What Is LED Light Therapy?
LED means light-emitting diode. "It works by emitting infrared lights (causing heat) in different wavelengths/spectrums, which have different skincare benefits," says Engelman. "Amber light stimulates collagen and elastin. Red light is most commonly used to promote circulation. White light penetrates the deepest and works to tighten and reduce inflammation. Blue light kills bacteria."
She explains that during LED therapy, devices send light waves deep into the skin to trigger natural intracellular reactions. Depending on the light, your skin is going to respond differently. "If [the light is] red, your skin responds by building, strengthening, and maximizing cellular structure. Red light is also believed to target oil glands to reduce cytokines, which cause inflammation and play a role in chronic acne. In the case of blue light, specific wavelengths stimulate the production of oxygen radicals that kill acne bacteria, all without damaging the skin," Engelman says.
Benefits of LED Light Therapy
- Smooths fine lines and wrinkles
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves acne scars
- Prevents breakouts by killing the acne-causing bacteria
- Promotes circulation
- Stimulates collagen production
- Brightens skin1
"The red infrared lights are used for fine lines and wrinkles. The blue lights are used to improve acne and prevent breakouts. Also, blue light penetrates deep to [treat] cystic acne," says Nazarian.
How to Prepare for LED Light Therapy
For both LED light home masks or LED light in-office machines, the skin must be clean and without makeup. Experts indicate washing your face with a gentle cleanser that doesn't irritate your skin. You'll also be required to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from the light.
What to Expect During a LED Light Therapy
If you decide to get an LED treatment along with a massage or facial at a spa, you don't have to do much but lie there. "We place LED panels a few inches away from the patient's face," says Nazarian. "Eye protection is also placed as the lights are quite bright. We treat [the skin] for about 15 to 20 minutes. At first, it feels warm, but patients report liking the feeling." The light doesn't cause any burns or skin damage. It's pretty much painless, and if you like lights, the colors can even be relaxing.
LED Light Therapy vs. Microneedling
Microneedling is another trendy procedure to rejuvenate the skin and fight against wrinkles and fine lines. The dermaroller needles and heat energy create a wound and, as a result, stimulate the skin, causing collagen regeneration and making the skin taut, and reducing fine lines.2 The benefits are the same as LED light therapy but a little more invasive. Most offices include the combination of LED light and microneedling in one visit to get the most of them to treat multiple skin concerns. "After microneedling or microdermabrasion, we finish with LED lights," says Nazarian.
The only downside is that microneedling is good for acne scars but not overactive skin infections such as cold sores or acne. The needles will come into contact with the already inflamed skin and may spread the infection.