IN THIS ARTICLE:
Anyone who has deal with even the most mild case of acne—in fact, even those who have dealt with occasional pimples (so, everyone)—is probably able to recite the most common blemish-busting ingredients out there. But in the battle against breakouts, it's not just topical products that deserve a seat at the table.
If you suffer from acne, you've likely heard of blue light therapy before-it's been used in dermatologists offices for over a decade now to help zap acne-causing bacteria at its source.
Light therapy is an effective alternative option that dermatologists and estheticians boast as painless and effective.
WHAT IS LIGHT THERAPY?
Light therapy is a non-invasive, natural treatment also known as photobiomodulation, LED light therapy, LED therapy, or LLLT. This technique delivers concentrated natural light to your skin and cells. The treatment uses varying concentrated wavelengths of light to trigger mechanisms within skin cells that solve a multitude of skin problems at a cellular level.
HOW LIGHT THERAPY WORKS TO TREAT ACNE
Concentrated wavelengths of blue light penetrate the skin's hair follicles and pores which harbor bacteria and can cause inflammation, and therefore acne. Bacteria are very sensitive to the blue light spectrum-it shuts down their metabolism and kills them.
Blue light is generally considered to be the most effective option for acne, given that it has three different mechanisms of action that target breakouts:
Antibacterial Properties: Blue light sets off a chemical reaction that eliminates acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes. That bacteria produces a protein called porphyrins, and when this protein is exposed to and absorbs blue light, a chemical reaction ensues, killing the bacteria.
For those with acneic skin, decreasing that bacteria ensures there is less of it to interact with that oil and pore "sludge." One novel way to do this is with blue LED-light treatments, also called photodynamic therapy (PDT). Here's how it works: There is a blue-light wavelength that has been identified to reduce p. acnes, and with it acne lesions. This wavelength has been incorporated into treatments to kill that p. acnes.
Regulates Sebum (oil) Production: Second, it regulates sebum production, and we know that excess sebum can clog pores and is a key component in the acne cycle.
Normally sebum is made in the sebaceous gland, and then it goes to the top of the skin by way of a duct; there’s a structure that’s like a pipe that lets the sebum go to the surface. When you have an overproduction of sebum, it's basically too much stuff trying to exit one tiny hole. That p. acnes bacteria in the sebaceous gland likes the fat that the sebum is creating. When there’s an overproduction or a blockage and there’s a collection of the sebum, the bacteria multiplies and there’s this inflammatory reaction.
Improves Inflammation: And finally, blue light also tones down inflammation and redness, a major boon when you're battling breakouts.
Blue LEDs eradicate the bacteria that cause inflammation during breakouts, reduce pore size, stabilize oil production, and promote healthy cell growth. Blue lights penetrate deep into the skin, stimulating your acne-causing bacteria, making them work against each other and self-destruct.
This all makes for a great and effective solution for those who have easily-irritated skin and may not be able to tolerate traditional topical treatments. Light therapy is best for people with inflammatory acne lesions, the red and tender bumps and pustules.
In one study, people with acne who were treated for just five weeks with blue light therapy saw improvement in 77 percent of cases.
Red light is also very beneficial when it comes to helping treat acne. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, which is why it's often used in conjunction with blue light for acne. Red light also helps to accelerate the skin's healing processes as well as the regeneration of collagen and elastin, which could be very helpful in addressing post acne scarring and discolouration.
A premium device like Qure’s Q-Rejuvalight Pro Facewear has both Red and Blue light treatment options which is an extremely effective solution for treating acne, breakouts and addressing concerns that come with acne.
What does the research say? Findings that support the effects of light therapy for acne include:
- A study on people with mild to moderate acne who were treated with blue light therapy twice weekly for 5 weeks reported that lesions were reduced by 64 percent.
- A 2004 study on 28 adults with facial acne who underwent 8 sessions of blue light therapy over 4 weeks experienced nearly 65 percent improvement in acne lesions overall.
- A Japanese study of 10 people with acne on their face or back reported that targeted blue light therapy once or twice a week led to a significant reduction in acne severity in eight participants. None experienced any harmful effects.
- In another study, 33 people with mild to moderate facial acne self-administered blue light application twice daily for 8 weeks, along with certain skincare products. At the end, over 90 percent of participants reported improvements in overall skin appearance, clarity, tone, texture, and smoothness. The vast majority, 82 percent, were satisfied with the treatment system, and 86 percent reported that it was gentler than other acne treatments.
HOW TO USE LIGHT THERAPY FOR ACNE
Some of the most effective acne-fighters, like benzoyl peroxide and retinol, can have seriously rough side effects — and we mean that literally since they can dry out or even irritate your skin — but that doesn’t mean you have to quit treating your acne or stock up on concealer.
There are more innovative ways than ever to make your breakouts disappear — like light therapy and at-home acne devices.
Light therapy at home devices have been used for many years to banish acne, and fade acne scars, without the expensive frequent visit to clinics to see long-lasting results. Light therapy is generally safe and effective as an acne treatment for most skin types and has become a go-to skin treatment for leading estheticians and dermatologists around the world.
Qure’s Q-Rejuvalight Pro Facewear uses medical-grade LEDs, both red and blue light, so you can get clinical results minus the “clinical costs”, all from the privacy and comfort of your own home.
No matter the light therapy method you choose, consistency is key. The benefits of light therapy are cumulative, so for LED treatments to be effective, there needs to be adequate time spent under the light for continuous periods of several weeks. To provide some context, one study found that after four weeks of bi-weekly treatments, 85% of participants had at least a 50% reduction in the amount of acne lesions.
You'll need practice light therapy a few times a week to see changes, as derms note that results are from cumulative use.