Team Costhetics is always on the lookout for effective, affordable ways to prevent visible signs of ageing.
We’ve written extensively on sunscreen, cosmeceuticals, nutrition, lifestyle, and virtually everything that can turn otherwise radiant skin into a dull mask. One topic we haven’t yet covered is trending hot in 2018: LED light therapy.
Light Therapy: A Class of Its Own
“Ask a beauty therapist to nominate the most exciting beauty innovation, and many will say ‘light therapy’,” reports The Financial Times. There are four main types of light therapy that are used in skin rejuvenation
- Lasers – the most aggressive form of light therapy used to treat broken blood vessels and irregular texture. They produce swelling and redness and require some downtime after treatment.
- Light Emitting Diode (LED) – a specific type of light bulb, with rays that affect the biology of skin in a positive way.
- Coloured Light – a subset of LED treatments where specific wavelengths are used to achieve different effects on the skin.
- IPL – Situated somewhere between powerful lasers and less powerful LEDs, Intense Pulsed Light therapy uses a range of wavelengths delivered in a pulsating pattern. It is an effective treatment for redness and brown spots.
How Does LED Light Therapy Work?
The history of light therapy dates back to the oh-so-beauty-conscious Greeks, Romans and Egyptians when exposure to natural sun (heliotherapy) was found to be beneficial to a person’s health. (They had yet to learn about the detrimental effects of UV exposure.) They didn’t know why the sun was healthful, they only knew that people thrived in sunlight and withered in darkness. As we know now, Vitamin D production is impacted by exposure to the sun.
Light therapy as we know it today has its roots in the 20th Century, when artificial light and filtered light were found to be useful in healing scars. This led to light treatment for skin diseases which, in turn, led to the discovery that light therapy didn’t just heal wounds, it actually improved skin. How can this be?
8 Ways LED Skin Therapy Makes You Beautiful
If you are familiar with the process known as photosynthesis, you know that it describes the ability of plants to convert sunlight into cellular building blocks. LED (Light-Emitting Diode) therapy has a similar mechanism. It converts rays of light into building blocks in your skin that
- Improves skin
- Stimulate skin tissue to regenerate
- Increases blood circulation
- Promotes collagen production
- Heals skin
- Repairs sun damage
- Treats rosacea and acne
- Reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and other visible signs of facial ageing
The natural ageing process, combined with exposure to the sun and pollution, wreaks havoc on skin. One of age’s favourite targets is collagen, the flexible connective tissue in our bodies that keeps skin healthy and wrinkle-free. LED therapy uses light energy to tunnel through the skin to stimulate sluggish collagen production. All that…and no damage to the outer skin layer!
LED Skin Therapy: A Carousel of Colours
LED light therapy is a bit of a misnomer. It should really be light therapies, as there are many wavelengths used in the treatment of skin. LED devices direct infrared light to the treatment area to improve texture and smooth wrinkles. When different colours of light pass through your outer skin layer, the dermis layer turns that light energy into healing energy for the skin.
The key to light therapy is the colour of the light, as different colours (wavelengths) produce different chemical reactions in the cells. Each setting penetrates the skin at a specific depth, and a good therapist can treat a range of skin concerns, including acne and rosacea.
- Amber Light – Also referred to as yellow or orange light therapy, amber light is effective in treating spider veins and other conditions where redness is involved. It is also considered a chemical-free alternative for treating flushing, skin irritation, and rosacea.
- Blue Light – The blue light wavelength attacks acne-causing bacteria with a high-energy form of oxygen to help skin heal and fight off future attacks. Researchers and practitioners report a very high rate of success and patient satisfaction. They also report that blue light is therapeutic for anxiety and Parkinson’s disease.
- Green Light – Green light therapy has a calming effect on the skin and is used to treat under-eye circles, sagging skin, hyper-pigmentation, and dilated capillaries. The green light works on melanocytes that reside in the bottom layer of the epidermis. By reducing the production of these cells, dark patches and spots fade over time, leaving the appearance of a more even complexion and younger skin. Green light treatment has become a must-have red carpet treatment for men and women who want glowing skin.
- Red Light – Red light is the champion of collagen production. It also increases blood flow to the tiny capillaries on the skin, giving it a rosy, healthy glow. This light treatment can be used daily with no negative effects on the skin.
- White Light – The most powerful of all the wavelengths, white light tightens skin at its base and reduces inflammation.
LED treatments are especially useful for rejuvenating areas that are difficult to treat with cosmetic injectables. The stimulation of collagen production can bring out facial plumpness and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, including crow’s feet.
8 Celebrities Who Swear by LED Light Therapy for Skin
Celebrities are often first adopters when it comes to beauty. Jessica Alba is considered the mother of the light therapy facials trend. She’s 35 and the mother of two, and credits her flawless skin to light therapy. It didn’t take long for a parade of stars to jump on the LED skin therapy bandwagon. According to reporter Julia Seidl at Hello Magazine, the following women are having a love affair with LED light treatments:
- Lena Dunham
- Kate Hudson
- Kourtney Kardashian
- Jennifer Lopez
- Gwen Stefani
- Emma Stone
- Michelle Williams
- Rachel Weisz
Short- and Long-Term Costs of LED Skin Therapy
Low-level light therapy (LLLT) performed with LED is emerging as a safe and effective way to treat ageing skin. It does come with a price. Per-treatment costs can be as low as $50, but they can also cost upwards of $300. This can quickly add up, as most patients need a minimum of four treatments before visible improvements in the skin can be seen.
Once skin health has been restored, patients may need only one treatment per year to maintain beautiful results.
It’s “Lights Out” When…
Regretfully, not every practitioner in the world of LED therapy is on the up and up. Many who present themselves as experts are untrained and unqualified. At a recent symposium for aesthetic professionals, Jennifer Brodeur spoke on the topic of LEDs. She’s the creator of a proprietary LED named “Max” that is used daily by celebrities like Oprah. Brodeur spoke to her colleagues about the red flags patients must be attuned to:
- LED therapy is offered in sunlit rooms. LEDs are most effective used in darkened rooms.
- LED therapy gets hot. An LED treatment should not emit heat.
- Only one ‘setting’ for LED therapy is offered. The right nanometres must be used to achieve the correct wavelength.
Should you encounter any of these situations when considering LED therapy for your skin, run to the nearest exit and don’t look back.
Is Light Therapy in Your Future?
It’s no longer a question of whether LED skin therapy is effective. The data is in. It works. It reduces inflammation, speeds healing, and stimulates collagen growth. It is safe for almost everyone. If you are using prescription-strength retinoids, suffer from hypothyroidism or bipolar disorder, these treatments may be contra-indicated.
In time, however, most patients who want a more defined neckline or more toned skin will need to move on to more invasive treatments. When that time comes for you, we hope you’ll come back to Costhetics HQ for the latest information on innovations in the world of aesthetic enhancement.