So you know how lighting makes all the difference when taking photos? In winter, when everything is cast in a depressing grayish blue, your face is all eye-bags and dark spots while bathed in the golden glow of summer sunsets, you look warm and flawless. Well, it turns out that certain kinds of light can affect the way you look much more than just in photographs.
LED (or Light-Emitting-Diode) treatment – sometimes referred to as phototherapy – works by sending light to penetrate deeply into layers of skin to stimulate cell production, heal trauma, and speed up the over-all regeneration process. Depending on the kind of LED light used, treatment results can include a decrease of inflammation, redness, uneven skin tone and reduced fine lines as well as wrinkles. Other major benefits of this anti-aging treatment are that it is safe, non-invasive, pain-free, and comes with no actual recovery time!
The link between LED lights and skin healing has been supported by studies, including one by NASA which showed that light therapy is linked to faster healing of wounds. This is this important because “good skin rejuvenation is firmly based on the wound healing process, particularly neocollagenesis” 1 , the generation of new collagen.
If you were paying attention in high school science class, you’ll remember that light has different wavelengths, measured in nanometers (nm), resulting in different colors to the human eyes. Though there is some overlap in benefits, different colors of LED penetrate different depths of the skin to address different skin problems.
4 KEY ANTI-AGING LEDS
There are four main types of lights relevant to anti-aging, but the ones that mix several LEDs tends to be the most effective. Experts say that effective treatment can dramatically increase skin hydration.
THE PLUMPER: RED LIGHT (620-700 NM)
Red LED light has been linked to the production of two key proteins: collagen and elastin, which work together to create stronger, firmer skin. This light will improve skin elasticity, increase blood and nutrient circulation, increase lymphatic drainage, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Red LED light has also been linked to targeting overactive oil production and can help unclog pores.
THE CALMER: AMBER LIGHT (570-600 NM)
Amber LED is great for sensitive skin and is effective in treating issues involving redness, flushing, irritation, dilated capillaries and spider veins.
THE TONER: GREEN LIGHT (470-550 NM)
Green LED light helps improve pigmentation issues caused by sun damage as it reduces the production of melanocytes. Other benefits of green LED light treatment is that it helps to fade the appearance of freckles, age spots, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation.
THE SAG REDUCER: INFRARED LIGHT (700-1000 NM)
Infrared LED light is a non-visible light that works well when combined with red LED light to increase collagen production. As infrared LED light has the longest wavelength of the 4 LED types, it penetrates into muscles and the deeper layers of the dermis to help repair cell damage, speed up the healing process and in general combat sagging and wrinkles.
The recommended number of professional LED treatments required to see results is minimum 6-8 treatments that are done one week apart, followed by maintenance treatment once per month. Reputable treatments can be found at med-spas and at some dermatologist offices.
Average full face LED treatments last about 20 minutes, but some machines have small heads that have to be held over one part of your skin for a few minutes at a time which takes a bit longer. Make sure to not overdo it as it can result in dehydrated skin.
Depending on how damaged your skin is, you should start seeing improvement in about 4 weeks, but full effects will be seen after 8-12 weeks. Although LED light treatments won’t give you the same results in terms of lifting and tightening as, say, ultatherapy, it still works great as a preventative aging treatment regime.
HOME LED LIGHT DEVICES
The main two reasons for considering home LED kits are budget and time. Many of us find it hard to commit to a professional treatment on a weekly basis. There is also the price aspect – LED treatments can run $100+ each, which adds up. Another benefit of home LED kits is that many of them offer mixed light treatments (amber/infrared/red light) which experts say are the most beneficial.
When you consider home LED kits, we recommended taking the time to choose carefully, and to stick to reputable manufacturers that show all device specs. It’s also worth noting that, although some devices come close to professional level outputs, government regulations limit manufacturers lower intensity. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll find the right device and see results on your own schedule. Before treatment – we recommend checking in with your skincare practitioner as an extra safety precaution to ensure you’re a good candidate.
HOW TO SELECT A GOOD HOME LED LIGHT DEVICE
Transparency: Manufacturers that show device specs are more trustworthy than those who are vague.
Power Outage: Combining red LED treatments at around 650+ nm with infrared light above 830 nm is the most effective for skin rejuvenation, particularly for the treatment of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Certain manufacturers may make claims of extremely high levels of power, which might actually cause more harm than good.
Visual Luminosity: This is kind of a visual test we recommend: for a brief second take a look into the LED light – if you can look at it without it disturbing your eyes, it’s probably not effective.
RECOMMENDED HOME LED LIGHT DEVICES
Trophy Skin RejuvaliteMD ($249)
This state of the art LED light device is not only cost effective but it also helps treat the signs of aging while you lie down and rest, making it a definite winner. Of the 120 medically-grade LED bulbs, 30 of them are red (660nm), 30 amber (630nm), 30 yellow (590nm) and 30 infrared (880nm) all of which work together to penetrate deep under the skin to target the likes of skin elasticity as well as pigmentation issues. Safety is also of the utmost concern for the brand, so they went ahead to receive FDA clearance specifically for full facial treatment of fine lines and wrinkles, two other aging concerns that the device is effective for. Best of all, should you not be completely satisfied, the RejuvaliteMD comes with a 60 day money back guarantee.
ReVive Light Therapy DPL II ($349)
Although it may look like a robot from a classic ’80s movie that might try to chat you up with some cheesy lines – the truth is this device with 192 LED lights is one of the most effective at-home ones on the market. Not only is it an FDA-cleared (OTC Class II medical device), but the combination of the 96 infrared LEDs (880 nm), 32 Dark Red lights (660 nm), 32 red LEDs (630 nm), and finally 32 amber LEDS (530 nm) are of high quality. One feature that really stands out is that it allows for full face treatment hands-free! Recommended treatments last for about 8 minutes and require 2-3 treatments per week to see results.
Quasar MD Plus ($795)
This anti-aging led treatment device is comparative to professional devices and claims to be 4x stronger than its competitors. We recommend it because it doesn’t overheat, has 4 wavelength options from the highest grade of (super luminous) red, amber, and infrared lights and is great when you want to focus your treatment for specific areas.
This device is made up of 6 amber LEDs at 610 nm, 6 amber/red LEDs at 640 nm, 6 red LEDs at 660 nm, and 6 infrared LEDs at 850 nm, making it a great tool for combating pigmentation and wrinkles. It is also FDA-cleared for safety and has a 90-day money back guarantee and lifetime warranty, which is a great value for its cost!
THINGS TO NOTE
Eye Protection: Make sure your eyes are well protected during an anti-aging LED treatment because the wavelengths emitted may cause damage.
Anzeser Laser Safety Goggles (12.88)
Monitor Usage: It should be noted, especially with at-home LED treatments, that you need to be careful not to overdo treatments or have them be too close together, as you can risk over-drying or damaging your skin.
Cleansed Skin: Make sure your skin is cleansed of any ingredients that may cause heightened photo-sensitivity (citrus and lavender oils, fragrances like musk, or ingredients like 6-methylcoumarin, hydroquinine, AHAS, BHAS). Check out our in-depth guide on some of the most effective anti-aging cleansers to learn more inclusive of the different types out there and how to best use them.
Pre-Treatment Serum: Some limited studies show there are links between LED treatment and the release of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species), which is a type of free radical that damage skin cells. Experts say that this can be easily combated by applying a Vitamin C serum prior to treatment. Explore our article on how to make a simple but effective DIY Vitamin C serum if you’re interested in discovering more.
If you’re curious about discovering other types of treatments, make sure to check out our guide on the types of facials and facial treatments
All of this considered, we truly believe that LED light treatments can be a painless and effective addition to a good preventative anti-aging routine when used correctly. Remember to always be safe, do your research, consult a skin-care practitioner, wear eye protection, and finally consider using a Vitamin C serum.