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All About LED Light Therapy: What It Is, How It Works, and Benefits


If you’ve recently visited a spa or drugstore, you’ve likely noticed the expanding array of available cosmetic treatments and products. Driven by the quest for youthful and radiant skin, many people turn to risk-free, non-invasive cosmetic procedures for medical and aesthetic reasons. Among these, LED light therapy stands tall as a popular and innovative option for improving skin health and appearance.

What is LED light therapy?

LED light therapy is a unique and innovative treatment that utilizes the power of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to provide a safe, non-invasive, and pain-free solution for a range of dermatological conditions. These include eczema, acne, rosacea, wrinkles, fine lines, and dermatitis. Its safety and noninvasiveness make it a reassuring choice for those seeking effective skin treatments, regardless of skin type.

Initially developed by NASA for plant growth experiments during space shuttle missions, LED lights have been used since the 1960s but have recently become more popular due to growing cosmetic demands. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), many people typically see noticeable results a few weeks after their last treatment. 

How LED light therapy works

During the treatment, LED light of different wavelengths and colors penetrates the skin, stimulating cellular activity, healing, and rejuvenation. LED lights come in different wavelengths and colors, including blue, red, green, and near-infrared. Each color penetrates the skin at different depths, making it helpful in treating various skin issues.

LED light therapy: Types and benefits

Here are some of the most common types of LED light therapy:

Blue Light

Experts believe blue LED light therapy dials down the activity of sebaceous glands, the tiny oil factories in your skin. Less oil means fewer acne breakouts — this light also targets and destroys the bacteria responsible for those pesky pimples. Fascinatingly, a 2019 study review posits that blue light can exert anti-cancer and anti-proliferative effects.

Red Light

Red LED light therapy is a powerhouse for combating scars and the visible signs of aging, like wrinkles. It works by energizing fibroblasts, the skin cells that churn out collagen — a protein crucial for skin repair and elasticity. As we age, collagen production wanes, but red light therapy helps to rejuvenate the skin, reducing inflammation and promoting a youthful glow.

Accessibility and costs of LED light therapy

LED light therapy products are available in spas, dermatology clinics, over-the-counter drug stores, and even at-home devices. These devices, such as LED wands, treatment pens, panel lights, and face masks, are designed for ease of use, making it convenient to include LED light therapy in your skincare routine.

Each light treatment lasts about 20 minutes and requires no downtime. However, to achieve the desired result, a person may need about ten sessions once weekly over a two-month period. In some cases, LED light therapy is combined with other treatments, such as creams, ointments, and facials, to enhance results.

According to a 2019 Harvard Health report, a single LED light therapy session can cost $80 or more, depending on location, healthcare provider, and length of treatment. However, when considering the long-lasting benefits and potential transformation of your skin, the cost of LED light therapy can be seen as a worthwhile investment in your health and aesthetics. Consulting a board-certified dermatologist or licensed aesthetician can help determine the right LED light therapy to achieve the best results.

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