We have been taught to believe that beauty is pain and for a treatment to be successful the process must hurt.
Being a corneotherapist we know that isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to treating the skin (that in itself is a topic for another blog post) but does explain why LED light therapy can be so tricky to wrap our heads around. How can a wonderful, calming, bright light, with no heat or pain, have such massively therapeutic and healing benefits for all skins and concerns?
To understand properly let’s go way back to basics; Light exists as a spectrum, measured in wavelengths and includes all types of light from X-rays, UV rays to radio waves. LED utilises visible and near- infrared light, almost in the middle of the spectrum, that is mostly visible to the naked eye. They are neither UV rays nor ionising meaning the light does not cause cellular DNA damage or skin cancers.
Specific wavelengths of light, each with their own superpower (more on this later), are emitted from the device and absorbed by photoreceptors on the mitochondria within our cells. Often known as the “powerhouse of the cell” the mitochondria is responsible for producing cellular energy – ATP. With increased energy, other cellular processes and communication messengers have the ability to work harder and faster, bringing the skin back to homeostasis.
Simply put, our cells are like plants – they use light for energy!
There are 3 main wavelengths/colours of light you will see used in the clinic during your facial; Blue, Red and Near-Infrared. I said each wavelength has its own “superpower,” what I meant by that is each has their own therapeutic effects in the skin.
Blue light, 415nm, is great for fighting acne as it has antibacterial properties. While we know not all bacteria on the skin is bad, P.acnes does play its part in the formation of pimples. Blue light works on the light sensitive byproducts of p.acnes, upon interaction with blue light it creates a photochemical reaction producing oxygen that causes the bacteria to die. The reaction also causes the bacteria to become weakened and therefore easier to be taken care of by our immune cells.
Red light, 633nm, and Near-infrared, 830nm, work to reduce inflammation, increase tissue healing, pain and collagen synthesis, the difference being the depth of penetration into the skin.
Because of the range of benefits LED light therapy provides with no pain it is able to treat a range of concerns including; ageing/rejuvenation, acne, inflammatory and barrier disordered skin conditions and even wounds and healing skin!
We often get asked about at-home LED devices, as there are many on the market that claim the same benefits are our in clinic devices. Important to think about the quality of the devices and wavelengths being emitted, the ethicacy of the brand advertising it and what the power output is. To put it into perspective, a professional device is tens of thousands of dollars, well researched and evidence to back the claims and effects.
I’m sorry to say, a device on the market for $100 is not going to be effective.