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I tried the new Solawave red-light mask — here are my thoughts

The brand uses LED light therapy to combat fine lines and acne with its newest launch.
Adding a new device to the brand's lineup, we gave the Solawave LED face mask a try for a month.
Adding a new device to the brand's lineup, we gave the Solawave LED face mask a try for a month.Solawave

Solawave, the brand behind the red light therapy wand is expanding its skin care device lineup with its newest launch: a light therapy mask. Launched earlier this year, the FDA-approved mask aims to help with wrinkles and acne by using single-color LED light therapy. Unlike the wand, which only uses red light therapy, this mask gives users the option to use blue light (more on that later). 

SKIP AHEAD How LED light therapy works | How I tried the Solawave Wrinkle & Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask | My experience with the Solawave Wrinkle & Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask | What to remember when using LED light therapy devices

Solawave Wrinkle & Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask

I tried the Solawave Light Therapy Mask for one month, along with a few other NBC Select staffers. Our honest thoughts on the device are below, along with everything you need to know about light therapy efficacy and more.

How does LED light therapy work?

This treatment, while more effective when done in a professional office or clinic, is booming in at-home usage. That being said, it’s important to know the science behind light therapy and what to expect when using a device, according to our experts. 

  • Red light therapy: If you’re looking to reduce pain and inflammation after injuries and helps treat fine lines, acne, rosacea and scars, then this is for you, according to Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in non-invasive procedures. Red light “penetrates into skin to alter cell signaling pathways & cellular function,” says Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, a board-certified dermatologist.  “When delivered in short bursts at proper doses, it has proven anti-inflammatory, anti-redness, collagen stimulating and rejuvenating effects on the skin.” 
  • Blue light therapy: This form of light therapy helps kill the bacteria that cause acne and helps improve the skin’s texture, says Nazarian. “Blue light is a shorter and higher frequency wavelength, so it concentrates more at the skin surface,” says MacGregor. Although this can help prevent and treat acne, it can also flare up melasma and is not recommended for those patients, according to Nazarian. 

How I tried the Solawave Wrinkle and Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask 

I have sensitive, eczema-prone skin, so I was initially hesitant to try the mask. Prior to committing to a month-long trial period, I performed a patch test to ensure I’d be safe against flare-ups. The result? Nothing alarming or concerning popped up, meaning I was ready to get started. 

Keeping my nighttime skin routine the same, I began incorporating this right after I cleansed my face so I had a clean and dry base. I strapped on the mask, making sure it was not too loose or too tight, which honestly, was the most difficult part.. 

I left the mask on my face for 10 minutes — which was also when the lights automatically shut off. I started using this three times a week on the blue light setting and slowly began increasing my usage to four times a week.  After the treatment, I continued my regularly scheduled nighttime routine, which typically includes a serum, eye cream and facial moisturizer. 

My experience with the Solawave Wrinkle & Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask 

I’ll admit it: I’m always a bit skeptical when it comes to any facial tools and their efficacy. Unfortunately, that’s partly my fault because I’m consistently inconsistent. However, while using this one, I made sure to use it habitually and as directed. 

Following the device’s instructions was easy and simple. They even offer a video if you don’t want to read the instructional booklet. Setting up the device involved attaching the device to the charger (it comes with the device), and once it has a green light, you’re ready to use it multiple times before needing to recharge. 

As mentioned above, the hardest part was the mask’s fit on my face. After reading the booklet, I knew the mask couldn’t be too loose on my head, so I accidentally overcompensated and ended up leaving ash-like marks on my face. They luckily went away while I slept. Learning my lesson, I now keep the straps loose enough that the mask isn’t suffocating my face but also wasn’t moving around during the 10-minute treatment. I will say, if you have bigger lips, you may find the fit tight.

Along with eczema, my skin is also prone to the occasional cystic breakout. Because of this, I chose to use the blue light setting during my testing. Throughout the month, I watched a breakout that would’ve stayed inflamed for a long period of time, slowly begin diminishing in size. It didn’t completely prevent acne from occurring, as I tend to break out during specific times of the month, but it did seem to speed up the healing process. 

Select editorial director, Lauren Swanson, also used the device over this month-long period on both the blue light and red light settings. While not noticing drastic improvements, there were subtle, positive shifts in her skin. “At the end of the day, even if my skin wasn’t transformed, it still felt wonderful to slap on this creepy mask,” says Swanson. “I was able to dedicate 10 minutes to self care and that in itself made a big difference.” 

Overall, if you’re someone who wants a quick treatment that doesn’t require much maintenance or effort, this device is a great option to consider. It was user-friendly and didn’t require much effort on our part except for placing it on our face for 10 minutes a night.  

What to remember when using LED light therapy devices

While these treatments are becoming increasingly available, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding if this is the right step for you in your skin care journey. 

  • Be consistent. It takes four to six weeks to start seeing slight improvement and two to three months to actually see the full effect, according to MacGregor. 
  • Be cautious. Every individual is different, and what works for someone may not work for you, says MacGregor. Some things to be cautious of include improper eye protection and underlying skin and medical conditions. Consider asking your board-certified provider before beginning a new treatment to see if you are a good candidate, according to our experts.  
  • Consider FDA-approved devices. Every device has different power and exposure limits, but sometimes more power and exposure can cause more harm than good. To avoid using a device that isn’t safe, consider one with FDA approval. These devices have been reviewed and show that positive results are achieved safely and have specific limits on how often and long you should do it, according to MacGregor. 
  • Be open to other alternatives. There are many skin care products and non-invasive treatments available; ask your physician or dermatologist to see which combination of therapies works best for you, says Nazarian. 

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Nazarian Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills. Her areas of expertise include high-quality plastic surgery procedures and non-surgical cosmetic treatments.
  • Dr. Jennifer MacGregor is a board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm in New York City. Her areas of expertise include dermatologic surgery, injectables, and laser treatments, among others.

Why trust Select?

Bianca Alvarez is an associate reporter and has been covering beauty, including blackhead treatments, neck creams and body washes. For this piece, she received the brand’s newest launch, the Wrinkle & Bacteria Clearing Light Therapy Mask, and tried it out herself for a month along with other staff. (Solawave gifted masks to Select staff.) She used the product consistently, and both she and other members of the team experimented with different color settings, including both red and blue light. 

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