in place during the treatment you can mask like a celeb...without the mask. Also? It's $275.
We Saw The Light
We gave both the mask and handheld options a go. They feel incredibly futuristic — and are pretty simple to use. Darden suggests using the mask on a clean, dry face for 20 minutes a few times a week. "Even three weekly treatments will make a huge improvement," she says. As for the handheld version, Dr. Glassman suggests daily three-minute sessions on each section you want to target. (That does add up, we know.) Our only issue? The lights are bright. And, we mean, very bright. One editor [Ed. note: me] tried the Reverse and it was way too bright near the eyes. Even between the brows, the intensity was nearing headache territory. Another editor tried a mask and had the same complaint. This is probably why Darden puts special covers on her clients' eyes pre-treatment.

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