LED masks may have only started to appear on social media in recent years, but light therapy has been around for decades. In fact, NASA began researching the effects of LED on the skin in the 1990s to speed up wound healing in astronauts. Luckily, you no longer need to go to space to experience the benefits of LED on your skin.
What is it? LED stands for light emitting diode and is a non-invasive (read: no needles!) treatment for a variety of skin concerns. Instead of injecting, puncturing or peeling, light waves penetrate the skin to produce various effects. The best part? There’s no downtime or pain.
How does it work? Different wavelengths of light produce different visible colors, which each penetrate the skin at certain depths to stimulate change. Red and blue light are the most common and well-researched for skin. In addition, near-infrared light (NIR) is popular, though it's actually invisible to our eyes, existing right outside the visible light spectrum.
What does it treat? LED has the potential to stimulate collagen production, firm, smooth and tone skin, reduce inflammation, kill acne-causing bacteria and improve overall skin radiance. It can even be used to speed up bruise healing, promote hair growth, and calm inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Specifically, red and near-infrared light help to produce collagen, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as reducing inflammation, pain and encouraging overall wound healing. Blue light is able to kill acne-causing bacteria and heal blemishes faster. When treating acne, it can be helpful to use a combination setting of red and blue. Pretty much all skin can benefit from red and NIR light to aid in prevention and skin strengthening.
Does it really work? In order for LED to work, the device needs to have specific parameters (do you think NASA messes around?!). The wavelength needs to be precise, otherwise it will not be absorbed by your tissue and you’re basically just shining lights on your face. For red light, look for a wavelength of 630-660nm, for blue light 400-495 nm and for NIR 820-840nm. The narrower the band, the better!
Additionally, like with everything in skincare, consistency is key to see results. It is safe to use LED daily but try for at least 3-5 times a week on clean, bare skin after cleansing.
Overall, if you’re looking to level up your skincare game, add-in a non-irritating treatment or enter the world of devices, LED is a great place to start.