Ultimate Guide to LED Light Therapy for Skin
The K-beauty light has befallen on light therapy treatments; using at-home LED skincare devices has become one of the latest K-beauty fads. With the power to refine skin texture, enhance skin clarity and skin tone amongst other benefits yet without the expense, possible downtime and safety concerns of lasers, it is little wonder LED light therapy has found its way into the hands of beauty seekers. Despite the raves, are such handheld devices as effective as treatments offered by beauty clinics? To learn more about the merits of phototherapy and its proper use in order to max out the slew of potential skin benefits, we’ve got Dr. Toby Hui, Aesthetic Consultant at SW1 Clinic to help shed some ‘light’ on the matter.
What are low level energy lights?
Dr. Toby: Unlike surgical and aesthetic lasers, low level energy lights do not heat up the targeted tissue. Instead, they emit low levels of light energies that are can be absorbed by our skin cells. These light energies help increase cellular energy production and ultimately help heal surrounding skin tissue. A useful analogy is to compare this process to photosynthesis, whereby sunlight is absorbed and converted to fuel green plants and promote growth.
Low level energy lights offer a slew of remarkable skin benefits depending on its colour. Skin inflammation can be reduced, healing can be sped up and acne-causing Propionibacterium can be killed. In addition to promoting a blemish free complexion, light energies also help plump fine lines for overall skin rejuvenation.
Are there different low level energy lights for different skin conditions?
Dr. Toby: There is a myriad of colours in the light spectrum and different colour lights with differing wavelength. They can be utilized to address different skin conditions in a safe and effective way.
Today, dermatologists use LED (LightEmitting Diode) for a variety of skin conditions. It can treat aging skin, vitiligo and psoriasis, to about anywhere else that requires a skin reboot. By far the mildest form of light therapy, LED light therapy is completely pain free. Thus, it is as an obvious alternative or precursor to heftier treatments such as lasers. Regardless of age, skin types (fair or darker complexions) and skin condition (sensitive, compromised or damaged skins, LED can be used.
How can they benefit our skin?
Dr. Toby: Red light is known to reduce inflammation and promotes skin healing. LED Red is a 633nm red light therapy that works by activating new collagen formation. It simultaneously lessens the breakdown of existing collagen stores via a process known as photobiomodulation leading to smoother and brighter skin with reduced pore size. It has an extraordinary calming effect on sensitive skins and can be a useful adjunct for treating skin conditions such as rosacea flare-ups and allergic skin reactions.
Gentle skin rejuvenation @ SW1 Clinic with LED Red photomodulation, a completely pain-free 633nm red light therapy that reduces the signs of photo-damage and skin aging.
Yellow light is great for skin rejuvenation. At the right dosage, it will also promote healing, reduce the signs of intrinsic skin aging and ultraviolet (UV) damage. It is an excellent treatment for skin healing and works equally well even after laser and surgery.
Blue light effectively targets Propionibacterium Acnes to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne across all age groups. At a unique 408nm wavelength, I-Clear is therefore one of the most effective non-invasive tool against acne. This is because it emits pure blue light that closely matches the peak absorption qualities of the targeted P acne bacteria. With high spectral purity, I-Clear ensures patients’ avoidance of UV, IR or inappropriate visible radiation as with lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices. It is incorporated into the Clear Blue Facial for regular maintenance against breakouts. It is also part of our clinical Clarity Program that offers enhanced and prolonged skin clearing effects for acne prone skins.
For a blemish free complexion with better oil control, go BLUE to chase away your acne blues.
Is there a difference between low level energy lights used in clinic (such as I-Clear and LED Red) and home devices that are being sold on the market?
Dr. Toby: One must be aware that all the clinical based, scientific research on the skin benefits of low level energy lights were conducted using in-clinic photobiomodulation devices with highly specific wavelengths and fluence (energy density). Amongst various in-clinic photobiomodulation devices from different makers, there are already huge discrepancies in the achievable energy output and thus results, let alone home based devices.
For example, I-Clear utilizes a panel of over 1700 focused diodes to ensure proper power density over a uniform beam profile while Revage 670 Laser, an FDA approved low level laser therapy for rejuvenating thinning hairlines in both male and female, contains no less than 30 laser diodes. With its built-in Rotational Phototherapy (RPT) system, critical coherent beams acting as a direct source of light energy goes over the scalp to ensure maximum contact with the areas to be treated for optimal outcome that matches those from studied statistics. It is therefore impossible for home devices, especially handheld ones to have as many diodes to provide the amount of light energy required to milk the skin benefits of low level energy lights.
Different wavelengths of light treat different skin conditions. Blue targets acne, red targets rejuvenation, yellow targets healing
What should a consumer interested in purchasing one of these home based light devices be aware of?
Dr. Toby: Beauty is BIG business and there’s a plethora of home based light devices on popular online websites such as eBay, TaoBao and Qoo10. They are often attractively priced at a fraction of the price for a single session of an in-clinic light without actual verification of the efficacy of said devices. As mentioned earlier, very specific wavelengths which determine the colour of the lights are required for the different skin improvement we seek, and a single wavelength or one set of treatment parameters will not be effective for all conditions.
Therefore, an under-powered home device (with a few strips of light) which delivers one colour of light is unlikely to be able to treat the barrage of skin conditions it claims to treat (since we know the benefits are wavelength-specific). In addition, it’s unlikely for an underpowered home based device to meet the minimum threshold energy necessary to effect any cellular change in the long run.
While adverse side effects have not been reported from the use of low level light therapy, treating yourself with an inferior device will not give you the potential skin benefits, and is perhaps only as useful as the night-light next to a baby cot.