It's always this point in January when my mood and skin simultaneously take a turn for the worse. The days are short and dark, social plans are minimal and the prospect of a post-holiday glow is looking unlikely, to say the least.
I’m by no means the only one to find winter tough. Ask around and you'll doubtless hear tales of the blend of miserable weather and the post-Christmas slump contributing to feelings of fatigue and general malaise. On the sharper end of the spectrum, some people (healthcare provider Bupa reports up to 3 in 100 in the UK) are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, equating to low moods or depression during particular times of the year.
While there's no one silver bullet for 'fixing' my winter woes, I’m on the hunt for anything that can bring back some of my glow — inside and out. And, when I spotted a host of celebrities lauding the benefits of one radiance- and, allegedly, mood-boosting LED face mask all over Instagram, I decided to give it a go.
Loved by Carey Mulligan and Renée Zellweger, and recently championed by Kristin Davis, who was seen amping up her glow ahead of the And Just Like That premiere via a photo posted to her Instagram story, the CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask is an at-home treatment that promises glowing skin and a mood boost — direct from your sofa.
Intrigued to learn more, I investigated the benefits of LED light therapy; I looked at how it works and why it's so popular, and tested out the IG-famous treatment for myself, too. Here's how I got on...
How does LED light therapy work?
"LED therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses different wavelengths of light to rejuvenate and visibly improve the appearance of the skin by sending energy into the cells," says Dr Ayah Siddiqi, founder of Harmony Medical Aesthetics.
Light alters the skin in a process called photobiomodulation and, just as UV rays from the sun can be harmful, some wavelengths of visible light alter skin for the better. This is the goal of LED masks, which emit visible wavelengths of light that sit between 400 and 700 nanometers on the electromagnetic spectrum, with the colours that sit at the higher end penetrating the skin the most deeply.
Blue light: Blue light sits around the 400 mark and its antibacterial properties make it useful as an acne treatment.
Red light: Red light penetrates deeper into the skin to boost collagen production by increasing blood circulation, as well as reduce inflammation by stimulating the skin’s mitochondria.
Infrared light: Infrared light starts at 700 on the spectrum, meaning it penetrates the deepest. "As a result, it has anti-inflammatory, anti- ageing properties and wound-healing effects," adds aesthetic doctor Lauren Hamilton.
What are the benefits of LED face masks?
"There are so many benefits to using LED light therapy," says Dr Ayah. "The CurrentBody Skin LED mask combines red and infra red LED light — the former helps long term with collagen production but the infra-red with its healing and calming properties is what really elevates it for me," she explains.
Not only does the mask promote collagen synthesis, but it also allows you a little downtime and sense of calm after a long, stressful day.
"Science shows that 10 minutes of meditation can help with mindfulness and peace," agrees Dr Ayah. Since LED is also said to mimic natural light, which can in turn help stress levels and boost serotonin, it can be a particularly useful device for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or low moods during winter.
Who can use an LED face mask?
While the treatment is non-invasive and suitable for all skin types, it’s worth seeking medical advice if you have a known skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, and is not suitable to use if you're pregnant.
It’s also worth noting that you should avoid these masks if you have underlying eye conditions or are taking medications that make skin more sensitive to light, such as antibiotics like doxycycline, as they can potentially cause eye injuries.
Finally, it's important to remember that "in-clinic LED devices are more powerful than at-home ones," says Dr Hamilton. However, if you use the masks more regularly at home, they’ll have a cumulative benefit.
My verdict of the CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask
I've had a professional LED treatment at The Light Salon last year, but I hadn't ventured into the world of at-home LED, yet. That meant I was a bit of a novice when it came to setting up the device. For starters, I hadn’t realised I needed to charge it prior to use (it needs six hours of charge before you can begin), and it took me a little while to get all the cables where they needed to be.
That said, the actual process of using the mask was simple — place the adjustable straps around your head, hold down the button and you're ready to roll. I was pleased that the mask shuts itself off after 10 minutes too, so I could just relax and not worry about overdoing it.
I believe that when it comes to at-home devices it takes steady commitment and time to truly start to see the impact. While I might not have noticed a major change in the texture of my skin after the first use, I did notice a very distinctive radiance boost after a few uses.
I've now been using the LED face mask for three weeks (since the start of the New Year) and I’ll be honest, I can’t notice a huge difference in the wrinkles creeping up around my forehead which, at 29, are still minimal (the brand does state though that wrinkles can be reduced by 35 per cent in just 4 weeks, so perhaps I still need a little more perseverance).
However, I have noticed a huge shift in my sleep quality during this time which, as any sleep sufferer will tell you, has a direct effect on your mood and mindset the next day.
Another thing I love? The glow. Facialists use this LED face mask for stars before they hit the red carpet – and I can see why. My skin has looked infinitely brighter and more luminous since using the LED mask three times a week and, in the depths of winter, that is really saying something.
For me, the biggest bonus here is the major serotonin and radiance boost – a winner for the winter months when glowing skin and good moods can seem an impossible feat.
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