Beauty treatments are no longer limited to just a monthly facial and regular masking at home. Today, there are as many treatments available at the dermatologist’s office as there are skin care ingredients. And newer ones keep coming every once in a while which are far more advanced than their older counterparts. The latest skin treatment to have created a buzz in the beauty industry is LED light therapy. Celebrities like Kate Moss and the Kardashians swear by this treatment, which promises to treat common skin problems like acne and fine lines effectively.
Did you know LED therapy was developed by NASA in the 80s to speed up and heal astronaut's skin and muscle systems? It’s been a few years now that LED light therapy has started being used in a clinical context. In fact, it is now also becoming an at-home skin treatment in the form of all-over face masks, targeted pens, goggles and several other handheld devices that people can use on their own. To learn about LED light therapy in detail, we got in touch with celebrity dermatologist Dr. Chytra V. Anand, and here is what she has to say about one of the most popular skin treatments in the world.
- What is LED light therapy?
- How does it work?
- What Are Red Light and Blue Light LEDs
- Benefits of LED light therapy
- Side effects of LED light therapy
What is LED light therapy?
LED stands for light-emitting diode. It is a form of light therapy in which the skin is exposed to a specific wavelength or colour band of light, commonly red or blue light, for a certain period to take biological action on the skin tissue and skin cells. LED light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses non-thermal LED light energy, which will trigger the body's natural cell process to help reserve and repair. It's commonly used for skin rejuvenation procedures, acne, pimples, rosacea, eczema and sensitive skin for its anti-inflammatory benefits as well as wound healing and skin brightening effects.
In recent times, it has been used by the military to help speed up the healing of musculoskeletal injuries and now in dermatologists’ offices and as home use devices for boosting skin and hair function.
How does it work?
The LED lights are non-thermal and depend on the wavelength of the colour band. During an LED light therapy treatment, the light penetrates the skin at various levels leading to a reaction that is calming and rejuvenating in nature. The results are short-lasting, so they have to be done repeatedly over some time to experience the full benefits. The LED light source gives out energy which, when focused on the skin, depending on the wavelength, will help in rejuvenation or repair of the skin along with an anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing benefit. The energy stimulation can also boost the production of collagen, increase blood circulation, cell turnover and aid tissue repair. LED is commonly used in MediFacials.
During the procedure, the client lies under the LED light for 10-15 mins depending on the light's strength. There are home-use devices like LED masks available these days with lesser strength for skin rejuvenation which are quite simple to use and give great results.
What Are Red Light and Blue Light LEDs
Researchers have stated that different light wavelengths exert different effects on the skin. Blue and red in particular are beneficial for the skin cells. This is why LED light therapy at the clinic and at-home devices are available in blue and red light. These do not contain UV rays and are readily absorbed by the skin. Here’s how each light works on your skin.
1. Red light therapy
Red light is in the 640 – 700nm wavelength. It has a longer wavelength and penetrates deeper into the skin to treat inflammation and rejuvenate skin. When the red light hits the skin, it increases blood circulation, boosts cell turnover, which leads to increased collagen production, thus reducing the appearance of fine lines and open pores. Red light helps chronic skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis. It has a soothing effect on the outer layers of the skin, thereby reducing the signs of ageing like age spots, blemishes and fine lines.
2. Blue light therapy
The blue light is in the 400 – 520nm spectrum and is used for its antibacterial properties to help treat acne, control oil production and reduce inflammation in the oil glands. Blue light can help control oil secretion with long-term use. It reaches the pore to activate chemicals inside the bacteria which destroys the cell and its ability to form acne.
At times blue LED light is used in conjunction with red LED light to correct skin problems like scarring, acne and inflammation.
Benefits of LED light therapy
LED light therapy or light-emitting diode therapy is a skincare treatment with several benefits. It is a common form of treatment that uses red and blue lights to reach different layers of the skin and address different concerns. Here are all the benefits of LED light therapy.
1. Suitable for all skin types
LED light therapy is a safe and gentle approach to skincare that uses different wavelengths to correct common skin concerns. Since it is a non-invasive skin procedure, it does not harm your skin and is suitable for all skin types. Both red and blue light therapy can be used to rejuvenate skin and get a youthful glow.
2. Treats acne effectively
Those with stubborn acne and acne-prone skin can benefit from LED light therapy. As mentioned before, the light has the ability to seep deep into the pores of the skin and damage the wall of acne-causing bacteria, thereby preventing acne and clogged pores.
3. Improves overall skin texture
Those who regularly go for LED light therapy at the dermatologist’s clinic or do it at home using a handheld device or mask, notice a difference in their overall skin health. Since these lights target acne and other skin problems like sunspots and discolouration, your skin starts looking even-toned and healthy.
4. Reverses sun damage
UV rays are responsible for causing most skin problems. Right from premature ageing to pigmentation and uneven skin tone, regular exposure to UV rays can lead to this. These problems are corrected by LED light therapy. Using the red and blue light in conjunction can target most skin issues and reverse the damage caused by the sun.
5. Boosts hair growth
Apart from keeping acne at bay and making your skin look youthful, LED light therapy is also used on the scalp to boost hair growth. Red light therapy irradiates photons into the scalp tissue which are readily absorbed by weak cells in the scalp, this encourages hair growth. It is a safe procedure and far less invasive than a hair transplant surgery.
Side effects of LED light therapy
Unlike UV rays, LED light only exposes light to certain levels of the skin which are not at all harmful. This means there are no risks involved in LED light therapy. However, visiting a skin expert with less experience or exposing your skin to it too much at home may cause tissue and cell damage and in some cases leave burns too. If you are on certain drugs, it may increase your skin’s sensitivity to light, therefore make sure you consult a doctor before going in for a treatment or buying an LED light therapy device. Blue light is harmful to the eyes, and hence protective goggles are always worn during the treatment. It is also advised to use sunscreen with an SPF value of 40 or higher while undergoing LED therapy.