Light Can Help You Treat Acne Or Hair Loss. How Does LED Therapy Work And How Much Will It Cost You?
Scientists believe in light more and more, and according to the available data, targeted illumination of the skin has benefits for the health and beauty of the skin.
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If you don't have an LED mask, are you actually a skinfluencer? Phototherapy, light therapy or LED therapy. These are the names of a popular method of targeted use of light for the beauty and health of the skin. Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, Emma Stone, Jessica Alba and Madonna swear by it. Celebrity dermatologists often like to show their clients lying under blue or red light. Even skincare influencers are mentioning LED home tools more and more, the pandemic only strengthened this trend.
While you can pay hundreds to thousands of euros for professional masks, you can only get yourself one for much less. But is it worth it?
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Although it sounds quacky at first glance, with certified devices and with the right wavelength, light can really help you in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, vitiligo (a skin disease in which there is a loss of pigment, editor's note) and other skin diseases, in trying to slow down hair loss, soften wrinkles or pigment spots and scars, which often remain "a keepsake" for those who have already gotten rid of acne.
LED therapy is a relaxing, painless treatment during which you lie under a powerful device. The LEDs in it emit specific wavelengths that have a scientifically proven effect on biological processes in the skin. There are different protocols: that is, which wavelength and for how long will be used to help with the problem you are solving.
How the light treatment works
Phototherapy can be provided in beauty salons and in dermatology clinics. It is usually a complementary treatment for various skin diseases (acne, rosacea, psoriasis), hair problems (alopecia) or when trying to strengthen the skin and reduce wrinkles or acne scars. We talked about supportive light treatment with beautician and nurse Barbora Karácsony, who works at the private clinic Dermarevolta.
The treatment is not painful or unpleasant, we only perceive the noise of the device and a strong red light at the end. The beautician covered our eyes with protective glasses, so we know that the light cannot harm us in any way. We get a slight warming sensation on the skin, but the LEDs stay cool, so it's just a feeling.
If you only come for the light treatment itself, the beautician will first clean your face: it is ideal not to wear make-up or other cosmetics on your face. After the treatment, they will offer you a cream and, if necessary, a cream with sun protection.
People with epilepsy or sensitivity to light must consult a doctor in advance if phototherapy is suitable for them, says Karácsony.
- People who use medication or other substances that increase sensitivity to light should exclude them at least 5 days before completing the therapy. This could be cosmetics, ointments or prescription drugs.
- People who have untreated thyroid disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy or diabetes.
- Oncology patients.
- Pregnant women and children.
Treatment protocols differ individually according to the problem that needs to be solved, but usually last 15-20 minutes, explains Karácsony. Most often, clients combine phototherapy with other treatments. They order, for example, deep cleansing of the skin, peeling or mesotherapy, and at the end they lie down under light diodes. Depending on what skin problem you are dealing with, you will probably need several treatments that must be repeated at certain intervals.
- 2x a week during the first two months,
- then once a week until the condition improves.
During the treatment, you can undergo other treatments (skin cleansing, hair mesotherapy, etc.) on the same days, but they do not need to be done as often. For example, cleaning is recommended roughly once every 3 to 4 weeks. You can also undergo LED therapy separately, at least 48 hours must pass between individual treatments.
Acne and hair loss are primarily in the hands of dermatologists, who know how to help you not only with device treatments, but also with medications (prescription). A combined method - visiting doctors, proper home care and additional treatments in a beauty salon - will bring the best result.
Light for skin, hair, fat and psyche
Karácsony most often uses light to treat people who deal with skin issues, want firmer skin or suffer from excessive hair loss. Patients treating acne usually go for regular deep cleansing, after which LED therapy can be used to speed up healing and regeneration. Patients whose hair is falling out due to androgenetic alopecia use hair mesotherapy (that is, a treatment in which active substances are applied under the skin using needles) and then use LED therapy.
Light therapy is also suitable after various treatments that are used in the treatment of acne, acne scars, pigment spots, wrinkles or elasticity and firmness of the skin and hair. This also includes more invasive methods, such as laser treatment, microneedling, radiofrequency treatments or chemical peels.
Many of them are performed by beauticians, some treatments fall under the competence of dermatologists. You don't have to search for a clinic that offers both, you can choose treatments from an outpatient doctor who provides them, and complement it with care in a beauty salon of your choice.
However, the beautician, who is also trained as a nurse, points out that light alone will not solve the mentioned problems. It is a supportive treatment that you can use in combination with other treatments or medicines. Hair loss and acne are exactly what dermatologists who deal with these diseases can detect.
However, according to the available scientific studies, light has a demonstrable effect on healing, the process of treating inflammation, or stimulating the natural biological processes of the skin, which are necessary during treatments. For example, thanks to targeted light in specific wavelengths, the production of collagen increases, which leads to firmer skin.
"We also use phototherapy after full-body treatments, for example radiofrequency, in the treatment of cellulite. Infrared light penetrates to a depth of 3-4 centimeters, which promotes the improvement of cellulite. We also use them in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis or vitiligo," adds Karácsony.
According to research, light appears to be a powerful helper in various ailments. Today, scientists are testing the right wavelengths even in the treatment of chronic pain or mental illnesses, such as depression. However, it is important that it is a high-quality device, set to the correct wavelengths, so always check whether the devices in the beauty salon are from trusted brands with appropriate certificates. Karácsony adds that devices suitable for skin treatment are in the wavelength range from 446 to 520 nanometers for blue light and from 630 to 780 nanometers for red light.
Blue light: penetrates only slightly below the outer layer of the skin. It kills the bacteria that cause acne, has a disinfecting effect and oxygenates the skin. It also helps in the treatment of wounds (such as burns) and pre-cancerous conditions on the skin caused by too long exposure to the sun.
Red light: penetrates deeper into the skin. It has an anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect, reduces inflammation and redness. It helps in leveling the skin surface (wrinkles, scars) and supports the production of collagen, which leads to more elastic and smoother skin. It also helps with some types of baldness.
Scientists are also investigating yellow and green light, potentially helping to treat chronic pain and mental illnesses (such as depression). If necessary, consult your doctor about these options.
LED masks at home
We also offer homemade LED masks or smaller devices for home use. Karácsony does not recommend them, as, according to her, one cannot be sure of quality and performance. Some of them offer aesthetic clinics where renowned dermatologists also work, you can also order masks from manufacturers of other cosmetic or medical devices.
However, they are also offered by more dubious e-shops, known for low quality goods, such as Aliexpress. You can find the cheapest masks there for 20-30 euros, for example, the manufacturer of this mask claims that it also meets the correct wavelengths. However, the brand only operates on Aliexpress, and only since the summer of 2021, has no reviews, and you cannot find documents or technical specifications on their website. No organization that approves medical or cosmetic devices has approved this brand.
By comparison, Dennis Gross' popular DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro mask costs $435. It is backed by a well-known dermatologist who has a certification in dermatology. Reviews are public and you can easily find them on YouTube and social networks. According to the website, the wavelengths for the individual lights also match, and the product has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, specifically for three minutes of daily use to reduce acne and wrinkles.
CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask for $318 also has approval and clinical results. You have to devote 10 minutes to their device three to five times a week. Comparable in design, clinical results and celebrity popularity is Light Salon's Boost LED Face Mask with a $435 price tag. Both brands, unlike the one sold through Aliexpress, offer a two-year warranty and the option to return the product, if you change your mind.
So home-use masks, which are worth thinking about in terms of certificates and approvals by the responsible authorities, cost in the order of several hundred euros. Their effectiveness is several times lower, which means that for the same effect, it is necessary to follow the protocol with almost "religious" precision. You have to disinfect both the device and the skin every time you use it, pay attention to the duration of the treatment (that is, the light) and the frequency if you want to see any results.
If your home skin care is already lame and you sometimes forget certain steps, home treatments may not be for you. For a comparable price, you can solve practically any problem under the hands of experienced professionals.
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