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What is Light Therapy and what does it do for my skin?

Jan 20,2020

The connection between sun exposure and skin diseases have been known by humans since the beginning. Over the years, there have been many advancements in science and research; since 1877 it has been proven that light could inhibit the growth of certain skin fungi1. Research into light therapy has continued to grow and expand and has led to further discoveries and success in medicine.

Light therapy is a safe treatment that can be utilised in treating more than just skin diseases; they can also be used to help with the treatment of depression, inflammation, cancer, and skin rejuvenation2,3,4. Light therapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or in combination with other treatments to optimise results.

Depending on the types and wavelength of the light, light therapy can be used for a wide variety of diseases. During the 1980s, light therapy was primarily used for treating skin conditions, however, since then, we have developed many different light types, including intense light therapy, intense pulsating light therapy (IPL), low-level light therapy (LLLT), etc… Previously, these treatment options were only used by doctors, but many of these new light treatments can replace laser technology, opening the market to cosmetics, spa-centres and the end consumer(s) can benefit directly from the technology.

There are a growing number of brands specialising in light therapy technology for home use, to give users the control and flexibility they desire during their treatment course. These technologies utilise different light colours and wavelengths to give more effective and targeted treatments.  By tailoring the product to the individual, it generally reduces the risk of side effects. The light is absorbed into the skin and depending on the wavelength (colour), this can induce a series of biological reactions in the skin.

Blue light

Acne vulgaris is one of the most common skin conditions, that affects both younger and older, and in the worst cases can lead to physical pain5. Problems with the existing and more common treatment options include antibiotic resistance and severe side effects. This has driven the development of new treatments, such as light therapy6. Blue light causes the blood vessels to constrict, which can be used in the treatment of inflammatory and hormonal acne. Several studies have shown that repeated use of IPL or low-level light therapy can effectively reduce severity and frequency of acne breakouts.

Red light

Skin fibrosis, or more commonly known as scar tissue, impacts approximately 100 million people globally5. Red light stimulates cell activity through a series of biological and physiological reactions. Low-level red light therapy can stimulate the cells to release nitric oxide, which enlarges the blood vessels and increases blood circulation. This helps to stimulate the molecules to effectively rebuild and restore the skin. At the same time, this technology has been suggested to help prevent and treat the appearance of wrinkles and tightens the skin.


1.Jarrett P. Scragg R. (2016) A short history of phototherapy, vitamin D and skin disease. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences
2.Barneck M. D, et al. (2016) Violet 405-nm light: a novel therapeutic agent against common pathogenic bacteria. Journal of Scientific Research 206(2):316-324

3.Christophersen J. et al. (2008) Light-activated drug therapy in canine prostate. Journal of Clinical Oncology 26 PMID: 27949448
4.Hamers PC, Evenhuis HM, Hermans H. (2016) A multicellular randomised controlled trial for bright light therapy in adults with intellectual disabilities and depression: Study protocol and obstacle management.
5.Mamalis A. Siegel D. Jagdeo J. (2016) Visible Red Light Emitting Diode Photobiomodulation for Skin Fibrosis: Key Molecular Pathways. Current Dermatology Reports Ed. 5:121-128
6.Patidar M. V. et al. (2016) Efficacy of Intense Pulsed Light Therapy in the Treatment of Facial Acne Vulgaris: Comparison of Two Different Fluences. Indian Journal of Dermatology Ed. 61:545-9



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