HigherDOSE's Red Light Baseball Hat Is the Ultimate Lazy Girl Hair Hack

I can wear this LED mask in public—and it changed my light therapy routine.

Gabrielle Ulubay wearing the HigherDOSE Red Light Hat
(Image credit: Gabrielle Ulubay, HigherDOSE)

Like many beauty enthusiasts, I am firmly aboard the LED mask train. Every night, I meditate with my red and blue light mask on, and I've noticed a difference in my skin since I started using it consistently. The fine lines on my neck and upper chest are less visible, breakouts subside in record time, and my skin tone is more even than ever.

Recently, I discovered studies show daily LED treatments also help with hair growth and retention. Most versions of LED hair masks—clunky devices that strongly resemble a bike helmet—aren't designed to wear out of the house, though. That means working the treatment into my routine requires designated couch time that I can't always find in my packed schedule.

Then came HigherDOSE's new LED red light therapy hat. Released earlier this May, the device immediately intrigued me when it came across my feed. It looks just like a black baseball cap an off-duty model would wear around the city, but it's equipped with a discreet LED mask on the inside. It promises to support hair growth by increasing blood flow to the scalp, consequently strengthening roots and reducing shedding. And even better, it comes in a format that you can (supposedly) wear for hair growth on-the-go.

I tested HigherDOSE's new hat to see if it can really amp-up my hair growth routine and do so under the radar. Read on for my honest review.

images of Gabrielle Ulubay wearing the HigherDOSE red light hat. In the first image, the remote is not on the hat, and in the other, the remote is on

On the left, the remote has been removed from the hat. On the right, the remote is attached, so the red lights are on.

(Image credit: Gabrielle Ulubay)

How It Works (and Why I Tried It)

Hair growth has been a concern of mine since 2022, when I shed an unprecedented amount of hair after a rough bout of Covid. Then, as a result of chronic pain due to long Covid, I suffered from stress and depression that worsened my hair fall. In about a year, my waist-length curls went from bouncy and dense to lifeless and thinning. I've recovered since, thanks to hydration, a diet high in protein and collagen, and a litany of hair growth products including hair growth vitamins, hair growth shampoos, hair growth oils, and scalp treatments.

My new hair growth has come with countless baby hairs all over my head that form a fuzzy, ever-present halo. In addition to growing more hair to begin with, I would really like to see these baby hairs grow longer and blend in. When I learned that red light therapy could bolster my hair growth regimen in the same way it's boosted my skincare, I grabbed HigherDOSE's new hat and began a daily routine of ten-minute sessions. (HigherDOSE recommends spending ten minutes in the hat each day for sixteen weeks to see results.)

Upon unboxing my new hat, I was immediately struck by how normal it looked. It's a relatively soft cap of average size with a thin removable layer of red lights inside. The lights don't make the hat particularly heavy, and the layer is attached to the fabric via a series of easily removable buttons.

At first, I wasn't sure how to turn the hat on, but I quickly discovered that it's operated via a small, one-button remote control. The remote attaches to the back of the hat with a magnet that activates the lights for ten minutes (one full session).

My Honest Review

Based on my experience with LED masks, I expected any red light hat to be large, clunky, and adjacent to Tour De France equipment. After all, I look like an astronaut when I'm wearing my Therabody mask, and other red light hats on the market, such as the bestselling iRestore, certainly have a helmet-like vibe. However, HigherDOSE's hat looks like any other baseball cap you'll see outside on a sunny day. I was surprised by how ordinary it looks and feels, with a silhouette that's structured but not conspicuously large.

I felt comfortable wearing this hat at work, in the park, on my walk to the gym, and on public transportation—a tremendous bonus considering my busy schedule. I already spend so much time on my haircare and skincare that adding just one more step to my regimen feels too exhausting to even think about. Wearing the hat doesn't even feel like an extra step: I simply hang it on my apartment door where I can see it and pop it on while I'm cleaning, sitting around, or heading out.

True to HigherDOSE's word, I'm the only one who knows I'm working on my hair growth when I slide this cap on. I expected the red lights to be visible when turned on, but to my absolute shock, they were undetectable. I even tested my coworkers, asking if they could tell whether it was on or off—they couldn't. The hat also doesn't warm up while activated, something that's of particular concern to people with curly or textured hair who are more prone to frizz.

Still, it's not entirely subtle. To turn on the light, you have to press the power button on a small remote and then attach that remote to a set of magnets on the back of the hat. Then, when the session is done, the hat beeps so that you know you take it off, peel off the red lights (a handy option!), or remove the remote.

Although the remote isn't that noticeable, I still feel like a cyborg with a port on the back of my head when I'm wearing it, and I'm constantly paranoid that it's going to fall off. I also wish that the hat would vibrate instead of beeping to signal the end of a session. First, because the beeping is noticeable to anyone in my immediate vicinity, defeating the purpose of having a treatment in public without anyone noticing. Second, if I'm in an especially loud location (I live in New York City, after all) I don't hear the beeping—so I don't realize I can take the remote off.

All in all, I do love this hat. While I haven't been using it long enough to see tangible hair growth results (studies recommend four to six weeks of consistent use at the very least), it hasn't caused any irritation, frizz, or even hat hair. And because it doesn't require any extra time or energy, it's the perfect low-maintenance, lazy girl hair hack. For anyone else who is chronically over-scheduled, this device is an under-the-radar lifesaver.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, gabrielleulubay.medium.com. Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at @suburban.graffiti.art