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The LED Lowdown

Facialists and dermatologists have long extolled the virtues of LED light therapy for skin but what does that mean for your face?

There’s some kind of human instinct that tells us that light – in many of its guises - is good for us. There are, of course, exceptions (we all know for example, that too much UV is damaging) but on the whole, we welcome light, and it fills us with vitality and makes us feel good. The same is true for our skin.

Specific wavelengths of light have been used in skincare for some time now, specifically in laser form, to treat uneven skin texture, pigmentation, scarring and a whole host of other skin woes. But it’s LED light – or colour light therapy as it’s sometimes known - that has the experts excited, for it has been shown to support skin function, improve clarity and even help to clear up adult acne. So, what can it do for your skin?

If you have breakouts.Try blue light therapy. We all have bacteria on our skin and the majority of us carry acne-causing bacteria called p. acnes. This bacteria doesn’t trouble most people, but when it’s joined by excess sebum and blocked pores it can lead to inflammation and unwelcome spots. Thankfully, specific wavelengths within blue light have been shown to eliminate that bacteria, calm existing breakouts and minimise the appearances of more unwelcome ‘friends’. Unfortunately, one treatment won’t do the trick and, depending on the severity of your acne, you should expect to have a treatment once-or-twice a week for around eight weeks. But don’t baulk at the time commitment; light treatments usually only take around 15-minutes.

If you’re concerned about lines and wrinkles.Red light therapy – or near infrared light – delivers all manner of benefits to the skin; from reducing sensitivity, inflammation to calming rosacea - and it has been shown to be particularly beneficial at holding back lines and wrinkles. We still don’t know exactly how red light works with the skin, but experts believe that it is absorbed by the mitochondria within cells and stimulates the production of collagen, and, as we all know, more collagen equals fewer wrinkles. Finding a reputable facialist is essential but you can also support in-clinic treatments with at-home masks. LA skin expert Shani Darden regularly uses red light therapy on her Tinseltown clients including Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jenna Dewan Tatum, and she recommends the Deesse Premium LED mask and even has a full-length red LED bed so she can treat the entire body.

If pigmentation is a problem.Pigmentation can manifest itself in a number of ways; as age spots on the back of your hand, speckles over your chest or clusters of pigment anywhere on your face, though these often occur on the forehead or upper lip. As anyone with pigmentation can attest, once it has made a home on your skin it’s remarkably difficult to get it to leave. That’s where light therapy comes in. Your facialist or clinician may use a combination of colours for the best possible treatment; red can be used to reduce the inflammation that can lead to post inflammatory pigmentation while green light has been shown to help reduce dark circles, broken capillaries and sun spots. It’s worth bearing in mind that LED’s really only work on superficial pigmentation, i.e. the clusters of pigment that are close to, and on the surface of the skin. For deeper pigmentation – the kind caused by years of unprotected sun exposure, for example – you really need to resort to professional laser treatments.


Suzanne Scott - Associate Beauty Editor at Net-A-Porter

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