The “Skinny” on LED Light Therapy
Whether you’ve heard of LED light therapy from celebrities like Jessica Alba, January Jones and Lena Dunham looking like illuminated storm troopers on Instagram or you’ve read about it as an anti-aging game changer in magazines, LED light therapy is one of the most effective means for building collagen, healing the skin, and fighting acne. We talked to our resident LED light therapy expert Kari Poling, National Trainer for Lightwave, to break down everything you need to know about these innovative treatments.
What is LED light therapy and how is it good for the skin?
LED light therapy is the process of converting light energy into cellular energy for natural, non-invasive skin rejuvenation. Through a combination of Red light therapy, Blue light therapy and Infrared light therapy these wavelengths work for anti aging therapy, wrinkle treatment, scar treatment, body treatments, acne treatment and more.
What is the difference between red, infrared, and blue light therapy?
Red LED light therapy stimulates the fibroblasts that produce collagen, which gives young skin its plump look. Professional LED machines can also minimize fine lines and wrinkles, treat sun-damage and stretch marks, and reduce redness after more aggressive IPL or laser treatments.
Infrared (IR) LED light therapy is similar to Red LED light therapy, except infrared energy is invisible, and can travel much deeper into the body and can reach deep into soft tissues, muscles, joints, and bone. IR LED light therapy is primarily absorbed by the proteins found in the cell membrane, which helps to increase cell permeability.
Blue LED light therapy is quickly absorbed by acne-causing bacteria. Molecules within the bacteria then react by producing singlet oxygen free radicals that in-turn destroy the P. Acnes bacteria. Once the body has been exposed to Blue light it is recommended to follow with Red light therapy to help restore normal cellular function, repair damaged/scarred tissue and promotes healthy skin. The best time to use blue light therapy is when you feel a breakout coming on – and you want to be able to have an immediate response.
Should I put anything on my skin prior to LED Light therapy?
No. Many skin care products contain reflective agents and if they are applied to the skin prior to a light therapy treatment, they can actually decrease the effectiveness of the treatment. It is important to apply the various wavelengths of light to clean, dry skin.
Does it matter if I apply the red or blue first?
Yes. Always follow the blue light with the red since the blue light therapy create free radicals to kill the bacteria and the red light will neutralize them.
What advice can you give consumers on buying at-home devices?
Do your homework! There is so much garbage coming over from China – buyers beware. The biggest piece of garbage is the Neutrogena mask (seen on Lena Dunham on Instagram) – it only has 10-12 diodes and they are spread out. You can’t possibly get a result with such few diodes spread out like that. The further away the diodes are from each other the less effective it is. You want a lot of densely populated diodes in order for an at-home device to garner results.
What about the at-home devices that boast illuminating more than one color at a time?
Only three colors have been proven to work – blue, red, and infrared – anything else is just a light show. If you turn two colors on at the same time they cancel each other out and become ineffective.
Is proximity to the LED lights important?
Yes, very. The efficacy decreases the further away your skin is from the device. You want it as close as possible.
How long does it take to see results from LED light therapy?
Well, it depends on which color you are using. Blue light is an immediate fix for killing bacteria – we aren’t working with cellular activity so you get that instant effect. But with red and infrared, we are triggering collagen and elasticity, creating changes on a cellular level. This takes time. It could take a couple months before you start seeing changes. Keep in mind that the effects are cumulative so even if you can only get into the spa once a month and use the at-home device occasionally, your skin will see a difference.
What is Topical Light Infusion (TLi) and how is it different from traditional LED light therapy?
Topical Light Infusion is a treatment that combines the activation and delivery of topical treatments (serums, creams, masks, etc.) and light. This new topical infusion method has the ability to activate and infuse various topicals without damaging the skin or altering the topical formulations.
Skincare companies have come up with such phenomenal ingredients but their large molecules can only penetrate on a superficial level. TLi makes the molecules small enough to penetrate to a much deeper level.
How did your company come up with the Topical Light Infusion technology?
We worked with the University of Texas on the medical side. They were looking for a light therapy that would get topicals to absorb into severe burns. We provided the machines and they provided us the patented cosmetic rights.
Who is Topical Light Infusion appropriate for?
Everyone! It makes the actives in skincare formulas 50-times more effective than just applying topically.