Overview of the New Omnilux LED Mask
Omnilux released a new LED mask so I wanted to update my larger LED mask blog post to include the new details about it. First, I wanted to note that they call this the “Omnilux Men LED Mask” but I don’t think it is necessary to include a gender in the label, so I am leaving that out.
What is different about this mask compared to the Omnilux Contour mask that I love?
- In addition to having the same red (633nm) and NIR (830nm) wavelengths it also includes another NIR wavelength of 1072nm to penetrate even deeper into the skin. What I am very happy to report is that most of the LEDs are still the 633nm and 830nm wavelengths — but then they added a handful of the 1072nm LEDs to target the forehead, the crow’s feet, and along the laugh lines.
*This is the key difference.* I will talk more about the 1072 wavelength below, but the reason Omnilux is calling this the Omnilux Men’s mask is because “Men generally have ~25% thicker facial skin than women due to men having a higher percentage of the hormone testosterone. Since the 1072nm penetrates deeper than 633nm and 830nm it is able to target the deepest cells.” As a note, I couldn’t find a citation (that doesn’t mean one isn’t out there) for the 25% thicker estimate, but I did find a high quality study that reported that males had 10-20% thicker skin than females (Bailey et al., 2011).
- The new Contour mask has slightly longer straps.
What is Not Different?
- As mentioned above, it has the same Red wavelength and also has the same 830nm wavelength as the contour. (YAY!!)
- The mask dimensions are the same as the Contour mask (Boo…). I know some people are going to be bummed about because essentially all of the flexible LED masks have the same dimensions which may not fully cover larger foreheads. But the good news is that even if the mask isn’t perfectly covering the entire forehead, as long as the light is reflected on your skin, you will get the same benefits. But it would have been nice to increase the size a bit.
- The irradiance is the same as Contour at 35mw/cm2.
- The treatment time of 10 minutes is the same.
- It still has a great 2-year warranty (the warranty process with Omnilux is extremely easy and they have great customer service)
- It will be the same price as the Omnilux Contour ($395)
Some things to keep in mind:
- It launched on Nov. 14th in the US, AU, and NZ. It will be available in all other shipping regions early 2023.
- Hair will deflect light, so skin with a heavier beard will not see as much improvement because the density of facial hair will prevent some light from penetrating into the skin.
- Yes, women can use the mask. Whether you experience better results or the same results is unclear. But there is no reason to expect any unwanted adverse results.
- Like all masks with Red and NIR, the new Omnilux mask is very safe for the eyes and does not require any eye protection. (The mask has been tested and conforms to medical device standards including IEC/EN 62471 Photobiological eye safety standard). However, some people may have very sensitive retinas. For example, my mom has blue eye and has always had very sensitive retinas and it is painful for her to wear my Omnilux Contour mask because the light is too bright for her. For people with a similar issue, you can purchase eye guards from Omnilux for $20 by emailing email@example.com.
- There are no other LED face masks that include the 1072nm wavelength.
So which would I go with?
First. If you already own the Omnilux Contour mask, please don’t have FOMO or feel like you are missing out. The added 1072 LEDs hold potential to be especially useful for those with thicker skin–but there is still limited evidence (which I cover in more detail below for those that are curious).
- If you are someone with thicker skin, which tends to be men (or those assigned male at birth), and you are looking to buy an LED mask, I would recommend going with the new Omnilux one with the 1072nm wavelength because that additional wavelength has the potential to improve results due to some of the LEDs have increased depth of penetration.
- If you haven’t bought an LED mask yet and you were considering the Omnilux Contour, and wound healing or inflammation is a priority for you, I would go with the new mask rather than the original Contour. The Contour is amazing at wound healing–I can personally attest to that after I split my eyebrow open and it healed in record time and there are numerous studies providing evidence for 830nm and 633nm for wound healing. But the added oomph of the 1072 and its deeper penetration is promising. So because of that, I would personally go with the new mask. (Note: Omnilux is sending me the new mask so I will be able to use it and report back with any notable differences in results should there be any)
- If you haven’t bought an LED mask yet, and were considering the Omnilux Contour and things like wrinkles are your top priority, I would probably stick with the Contour. Given that light penetration is deeper/better for females, in theory females would more responsive to Low level light therapy (LLLT) and might not need has high a dose as males. So essentially the 1072nm wavelength could be unnecessary for females. GembaRed also wrote a great blog post on why females (and older populations) might benefit from different dosing. You can read that here.
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What do we know about the 1072nm wavelength?
First….let’s step back and talk about why wavelengths matter (to read even more click here). Wavelengths are like the active ingredients in skincare products. They are critical to the results you will see. Some have lots of evidence to support their benefits (like red and NIR) and some have been found to have limited benefits (like yellow or green) or mixed benefits but with some downsides (like blue light).
One reason red and NIR are so frequently used in high quality LED devices is because they are within the “optical window” of ideal photobiomodulation (this is sometimes referred to as the “tissue window”). That window is said to be between 610 and 860 (Karu & Kolyakov, 2005). More recently, some other researchers argue the optical window extends up to 1100 nm (Lima et al., 2020).
This optical window offers the best penetration of light. And different tissue targets have an optimum wavelength at which they absorb light (Calderhead & Vasily, 2016). For example, within that band of 610-860, it may be best to avoid wavelengths between 700 and 780 nm as they have been found to be rather ineffective as it coincides with a trough in the absorption spectrum of cytochrome c oxidase.
So for the most part, you want to look for red (typically 633nm, but somewhere between 630-660nm) and NIR (look for 820-840nm, with 830nm being the gold standard) as those wavelengths have the most evidence to support them. Those are the two wavelengths that Omnilux uses in their Contour Mask.
Importantly, NIR penetrates deeper than red wavelengths. Whereas red light has a greater impact on more surface level skin benefits, NIR plays a bigger role in impacting deeper tissues and helps more with wound healing, pain and inflammation. But what we do know is that red and NIR work really well together.
In studies that compared red wavelengths alone compared to red plus NIR, the red plus NIR had the best results across a range of outcomes related to photoaging. (which is why one of my key recommendations it to make sure you get a mask that has both Red and NIR wavelengths.
So why add the 1072nm and will it penetrate well?
In my LED post with a deep dive of Low level light therapy (LLLT) I noted that researchers have claimed that wavelengths above 860nm tend to have more limited penetration because they are being superficially absorbed by the water in our skin.
However, there is a dip in water absorption that lines up with the 1000-1100nm band which may explain why NIR wavelengths in this band are gaining popularity for deep penetration and to have a slightly different tissue target in the cells.
The rationale behind Omnilux including the 1072nm wavelength–located strategically in the band that has a “valley” of improved absorption above 860nm–is because they wanted to include a wavelength that could penetrate deeper in the skin as it may be helpful in targeting the biologic properties of male skin. In other words, given that males have thicker skin (due to higher levels of testosterone) than females they could benefit from having some of the lights use a higher wavelength to penetrate their skin better. Also, they feel that there is a growing understanding of the dermatologic effects of 1072 nm light and that this additional wavelength holds the potential to offer additional benefits for skin rejuvenation.
So what evidence is there?
There aren’t many studies with skin rejuvenation outcomes that I could find on the benefits of 1072 wavelengths—but there has been an increase in studies more recently on wavelengths in the 1060-1100 band. And there are a few published studies that show the potential for this wavelength to offer significant benefits to the skin.
One study (Stirling et al. 2005) was a randomized prospective double-blind placebo controlled self-reporting study evaluated effects of once daily treatment over 6-8 weeks with 1072 nm on wrinkles fine lines and undereye bags. They found statistically significant evidence that 1072 can help reduce fine lines and under-eye bag (but the outcomes were self-reports of improvements. For example, 52% said their complexion improved (versus 20% in the control group) and 46% said it improved their under eye bags (versus 4% that said that in the control group).
What I find most promising are the studies that don’t focus on skin rejuvenation and instead look at outcomes like wound healing–finding that the 1072 wavelength can reduce healing time (as cited in Ngoc et al., 2022)
But it is important to note that I did not find any study that had a head to head comparison to see if 1027nm was better than other NIR wavelengths. So keep that in mind.
My takeaway is that the additional 1072nm wavelength seems really promising due to its ability to penetrate deeper in the skin and reach different “targets” , but given the limited evidence I am very glad it is still used alongside evidence-based wavelengths of 633nm and 830nm.
Bailey, S. H., Oni, G., Brown, S. A., Kashefi, N., Cheriyan, S., Maxted, M., … & Kenkel, J. M. (2012). The use of non‐invasive instruments in characterizing human facial and abdominal skin. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 44(2), 131-142.
Calderhead, R. G., & Vasily, D. B. (2016). Low level light therapy with light-emitting diodes for the aging face. Clinics in plastic surgery, 43(3), 541-550.
Firooz A, Rajabi-Estarabadi A, Zartab H, Pazhohi N, Fanian F, Janani L. The influence of gender and age on the thickness and echo-density of skin. Skin Res Technol. 2017 Feb;23(1):13-20. doi: 10.1111/srt.12294. Epub 2016 Jun 8. PMID: 27273751.
Karu, T. I., & Kolyakov, S. F. (2005). Exact action spectra for cellular responses relevant to phototherapy. Photomedicine and Laser Therapy, 23(4), 355-361.
Lima, Andrezza & Sergio, Luiz Philippe & Fonseca, Adenilson. (2020). Photobiomodulation via multiple-wavelength radiations. Lasers in Medical Science. 35. 10.1007/s10103-019-02879-1.
Ngoc, L. T. N., Moon, J. Y., & Lee, Y. C. (2022). Utilization of Light‐Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for Skin therapy: Systematic Review and Meta‐analysis. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine.