We read and hear about it in the media, and it is increasingly popular in the skincare industry as well as physicians’ offices: Medical-grade LED light therapy is proving to enhance the natural skin as well as treat troubled, acne-prone skin breakouts.
The use of clinically effective LEDs – which employ optimized doses of near-infrared, red and blue light to supercharge the body’s natural cellular healing response – is becoming a common go-to in skincare clinics.
What is LED light? A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor device that converts electrical energy into light energy, with the color of the light
coming from the diode itself.
It is considered a noncoherent scattered light, just like an ordinary light bulb, and does not generate heat.
In the 1980s, NASA used LED lights to stimulate plant growth in space, and researchers unexpectedly discovered that LEDs promoted cell regeneration in the plants, which then led to new applications of the technology in the beauty industry.
We humans are able to see only the colors correlated with wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers, which translate to use in the form of blue, green, yellow and red colors. At the beginning of the light spectrum are the ultraviolet rays – UVA, UVB, UVC – with a range of approximately 200-400 nanometers, making them invisible to the human eye. A little of each is essential, but overexposure of UV has negative consequences, including skin cancer.
At the end of the spectrum are infrared rays, ranging from 700 to more than 1,000 nanometers, which are also invisible, but we perceive them as heat. The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency, and therefore deeper penetration in the skin.
LED effects on skin
How does this LED discovery work on the skin? In the same way that plants have chlorophyll to convert sunlight into chemical energy to grow, the skin has the ability to initiate a photochemical reaction and lead to a biological effect at appropriate wavelength and dose.
With age, the cells that manufacture the skin’s supportive structures begin to slow down. Environmental damage from UV rays speeds up this process and produces free radicals that damage the skin and cells that produce collagen and elastin.
The Red LED at 633 nanometers is a rejuvenating light that is absorbed in the cellular mitochondria, which generate most of the cell’s supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), subsequently used as a source of chemical energy, and stimulate ATP production leading to enhanced cell vitality. It targets specific cells – fibroblasts – that are responsible for the synthesis and repair of the skin’s supportive structures, leading to a softening of fine lines and improved skin tone.
In acne-prone skin, one of the key bacterium responsible for acne inflammation is Propionibacterium. These anaerobic bacteria thrive without oxygen and produce a light-sensitive substance called porphyrins. When Blue LED at 415 nanometers is used, the porphyrins start to produce oxygen intracellularly. This will induce bacterial death. When combined with the Red LED at 633 nanometers, it reduces the redness and inflammatory response, adding to the beneficial effects of light therapy for acne.
Infrared light at 830 nanometers is strongly absorbed with fibromyocytes (muscle cells), promoting alignment and increased tone in the newly produced collagen. Skin feels firmer, fuller and glowier due to increased oxygenation, circulation and removal of toxins. A combination of infrared and Red LED is a wonderful and relaxing anti-aging treatment as an add-on to a facial peel or stand-alone skin rejuvenation protocol. Usually, such light therapy is performed in a series of eight treatments, two treatments per week for four weeks. The results are seen one to three months after the final light session.
LED light therapy is considered safe for the majority of people, except those with a history of epilepsy. Certain medications such as antibiotics and anti-cancer and anti-acne meds may delay the onset of treatment. Pregnant women can receive the treatment on the face and other areas, with the abdominal area being avoided.
Marjan Kashi, a Los Altos resident, is a licensed medical esthetician, electrologist and the founder of Pure Serenity Skincare, located at Rancho Shopping Center. For more information, call 999-7873 or visit pureserenityskincare.com.