Maybe you’ve dabbled in an infrared sauna, or added an LED session on to your facial. Maybe you’re an at-home pro with an LED mask or handheld device. By now we understand that light has scientific healing powers, but which light does what? Do different colors really mean anything?
First things first, LED stands for light-emitting diode, meaning it pushes the energy and power of the light in one direction—at your skin. The colors we see, whether it’s red light or blue light, are produced by different wavelengths. Red has a longer wavelength than blue light. Trippy.
LED therapy was initially invented by NASA decades ago to help in the growth of plants and vegetables, and Navy seals started using it in the 90s to speed wound healing. Nowadays, this magical miracle worker is most commonly used by our favorite aestheticians to regenerate skin cells to slow aging and treat acne. But just what is the purpose of using different colors—or wavelengths—of light?
The red light is the same red glow found in infrared saunas and is used to treat the outer layer of the skin, aka our epidermis. Our skin actually absorbs the light like a product, and it helps to stimulate collagen production, making red light the go-to for anti-aging effects like minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
But that’s not all that the red wavelength can do. This stimulation of the epidermis also can have inflammation-reducing effects and can boost circulation. This is why it’s also great for healing, whether that is a wound elsewhere on the body, or skin that may have been picked or suffered an outbreak of any kind.
Blue light is best for acne-prone skin and existing, active breakouts because it targets the sebaceous oil glands and destroys acne-causing bacteria. It can also help decrease scarring from breakouts you’ve, ehem, picked.
Amber light handles the cleanup. It helps with age spots and melasma. It’s detoxifying and protective, as it helps to flush waste from the skin and the delicate channels just under our skin that we can blame for swelling and puffiness. Amber light works to boost lymphatic flow and increase cellular growth, aiding in cell-turnover, aka the production of new skin cells.
LED light doesn’t contain UV, so it’s totally safe, with minimal to no adverse effects. It’s non-invasive, and there’s no downtime or redness. In fact, quite the opposite—you can usually rely on a session for an immediate glow. However, if you’re using Accutane or retinoids, your skin may be extra photosensitive and have a reaction, so proceed with caution or plan your regimen around use of those products.
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