Do Red Light Therapy and LED Light Therapy for Skin Really Work?

Woman smiles while holding a red LED light therapy mask

What is light therapy for skin? Does it really deliver the results you’d expect, given all the hype?

When you think of glowing skin, you might not picture your face literally glowing under red and blue lights. But this skincare treatment has the potential to create a more youthful appearance through skin tightening. Plus, it can ease pesky skin conditions for a clearer texture and brighter skin tone. 

Here, we’re covering the basics behind LED light therapy and red light therapy. Read on to find out about how they help your skin cells and what risks and benefits you should know about. 

What Is LED Light Therapy?

LED light therapy involves the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to treat a variety of skin concerns in a non-invasive way. 

During light therapy skin treatments, a device featuring LED lights will be placed near your skin for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes. These devices can be full face masks or handheld wands. When the device is turned on, different wavelengths of light penetrate the skin at different depths, stimulating activity deep down that can produce desirable results at the surface.

Does light therapy work for skin? Absolutely – and you may be surprised to learn that this healing treatment has pretty out-of-this-world origins. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “In the 1990s, NASA began studying LED’s effects in promoting wound healing in astronauts by helping cells and tissues grow. Today, dermatologists and estheticians commonly use LED light therapy to treat a range of skin issues.”

What Are the Benefits of Light Therapy for Skin?

Does LED light therapy work for anti-aging, treating skin conditions, or reducing scarring? Yes to all of the above! According to Medical News Today, LED light therapy can help to:

  • Brighten dull skin
  • Treat moderate acne
  • Address irritating skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Heal wounds and scarring
  • Create a more youthful appearance by minimizing wrinkles, age spots, and sun damage
  • Improve the overall skin texture

Different LED light wavelengths or colors can have different effects, because of how deeply they penetrate and stimulate the skin cells. 

As Cleveland Clinic explains, “Blue LED light therapy may destroy acne-causing bacteria.” Meanwhile, “Red LED light therapy may reduce inflammation and stimulate the production of collagen, a protein responsible for younger-looking skin that diminishes with age.”

This is because blue LED light enters the more shallow layers of skin where pesky bacteria live, whereas red and near-infrared light take a deeper dive. If you’re wondering, does red light therapy tighten skin, know that its deeper effects like increased collagen can make your skin firmer and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

There are even some potential benefits of light therapies beyond skin improvement. As the Harvard Medical School reports, certain forms of light therapy can be used to treat depression, including seasonal affective disorder and perinatal depression.

Are There Any Risks of Light Therapy for Skin?

Side effects are fairly uncommon, but can include redness and irritation. You may also experience eye strain and headaches, especially if you don’t wear eye protection during the treatment. Nausea and disrupted sleep can also happen to sensitive folks. 

On the plus side, unlike tanning beds, LED light therapies don’t include any ultraviolet (UV) light. This means you aren’t increasing your risk of skin cancer by exposing your skin to the beams. 

Okay, so How and When Can You Do Light Therapy?

Woman lies down while wearing a red LED light therapy mask

Even though there aren’t too many risks, it’s still a good idea to talk to your dermatologist about whether or not light therapy is right for you before moving ahead with it.

Light therapy can be administered in person by a dermatologist. Or, you can buy LED light therapy devices for home use, including LED light masks. To experience the benefits, you’ll likely need to start out with weekly visits or keep up with your at-home routine. The long-term results can be well worth the time commitment, though.

Stock up on Sheet Masks for Post-LED Therapy Care

woman healthy skin bright clear and luminated
You’ll need to keep your skin free of any makeup, mask, moisturizer, or other skincare product during the actual LED light therapy treatment. Once your time’s up, though, consider nourishing your skin with a hydrating sheet mask from Patchology. 

Try our Beauty Sleep hydrogel facial mask at night, or our Bubbly mask during the day. Any of our 5-minute FlashMasque sheet masks would also be perfect in a jiffy – check out Illuminate and Hydrate.

Explore our skincare favorites at Patchology and get your skin glowing!