LED Light Therapy: All You Need to Know

LED light therapy is an easy treatment that can treat a wide variety of skin concerns. Learn how LED light therapy works, its benefits, risks, and more!

led light therapy
By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on March 15, 2024

Image source: Freepik

The use of LED light therapy has recently become more popular. This skincare treatment reportedly promotes anti-aging and anti-acne effects and helps treat a wide variety of skin conditions – without harming your skin at all.

Although this treatment is currently having its time in the spotlight – does it actually live up to the hype?

Here’s how LED light therapy works, what benefits you can get from it, and everything else you need to know before booking an LED light treatment.

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What Is LED Light Therapy?

LED (which stands for the light-emitting diode) light therapy is a non-invasive skin treatment that helps with cell and tissue growth. It treats various skin issues, including psoriasis, acne, and fine wrinkles.

Besides these, LED lights can also provide other skincare benefits, which made this treatment very popular and widely used, especially by celebrities.

led light therapyImage source: Freepik

The most popular LED light treatment is red light therapy, which is great for collagen and elastin stimulation. But other colors are also very sought-after. Clients with acne-prone skin usually get blue light therapy as it kills bacteria.

According to dermatologists, it’s beneficial for wound therapy and skin conditions like psoriasis, making this the perfect addition to your healing products and ointments.

LED light colors correspond to different frequencies, or wavelengths – each producing a specific effect. So, depending on the color of the diodes, your skin will react differently.

We’ll touch more on LED therapy types later.

Fun fact — did you know that this innovative skincare treatment originated in the ‘80s due to NASA testing it on astronauts? They used light therapy to treat astronauts who might get sick or injured during extended space missions.

LED Light Therapy Benefits

This non-invasive treatment harnesses the power of specific wavelengths of light to target various skin concerns, alleviate pain, and even enhance mood.

Besides treating specific skin conditions, LED therapy has other, more universal benefits, so let’s unwrap them together.

Improved Skin Health

Among the numerous benefits attributed to LED light therapy, perhaps none are as captivating as its transformative effects on skin health. It has gained widespread acclaim for its ability to address many skincare concerns with remarkable efficacy, from acne to signs of aging.

LED therapy stimulates cellular repair, promotes collagen production, and reduces inflammation, resulting in clearer, smoother, and more radiant skin.

Pain Relief

When we think about pain relief, the first thing that comes to mind is usually pain medications or other invasive procedures. But did you know that LED light therapy has the power to alleviate pain?

According to Dr Jodi LeGerfo of the Orentreich Medical Group, this incredible treatment became popular not only for its skin-treating properties but for its power to help with pain management as well.

Beyond its well-known benefits for skincare, LED light therapy has gained attention for its fascinating potential to minimize various types of pain.

Through the deep delivery of certain light wavelengths into the tissue, light therapy helps with arthritis, muscular discomfort, and injury recovery by promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and stimulating cellular activity.

Wound Healing

The body’s capacity to repair wounds is vital for your health and wellness. Thankfully, LED light therapy has emerged as an innovative strategy to improve wound healing, whereas conventional therapies concentrate on topical treatments and medications.

With red light therapy, you expose an area of your body to a specific wavelength of red light, explains Casey Kelley, M.D., founder of Case Integrative Health. Essentially, the red light stimulates your cells to work at a higher level.

The process of cell rejuvenation helps your body heal faster, and therefore, accelerates wound healing too.

With its mild yet potent method of encouraging tissue regeneration and restoration, LED treatment has the potential to completely transform the way you heal, from small cuts and abrasions to more complicated wounds.

Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is a common underlying factor in many health conditions, ranging from skin disorders to chronic diseases. LED light therapy offers a natural and non-invasive alternative to lower the inflammation in your body.

This innovative approach not only addresses symptoms but also targets the root cause of inflammation, offering long-lasting relief and improved overall well-being.

Hair Growth Stimulation

If you’ve noticed additional strands of hair on your pillow and are worried about hair loss, then you need to give light therapy a try. For many, the quest for thick, luscious hair can be an ongoing struggle.

While numerous treatments promise to stimulate hair growth, few offer a truly effective solution. However, in recent years, LED light therapy has emerged as a promising method for promoting hair regrowth.

A recent study has shown that red light therapy stimulates blood circulation to the scalp, energizes hair follicles, and promotes cellular activity, all of which contribute to healthier, fuller hair.

How Does LED Light Therapy Work?

To improve the skin, the LED device emits rays that penetrate the skin’s layers without causing any harm.

LED phototherapy devices send non-damaging light waves deep into the skin to trigger natural intracellular reactions.

The way your skin reacts will vary depending on the type of light.

Usually, the client will require a series of LED treatments to experience to start seeing significant improvements. This roughly means once a week for a month straight, after which you’ll need maintenance procedures every month or every few months.

If you’re going to a spa for your LED light therapy treatment, you don’t need to do anything, you pretty much just have to lie down and relax. However, if you want to get the benefits of this therapy at home, you’ll need to buy an LED mask.

What Conditions Does LED Light Therapy Treat?

LED light therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions across different fields, including dermatology, pain management, and mental health.

It’s suitable for all skin types and can treat a wide variety of skin conditions, such as:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Acne and acne scars
  • Hair loss
  • Wounds
  • Dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea
  • Sun damage
  • Actinic keratosis

what conditions does led light therapy treatImage source: Instagram @dermatecc

Limitations of LED Light Therapy

LED light therapy for skin has certain limitations. It isn’t appropriate for people who:

  • Have a history of certain conditions, like skin cancer and inherited eye diseases
  • Have taken certain medications that increase sun sensitivity, like isotretinoin
  • Have sun sensitivity
  • Have an active rash
  • People who have psoriasis need to consult a doctor first.

Also, be aware that LED light for skin doesn’t help with:

  • Acne cysts
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads

NOTE

Before booking LED therapy, talk to your dermatologist. Whatever your skin problem is, it needs to be properly diagnosed to be treated correctly.

Not only will the dermatologist determine whether LED light therapy is the right choice for you, but they will also recommend which one should be performed.

How Does LED Light Therapy Work?

In order to improve the skin, the LED device emits rays that penetrate the skin’s layers without causing any harm.

LED phototherapy devices send light waves deep into the skin to trigger natural intracellular reactions. These wavelengths, which are easily absorbed by the skin, do not include damaging UV light.

The way your skin reacts will vary depending on the light.

Usually, the client will require a series of LED treatments in order to experience any significant improvements. This will roughly be once a week for a month straight, after which you’ll need maintenance procedures every month or every few months.

LED Light Therapy Benefits

Besides treating specific skin conditions, LED therapy has other, more universal benefits, such as:

  • Helps circulation and increases nutrient transfer
  • Accelerates skin repair
  • Improves skin elasticity and texture
  • Increases collagen production
  • Helps kill bacteria
  • Helps skin increase moisture levels, making it more radiant
  • Decreases inflammation.

Types of LED Light Therapy

Now, let’s make things clearer since there are many forms of LED light therapy, and it may sound a bit confusing.

The visible light spectrum is made up of several wavelengths, each of which corresponds to a different color. Each hue penetrates the skin to a different depth and achieves different effects.

So, LED light therapy can be classified according to the colors.

Red Light Therapy

Red, or infrared, light therapy is probably the most popular one – and probably the first association with this treatment.

It stimulates collagen production, which makes your skin look smoother and plumper. It’s mainly used to fight signs of aging by treating fine lines and wrinkles, as well as to reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation.

red light therapyImage source: Instagram @chesapeakelaser

Blue Light Therapy

Blue LED light therapy targets the sebaceous (oil) glands that keep your skin from drying out. However, if these glands become overactive, excess sebum production usually leads to oily skin and acne.

Since blue light can kill acne-causing bacteria, it’s mainly used for clients who have acne-prone skin. This LED skin therapy can treat severe acne pimples, including cysts and nodules.

It also helps make the glands less reactive and prevents future breakouts.

led light blue light therapyImage source: Instagram @wonderlashstudio_jerseycity

Yellow Light Therapy

Yellow light therapy is used to stimulate red blood cell synthesis – which is essential for skin healing and skin cell renewal.

It’s also believed to offer calming effects that aid in diminishing the visibility of dark patches, redness, and inflammation.

But, since yellow LED light therapy has a shallow penetration level (in comparison to red), it’s mostly used for treating redness-related skin disorders, like rosacea.

yellow light therapyImage source: Instagram @gypsy.soul.skincare

Green Light Therapy

Green LED therapy has anti-inflammatory and skin-calming qualities, which help soothe the skin’s top layer.

This can help fade hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and dark undereye bags. Dilated capillaries and sagging skin around the eyes can all be treated effectively with this type of light therapy.

green light therapyImage source: Instagram @hellogorgeousbeautybynicole

Cyan Light Therapy

Cyan, commonly referred to as blue-violet light, reduces inflammation, clears the skin, and prevents acne.

It also has a relaxing impact on the skin’s surface. Besides LED facials, cyan LED light therapy also helps improve cell energy and facilitate metabolism.

Purple Light Therapy

Purple LED light therapy increases cell regeneration. It helps reduce the appearance of acne-related scars and helps fight acne itself. It’s also great for reducing redness and facial inflammation.

purple light therapyImage source: Instagram @envybeautyaesthetic

White Light Therapy

White LED therapy is essentially a combination of all the other lights, which makes it the most effective LED light therapy.

Using a full light spectrum means it includes the benefits of all wavelengths: it penetrates the skin deeply, accelerates tissue metabolism, corrects discolorations, and helps fight scarring, fine lines, and aging signs.

On top of that, it also kills bacteria, which helps prevent and fight acne.

What Parts of the Body Can Be Treated with LED Light Therapy?

LED light therapy is mostly employed as an LED facial. However, it’s not exclusively a face light therapy. It can also be used to treat any other part of the body, such as the neck and chest.

Areas that frequently exhibit aging symptoms, the neck, and hands, can also benefit from light therapy for the skin. However, you must receive regular treatments if you want to notice any improvements.

LED Light Therapy: Step-by-Step Process

This is a very quick and simple procedure. It only requires a few steps:

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation for this treatment isn’t complicated at all. You don’t have to do anything drastic to get your skin ready for LED skin therapy.

The only thing you need to skip is any form of chemical peels in the days leading up to it. Other than that, you can perform your skincare routine as usual.

Before the treatment itself, your skin should be clean and makeup-free. The technician will wash your face with a gentle, non-irritating cleanser.

But they also might apply some additional serums or other skin care products, depending on whether you receive additional treatments before LED light therapy.

The last step of the prepping process is putting on protective goggles or glasses so that the light doesn’t cause any damage to your eyes.

Step 2: The Treatment

After putting on your protective eyewear, the LED light treatment device will be placed above your face (or another body part).

Depending on the device, some technicians may have you sit or lie down right in front of the lights, while others will apply LED light-emitting wands to your skin. This step also depends on which body part you are looking to treat.

During the LED light treatment, you won’t feel any pain. There are no burns or skin abrasions brought on by the light. You might experience some warmth but no discomfort throughout the procedure.

Most clients report that the colored lights are even quite soothing.

LED light therapy sessions take about 20 minutes at a time. Depending on the results you hope to get, you may need up to 10 treatments, each spaced out about a week apart.

Step 3: Final Touches

After the right amount of time passes, the procedure is finished off with moisturizer and sunscreen. Some technicians like using serums and masks before or during the procedure, but that depends on the device manufacturer’s recommendations.

Serums can also be applied at the end of the treatment. Most often, it’ll be hyaluronic acid, since it’s a universally beneficial ingredient, but vitamin C serum or growth factors are also great options.

@dr.mamina I find this to be a fun accessory if you're looking to up your skincare game. It's optional, but overall beneficial. There is a mixed consensus on it increasing the risk of hyperpigmentation. Melasma can worsen with heat, so I would be cautious in that scenario. @Sam #redlighttherapy #skincare routine #skincaretips #skincarehacks #dermatologist #derm ♬ original sound – Dr. Mamina Turegano, MD

What to Expect After LED Light Therapy

After just one session, you may notice a few minor results. However, some more noticeable improvements will become apparent only after you’ve completed all the sessions.

Keep in mind that the results don’t last forever, even after you’ve completed the recommended number of sessions. Your skin cells will continue to renew themselves, so you might start seeing signs of aging again as you lose some collagen without additional incentive.

Acne outbreaks may also start to appear. This is the reason why it’s advised that you return for maintenance treatments every few months or as your technician recommends.

acne outbreaks led therapy

LED Light Therapy Aftercare

This technique doesn’t damage your skin as much as more intrusive techniques do. Also, since it’s pain-free and noninvasive, there is no downtime. You should be able to continue with your daily routine as soon as the treatment is over!

Makeup and skincare wise, this is one of the rare treatments that doesn’t prohibit any ingredient. Makeup can be applied immediately after, but usually, mineral and non-comedogenic formulations are recommended.

You also don’t need to avoid any skincare products after the treatment. On the contrary, it even amplifies its effects, so unless your technician suggests otherwise, you can use any product right away.

Just make sure to stay out of the sun for several days and apply SPF – at least 48 hours after the LED light therapy. Also, drink plenty of water to maintain optimal hydration levels.

LED Light Therapy Risks & Side Effects

Since LEDs don’t contain UV rays, this procedure is pretty safe for all skin types and tones.

Although experiencing side effects from LED light therapy is rare, if they do occur, they’ll be manifested as:

  • Increased inflammation
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Dry skin
  • Redness
  • Stinging or burning sensations
  • Tenderness of the skin
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Thermal burns
  • Eye strain and temporary headaches caused by the light

If you notice any of these signs after LED light therapy, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

LED Light Therapy Aftercare

LEDs don’t damage your skin as more intrusive techniques do. And since it’s pain-free and noninvasive, there is no downtime needed. You should be able to continue with your daily routine as soon as the treatment is over.

Make-up and skincare wise, this is one of the rare treatments that doesn’t prohibit any ingredient. Make-up can be applied immediately after, but mineral and non-comedogenic formulations are recommended.

You also don’t need to avoid any skincare product post LED treatment. This treatment even amplifies its influence, so unless your technician suggests otherwise, you can use the product right away.

Just stay out of the sun for several days and apply extra sunscreen – at least 48 hours after LED treatment. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water to maintain hydration levels.

NOTE

Experts warn that while light therapy for skin seems to be safe in the short term, there’s no actual information about its long-term effects.

There have been some claims that light therapy can lead to premature aging of the skin and an increased possibility of skin cancer development later in life. But, this claim isn’t backed by studies that focus on this treatment as a facial.

How Much Does LED Light Therapy Cost?

Although LED therapy is most often used in combination with other treatments, it is also available alone, so the cost often ranges between $150 to $300.

When done without any add-ons, a single session can cost anywhere from $25 to $85.

Keep in mind that you’ll need multiple (even up to 10) sessions to see the results, so take that into account for the overall cost.

At-home LED devices are, however, a more profitable solution, considering the device is yours to keep and use for further treatments. The cost ranges from $25 to well over $250.

how much does led therapy costImage source: Instagram @empoweringbeautyau

LED Light Therapy at Home

When it comes to doing LED light therapy at home, it’s important to note that the result won’t be as dramatic as an in-office appointment will be. The strength of in-office treatments allows them to penetrate the skin deeper and achieve anti-aging or acne-reducing benefits.

But, while at-home devices aren’t as intense, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see changes in the appearance of your skin.

LED technology can be seamlessly incorporated into your routine. There are many at-home gadgets, including LED light therapy masks, wands, and other handheld devices.

Speaking of LED wands, you need to read our art director’s experience with them because the results have been quite interesting! So, if you’re thinking about investing in one but can’t find more information online, check out her story!

Product Recommendations

The market is huge, and there are too many products out there. Not to mention, for a newbie, they probably look scary and unusual too.

The instructions for every device are different, so make sure you’re following them carefully. First-time users might not use an LED tool properly, which is not only a waste of time and money but can also harm your skin!

Here are some product recommendations for doing LED light therapy at home:

Dr Dennis Gross SpectraLite FaceWare

Probably the most famous LED at-home product is this one. It looks fancy, has a nice array of benefits, and comes with a fancy price as well.

If you’re looking to splurge but still get value for your money, then consider investing in Dr Dennis Gross’ mask for radiant skin.

NEWKEY Blue Light Therapy LED Mask

Targeting acne and spots and feeling luxurious has never been easier with NEWKEY LED Mask. Simply put it on your face while you scroll through social media and let it do the work for you.

LED Light Therapy – Main Takeaways

LED light therapy is a great non-invasive skin treatment that can be used for a variety of skin (and even some health) issues, depending on the chosen wavelength.

The only downside of LED treatments is that the results, although impressive, aren’t long-lasting.

So, LED light therapy—especially LED light masks for at-home use, should be viewed more as a useful addition to your skincare routine, rather than the main skincare tool.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LED LIGHT THERAPY

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