Especially after the last particularly extreme acne breakout, do you already feel like nothing is working fast enough to get rid of those annoying pimples? Perhaps light therapy for acne is the treatment you have been looking for so far! In the article, we reveal how the popular LED masks for acne treatment work and what to look out for!
What causes acne?
Acne is a persistent medical skin condition that can affect the face, chest, back, shoulders, and arms. Although in most cases it does not affect our physical health, acne can lead to persistent loss of self-esteem. Almost every teenager between the ages of 12 and 18 has had acne for some time, and more and more adults are affected by the skin condition.
Acne occurs when the dead skin cells and the naturally produced oil called sebum clog tiny hair follicles or pores. As sebum continues to build up beneath the plug beneath the surface of the skin, it becomes infected with acne bacteria, causing swelling, redness, and inflammation. As a result, pustules, pimples and blackheads form on the face, which need proper treatment. Before undertaking any treatment yourself, it is absolutely advisable to visit a dermatologist.
But you should not do this under any circumstances:
- Squeeze out pimples yourself
- Disinfect and treat the skin with products containing alcohol
- Use (unsuitable) make-up to cover up skin imperfections
What acne treatments are there?
“What to do with acne?” And “What helps against acne?” Are the most common questions that acne sufferers ask themselves. In fact, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for this skin condition as it depends on skin type as well as other individual requirements. Even so, some acne treatments have been shown to be more effective than others. A distinction is made between internal and external treatment.
Internal acne treatment:
Acne treatment with medication is recommended for moderate and severe illnesses. Common drugs that are used are antibiotics, vitamin A acid derivatives (retinoids), homeopathy, Schüssler salts and even some birth control pills. Internal treatment for acne is necessarily prescribed by the doctor. It is not advisable to take tablets on your own.
External acne treatment:
The external treatment for acne is more commonly used. Ointments, peelings and creams are particularly popular here and they work particularly well on mild acne cases. Local acne treatment also includes other methods such as steaming, icing and cosmetic pimple expression. These are usually carried out in a cosmetic studio or at a dermatologist. The latest treatment methods also include light therapy for acne.
This is how light therapy works for acne
Color light therapy for acne should offer a modern solution to the problems of acne sufferers. The affected part of the body (usually the face) is irradiated with blue-red light, either with a lamp or with a handy device (pen or mask). Blue light is said to kill the bacteria that cause acne, while red light is said to help the skin heal faster. Light therapy for acne can be done in the cosmetic studio as well as at home.
Please note that light therapy for the treatment of skin diseases such as acne and psoriasis differs from light therapy for seasonal depression. The latter are the so-called daylight lamps, with special LED lamps, masks and similar devices being used for the former.
The LED face masks provide the skin with gentle light radiation that emits both blue and red light waves. This combination is considered to be particularly effective for skin conditions such as acne. We will answer how this works in the following.
The effect of LED light on the skin
UV light was used as early as the 1990s to treat various skin problems such as neurodermatitis, psoriasis and sun allergies. If overdosed, however, the UV rays can attack the skin cells, lead to hyperpigmentation and damage the skin in the long term. Irradiation with LED light, on the other hand, is a new type of light therapy in which there is no harmful UV radiation. In contrast to ultraviolet light, the light waves in color light therapy are less strong and generally harmless to the skin. LED light therapy is divided into three different types:
Blue LED light – Blue light is antibacterial and can kill different types of bacteria that clog pores. That is why blue light therapy is ideal for treating acne. One study examined the effect of light therapy with blue LED light on acne sufferers. The results found an improvement in 77 percent of cases after 5 weeks of treatment. Blue light also helps nourish the skin and fight free radicals. It still has anti-inflammatory effects that can help alleviate other acne symptoms like redness.
Red LED light – Red light has a longer wavelength than blue light and can penetrate deep into the skin and stimulate collagen production and cell renewal. Hence it is commonly used for anti-aging purposes. The red light promotes blood circulation and has a positive effect on skin that is prone to blemishes. In more severe acne cases, a combination of blue light and red light therapy is particularly effective.
Green LED light – Green light has a calming effect on the skin and can help with pigment spots and other sun-related skin problems. Hyperpigmentation and other discolorations can be compensated for under the green LED light.
Who are light therapy masks for??
LED masks are usually suitable for all skin types. However, the use of some drugs that make the skin sensitive to light can have a negative effect on the skin during light therapy and overstrain it. Therefore it is advisable to discuss the treatment with a doctor first. The use of light therapy is also not advisable during pregnancy and skin diseases such as skin cancer.
According to experts, mild to moderate cases of acne can be treated with color light therapy. A certain frequency of the applications is not intended – you can use the therapy masks as required. However, several applications are necessary for good results.
What are the side effects of light therapy for acne??
Blue and red light light therapy is generally considered safe, but there are a few possible side effects.
Common side effects of light therapy:
- peeling skin
- slight pain or irritation
Rare side effects are:
- dried pus or blistering at the treatment site
- dark pigmentation when skin is exposed to the sun for long periods of time after treatment
- severe pain at the treatment site
Light therapy for acne at home – yes or no?
Recently, light therapy products for home use have gained a lot in popularity. There are already many devices on the market with which you can carry out light therapy for acne in your own four walls. These are also really cheap compared to a visit to the cosmetic studio. But the LED masks are effective for personal use?
Because of the lower price, the light therapy devices for the home have a lower energy consumption than the professional ones. Therefore, they can be described as less effective than a professional treatment. Another disadvantage is the limited lifespan of LED masks for home use. Most products encourage you to buy more after just a few uses, which actually makes them not so cheap and particularly harmful to the environment.
Research shows that light therapy for acne at home can also be effective. According to a small study, the self-performed blue light therapy after 28 days of use led to an improvement in the complexion of those affected by acne.
Tips on using LED masks for home use
If you would still like to try the promising light therapy masks yourself, then there are a few things you should consider. First of all, it is important to get a good device. This must not emit UV light, otherwise it can cause undesirable skin irritation.
Most LED masks on the market are suitable for everyday use. Light therapy for acne should be carried out every day after cleansing the face with a suitable cleansing product. First, the therapy mask is connected to an “activator” and then placed on the face. Then you just have to press the start button to start the treatment. Most LED masks turn off automatically after a certain period of time. The treatment usually lasts no more than 10 minutes. After using the mask, the face can be cared for as usual with a suitable face cream.
Light therapy is the best solution for acne?
Whether the LED light therapy masks can provide a general solution to all acne problems has not been scientifically proven. Some studies show an improvement in the skin’s appearance, while others show neither benefit nor harm. Since there are usually different types of acne, light therapy cannot offer a universal solution for all of them. Furthermore, every skin reacts differently to different treatments – the positive effect for one does not guarantee the same for another.
Basically, light therapy for acne is effective for many. However, it is important to have realistic expectations of treatment. While it can improve symptoms, it likely won’t permanently resolve acne and blemish problems. We also recommend that you discuss the use of an LED therapy mask with your dermatologist in advance, especially if you have a severe form of acne.
“Light-based therapies in acne treatment”, S. Pei, A. Inamadar, K. Adya, and M. Tsoukas
“Blue light for infectious diseases: Propionibacterium acnes, Helicobacter pylori, and beyond?”, T. Dai, A. Gupta, C. Murray, M. Vrahas, G. Tegos, and M. Hamblin
“Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne”, M. Gold, A. Andriessen, J. Biron, and H. Andreissen