What is LED Light Therapy and How it Works

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LED lights, around since the 1960s, have recently become popular for skin treatments. Dermatologists and aestheticians now widely use LED light therapy as a non-invasive solution for skin rejuvenation, acne, sun damage, wounds, and other skin issues. Celebrities like Kate Moss and January Jones have shared their success stories using LED light therapy for acne and anti-aging on social media.

In this article, we will delve into the mechanics of LED light therapy, identify who might benefit from it, and discuss potential side effects.

What is LED Light Therapy?

LED light therapy is a skincare treatment designed to soothe and rejuvenate the skin, reduce wrinkles, acne, dark spots, and scars. According to Harvard Health Publishing, LED light therapy utilizes photodynamics to activate deep skin cells, enhancing the skin's metabolism. Once absorbed by the skin, light energy is transformed into intracellular energy, relaxing and strengthening capillaries. This photochemical reaction increases glycogen and protein content, promoting cell metabolism and synthesis.

This therapy employs different wavelengths of light to target specific facial areas (or other body parts). These safe, low-level LED lights include:

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green
  • Yellow

How Do Different Lights Work?

Red and blue light photodynamic therapy devices use narrow-spectrum LED light sources to emit cold light that doesn't burn the skin. They convert light energy into intracellular energy, accelerating cell growth cycles and stimulating fibroblasts to produce collagen. This can repair aging skin, acne-prone skin, sunburns, and more without causing harm or discomfort.

  • Red Light (620nm): Known as bioactive light, it increases cell activity and metabolism, boosting collagen production and blood circulation. This enhances skin elasticity and improves dullness, offering anti-aging, anti-oxidation, and repair benefits that traditional skincare cannot achieve.
  • Blue Light (470nm): Targets the metabolite porphyrin in P. acnes. The chemical process generates reactive oxygen species, creating a hostile environment for Propionibacterium acnes, effectively reducing acne.
  • Green Light (560nm): Calms and neutralizes nerves, improving anxiety or depression. It regulates skin gland function, reduces oiliness, acne, and removes edema by improving lymphatic drainage.
  • Yellow Light (570nm): Helps in skin rejuvenation and is effective for treating redness and flushing. It enhances oxygen exchange in cells, promotes lymphatic drainage, improves blood circulation, and reduces redness, making it beneficial for sensitive skin.

Benefits of LED Light Therapy Facial

LED light therapy facials help treat acne, fine lines, wrinkles, post-inflammatory scarring, and rosacea. They minimize acne while soothing the skin, reducing redness and inflammation.

  • Acne: Blue light kills acne-causing bacteria and reduces oil production, preventing clogged hair follicles. Red light is often combined with blue light to reduce inflammation and redness.
  • Aging: Red light stimulates fibroblasts, essential for collagen production. Studies show that red LED light therapy can tighten skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and make the skin smoother and softer.
  • Sensitive Skin: Yellow light therapy helps reduce redness and inflammation, promoting a more even and radiant complexion.



Effectiveness of LED Light Therapy

Historically, Navy SEALs used LED light therapy to expedite wound healing, achieving over 40% improvement in musculoskeletal injuries and reduced healing time. For cosmetic purposes, studies suggest that LED light therapy can improve conditions like psoriasis and mild-to-moderate acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most acne sufferers will see symptom improvement, though not complete clearance.

Side Effects of LED Light Therapy

LED light therapy is generally safe and noninvasive, as LEDs do not emit UV rays, avoiding long-term skin damage. However, some short-term side effects may occur, such as inflammation, rashes, skin redness, and tenderness. Individuals on certain medications, like isotretinoin (Accutane), or those using products that increase sunlight sensitivity, should avoid LED therapy. Consult a doctor if you have an active rash, psoriasis, or other skin conditions before combining LED therapy with other treatments.


LED light therapy is a promising treatment for various skin conditions, including acne, aging, and wounds. While research shows positive results, complete and permanent improvement is not guaranteed, and follow-up treatments may be necessary.

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