That table lamp you’re diligently reading your book by? It’s not going to better your skin. But, UV-free, LED light? Now, that kind of light can boost collagen and elastin production and treat existing acne. Yep, you read that right. Here, we shed some much-needed light (pun intended!) on this colorful skin therapy treatment.
What is LED Light Therapy?
First, let’s break down what LED means. These three letters stand for “light-emitting diode,” which is a semiconductor device (think: a computer chip in a tiny resin case) that emits light when an electrical current passes through it. This light energy’s wavelengths are believed to have therapeutic benefits, such as healing wounds and rejuvenating skin. In the skin field, the treatment has become known as LED Light Therapy or Color Light Therapy. Dermatologists often bundle this treatment with facials (seen on service menus as LED Facials), but you can also opt to have the service as a stand-alone.
What does LED Light Therapy do to our skin?
When LED light energy hits that sweet spot — the correct wavelength — skin cells in the dermis convert the light energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Why is this important? Because ATP provides the “juice” to make your skin cells’ mitochondria function in a healthy — some would say, younger — fashion. Specifically, fibroblast cells found in the dermis layer produce collagen and elastin, and when their ATP is full up, they’re able to produce collagen and elastin in greater frequency. Why is this important? Because collagen is the number one coveted ingredient in antiaging products — but your body actually produces it naturally! It has the ability to plump the skin from the inside out. Elastin is also coveted because of its propensity for keeping our skin smooth and tight.
Now back to those colors, mainly red and blue (amber, yellow, green and infrared also play a role): Each has a different reaction with the skin. Let’s focus on the two most popular ones: Blue light typically combats acne-causing bacteria, whereas red light wavelengths tend to speed up healing and stimulate collagen and elastin production. While a boost in collagen and elastin equals less fine lines and wrinkles, other benefits include reduced pore size, treatment of inflammation, skin brightening, and more even skin tone. In other words, LED Light Therapy is a skincare option that’s especially appealing for those suffering from hyperpigmentation and acne, or even psoriasis, rosacea and eczema.
So, what does an in-office LED Light Therapy treatment involve?
First, LED Light is non-invasive and entirely pain-free treatment. Light therapy proponents recommend that you commit to using LED light two to three times a week for four to six weeks to reap maximum benefits. The good news: Results are cumulative, and after this initial commitment, you can maintain the benefits with one session a year.
Sessions last around 20 to 30 minutes and consist of either wearing a mask that emits the light (red, blue and/or near infrared light), having a technician administer the light with a handheld device or, if you are looking for light treatment on your entire body, laying in a light therapy bed. After your dermatologist determines your skin needs, a combination of different lights may be used. If you choose the treatment as a stand-alone, prices range from $25 to $500. There are also at-home LED therapy devices, which you can purchase on your own. Some good options include the LightStim device, Baby Quasar Clear Rayz, and the SkinClinical Anti-Aging Light device, but there are dozens on the market.
Is LED Light Therapy right for me?
If you’re pregnant, have epilepsy or take certain medications (steroids, tetracycline or cortisone), you should avoid this treatment. Also, people who’ve spent years sun-worshipping, who eat poorly or have had recent weight loss should set realistic expectations; it may take you longer to see results with LED light treatment.
For those suffering from acne who prefer not to take oral medication (or have built up a resistance to it), this treatment provides a really great FDA-approved alternative.
But if you’re looking to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, do away with dark spots, brighten your skin and clear up any problem zits, LED Light Therapy might be the treatment you’ve been looking for!