If you’re a beauty junkie, you’ve surely heard of the LED therapy, a beauty treatment that has been growing in popularity over the years.
The treatment entails using an array of bright light-emitting diodes (LED),originally developed by NASA, to send low-level light energy into the deeper layers of the skin to help regenerate the skin from aging and fight acne-causing bacteria.
But how exactly can a device that emits bright lights help you get a clearer and brighter complexion?
Whether you are going for a session at a clinic or salon, or trying it at home, here is everything you need to know about light therapy for your skin.
What is LED therapy?
LED therapy uses colour wavelengths of visible light that have specific skin benefits, with red, blue, green and yellow lights being the most common ones used out of seven available colour modes.
The skin uses the light as a source of energy to fuel the repair and rejuvenation of damaged cells, or, in the case of treating acne, kill bacteria. The energy stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, boosts circulation and accelerates tissue repair. During the treatment, all you have to do is lie underneath a light screen while the device does all the work—yes, it’s the simple.
Here’s what each light does to your skin.
Blue light therapy kills bacteria under the skin, making it an excellent tool for treating acne, which can be caused by bacteria in the pores. It reduces oil production, prevents future breakouts and offers a UV-free alternative for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis.
Red light therapy has been shown to help stimulate collagen and can also help heal damaged or irritated skin. Aestheticians often use this to soothe the skin after other treatments. Red light therapy also increases natural hydration levels, reduces redness and inflammation, shrinks the appearance of pores, regulates oil production, improves circulation, accelerates skin repair and is a medically-approved treatment for rosacea.
Green light therapy fights hyperpigmentation whilst brightening the skin through the inhibition of melanin production, and helps to repair skin that has been damaged due to environmental aggressors.
Yellow light plays a supportive role of green light and as such, promotes skin revitalisation as it increases nutrient exchange in the skin cells. It, too, reduces hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
Purple light is a combination of both red and blue lights, and it is best used for cellular repair as it promotes a wound-healing response in the skin.
Light Blue Light
Light blue is known to be the skin energiser, as it encourages the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate or cellular energy) and promotes cellular metabolism, thereby boosting overall skin function.
White light is an overall skin booster as it penetrates deeper into the skin and helps to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and hyperpigmentation.
Depending on your skin needs, your aesthetician will recommend which light to go for.
How much does a treatment cost?
A typical LED therapy treatment lasts for 10 to 20 minutes, and can be a standalone treatment or part of a facial. Depending on your skin’s needs, you might need to go back once a week for up to 10 weeks, then only once every few months.
As a standalone treatment, it typically costs between $80 and $100. If it is offered as part of a facial, prices for the facial typically starts from $180 per session.
Are there side effects to LED therapy treatments?
LED light therapy is completely non-invasive and does not hurt. All you will feel is a tiny bit of warmth. “It is suitable for all skin types and there are no side effects or dangers,” said aesthetician Poh Ying at Cluny Court’s Kew Organics.
And the good news is, there is no downtime. Jess, an aesthetician at IYAC Aesthetic Clinic at Camden Medical Centre on One Orchard Boulevard says, “You may resume daily activities and your usual skincare routine.”
This might sound like a dream, but before you make an appointment, take note that results are not guaranteed. As with all treatments and skincare products, different people might experience varying degrees of effectiveness, so don’t expect to see results in one session just because your friend did.
However, Jess suggests avoid LED therapy treatments if one is pregnant or had eye surgery.
Additionally, consult a doctor before going for such treatments if you’re on certain medications or have an active skin disorder.
You might also want to avoid LED treatments if you have photosensitive epilepsy or claustrophobia because it can get trippy and the lights panel go really close to your face. Let your therapist know if you feel any discomfort during the treatment.
More importantly, talk to your dermatologist about your skincare concerns and whether LED light therapy is a good option for you.
Do at-home LED devices work?
It’s not just the salons and clinics that are offering LED therapy treatments. More and more beauty brands have put out LED devices as part of their product line-up. While it’s great and convenient for everyday use, it doesn’t deliver the same result as a clinic treatment.
“At-home LED devices are less effective as the energy and wavelength is inferior to those in clinics,” says Dr Liew Hui Min of HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic at Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway East Medical Centre.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to throw your devices away. After all, at-home devices are usually formulated for maintenance or long-term results. Just don’t expect a miracle after one use.
Text: Sheila Chiang