What to know about LED light therapy and whether it can help with acne and dark spots

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  • LED light therapy is a skincare trend that targets wrinkles, dark circles, and scarring.
  • It works by using LED lights to target specific areas or across the entire face.
  • The treatments can cost upwards of $350 (R4,900).
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LED light therapy is the latest skincare trend touted by dermatologists and aestheticians. It is available in South Africa.

Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and January Jones swear by the technique to clear their acne, target dark spots, and erase wrinkles, but it's expensive, and studies have yet to find evidence to prove LED light therapy's benefits.

What is LED light therapy?

LED light therapy is a skincare treatment used to minimise wrinkles, acne, dark spots, and scars, according to Harvard Health Publishing. It works by using an LED light to target specific areas of the face. People often do it using tailored LED light therapy masks.

Alan Rubio/Getty Images

LED light therapy utilises different forms of light to target different skin issues.

"When you take the beneficial light like red light or blue light, we see positive boost to our skin quality and our hormone production in our body," plastic surgeon Dr Daniel Barrett said on TikTok.

According to Barrett, red light can target wrinkles and fine lines by stimulating collagen production, while blue light can kill the bacteria that causes acne and reduce the oiliness of your skin.

Does it work?

Previous studies have linked LED light therapy to helping wounds heal faster and acne reduction, suggesting the therapy can aid in natural cell turnover similarly to using retinol on your skin. The US Food and Drug Administration has even approved LED therapy as a treatment for herpes and shingles.

Experts like Dr Elizabeth Buzney, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, says we don't have enough data to conclusively say whether or not these devices are effective in treating skin concerns.

There is more data to back acne treatments like retinol and creams.

Anecdotally, however, some dermatologists and aestheticians say LED light therapy treatments works when used once a day. At-home LED therapy set-ups can run upwards of $350 (R4,900).

"I try to get everyone to use LED light and vibration therapy or microcurrent at home," aesthetician Shani Darden told Refinery29. "They are not only treating the skin (like wrinkles) but are a preventative measure. It's worth investing in these tools if they're good.

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