At a glance
Discover my experience with anti-aging LED light therapy/ photo-modulation, and my thoughts on the Korean mask LG Pra.L BWJ1.
In recent years, beauty skincare devices have finally become more accessible. Having celebrated my 40th birthday last year, I thought it was probably the right time to try a few, and I started with an anti-aging LED mask. I’ll share my experience with you in this article!
Beauty devices are really everywhere at the moment, and I definitely don’t mind it!
As I’m not really ready to try cosmetic injections (will I ever be ready?), they’re a kind of middle ground between skincare products and cosmetic procedures for anti-aging treatment
For now, I prefer to invest (it’s really the word!) in a few devices that certainly require a little of my time every day, but allow me to preserve the “youth” of my skin without any pain.
You’ll see it in this article, these devices are not about delivering a miraculous rejuvenating effect (honestly, apart from surgery, no external treatment is able to really transform the appearance of the skin), but rather a slight, nice improvement that can really help to lift your mood.
But first, let’s see what photo-modulation with LED light is about and what its benefits are for the skin before moving on to the story of my experience with this technology!
What is LED therapy (or photo-modulation):
The invention of LED (or Light Emitting Diode) has not only revolutionized the way we illuminate things, but it has also marked a turning point in the medical and aesthetic light therapy industry!
LED bulbs we use at home are not new to us. They consume little energy, don’t provide heat and last much longer than filament bulbs. But most people don’t know that the light rays emitted by these LEDs also have anti-aging, lightening, calming and antibacterial properties on the skin.
NASA research with LED has shown that the light provided by these diodes has an effect on the skin repair process.
What this actually means, is that exposure to these rays can boost fibroblast activity (= the supporting fibers located in the deep layers of the skin) to promote collagen production and activate skin healing.
Note: NASA researched this technology in the 1980s as they were looking for a way to accelerate the healing and repair of astronaut tissues in space. Since then, there have been several other scientific studies conducted to demonstrate the impact of LEDs on the skin (some of which can be found here).
Depending on the wavelength and spectrum of these rays, you can have lights of various colors that have different advantages for the skin.
Indeed, light is composed of multiple photons and constitutes a mass of energy that moves and produces waves, the length of which is measured in nanometers (nm).
The light we’re able to see is in the visible electromagnetic spectrum, i.e. between 400 and 700 nm. Each wavelength in this spectrum is related to a distinct color and effects that vary with each other. Further along the spectrum, there are infrared rays that have a wavelength of more than 700 nm. These are part of what is called invisible light.
The shorter the wavelength, the more superficial the effect on the skin. The longer the wavelength, the deeper the effect.
How LED light works and what are its benefits on the skin:
During LED therapy (or photo-modulation), the light waves caused by LED devices act deeply in the skin to trigger natural intracellular reactions.
The layers of the skin contain a lot of blood and water that can absorb these light waves. Each wavelength (and therefore each colour of light) has different beneficial effects on the skin.
The best known/ researched and most used in photo-modulation are red light, blue light and infrared rays.
Effects of red light (600-695 nm) on the skin:
It stimulates fibroblasts to promote collagen and elastin production and cell regeneration. It also boosts blood and lymphatic circulation (so it helps to reduce the redness).
Effects of blue light (400-495 nm) on the skin:
It has an anti-acne, antibacterial effect. Blue light penetrates the sebaceous glands to destroy the bacteria that cause acne. It reduces inflammation and prevents the formation of acne lesions.
Effects of infrared rays on the skin (800-1200 nm):
Infrared light regenerates the cells of the dermis and epidermis. It’s used to regenerate the skin and accelerate the healing of skin lesions.
Professional treatments versus at-home devices:
Photo-modulation is therefore widely used by doctors, especially dermatologists, to treat and regenerate the skin.
How does a photo-modulation session take place in a medical office?
The patient sits or lies two or three centimeters from the LED-covered screen. Their face has been cleansed before. The session lasts from 10 to 30 minutes maximum. He or she may wear glasses as a precaution, knowing that red light doesn’t affect the retina.
During the session, there is no pain, no warm feeling, it’s described as a cold light treatment. There are no side effects either.
There are relatively few contraindications*. There is a risk of epilepsy if LEDs are used in pulsed light mode, and their use is not recommended in cases of photoallergy, skin cancer, and thyroid problems. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid it. In case of any doubt or if you are under medical treatment, you should, of course, ask your doctor for advice before starting the treatment.
*: These contraindications also apply to at-home LED masks.
After the session, a slight and ephemeral sensation of heat may occur, especially if blue or infrared LEDs have been used during the session.
Usually, two sessions per week for 1 month are recommended for an anti-aging or acne effect. In any case, it’s the doctor who will give the frequency of the sessions according to the skin of the patient.
At-home LED masks:
More and more brands are offering LED masks to use this technology at home.
If you had to compare the photo-modulation sessions with a professional with those done at home, it would be a bit like workout sessions done with a personal trainer and those done by yourself. Both are beneficial for you, that’s for sure. But you don’t get as intense treatment at home as with a pro.
However, LED mask brands insist that the benefits of these treatments are cumulative, which means that with very regular use (some brands recommend daily use), good results can still be achieved, if you’re patient and aim for a long-term result.
The intensity of the LEDs in these masks is indeed less important than those of the pro devices and the number of LEDs present on the device also less.
But it’s true that at-home LED masks are definitely very practical. You can use them whenever you want, in the comfort of your own home. No need to travel, and in the long term, it’s also a better value for money!
My experience with the Korean LED mask LG Pra.L BWJ:
I became interested in this technology because I liked the idea of a device to boost the effects of my skincare (the effects of cosmetics have a limited impact on anti-aging). I also know that LEDs allow me to go a little further than my care in the treatment of the signs of skin aging.
Above all, I was hoping for a result on the texture of my skin, with less visible pores and more radiance. I wasn’t really expecting any effect on the reduction of my wrinkles (because I don’t have a lot for now), nor on the loss of firmness (at the moment, my skin is still holding up pretty well, except a little on my eyelids).
LED masks are not so new, I’ve been hearing about them for a few years but to be honest, I was a little suspicious at first. Not necessarily about the technology (I knew the results were proven to be effective) but rather on the actual quality of the masks available on the market.
First of all, I couldn’t understand the price difference. All the ones I saw on sale online were either overpriced or very cheap, but as a result, it made me doubt their quality. How could a mask claim to provide the same effect/results be worth between $50 and $2500? I just didn’t get it!
So I decided to avoid those that were sold on cheap low-end shops, like Ali Express for example (I didn’t want to end up with a badly made mask that might do more harm than good, because I only have one face!) and focus on more recognized brands. I had to do a lot of research because it was and probably still is a pretty niche field at the moment, so I spent a lot of time on forums, reading reviews, etc.
According to my research, the most interesting LED light for me is red, potentially blue too because I sometimes have acne. I also figure that the number of LEDs on the mask is important, you need a minimum to expect a good efficiency (at least 100). I also liked the idea of eye protection in the mask, for more safety.
It was while digging to determine which mask would be the most interesting for me that I discovered that LG launched an LED mask in the Asian market a few months ago. Yes, LG, the TVs and phones brand!
In the West, LG is known as an electrical household appliance company. But in Korea, LG is a giant company with branches in almost every sector of the economy. They have several cosmetic brands (including Belif for example, among others) and recently, they launched their own beauty devices!
I must admit that the fact that I knew the brand already reassured me quite a bit, so I started to research more seriously about this mask. But I couldn’t find many links to buy it online. I feel like it’s not available anywhere else but in Asia.
Lucky for me, my husband went to Korea at the end of last summer, so I took the opportunity to ask him to bring me one back. He was able to get it in the duty-free shop at half its original price (because it’s really not cheap: when it launched, it was around $800, its price has dropped a little since).
The LED mask LG Pra.L BWJ, presentation:
The LG Pra.L BWJ mask was released at the end of 2017 in Korea. I really like its simple and futuristic design very “Daft Punk” or “Iron Man” ?
It includes 120 LED and uses 2 types of light, red light (60 bulbs at 637nm) and infrared rays (60 bulbs at 854nm).
The brand claims an effect on the radiance of the complexion, on the reduction of pore size, on the density of the skin (with the boosting effect on collagen production) and therefore, an overall anti-wrinkle and anti-sagging effect.
The session scheduled on the mask is 9 minutes a day, which I find quite convenient to fit into my schedule.
The mask is recognized and certified by the FDA ( = Food and Drug Administration, the US government department responsible for drug regulation), which reassures me of its quality and safety of use.
I also appreciate that it includes eye protection, for better comfort in use.
The mask is attached to a small remote control. It includes a sound guide in 3 languages (English, Korean, Mandarin) that can be muted or just with beeps if you prefer. This indicates the time remaining during the session (9 minutes, 6 minutes, 3 minutes).
The mask is also equipped with a sensor that detects when the mask is put on and taken off to automatically turn it off.
It’s sold with a charging cradle to store it and a nice suede pocket to take it on a trip more easily (I always travel with it!). It recharges with a USB cable, and I usually recharge it once a week (each charge equals 70 minutes of use).
How I use it:
I use the LG Pra.L BWJ mask every day, after my morning skincare routine (after my moisturizer and before using my sunscreen). For maximum effectiveness, the brand recommends using it with clean, well-hydrated skin.
I prefer to use it in the morning because in the evening, I use acids and/or retinol in my routine and I have read contradictory information about it. Some say it’s not a problem, others say it’s best to avoid doing both at the same time, so for safety, I prefer to use it after my morning routine which is more focused on hydration and antioxidant protection.
Ideally, it’s better to lie down during the session, but I must admit that I rarely do so. In general, I take this opportunity to tidy up, prepare my breakfast etc. The mask fits very well on my face, so I can stay active while I’m using it.
During the session, I feel nothing, no heat. I’m not dazzled by the light either. Of course, I can’t see very well when I wear it (the part that covers the eyes is tinted) but enough to go about my usual activities if I want to.
I use it every day, as the brand recommends. I’ve gotten used to it and it’s now been more than 6 months since it became part of my routine.
The result after 6 months of use:
I took pictures of my face in early October 2018, when I started using the LG Pra.L BWJ mask and I took more pictures in early May 2019, just 6 months later.
Last October, I had a lot of small breakouts, as you will see below in the pictures. Otherwise, my skin is not too wrinkled yet (except on the eye contour area) so I didn’t really expect anti-wrinkles results, as I said earlier.
Above all, I was hoping for a difference in the texture of my skin and its radiance.
Have a look at the before and after in pictures:
Right side view:
Left side view:
I know that the result is not obvious, it’s even quite light. But I still find that the texture of my skin looks refined and I also see that my skin is brighter (I even find a difference in its tone, it’s lighter than before).
My experience with this LED mask has been quite positive overall. Certainly, the change on my skin is not the most obvious but if you hope for a miracle effect with this kind of devices, you might be disappointed.
To be honest, I’ve been taking good care of my skin for a long time, so I guess it also plays a role in the “subtlety” of the result on me. On other people, it’s very possible that the results would be more visible!
I see this mask more like a good boost in addition to my skincare routine, but for me, it doesn’t replace it, nor do I think it can replace a cosmetic procedure. The result won’t be the same.
However, I really think it’s interesting as a preventive measure and it fits well with my approach to skincare. For me, it’s much easier to preserve the youthfulness of your skin by protecting it with the right products and stimulating it with different treatments than to repair it once it’s too late!
This LG mask is clearly an investment, I won’t deny it and I know there are many other cheaper alternatives. But since I plan to use it for a long time to come, I thought that in the long term, it would probably be more profitable to invest in a good quality mask!
Finally, I think it’s a treatment that must be done very regularly to optimize the results. I’m quite disciplined when it comes to things that interest me, and I don’t mind spending 9 minutes every day on the beauty of my complexion, but I know that this is not for everybody.
IMO, it’s important to examine all these aspects when considering the purchase of these kind of devices!
Have you ever tried photo-modulation? Do you use an LED mask and if so, what is your experience with this technology? I would be curious to know your thoughts!