THE LIGHT ON LED BEAUTY GADGETS
Can flashing, coloured lights really help your skin?
Skincare now comes with batteries and USB cords in the form of nifty light therapy devices for at-home use. We look at whether they work and how. Red, blue or yellow flashing lights? These devices, which use tiny LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, are quite literally lit. Each colour is said to help the skin in a different way.
What I know about light on skin: UV light, for example, is all-round bad – dark spots, premature skin ageing, skin cancer. Blue light, too, is insidious because we are exposed to it round the clock.
So light therapy to give you better skin strikes me as ironic. Is it even based on science? Dr Dennis Gross, a skin researcher and founder of his eponymous skincare brand, says it is.
Different lights have different wavelengths, so they differ in how deeply they can penetrate the skin. The wavelength also tells you how much energy the light has.
Take blue light. It has a very short wavelength, and thus has high energy. It penetrates the hypodermis, the layer before the bloodstream, and that’s what makes it so harmful.
In a light therapy device, the wavelength is predetermined. Blue light from an LED device has much less energy. It goes only as far as the epidermis, the topmost layer of skin. At such a wavelength, it can actually help the skin.
Says Dr Paul Chia, a specialist in dermatology and consultant at Raffles Skin & Aesthetics Centre: “It’s proven effective in treating mild to moderate acne. It kills inflammation-causing bacteria, to calm acne flareups.” It is an alternative if you’re sensitive to topical products and oral medication.
How does it work? The light is absorbed by chromophores in skin cells. Sabrina Tan, founder of local skincare brand Skin Inc, says: “Once the chromophores are activated, specific skin concerns can be addressed.”
So there’s blue for acne, and yellow to calm sensitive, red skin. Red is said to induce collagen growth and re-energise skin to tackle signs of ageing. While more research needs to be done, Dr Chia says red penetrates the dermis, where the collagen fibres are. Other colours like purple, orange and green are combinations of what the primary colours can offer.
For a week, I put three LED skincare gadgets to the test. I used the blue and yellow lights of the Skin Inc Optimizer Voyage Tri-light++ for my hormonal acne and reddened skin. After five days, my acne looked tamed and my skin less dull.
The Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Eyecare Pro uses red light to combat signs of ageing around the eyes. After a week, I noticed a reduction in under-eye puffiness.
The Foreo UFO Smart Mask Treatment is a little different. The red, green and blue lights work together, taking turns to flash during the session, to amplify the benefits of the brand’s sheet masks alongside sonic pulsations, heat and cyrotherapy. My skin felt hydrated and it glowed, but whether it was the lights or the masks that worked is a question mark.
1 Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Eyecare Pro, $300 Combines amber, red, deep red and infrared to emit a solid red light.2 Skin Inc Optimizer Voyage TriLight++, $398 Has five lights to choose from: red, 3 blue, yellow, orange and purple.3 Foreo UFO Smart Mask Treatment, $408 The red, green and blue work in tandem with a mask in every session. Go to our digital edition to find out how to use each LED gadget.