Best Skincare Products to Use with LED Light Therapy

Woman using facial lotion in a bathrobe.

More and more people are discovering the benefits of LED light therapy for skincare. Blue light therapy is primarily used to treat acne and prevent scars, while red and infrared light therapy offer benefits like wrinkle reduction and an overall younger appearance. But can you use light therapy and skincare products together?

If you’re like many people, you probably have at least one or two skincare products you can’t live without. Whether it’s a favorite moisturizer or the perfect eye serum, you rely on these beauty products to look your best. You may also wish to tap into the power of LEDs with home light therapy devices.

Will light therapy enhance the results of skincare products when used together, or will mixing them lead to problems? Read on to learn which skincare products work best with light therapy, and which you should avoid.

LED Light Therapy for Skincare

First, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how light therapy works with different wavelengths affecting skin at and below the surface. Blue light therapy works mainly by targeting bacteria, which is how it treats and prevents acne. Red and infrared light, at the other end of the visible spectrum, boosts cell regeneration. This causes the skin and tissue just underneath to grow more quickly, replacing dead skin cells and filling in gaps that cause wrinkles. It also reduces inflammation. Acne-fighting devices may also use vibrations to gently massage the skin, while portable wrinkle-reduction devices are small enough to slip into a purse or pocket for on-the-go use. Knowing the differences in how LED lights work and which devices fit your lifestyle can help you achieve the results you want.

How Do Different Skincare Products React to Light Therapy Devices?

The reactions skincare products have to LED lights vary based on their chemical formulas and the type of device you’re using. Make sure to review the best practices for applying your preferred beauty products before, during, or after light therapy. 

Makeup

While you’re always encouraged to wash your face before light therapy treatments, makeup should not interfere with the effects of the LED lights. There is just one exception. If your foundation, or anything else on your face, contains sunscreen it will block some of the light waves. While sunscreen is designed to block UVA or UVB light, it also blocks other less harmful forms, such as LEDs. So, even though red and infrared light do not contain UV, they will not penetrate makeup with SPF.

Eye Creams and Serums

Red light can reduce the appearance of fine lines in the delicate skin around the eyes over time. Using an anti-aging cream or serum after your light therapy session may speed up the results. For the best results, look for products containing peptides, retinol, vitamin C, or argan oil.

Salicylic Acid and BHAs

BHAs, short for beta hydroxy acids, dissolve in oil to penetrate skin and exfoliate dead cells. They are often included in creams, ointments or cleansers designed to treat and prevent acne. BHA-containing products can work well in combination with blue LED lights. However, many people choose blue light therapy to treat acne because their skin is too sensitive for BHAs.

Retinol

Retinoids are products containing retinol, also known as vitamin A, a common ingredient in anti-aging products like moisturizers and serums. Retinol is a great product to use before bedtime, as it encourages cell regrowth and replacement while you sleep. Using retinol and LED light therapy together was previously considered inadvisable. However, science now shows that retinol-containing products are okay to use after a light therapy session, just not before.

Massagers and Tools

Electric massagers and rollers help to increase circulation and relieve muscle tension in the face. You may use them alone or to apply moisturizer and increase its reach and penetration. A vibrating red light cleansing device can deliver the benefits of both massage and LED to reduce wrinkles and enhance collagen.

Skincare Products Designed Especially for Use with Red Light Therapy

There is a growing market for lotions and moisturizers designed to be applied before red light therapy. We recommend doing your homework before choosing one of these. Read reviews, ask among your friends, or talk to your dermatologist. Because these products are not regulated by the FDA, and because each person’s skin is a little different, your results may vary.

The purpose of these new skincare products is to complement the effects of red light wavelengths. The results they say they provide include: 

  • Boosting the transfer and conversion of the light energy
  • Encouraging collagen production to plump and smooth the skin
  • Ensuring a healthy skin pH
  • Protecting delicate skin from free radicals that exacerbate signs of aging

Sunscreen Inhibits LED Light Therapy

An important thing to keep in mind, when using any skincare product in combination with LED light therapy, is to check for sunscreens. As mentioned above, sunscreen will block a broad range of light wavelengths and reduce the effects of your LED light therapy, so it may take longer to see results. Read the labels on all of your makeup and moisturizers and, if they contain sunscreen, wash off your skin thoroughly before using a light therapy device.

How Should You Prepare Your Skin for LED Light Therapy?

The best way to prepare your skin for the benefits from light therapy is to take care of it! Try to get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and limit sun exposure. Immediately prior to using your home light therapy device, wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Or, use the device first thing in the morning before applying any skincare products to your face. For maximum benefit, direct the LED lights at each target area for three minutes, then move on to the next area. To track your results take before and after photos, and make sure to post them on social media so your friends can admire the new you.

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