Everything You Need To Know About LED Skin Treatments

We’ve all seen the Hannibal Lecter-esque light-up masks on Instagram but do we actually know what they are and how they work? Not so much.

We’ll level with you, they’re not just creepy looking masks, but actually the secret to giving acne-prone and dull skin a good old glow boost.

Still not with us? We caught up with Kate Moss and Sienna Miller’s go-to facialist, Teresa Tarmey, plus skincare expert Natali Kelly and facial aesthetics doctor, Dr Nina Bal, to give us the pro lowdown on all things light therapy and LED skin treatments.

Whether you’re going in-salon or trying it at home, here’s everything you need to know about light therapy for your skin…

Everything You Need To Know About LED Light Therapy

What is LED light therapy?

LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a common treatment used in clinics and in at-home LED masks. These high-tech devices are designed with tiny bulbs, all over the inside which sit directly on the skin, emitting different wavelengths of light energy with each colour boasts different benefits.

Within a professional clinic setting, Dermalux™ LED Phototherapy is one of the most common types of light therapy used among practitioners. ‘It’s a non-invasive hand and facial treatment that uses narrow band, non-thermal LED light energy to trigger your body’s natural cell processes to accelerate rejuvenation and repair of the skin,’ explains Tarmey.

It’s benefits are widespread and Tarmey recommends adopting it for skin rejuvenation, sun damage, acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, sensitive and inflammatory conditions, wound healing and scarring as well as anyone looking to restore skin’s radiance.

What does light therapy do?

When used consistently, over time, LED lights can penetrate your skin at different depths to combat acne-causing bacteria, brighten areas of dull skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. ‘A course of treatments offers corrective and long-lasting results, although you’ll be able to see a difference after the first session,’ says Tarmey.

According to Dr Nina Bal, light therapy can also speed up wound healing, improve skin conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis. Talk about multi-tasking.

light therapy for skin

Elisabetta Franchi

How does light therapy work?

Skin cells naturally become compromised as a result of ageing, but skin disorders and trauma also play a part, and all this means these cells are unable to renew themselves normally.

LED light therapy tackles this by using the light as a source of energy to fuel the repair and rejuvenation of damaged cells, or, in the case of treating acne, kill bacteria, reveals Tarmey. ‘This energy stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, boosts circulation and accelerates tissue repair. During the treatment, you’ll simply lie underneath a light screen while the device does all the work.’

light therapy for skin

Valentina Valdinoci/Imaxtree

Tarmey is such a believer in its benefits that she uses LED in every facial. ‘We start with the cleaning of the skin which includes a lactic acid brightening peel and extractions if needed. We then go onto the advanced side of the facial and finish with a full session (20 minutes) of LED. If someone is coming only for LED we clean the skin, then apply LED and SPF to finish.’

light therapy for skin

Andrea Adriani/Imaxtree

What types of light are there and what do they do?

There’s more than just one type of LED light, typically the most commonly used are blue light, red light and near infra-red light. Iin-clinic practitioners like Tarmey will offer a range of lights depending on your skin needs following a consultation, while at-home masks will vary depending on the brand.

Here’s the lowdown on the benefits of each type of light below.

Blue Light

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, this is specifically helpful for treating acne without further irritating areas of inflammation. It’s also effective at reducing oil production and preventing future breakouts.

Red Light

This can increase hydration levels, reduced redness and inflammation, minimises the appearance of pores, balances oil production and accelerates skin repair – it’s also medically-approved by the NHS as a treatment for rosacea.

Near Infra-Red Light

This is the most deeply absorbed wavelength, as a result it can stimulate collagen production, improve absorption of your skincare products, improve elasticity, accelerate wound healing and soothe cystic acne.

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What aftercare should you use after light therapy?

Following an in-clinic treatment, LED can make you skin more susceptible to UV damage, so Dr Nina Bal advises to ‘stay away from the sun for 48 hours and apply SPF: While swelling and redness rarely occur, she recommends to take an anti-inflammatory or apply cold packs if needed.

How long does it take for light therapy to work?

‘You can see results from the first treatment, however we would recommend a minimum course of six,’ explains Kelly. ‘If you would like to super charge your skin for specific skin concerns, an intensive course of twelve treatments is advised close together.’

What skin types should try light therapy?

Light therapy can deliver results across all skin types, but is particularly beneficial for people with acne, rosacea and inflammation.

Does light therapy hurt?

No, LED light therapy is completely non-invasive and does not hurt. You may feel a bit of warmth during treatment, which can be as short as 10 minutes.

Can you get a tan from light therapy?

Nope! Light Therapy doesn’t use UV light so there’s no risk of tanning whatsoever.

How much does professional light therapy cost?

Prices vary depending on how many treatments you want to have and the clinic you visit. ‘In clinic we offer Dermalux at £70, including skin consultation and assessment in a private treatment room with a heated bed and cosy duvet,’ says Kelly. ‘We also advise light therapy after most of our facials, which is a £50 add on.’

You’ll also find light therapy treatments offered in beauty salons nationwide, but we particularly rate The Light Salon Correcting LED which starts from £30, Sarah Chapman Glow Zone Facial from £65, and Dr. Maryam Zamani LED Light Therapy, £70.


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