LED lights have been around since the 1960s but have recently created a surge in interest and treatments performed with LED Light Therapy. Scientists have been studying the effects of sun rays and the skin for many years, leading them to study light therapy, especially LED Lights. The general findings of LED light therapy have included the different wavelengths of a visible light spectrum from different colors penetrating the skin at various depths. LED lights have been sited to have different cellular effects on the skin tissue and body, depending on which color and wavelengths.
Red and Blue LED lights are the two most popular colors used in low-light therapy. Red light therapy is known to treat skin issues like wrinkles, inflammation, scars, and wounds. While blue light therapy is known to treat the causes of skin acne. And in some cases, the two colors can be used in conjunction with one another for particular skin needs.
In this article, we take a closer look at blue and red LED light therapy—how each color light therapy works and the benefits (and drawbacks) that come with them.
Let’s start with the basics. What is LED Light Therapy?
LED (Light Emitting Diode) Light Therapy, also referred to as low-level light therapy (LLLT) or phototherapy, is a non-invasive skincare treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light energy to the different layers of the skin tissue. Depending on the wavelength, the energy is absorbed into the tissues and cells of the skin to stimulate collagen production, cell regeneration, reduce inflammation, and eliminate bacteria in the skin.
LED light therapy is a skin treatment that doesn’t use ultraviolet light (invisible wavelengths linked to pre-mature aging and sun damage). Instead, the low-level light energy is safe to use on the skin, and the typical session lasts about 20-30 minutes long. This procedure requires no recovery or downtime, and patients can perform their normal activities for the remainder of the day.
Red Light Therapy (RLT) has wavelengths that penetrate the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and into the middle layer (dermis). The energy from the light stimulates fibroblast cell production. A vital cell that creates the collagen protein in the skin also helps with the natural healing process. The energy in the cells increases the oxygen flow into the skin tissue to help improve circulation while repairing any damages made to the tissue.
And in an article by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology cited research that found improvements in skin texture from increased collagen production and oxygenation from low-level red light therapy.
Red light therapy can help and treat the following skin issues:
Blue Light Therapy (BLT) also aims to treat the dermis layer of the skin tissue and is better known to help with acne and sun-damaged skin. The wavelengths from the blue light target the mid-dermis layer to treat damaged cells caused by the sun and specifically aim for the oil glands (also known as the sebaceous glands) located beneath the hair follicles of the skin. The energy from the light reduces the activity in the oil glands resulting in fewer acne breakouts and killing the acne-causing bacteria beneath the skin.
Blue light therapy can help and treat the following skin issues:
Ten sessions about a week apart are typically recommended but will also depend on the severity or condition of the skin.
In some cases, a photosensitive drug called 5-aminolevulinic acid is applied to the skin with LED light treatments. The medicine makes the skin more sensitive to light, making the treatment more effective; this is also called photodynamic therapy.
This low-light therapy treatment is designed not to cause wounds or burn the skin, like some laser treatments, making it possible to sell at-home devices to the public. However, at-home LED Light masks, wands, and other devices are not medical-grade products or offer the same light intensity as what you receive at a doctor’s office. The most effective and time-saving solution is to be treated by a medical professional.
The main benefit of LED light treatment is the ease and convenience of this non-invasive treatment. Patients can lay down and relax for 20 minutes as the LED light therapy progresses. There is zero downtime or recovery, and in 2-3 sessions, you will notice the difference in your skin.
The color lights may seem mild or benign, but the strength comes from the wavelengths. And how the light converts into energy that stimulates the body’s response at a cellular level, resulting in improved skin structure, texture, and overall appearance.
To find a board-certified dermatologist experienced in performing LED light therapy, use our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool for a medical professional in your area.