LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. A diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts current mainly in one direction. It is a computer chip inside a glass-like resin. The LED light therapy mask emits therapeutic wavelengths of light energy. The light wavelengths are emitted into the skin, even though this process cannot be felt and is not painful. The light is absorbed into the skin to a depth of 8 to 10 millimeters. At this depth the light has a positive effect on cellular energy and processes.
The skin cells in the dermis convert the light energy into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which gives the skin its energy to do its job in rejuvenating and healing. The dermis is the second layer of skin which has nerve endings, connective tissue, hair follicles, sweat glands and blood capillaries. With LED light therapy biological cells in the dermis, the fibroblast, synthesizes collagen and produces structural tissue and elastin. This increases collagen and speeds up wound healing.
Light therapy has been around longer than you might expect, even before the use of LED aka light emitting diode devices. Light is a very powerful tool for your physical, emotional and mental health. Light therapy was used in ancient times and the Greeks were the first (that we have found) to record the healing properties of light back in 1500BC. They knew that the exposure to light was a essential part of restoring health. The Greeks built roofless structures to expose themselves to the sunlight.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, encouraged the use of sunlight to cure various illnesses and disorders. Herodotus, a Greek historian and researcher of science and nature, believed from his studies and research that light helped heal muscles and nerves. Ancient Egyptians believed in bathing in sunlight and that different colors of light could promote overall health and well-being. Dated back to 1500 BC, light therapy was used in Indian for different skin disorders. Also, the Chinese have texts dating back from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago describing color and light therapy for different health problems, such as mental and skin disorders.
In 1903, Niels Finsen received a Nobel Prize of Medicine for his work on light therapy (also known as photo therapy at the time). His work showed that light therapy had beneficial effects on different wavelengths of light for the treatment of Tuberculosis. As time went on, more research was done and the treatment of light therapy was used more and more. In the 1960s, LED light therapy was used regularly in Eastern Europe specifically for the treatment of chronic pain, joint problems, arthritis, and soft tissue injuries. It was also used in the United States for animals with joint and soft tissue injuries and problems.
In the early 2000s, Nasa started to use LED light therapy technology for muscle regeneration. This is very important because studies have shown that cells exposed to microgravity (weak gravity) and hyper-gravity (strong gravity - stronger than 1g) will lack stimulation for growth. With the increase or decrease of gravity, the cells function responds in a similar fashion. This is a significant health risk for astronauts in a long-term spaceflight and for their long term health. The use of LED light therapy has shown a significant improvement with stimulating the primary energy processes in the mitochondria of every cell.
Astronauts have been well documented to have muscle and bone atrophy (muscle and bone degeneration), as well as various injuries that occur in space, but do not heal until after landing back on Earth. Once Nasa started to use LED light therapy on their astronauts, it has shown to prevent muscle and bone atrophy and has helped injuries to heal before landing back on Earth.
Muscle and bone atrophy are well documented in astronauts, and various minor injuries occurring in space have been reported not to heal until landing on Earth. An LED blanket device may be used for the prevention of bone and muscle atrophy in astronauts. The depth of near-infrared light penetration into human tissue has been measured spectroscopically.
Nasa also used it to speed up the healing of wounds and relieving pain and discomfort associated with cancer treatments. As time goes on Nasa continues to use LED light therapy for thousand of more uses with the different colors and wavelengths of LED light therapy.
There are many different colors available for LED light therapy and it is important to choose the one that is right for your skin and your skin concerns. Each color has a different wavelength of light, and different wavelengths produce different chemicals reactions within your skin cells
Before we get into the specifics of the benefits of each colors, I want to point out that each wavelength has a different measurement of wavelength, which is measured in nanometers. Spectroscopy, is the study of the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and matter. This study originated by the study of visible light that is dispersed according to its own wavelength, by a prism. The visible spectrum is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible with the human eye. A normal human eye will see wavelengths from 390 to 700 nanometers.
Each of these different LED light therapy colors have different measurements (shown next to each light therapy title below). The higher the number the longer the wavelength, and the lower the number means the shorter the wavelength. The longer the wavelength means that it will penetrate deeper into the skin. The deeper the penetration doesn't necessarily mean the best choice for your skin. Everyone's skin type is different and everyone's skin issues are different as well. If you have extra sensitive skin you may want to avoid the lights that penetrate deeper.
Red is the most common or known LED light therapy. Red light therapy helps increase the process of tissue recovery and tissue rejuvenation by increasing blood flow, collagen stimulation, activation of protective, anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidant and pro-proliferation genes, and more (source).
*For some people, who suffer from melasma, using the red-light may darken the melasma spots.
Blue light therapy is commonly used for the treatment of acne. The blue light eliminates acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, aka P acnes, which causes inflammation. The blue light kills the bacteria that is found in the oil glands of the skin. The blue light also causes the oil glands to decrease in size. The oil and bacteria decrease, which leads to the decrease and/or elimination of acne. The blue light also decreases inflammation in the skin that is associated with papule aka red pimples.
Blue light therapy is also used to treat sun damaged skin, skin cancer growths, and to prevent skin cancer. Blue light therapy can remove precancerous and cancerous skin lesions that have not spread to other parts of the body. This particular kind of blue light therapy should be done in a dermatologist office, however, using blue light therapy at home is a great preventative measure for sun damage.
Green light is a very balancing wavelength and it has a calming effect on the skin. It is very helpful to reduce melasma, hyper pigmentation, dark circles under the eyes, facial redness, rosacea, vitiligo, sun damaged skin and other skin discolorations. The green light targets melanocytes, which are the melanin-producing cells in the bottom layer of the epidermis. This inhibits a production of excess melanin from coming to the surface of the skin. It breaks up pigment and diminishes any current hyper-pigmentation. The green light lightens scars and evens overall skin tone.
The purple LED light is a combination of the red and blue lights, giving you benefits of both. It is a great LED light if someone is concerned with premature aging, as well as adult acne.
The purple LED light helps eliminate toxins in the skin, reduces inflammation, improves healing and circulation of the blood, reduces acne and acne marks, stimulates collagen production, increases cell regeneration, and reduces and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.
Cyan is a lighter blue color. It is a calming and gentle color wavelength for the skin. Cyan reduces acne, calms irritated and inflamed skin, helps oily skin become more balanced, and reduces the size of capillaries under the skin. Cyan also helps promote the synthesis (production) of protein and collagen in the skin.
Cyan is known as an energizing light for the skin because it helps promote the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate aka cellular energy) and cellular metabolism of the skin which helps with the skin functioning healthy overall.
Amber LED light therapy is great for sensitive skin because it is calming and soothing. It is helpful in reducing rosacea, soothing irritated skin, reducing inflammation and redness, flushing out toxins, stimulates collage and elastin, healing for the skin by stimulating more red blood cells to be produced, and minimizes UV sun damage.
In a paper published by Dr. Tina Alster, she found that using amber LED light therapy after laser skin treatments on her patients, that the severity and time period of redness experienced after the procedure was drastically reduced. This shows how amber LED light therapy is even good for those with sensitive skin since skin is usually at its most sensitive and reactive state after laser procedures. The paper was titled, "Improvement of Postfractional Laser Erythema with Light-Emitting Diode Photomodulation".
The white LED light penetrates the deepest into the skin compared to the other LED light therapy colors because it has the longest wavelength. The white light is very rejuvenating for the skin and can help with a variety of skin problems. It is great for scars such as from acne, cuts, scratches, and it helps reduce and eliminate sun damage and sun spots, wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, inflammation and hyper pigmentation.
*white light has the longest wavelength of all of the colors, despite the general measurement in nanometers being a large range. That is because white light is defined as the entire mixture of all of the wavelengths of the visible spectrum.
LED light therapy is used in doctors offices and with at-home devices. It is up to you on how you access the device. It is easier than ever to have at-home access though and that may be more desirable because it can be used more often, for better results longterm. However, if you are able to frequent the dermatologist office often and have the money to spend, in-office visits for LED light therapy is an option too.
For the at-home options there are hand held LED light therapy devices (check out this one that is a massager too!) and LED light therapy face masks. There are also LED light therapy face masks with an additional LED device for the neck. One last option for an at-home LED light therapy is a device that is like a bridge over your face and neck area. To use this particular device you lay down and place it over your face and neck. Here is an example of that LED light therapy machine.
Once you have your device, there are a few important steps to do before. Make sure your face and whatever skin will be exposed to the light is freshly cleaned. After it is cleaned, make sure to put on your desired skin products. Another step you can add right after washing is to use a derma roller on your skin (before you would apply your skincare products). Once your skincare routine is complete, use the LED light therapy mask right after or at least within 30 minutes to make the most of your skincare products that were applied to your skin.
LED light therapy devices are safe to use as often as everyday, especially the in-home devices. Make sure to monitor your progress with before and after photos of freshly clean skin. LED light therapy is not an overnight treatment, and everyone will respond differently, but used overtime with the right light color for your skin it will yield great results.