If you’ve been keeping up with the latest in acne treatment for men, you’ve probably heard of acne light therapy. With its combination of red and blue light, this treatment is said to kill acne-causing bacteria in the skin and eliminate acne.
How effective is acne light therapy? Here is what you need to know:
- There is science to support acne light therapy and it sounds promising; however, these studies have their limitations.
- At-home devices may yield different results compared to in-office treatments.
- There have been no harmful side effects reported from the use of acne light therapy.
How Acne Light Therapy Works
Most acne light therapy devices use two low-level LED (light-emitting diode) lights: blue and red. Both lights are said to reduce acne in different ways.
Blue light therapy uses light in the blue wavelength to kill P. acnes, the bacteria that is most abundant on the skin and known for its role in acne.
Red light therapy uses light in a longer wavelength and can penetrate deeper into the skin. This form of light therapy is used to decrease swelling and inflammation.
Both light therapies have been studied by researchers and are common treatments in clinical offices. At-home light therapy devices are now available to all and may offer acne sufferers a more affordable solution to their troublesome blemishes.
But does the science hold up against acne light therapy? Let’s take a closer look.
What the Science Says
Shining a colored light on your face to clear up your acne sounds like a gimmick. However, the science behind acne light therapy might surprise you.
Researchers have been studying light therapy since the 19th century. It was only a matter of time before we began studying its effects on acne.
Blue Light When it comes to acne treatment, blue light receives much of the attention—and for good reason. Blue light therapy has shown to be effective at treating moderate acne.
In fact, one early study found that blue light reduced 64 percent of acne lesions in participants with mild to moderate acne. A more recent study found that blue light therapy significantly reduced acne lesions in patients and results were visible in as little as five weeks.
Red Light Red light uses light from a wavelength between roughly 630 nm (orange-red light) to 700 nm (deep red light) and is known to reach deep into the skin.
It should be noted that some earlier studies don’t specifically name red light—rather, researchers refer to red light as simply light therapy and list the wavelength used to treat the acne. For example, one study indicated that at specific wavelengths (660 to 870 nm), red light could have a therapeutic effect on the skin.
Another study applied light therapy at two different wavelengths, one on the right and left side of participants. Red light therapy was shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and significantly reduced acne lesions when treated with 630 nm compared to infrared wavelength (890 nm).
Red and Blue Light Combined The combination of red and blue light on acne has shown more promise than blue light alone, which is why many acne light therapies use both. Not only is blue and red light therapy an effective treatment for acne sufferers, it’s also safe and painless.
When it comes to promising news, there always seems to be a caveat. Before you rush off to try this revolutionary skin care treatment, here are a few things to note:
It Doesn’t Work on All Types of Acne. Red and inflamed pimples can be reduced by acne light therapy. However, this technology won’t work on whiteheads and blackheads. In other words, they shouldn’t replace your existing acne treatment system.
At-Home Device vs. In-Clinic Treatment. At-home devices are more affordable, but they’re also less powerful than what you would receive at a clinic. There are a modest number of trials demonstrating the effectiveness of at-home devices, but more research is needed.
Acne Light Therapy Has Its Limitations. Most studies on light therapy have shown promise for mild to moderate acne. For severe acne, additional treatment is needed.
See the Light
The science shows that acne light therapy can be beneficial for some acne sufferers. However, more research is needed before we can say for certain that acne light therapy is worth the cost.
Also, keep in mind that acne light therapy isn’t meant to be a cure for your acne and shouldn’t be a substitute for your regular skin care regimen. Apart from these caveats, there is no harm in trying it to see if acne light therapy works for your skin.