Light Years Ahead
I somehow managed to skate by in High School with nary a pimple. Don’t worry though, acne caught up with me in my early twenties and by 22 I was in constant combat with deep cystic acne on my chin and around my mouth (the hormone area). I poked and squeezed and touched and did all the things you aren’t supposed to do, resulting in more acne and scarring. It was a vicious cycle.
By happenstance, I began working at the front desk of the Kate Somerville Clinic in Los Angeles. At the time, Kate was still an undiscovered gem in the beauty industry and her clinic was one of the early ones to offer both medical dermatological services and beauty treatments (though anyone who has dealt with acne knows the two go hand in hand). Kate saw my face and immediately started me on a new regimen, one that included sitting under lights for 30 minutes after every shift. The combination of the right products for my skin (I had been drying out my face, which only made the problem worse), plus light therapy turned my skin around in a matter of months.
Now that I’m in my *cough* late thirties, I still battle the occasional hormonal outbreak and now wrinkles too. Which really shouldn’t be something any human has to deal with at the same time, but here we are. I spoke with Kate Somerville recently about light therapy treatments on the market today and their effectiveness at battling both acne and anti-aging. According to Kate, “the benefits have stayed the same as the light therapy itself has always been beneficial to the skin. Now, as one device and setting can emit multiple colors, we’re able to treat multiple skin concerns at the same time. Light therapy is also amazing to reduce redness, rosacea, fine lines and wrinkles. Red, white and amber wavelengths penetrate deep into the skin and are amazing for stimulating collagen. For clients dealing with acne, incorporating blue light therapy with their facial really obtains great results as blue light kills the bacteria.” With so many at home products on the market, she recommends that you look for LED devices that have more bulbs and fewer settings/colors. These will be the most effective and concentrated at-home therapy devices.
Another industry leader is Dr Elsa Jungman who is breaking ground in skincare with her at home microbiome kits. Through research and studies, she’s seen impressive results on a number of other skin conditions using light therapy treatments, including hypertrophic scarring, damage from UV lights, psoriasis, pigmentary disorders such as vitiligo, and can even help heal burns quicker. For battling anti-aging she says, “light therapy is now considered the ultimate non-invasive approach to treating skin conditions. Some studies have shown that exposure to red and NIR [near infrared] light can effectively improve skin laxity and reduce fine wrinkles by significantly increasing collagen production. The rejuvenating process also occurs by increasing tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and decreasing cell death. Patients report a softer and fuller skin texture, reduced fine lines ranging from subtle to significant, and overall improvement of facial redness or pigmentation.” An added bonus, unlike laser treatments that can leave you looking red, dry and swollen for days or even weeks after, “there is no post-treatment redness associated with the procedure.”
Dr Elsa says of at home masks, “Studies have clearly demonstrated that LED therapy does work. However, LED home masks use lower wavelengths than those developed for professional dermatologists. As such, results might not be as good as those obtained in a medical office. Moreover, in contrast with the medical light therapy devices, light therapy masks seem to have not been validated through controlled studies, and there are no articles published in peer-reviewed journals to confirm their efficiency. Still, considering the studies developed until now on light therapy alone, we can say that light masks work. When buying such a device, people need to make sure that first of all, they need it, and then that they use it correctly.”
Our skin is a complex system that reacts to so many internal and external factors. But unlike skin care products that can react in an array of different ways depending on a person’s specific microbiome, light therapy will generally be beneficial for an array of skin types and concerns. With so many different products on the market these days, it can feel overwhelming knowing which is right for you. Both Kate and Dr Elsa recommend seeing a professional about your skin concerns before purchasing a product that might not work for your specific needs.
So if you’re looking for something less invasive than lasers and injectables, or you want a scientifically proven addition to your anti-aging/acne fighting arsenal, head to your favorite medical spa and enjoy the light show.