Given all of the interest in the latest LED mask to launch, I thought I would share my thoughts on the latest LED device by TheraBody– The TheraFace LED Mask.
The company sent me the mask so that I could experience it for myself, but this review will be focused on the device’s key specs and my initial impressions and not the results from the mask (which I would expect to be similar to the results I have seen with other masks with similar key parameters).
To read more about the evidence behind LED devices and their impact on signs of aging, skin healing, inflammation, and more, check out this blog post.
The Key Parameters
Wavelengths and Irradiance (Power Density)
To dig into the specifics of the TheraFace LED mask, I examination the available data on their website, and one of their blog posts as well as cross-referencing that information with the publically available FDA 510(k) premarket notification documentation (that is what I am reporting below because the blog appeared to have some incorrect information).
- Red Light (633±10nm)
- Irradiance: 73±5 mW/cm²
- Fluence/Dose: 13 J/cm² (for 3 min session)
- Red + IR Light (830±10nm & 633±10nm)
- Irradiance: Red = 73±5/ NIR = 55±5 mW/cm²
- Fluence/Dose: 10-13 J/cm² (for 3 min session)
- Blue Light (415±10nm)
- Irradiance: 64±5 mW/cm²
- Fluence/Dose: 12 J/cm² (for 3 min session)
These wavelengths are all evidence-based and have a small variance, which is great.
Dose: Also, note that the dose is impacted by how many sessions you do. The numbers reported are all based on a 3 min. session. If you were to do a 6 or 9 min session, the dose would increase.
- To achieve a higher dose of Red + NIR than, say, the Omnilux mask, you would need to do a 6 min session. But a single 3 min session of the TheraFace would match the fluence/dose of the Dr. Dennis Gross Mask
- Fluence/Dose = (Irradiance x .001) x treatment time in seconds
Does it get warm? With such a high irradiance, I wondered if the mask would get warm while using it (which people with melasma that gets exacerbated by heat may want to avoid). As I anticipated, it does get warm after 3 min. and if you continue on with the main program (which cycles through the red, red + NIR, and then blue–which I always skip) then it gets even warmer by the end. This is probably due to both the high irradiance and because there isn’t a nose or mouth hole, so your breath probably contributes to the heat.
My thoughts on the LED programs
The mask defaults to a 9 minute treatment that starts with the 3 minutes of the red wavelength, then 3 minutes of the red + NIR (this is what I use 99% of the time) and ends with 3 minutes of the blue wavelength. If you just wanted to do the red and NIR as I do, you can just toggle to the second setting by short pressing on the side button. (It would have been nice if it came with an app so that you could just select a specific setting).
Let’s talk about the inclusion of blue light. I know some people want a mask that has 415nm to help treat moderate acne. When an LED mask includes blue wavelengths alongside red and NIR, I think it is very important that it has a setting that allows people to only use red and NIR (which is what this mask does, so that is great). That makes it possible for people to primarily use the red + NIR setting (which has the most skin benefits) and to only use the blue setting sparingly. Other things to keep in mind about using the blue wavelength.
- It is only intended for the short term treatment of moderate (not mild and not severe) acne.
- It should not be used to prevent acne, only to treat current acne.
- It does not help with whiteheads and blackheads
- I would not just do the 3 min blue session. Instead, I would do the full 9 min to get red, then red + NIR, and then blue (research has found that blue in combo with red or with NIR is more effective than blue alone).
- In line with evidence-based recommendations for proper use: I would not use the blue setting more than a couple times a week for 4 weeks max.
- I’d also keep an eye on hyperpigmentation, because blue light can lead to some hyperpigmentation.
So basically, I am suggesting you use blue light sparingly and only when you really need it.
I don’t personally see the benefit of having the solo red setting… so I feel like that setting is a waste. If anything I would have appreciated if they offered a NIR only setting, but since NIR doesn’t emit any light I bet that they didn’t do that because wouldn’t think the mask was on and working.
Other Stats at a Glance
Before we dive into the finer details, here’s a quick look at some other stats:
- Price: $599 (on the higher side compared to other devices)
- Treatment Time: 3 minutes for each session (and there are 3 different treatment sessions)
- Warranty: 1 year
- My opinion: Given its price, a longer warranty would have been more reassuring. For example, all of the masks that I recommend have 2 year warranties and many of those warranties get used because LED is fragile technology.
- Battery Life: Approx. 40 LED sessions and 60 minutes for vibration mode
- Dimensions: 31cm width x 23cm height
- Good news is that is is larger than other popular hard shell masks, like Dr. Dennis Gross mask and the Qure mask which both have dimensions of 22cm x 20cm.
A Unique Touch - Vibration Therapy
TheraFace brings a unique feature to the table – vibration therapy. It has three different pattern modes that are each 5 minutes. The mask has a total of 17 vibration motors focused around your eyes, browline, and scalp. (There are 3 on the top of the head, which I feel the least, 3 on each side of the temple area, and then 8 around the eyes).
The vibration honestly feels great. When you turn on the device it will start with the “Continuous” mode — I usually skip that one.
You can short press the vibration button to get to the next program, which is “Breathing” mode. This one is relaxing. You are supposed to use the vibrations to guide you through a breathing exercise where you breathe in for five seconds as the vibration intensity increases and then a high speed vibration is your cue to start to slowly exhale.
The last mode is the “Wave” treatment, which I like best. This one has sequential vibration patterns that move from face to head. It feels pretty damn relaxing.
The nice thing is that you can use the vibration therapy either alone or with LED therapy. While the mask will default to using wave mode with Red (because that is the first LED program), then breathing with Red + NIR, and continuous with Blue, you are able to toggle through to whichever mode you want to use with whichever LED wavelength you want.
Design and Usability
Hard Shell vs. Flexible Silicone
This mask has a formed shape (like the Dr. Dennis Gross), lacking the flexibility that would have made it easy to treat other body parts apart from the face (I like how with flexible masks I can lay it flat on my chest, for example).
This is personal preference, but I also really appreciate how flexible LED masks, like Omnilux, store more discreetly because they lay flat. (I keep my LED max in a skinny 2 inch tall box that sits next the couch —where I always use the mask. keeping it nearby helps me use it more consistently.)
One nice thing is that the box that this comes in is really nice. So, if you are like me and you don’t want to display the make on your counter, you could keep it discreetly in the box.
Note about the Eye Shields
The TheraFace comes cordless with removable eye shields — not groundbreaking, but it matches up to some of the best out there. And I have to say that this are the most comfortable eye shields out of all of the ones I have tried. A lot of eye shield make it feel like my eyes are going to bulge out of my head from the pressure.
The eye shields are a must when using Blue light because Blue light can be damaging to the eyes.
But they aren’t necessary for when you use the red or Red + NIR setting (unless you have light sensitivity). Red and NIR wavelengths are completely safe for the eyes and are even used in some optometry research.
My husband and I opt to not use the eye shields because we never use the Blue setting and just use the Red + NIR for a quick 3 minute treatment. The reason we don’t use the eye shields is (1) the light doesn’t bother us and (2) we want to treat the eyes and area around eyes. Quin gets eczema patches on his eyelids and red +NIR has really helped to reduce and calm those flair ups. With the eye shields in, the light isn’t able to hit that area for him.
Number of lights: While the company boasts about having “3x more lights than the leading mask competitor”, I’m not sold on this. Literature suggests that the number of lights is not a vital aspect; what truly matters are the irradiance and wavelength coverage.
Light Coverage: Not having a hole for the mouth may be a con for folks that want to be able to multi-task as in masking while sipping on a beverage or eating a snack. But for others they may like that the mouth is covered to really maximize lip coverage (although because of how lights reflects on the skin, you are still treating your lips with the masks that have holes for the mouth)
Summary of Pros & Cons
- Uses evidence-based wavelengths and sufficient irradiance
- If you wanted a mask that includes blue light in a separate setting, as well as Red+NIR in another setting, this has that.
- Could have as little as 3 min sessions
- The vibration is a really nice touch
- Very comfortable eye shields for those that want to use blue light or that are sensitive to red light
- No cords and doesn’t need to be plugged in to use it.
- I don’t love that the default program includes blue light (which should only be used to treat, not prevent acne, and only in short stints, i.e., long-term usage is bad).
- Only a 1 year warranty
- Can get warm (so people with heat-induced melasma may want to skip)
- Bulky to store
- Hard shell means you can’t lay it on other parts of body