What is LED light therapy and does it really make a difference to your skin?

Here's why you’ll be going under the light rather than the knife.

Those ahead of the skincare game have been advocates of LED light therapy for years.

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And now with more and more at-home skincare devices popping up, plus express treatments available on the high street, it won’t be long before you’re turning to the light to sort your skin.

But what exactly is LED light therapy?

LED – light-emitting diodes – uses coloured wavelengths of light that penetrate the skin. Not be confused with lasers, which are more potent, LED light therapy is a gentle but effective way to treat your skin. There are different colours of light which treat different concerns, with the most popular being blue for killing bacteria (ideal for adult acne) and red for stimulating collagen, healing and generally giving the skin a health boost.

The lights are usually administered via a mask (you might have seen the likes of Kourtney Kardashian and Jessica Alba wearing the Halloween worthy OPERA LED mask at home), a panel that hovers over the face or a wand which can target certain areas of the skin (particularly useful for treating the odd blemish).

Laura Ferguson, co-founder of The Light Salon, adds: “Offering the benefits of sunlight - without the damaging UV rays - as well as acne-fighting and anti-aging effects, light therapy is transforming our approach to skincare. As a non-invasive, painless and even mood-enhancing treatment, it has quickly become a favourite among A-listers and facialists alike.”

[Read more: Face yoga: Anti-ageing exercises to make you look younger]

Is it safe for sensitive skin?

Not only is it safe for sensitive and reactive skins, but it can have a positive effect on them.

“Light therapy is non-damaging and safe for even the most sensitive skin, often helping with issues that arise because of sensitivity. When having treatment before exposure to sunlight, it helps to prevent damage as the newly stimulated cells act as a protective layer. There are no problems caused by sunbathing before treatment and no need to worry about hyperpigmentation,” explains Laura.

Does LED light therapy hurt?

No – think of it more as if you’re basking in the sun for 10/20 minutes. Your skin gets warm, sure, but nothing painful or even uncomfortable.

OK, but does it really do anything for your skin? Really?

I’ve been a fan of light therapy for years ever since I killed some time in The Light Salon in Harvey Nichols for an express 15-minute rejuvenation facial. I had LED light therapy a few times before during various facials, usually in the mask form; The Light Salon uses a panel of light.

 

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It’s an express treatment, so you don’t have to try and squeeze an hour plus into your day. Instead, you sink into a comfy chair, your skin is cleansed and the light administered for 10 minutes. It sounds quick but it’s a relaxing 10 minutes – I’ve even been known to zone out and almost meditate while waiting for the light to do its thing. After the light, the therapist massages in a cocktail of products and you're on your way.

After one session, I saw a difference in my skin: life-changing, no, but I'm dubious of any facial that promises that. I looked rested, as if I’d been on holiday or had an amazing night’s sleep. It was all about the glow. The results kept getting better over the next few days too.

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Since that first appointment, I’ve been back over 15 times. If I haven’t been for a while, I notice it. My skin isn’t as bright or clear, is a touch dehydrated or simply isn’t as glowing. The results are cumulative, and each treatment builds on the one before (which for me has helped to heal years-old acne scars), but if you want results stat, one session is great for a quick fix.

One of my favourite things about it is that there’s no downtime; you’re not left red or blotchy, and it’s so quick that you can do it in your lunch hour (which I do, often!) For me, it’s one of the most brilliant no-fuss, no-nonsense yet ridiculously effective beauty treatments I’ve found.

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