When dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain first talked to us about Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask, he was pretty excited about it. He’d been trying it out at American Academy of Dermatology conference.
The cool thing about the mask was that it’s a scaled down version of some of the therapy he does in his office near Steiner Ranch, except you can get it at the grocery store for $40 for the mask and about $17 a month for the activator packet that charges the light.
How does it work? First you plug in the activator. Then you wash your face with cleanser and put on the mask, which covers your whole face plus your eyes. You press and hold the start button and then you’re supposed to relax for 10 minutes with the light on.
The light goes after inflammatory acne (that’s the acne that is a big red bump on the face). Not the acne that is a blackhead or a whitehead.
In theory, the blue light kills bacteria and the red light reduces inflammation.
While dermatologists have been using light therapy for years, Neutrogena’s mask uses a much lower level energy than what doctors use.
“You have to take it with a grain of salt,” Lain says. “You’re not going to clear it 100 percent, but you could be 40 percent to 50 percent clearer.”
You still have to wash your face to get rid of the debris on your face.
So, we asked one of our 13-year-old Girl Scouts to try it. She did it a couple of times. First, it was a little bit weird, she said. It didn’t hurt, but the light was really bright on her eyes even if she closed them.
Second, it was really boring. “You have to sit there for 10 minutes and you can’t do anything.”
Third, she never remembered to do it.
And therein lies the problem with all face products and the teenager. They don’t remember to use them.
“The biggest issue is compliance,” Lain said. “With a Type A personality child, this would be perfect.”
There are two new over-the-counter products Lain is also excited about:
The first is lipohydroxy acid, which is related to salicyclic acid, but causes less irritation while it exfoliates, kills bacteria and helps with acne. It comes in La Roche Posay acne products, such as the Effaclar line.
The other is Differin, which is now over the counter. It’s a retinoid (like Retin-A, or tretinoin), so you have to worry about irritation and sun sensitivity. It’s applied as a thin layer on the face at night. And you should use moisturizer and sunscreen when you are using it.