Neutrogena recalls its light therapy acne mask

Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask


Neutrogena has voluntarily recalled its Red & Blue Light Therapy Acne Mask, over concerns of eye injury, according to a statement on the company’s website. Effective now, you can no longer buy the product on their website, or at any other retailer that once stocked it — like Target and Amazon.

Read more: Perfect skin, sinus relief and a Roomba-like toothbrush: 5 wellness devices you’ll want in 2019

The Light Therapy Acne Mask uses red and blue LEDs to kill bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation, all to help you combat facial acne. The mask fits over your face to expose your entire face to the light all at once for a 10-minute session.

There’s a cutout in the mask that lines up with most people’s eye area, plus an eye shield so that you aren’t unnecessarily exposing your eyes to the light.

Despite its design, the company says that it’s received reports of visual effects from customers. Most people haven’t experienced any significant eye issues from those visual effects, but Neutrogena says, “For a small subset of the population with certain underlying eye conditions, as well as for users taking medications which could enhance ocular photosensitivity, there is a theoretical risk of eye injury.”

That theoretical risk was enough for Neutrogena to pull it from the shelves.

For anyone who loved what the mask did for their skin and acne, Neutrogena is still selling its Red & Blue Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment. That handheld device works just like the mask, but covers just a small area of skin at a time, which reduces the risk that the light will cause eye issues.

While I don’t endorse buying recalled products, you can still buy the mask on eBay if you’re desperate.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

News of the recall was for the most part missed by consumers — though a Reddit skin care group member said a month ago that they had seen an internal Neutrogena memo about the planned recall — until this week, when the Australian Department of Health issued a consumer-level recall and provided more information.

The department said in a statement that it “has been identified that, for a small subset of potentially susceptible people (including people with certain eye-related disorders e.g. retinitis pigmentosa, ocular albinism, other congenital retinal disorders), repeated exposure may cause varying degrees of retinal damage that could be irreversible and could accelerate peripheral vision impairment or loss.”

The statement continued: “Other potential adverse events that may be associated with use of this device are eye pain, eye discomfort, eye irritation, tearing, blinding, blurring of vision, seeing spots/flashes and other changes in vision (for example vision color).”

Australia’s notice advised all consumers, not only those with underlying eye conditions, to stop using the mask.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the agency was “aware of the recall” and was looking into it.

Why Neutrogena’s Popular Light Therapy Mask Is Being Recalled

The Neutrogena mask uses two types of light to treat the skin. According to the product’s description, blue light is supposed to kill the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes, while red light reduces inflammation.

The product was subsequently withdrawn in Australia as well. The Australian Department of Health issued a similar warning on July 17, stating that potential adverse events associated with the mask include eye pain and discomfort, blurring of vision, blinding, and seeing spots or flashes.

For individuals with underlying eye problems, such as retinitis pigmentosa, ocular albinism, and other retinal problems, “Repeated exposure may cause varying degrees of retinal damage that could be irreversible and could accelerate peripheral vision impairment or loss.”

Dr. Matthew Gorski, an ophthalmologist at Northwell Health, Great Neck, New York, explained to Healthline that there needs to be more research done on the effects of blue light and eye health.

“In the last couple of years, there has been some laboratory research that has commented that there may be effects of blue light on retinal cells. What’s important to know is that there has not been definitive clinical evidence,” said Gorski.

“It’s a very theoretical risk,” he added.

Blue light, the same kind that’s emitted from fluorescent lighting and the screens of electronic devices like cellphones, TVs, and computers, has been associated with other health problems, most notably sleep problems.

Researchers have begun to investigate whether blue light has the potential to lead to serious eye damage, including macular degeneration, which results from the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina.

However, there’s no conclusive evidence yet.

Light therapy has been part of the armamentarium of dermatologists for some time, but only recently have cheap devices hit the market that are designed to be used at home without the supervision of a professional.

“I have blue light in my office,” Dr. Michele S. Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City.

“The blue light that I have in my office is extremely powerful — people wear goggles when they are using it to protect their eyes. The lights that are in these $35 machines at home are not equivalent,” she said.

The Reason Neutrogena Recalled Its Light Therapy Acne Mask

Neutrogena is recalling its popular Light Therapy Acne Mask.

The Johnson & Johnson-owned skin-care brand is recalling the mask due to the possible risk of eye injury. The brand issued a statement on its web site stating that the recall was issued out of caution.

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“The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask is safe to use by the general population when used once per day as directed,” the brand wrote. “Reports of visual effects associated with the use of the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask are rare, generally mild and transient. For a small subset of the population with certain underlying eye conditions, as well as for users taking medications, which can enhance ocular photosensitivity, there is a theoretical risk of eye injury.”

Launched in 2016, the mask was one of the first mass-market light therapy options, retailing at $39.99. The mask included blue and red light to treat acne and proved effective for customers with nearly 80 percent of subjects in trials showing fewer breakouts in just one week, according to the brand. The product received WWD Beauty Inc’s Launch of the Year Award in 2016 and the InStyle Best Buy Award for Acne Treatments in 2018.

After successfully launching the Light Therapy Acne Mask, Neutrogena released another iteration of the device as a spot treatment. This product is still available for purchase on the brand’s site and is not part of the recall.

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Neutrogena Recalled Its Popular Light Therapy Acne Mask—Here’s What You Need to Know


If you’ve scrolled through your Insta feed anytime in the past few years, odds are you’ve seen at least a few selfies featuring the popular Neutrogena LED Light Therapy Mask. Designed to help banish pesky pimples, the device uses blue light therapy to target acne-causing bacteria and red light therapy to reduce inflammation (as a bonus, it helps with anti-aging, too). The $35 mask was shown to be effective in clinical studies, making it an instant derm favorite and the gold standard for a new wave of at-home LED devices. (Related: Does Light Therapy for Skin Really Work?)

That is, until earlier this month, when Neutrogena quietly recalled the mask following incidents of eye injury. (Luckily, the brand’s red and blue light acne-fighting wand—which made our list of The Best Acne Spot Treatments to Get Rid of a Pimple Fast—isn’t a part of the recall.)

“Reports of visual effects associated with the use of the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask are rare, generally mild and transient,” the brand explained in their statement. Yet it cautioned that “for a small subset of the population with certain underlying eye conditions, as well as for users taking medications which could enhance ocular photosensitivity, there is a theoretical risk of eye injury.”

The brand didn’t share how many cases of actual injury occurred as a result of using the mask, but they did clarify that they decided to recall the product ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ noting that the mask remains “safe for use by the general population when used once per day as directed.”

However, as the New York Times reported, the Australian Department of Health issued a consumer-level recall last week, adding some pretty scary-sounding harmful effects that may be associated with the device, including “eye pain, eye discomfort, eye irritation, tearing, blinding, blurring of vision, seeing spots/flashes and other changes in vision (for example vision color).” Their notice advised all consumers—not just those with underlying eye conditions—to stop using the mask.

Where do derms stand on the safety of at-home light therapy devices? “All light therapy devices carry this similar risk,” says New York City-based dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., who often works with similar technologies in-office. This puts those with conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa (a rare genetic defect) in danger of the aforementioned eye injury, she adds. “However, what really matters is the wavelength of light that’s used and how long the contact is,” says Dr. Day.

If used as directed—once a day for the ten-minute cycle—the mask should be safe if you don’t suffer from any ocular sensitivities, she says. If you think that applies to you, Dr. Day recommends checking with your ophthalmologist before using any LED light therapy at home.

Dr. Day also recommends keeping your eyes closed to ensure safety, and other derms have suggested opaque goggles (like those used in tanning booths) to keep the light from penetrating. (FWIW, these eye safety tips aren’t mentioned anywhere on Neutrogena’s website, or as part of their ‘important tips for usage’ guide.)

If you already own the mask and would rather err on the side of caution, Neutrogena is offering refunds—just call the brand’s consumer care hotline at 1-800-582-4048.

  • By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan

Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask Review: Does It Work?

Remember those slumber parties with your besties when you were younger? If they looked anything like mine, then they involved a healthy amount of DIY face-masking. Bananas were mashed, oatmeal was crushed, and a bountiful dose of honey was added. Thankfully, as we have matured, our self-care habits have evolved somewhat. Now we look for masks with slick packaging that contain things like “active ingredients.”

With age we’ve realized that we want the results more than we want the pampering. We’ll do almost anything in order to get clear skin, but we don’t have the time or patience to ‘wait for results’. Having said that, nobody rushes around while trying to hurriedly slap on a face mask. There is a certain sacred ritualization to this touted self-care option. It gives your face that deep clean that other scrubs and cleansers aren’t able to.

When it comes to the dreaded word – acne – luxuries such as face masks are often avoided like the plague. Unless your dermatologist has suggested to you, well, anything…you don’t go near it. Especially anything remotely like an ‘at-home’ treatment.

I’m here as your acne fairy godmother to say that those frightful days are over. Face masks are just another part of your skin care routine. Everyone should be using one at some point! They clean deep into your pores, unlike those lighter on-the-run treatments. But how do you go about finding the right ‘acne mask’ for you? How do you know you’re choosing well?

What Is An Acne Mask?

Neutrogena’s light therapy acne mask.

Just the term ‘acne mask’ used to give me the shivers. I get anxiety when it comes to putting anything on my sensitive face. The truth is that masks are just another way of treating your skin — like a lotion or an ointment. They activate the skin to improve its functioning.

The main ingredients to look for in acne masks are exfoliants and antioxidants. The exfoliants remove excess oil and discolored dead skin cells. And the antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, increasing collagen production. Collagen provides the strength and elasticity that your skin needs to keep it looking fresh and healthy.

Besides from the ‘regular’ acne masks – like the creams and the sheets – there is another type of acne mask called a light mask. Those who have a more severe case of acne might have heard of this type of treatment from their dermatologist. It’s less common because it’s usually treated by the dermatologist themselves in a clinic and is super pricey to buy at home. Light masks are highly effective for treating acne, as they use LED lights rather than chemicals that could react with the skin. Different light therapies target different parts of the skin, but everyone can agree that they provide a safe yet deep penetration. Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask provides a rare at-home effective treatment for people suffering from blemishes.

Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask Ingredients Breakdown

Neutrogena’s light therapy acne mask is a much easier way to get clear skin.

Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask is a revolutionary face mask that gives you results which could previously only be achieved in a dermatologist’s clinic. The mask has two main ‘ingredients’, or rather, components: red light and blue light.

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy uses low-level wavelengths to enhance cell function, which regenerates the surface of the skin. This results in clearer skin and a reduction in possible scarring. In terms of eradicating acne — so far, so good. Moreover, Neutrogena employs red light therapy in order to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is one of the most painful symptoms of acne, and targeting this drastically diminishes skin redness and spot size. Essentially, red light therapy increases good cell function. This helps to boost the production of collagen, which strengthens and regenerates the skin.

Blue Light Therapy

Blue light therapy is also known as photodynamic therapy. Basically, blue wavelengths can only reach areas that light can get to, so blue light therapy targets areas just below the skin. Due to the fact that the blue light treatment is so gentle on the skin, this therapy is most effective for mild to moderate acne. Blue LED removes the bacteria that causes inflammation, reduces pore size and stabilizes oil production. It improves your skin’s texture from the outside in.

Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask Effects Explained

The red light and blue light work together to give you a fresh look.

Now that you know what components go into a light therapy acne mask, let’s have a closer look at the effects of these LED lights on your skin.

The blue light penetrates your pores to target the bacteria that builds up in the ‘problem areas’. Unlike other treatments that struggle to reduce bacteria, blue LED therapy eliminates acne-causing bacteria before they can feed off of the oil glands. This means that with prolonged use, the blue light really gets to the core of the problem.

I know it’s sounding great so far, but it’s important to be aware of the side effects of blue light therapy. If you suffer from conditions such as lupus or epilepsy, or if you’re pregnant, you can’t use LED treatments. What’s more is that if you’re on medication such as antibiotics or retinol (or any photosensitizing medicine), you need to be off these medications for a week before undergoing light therapy.

The effects of the red light harmoniously counteract that of the blue light. The blue light kills the bacteria under your skin, which can lead to redness and tender skin. The red light effectively neutralizes the aftermath, lessening the inflammation. This simultaneously reduces the puffiness of your overall complexion, not just the acne areas, freshening your whole face without drying it out like some other acne treatments tend to.

Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask Review

Don’t forget to moisturize after using the mask.

My favorite aspect of the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask is that it makes you look like you’re auditioning for a role in Star Wars. The mask is worn just like sunglasses, and you have to leave it on for 10 minutes. The activator that comes with the mask powers 30 treatments. Once that runs out you just need to purchase a new activator, not a whole new mask.

Although I can’t complain that I get to play dress-up, I have to say that the mask isn’t particularly comfortable. You can’t really do other activities while wearing it. Personally, for me that has been resolved by getting in my nightly Netflix binge while wearing the mask. Also, unless you’re used to the strobe lights at the club, then your eyes might take a little time to adjust to the red and blue hues.

Honestly, though, these are small prices to pay for the results. After continued use, my skin looked noticeably healthier. I use it at night after I’ve cleansed my face, so my skin is clean and clear for effective light penetration. When I’m done, I apply a quick moisturizer and I can feel that my skin’s texture is clearer. And not only in the acne areas. I was actually anticipating some damage in the areas that were getting the light treatment that didn’t need it. The reality was that my whole face was glowing. It looked healthier and hydrated.

I think it’s worth mentioning that you need to stay on top of these treatments. Just because it’s not a weekly appointment at your dermatologist doesn’t make it any less important. Commit this mask to your beauty regimen like you would any other product in order to reap results.


If you’re suffering from acne and are sick of slathering various lotions and potions on your face to no avail, it’s time to try Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask. Honestly, you’re going to wish these were around when you were thirteen and your mom just gave you an expired tube of her ‘strongest stuff’. This mask is a game changer.

The dual-action technology provided by this light mask cuts off your viscous acne cycle once and for all. It reduces redness and it also kills the acne-causing bacteria, while you just sit there looking like a stormtrooper. It makes a nice change to the leprosy-looking white patches you usually have to deal with when you’re applying acne creams.

The only thing I’d mention is that it doesn’t really tackle the aftermath scarring of those pesky pimples. I’d recommend dealing with those separately. I religiously use Vitamin E oil to heal any scarring I have – everywhere, not just on my face! It regenerates and repairs the skin. I apply it nightly and have experienced miracle-like scarring disappearance!

The only flaw I personally feel that Neutrogena has is that they’re not cruelty free. While they don’t conduct any animal testing themselves as a company, they allow countries who require it under regulation to do so. That being said, this is one of those occasions where the pros might outweigh the (ethical) cons. Try it for yourself and see.

Neutrogena light therapy mask

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