August 13th 2021
The LED face mask: how it made Carey Mulligan's Oscars skin glow
April 26th 2021 / 0 comment
Ahead of her red carpet makeup, the actress relaxed in the calming, firming glow of an LED mask. But it's the mood-boosting benefits of LED that have got us really hooked
If there was one thing that outshone Carey Mulligan's draping Valentino Couture gown at the 2021 Academy Awards, it was her luminous complexion. Along with oodles Chanel makeup (we spied the new high-shine long-wear Rouge Coco Bloom lipstick, £33 as well as the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation, £40 the Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum, £72 and Chanel Joues Contrastes Powder Blush, £37) an LED mask was a key part of the 35-year-old's prep, according to her makeup artist Georgie Eisdell.
"Before every red carpet, we mask!!" she wrote on Instagram. "@currentbody LED mask smoothes, calms and firms. I cannot live without out it. I made sure we got a little 15-minute relaxation and skin love this morning with Carey before we started glam."
The Currentbody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask favoured by Carey normally retails at £349, but it's currently discounted to £249.
As we spend more time at home with less access to salons there's been a boom in sales of at-home beauty gadgets, with LED mask sales in particular soaring.
The Light Salon reported a 900 per cent increase in sales of its Boost LED Mask from the start of the first lockdown. This was one of the earliest masks to appear and is the favourite of Victoria Beckham, who says she loves the power of LED to ward off wrinkles, boost collagen production and increase hydration.
Wireless and ultra-portable and lightweight, these silicone LED masks combine healing and inflammation-fighting red light, which is excellent at taking down redness, with regenerating Near Infra-Red (NIR) light, which also plays a role in pain control.
However, it's the mood-boosting aspect they bring which is thought to be also responsible for the recent popularity.
"LED is used to treat a number of conditions including seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and depression because it mimics natural light and has been shown to boost serotonin levels," says Dr Johanna Ward, who uses the Dr Dennis Gross DRX Spectralite Faceware Pro Mask, £430, at home several times a week. Dr Johanna isn't the only fan of Dr Dennis Gross' LED mask; beauty YouTuber Emma Chamberlain (who is also the creative director of skincare brand Bad Habit) reviewed the mask as part of the 2021 YouTube Beauty Festival, saying: "I love this, it's super comfortable, I could walk around and cook and clean with this on. We're inseparable."
LED can be amber, green or blue (read our explainer on what LED does) but it's the red that works its magic on immunity and mood. "Red light combined with near-infrared light [the kind used in masks] is a powerful combination for cellular restoration and immune health," explains Dr Ward. "Red lights stimulate the lymphatic system and helps strengthen the immune system, which is your body's internal army that protects you against toxins, pathogens and disease"
If you've been experiencing low mood, a mask could help you along the way. "LED also has a balancing effect on cortisol, which helps lower stress during the treatment time. As the warm lights cocoon you, you can expect to feel more zen and instantly calmer and almost all clients report leaving the salon feeling brighter and with a spring in their step after an LED treatment," explains Laura Ferguson, co-founder of The Light Salon who offers in-clinic treatments and the at-home Boost LED mask loved by Victoria Beckham.
“Feedback from customers both in-salon and at-home LED treatments tell us that the bright lights offer a form of meditative calm,” says Laura. “For me, applying LED light to my face or body is an instant stress-buster. It slows down my breathing, and in turn, I can feel my shoulders and every part of my body relax."
As well as VB, Chrissy Teigen, models Hannah Cooper and Adwoa Aboah, Trinny Woodall and Nick Grimshaw are fans of LED masks and the experts are in on the act too.
Doctors and aestheticians rate their performance too. When we asked skincare experts about their must-have at-home tools, facialist Joanne Evans sang the praises of LED, in particular, the Rio FaceLite Beauty Boosting LED Face Mask, £349.99.
LED Masks for Red Carpet glow
Both Carey Mulligan and Victoria Beckham turn to the LED ahead of a major event as it knocks back redness and inflammation and gives the skin a lovely rosy plumpness. It's so relaxing that you can't help but lose a few frown lines. VB snapped herself in PJs (silk, monogrammed of course) wearing the Light Salon Boost mask because she was, she says, "launching #VictoriaBeckhamBeauty and the #VBSS20 show all in one weekend..."
LED face masks for seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
As the nights start to draw in and days are darker, our energy levels tend to drop and we can suffer low mood as a result of SAD. "LED mimics natural light and boosts serotonin levels so we call it the 'happy light'," says Dr Johanna. "Even short LED sessions boost energy and mood and decrease stress levels."
LED for sleep
If you struggled to sleep during the first lockdown, you might be worried about the same happening as a second wave comes. LED masks can help with this too, as Laura explains: “Near-infrared can offer improved sleep by helping to reset our circadian rhythm and increasing the sleep hormone, melatonin."
"It can boost serotonin, our happy hormone, and ignite pockets of nitric oxide, which is just as valuable as vitamin D and present in every single cell in the body. Nitric oxide increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, so it also works as a destress hormone,” she adds.
How to use an LED mask
Place the adjustable straps around your head, tuck the charger into your pocket (or bra!) and you're good to go. The masks are timed to shut off after ten minutes. You don't feel any heat at all and you can wear it as you go about your business. The red light doesn't restrict you from reading, watching TV or working, Joanne Evans tells us.
The Light Salon also offers an LED mask for the neck and decolletage £445, to heal, hydrate, and nourish the neck, chest, back and shoulders. Alternatively, as Joanne does, you can just place your face mask flat on your body if you've opted for a flexible mask such as the Facelite or the Boost of Currentbody. These masks boost mood and immunity when you use them on other parts of the body, not just your face. But we find that nothing beats wearing it on your face on gloomy mornings.
Laura recommends using the mask three to five times a week for ten minutes, but to adjust this in line with your emotional wellbeing. Our Editorial Director Victoria Woodhall uses her Boost for morning meditation for 20 minutes a day.
“Increase when you need more support, and decrease when you are sleeping well, your skin is glowing, and you require less,” says Laura. It won't cause you harm if you overuse the mask, but Laura notes that you can only absorb so much light. "The body processes light as it needs it. You can only absorb so much, so once your batteries are fully charged, so to speak, you need to use it up before charging again. This is individual to each person and is not measurable."
With the nights drawing in, and bad news arriving daily, we can certainly see why the demand for mood and immune-boosting masks is on the rise.