Why Men Should Give Light Therapy Masks a Try, Too

We dissect the wellness trend and review Therabody's shiny headgear

The TheraFace LED Mask from Therabody. We tested the light therapy mask to see if men should give it a go, too.
Is it time you gave red light therapy a try?
Arkadius Bies/Unsplash, Therabody

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

You have heard, no doubt, about the pillaging effects of excessive blue light consumption. As we beam our little screens into our brains at all hours of the day, we’re straining our eyes and suppressing the secretion of melatonin, which interrupts our sleep-wake cycles. No good. In that vein: blue light consumption is evidently worst right before bed.

It might come as a surprise, though, that blue light’s warmer cousin — red light — might actually be perfect for consumption at the end of your evening. But the key is to beam the light into your skin, not your eyes.

Interest in red light therapy has skyrocketed over the last three years, with “adoption of light therapies in the female population” leading the charge. You may have a female significant other or friend who’s gone to a red light therapy clinic; or perhaps seen one of them post a photo online, looking like a Sith Lord in an ember-lit mask.

But the emerging therapy — which promises to improve the appearance of wrinkles, acne and scars — isn’t the exclusive purview of women. The light may work its wonders on the male population too, if the fellas are willing to give it a chance.

Below, we discuss the pros and cons of red light therapy, and what’s it like to use Therabody’s TheraFace Mask.

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Is Red Light Therapy Legit?

I love a good accidental discovery. Red light phototherapy, originally dubbed “photobiomodulation,” was stumbled upon by a Hungarian scientist named Endre Mester in 1967. He was trying to mimic an experiment carried out by a Boston researcher who had used a laser to eliminate a lab rat’s cancerous tumor. Only, Mester didn’t realize his laser was way weaker; all it managed to do was stimulate hair growth and heal wounds.

Not as groundbreaking, perhaps, but compelling stuff for skincare-obsessed consumers living six decades later. Red light therapy uses a heatless, low-wavelength light that barely penetrates the body (we’re talking 2mm at most). Once there, the thinking goes, photons are absorbed in the cells, which supercharges mitochondria, maximizing our cells’ ability to transport electrons and consume oxygen.

Still with me? Sort of? Here’s what you need to know: regular red light equals more collagen and less inflammation — at least, that’s what the science suggests.

If you start scouring Google, you can find positive links between red light therapy and treating pretty much any skin malady: scars, acne, inflammation, wrinkles, sun damage.

Take these claims with a grain of salt, knowing that some oft-cited studies in the space have conflicts of interest down in the fine print. At the same time, though, RLT isn’t nearly as controversial as other wellness trends that have swept across social media in recent years. There appears to be lukewarm agreement (about the same temperature as a low-level wavelength!) that red light therapy is promising. For instance, in due time, red light might even be able to reduce other forms of inflammation, unrelated to skin concerns, like sore muscles.

Therabody’s TheraFace Mask

Last week, I wrote about Kelly Slater’s new sunscreen line, and why it’s awesome that a recognizable guy is getting into that space. Men have a hard case of sunscreen aversion (Slater even once had it himself!) despite the fact that we spend so much time outside, especially in our youth.

Assigning yourself a regular RLT routine, though, could provide some extra energy to your skin cells and some anti-aging relief for your face. Like I said, this thing isn’t a silver bullet, but there seems to be some serious scientific traction behind it. If you have the money, it could be worth the investment — and you probably do have the money, thanks to the 10 years you bought a 3-in-1 wash for the shower, instead of getting a dedicated face cleanser.

The TheraFace Mask is really simple to use. It doesn’t hook up to an app or anything like that, you just cinch the headgear over your face, Kylo Ren-style, click the on button and vibe through a session, which lasts a few minutes. The mask uses LED lights, not the original lasers of yore, which are well-reviewed and safe. (You can even keep your eyes open while sitting there, though I recommend just meditating, especially if you’re knocking this out before bed.)

A funny final note? TheraFace has a blue light option, too. Yep — forget what you knew about blue light, it’s good again. Or at least, it’s good in the context of skin therapy, with the capacity to fight “mild to moderate acne.”

Head here to get the full details on Therabody’s TheraFace Mask. And be ready to enter your email, if not your credit card information. These masks sell out like hotcakes.

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