Blue light therapy. Sounds kinds of like something out of a science fiction book, doesn’t it?
But blue light therapy is being used in skincare by thousands of people at this very minute.
Why? To put it simply, blue light is considered to treat several skin issues (most notably acne) and its use has been normalized. Spas, skin clinics, and even individuals at home use blue light therapy for their skin.
If you’ve been wanting to give this new skin fad a whirl, but don’t want to go through the trouble of booking and showing up to appointments every week, perhaps you’ve thought about trying blue light therapy at home.
There are loads of brands selling DIY blue light devices that you can use to treat your skin right at home. But while that does sound awesome, I think it’s best to know the pros and cons of blue light therapy before investing money (and your emotions) on these devices.
And so, in this article, we’re going to look at blue light therapy–what it does, how it works, as well as the good and the bad aspects of this sort of treatment. By the time we’re done, you’re going to be an (almost) expert in blue light therapy!
What is Blue Light Therapy?
Blue light therapy is commonly used to treat acne in skincare. It is popular because it is a pain-free, non-invasive procedure. Also, it often used to treat sun damage and as a precaution against skin cancer.
To put things simply, your skin is exposed to blue light, anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes. The devices generally use a natural violet or blue light aimed at the skin. This treatment is also popular because it improves skin texture.
When done at home, you will use a handheld, corded device like this LightStim for Acne. You can find out more about LightStim and how well it works here. These devices are pretty convenient because they are travel-friendly, easy to use, and each session is quick and snappy.
How Does Blue Light Therapy Work?
Blue light therapy works because the wavelength of blue light used kills the bacteria in your skin that causes acne. More importantly, the light doesn’t just work on the skin surface; it also penetrates into the skin’s pores and hair follicles and destroys the bacteria there.
To be more precise, when the skin is exposed to the blue light during the treatment, the acne-causing bacteria absorb the light. Then, the blue light shuts down their metabolism because molecules in the bacteria produce free radicals that kill them. As a result, the bacteria that cause acne and inflammation no longer pose a threat to your skin.
Also, the blue light treats enlarged oil glands that produce excess oils. Acne-causing bacteria also feed off these glands, so the treatment destroys the bacteria, as well as limiting their food source. Because your skin won’t produce excess oil, its texture will improve and it will be healthier overall.
Who is Blue Light Therapy at Home Suited for?
Not sure if you should make the leap and buy a device for blue light therapy at home? If you can check off two or more of the things on this list, you can go ahead and try blue light therapy in the comfort of your home.
- Do you have persistent acne?
- Are you looking to supplement your current acne treatment with something else?
- Do you have textured skin?
- Is your skin excessively oily?
- Do you travel a lot?
- Would you prefer at-home treatments to ones at a spa or clinic?
- Can you treat yourself on time regularly without forgetting?
Blue Light Therapy at Home: Pros and Cons of Blue Light Therapy
If you’ve decided to try treating your skin with blue light therapy at home, it is important that you know both the positives and negatives before using it on your skin. In this part of the article, we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of blue light therapy.
Blue Light Therapy-The Pros:
These are the reasons why blue light therapy at home is a great idea for treating your acne.
Treats Cystic Acne:
Acne can be a blight on the lives of people suffering from this skin condition. And after some time, medications like pills, lotions, and ointments just don’t seem to work anymore. Blue light therapy will work to give your other acne treatments a boost.
More importantly, it works well to treat acne and the corresponding redness and inflammation that comes with it. With blue light therapy, your skin can finally begin to heal from acne.
Evidence-Based and Scientifically Backed:
While many skincare trends are little more than glorified old wives’ tales that have been popularized by a celebrity or the internet, this one actually has science to back up its claims.
Dermatologists, scientists, and skincare experts have carried out proper research on the effects of blue light on the skin and the results have been published. Also, many medical professionals use it on patients with chronic and severe acne, together with topical treatments.
If you’re scared of pain and the thought of a chemical treat freaks you out, blue light therapy will be a welcome alternative. The entire process is both painless and non-invasive so you don’t have to worry about anything burning, stinging, hurting, or peeling off anytime during or after the session.
Some people shy away from anything that isn’t one hundred percent natural and organic. And the good news is that blue light (and any other light) therapy falls under that category. Furthermore, it is entirely free from all sorts of chemicals.
If you have mild to moderate acne and are wary of common skincare treatments like tretinoin or adapalene, blue light therapy is a decent chemical-free alternative.
Treats Other Skin Issues Too:
Acne isn’t all that blue light therapy is good for. It is also used to treat overly oily and textured skin. But more importantly, it treats acne scars and hyperpigmentation from stubborn pimples.
Also, it is often used to treat sun damage and tanning and to prevent skin cancer.
Besides being painless, this treatment is very easy and convenient to carry out. After all, all you’re doing is exposing your skin to some light. Depending on the severity of your acne, you can choose the length and frequency of your treatment sessions.
There isn’t really much preparation or aftercare, so you can easily fit in a session in your everyday routine. This is especially true if you plan on getting a blue light therapy device to use at home. In that case, you can pack your device and take it with you, and even use it during your lunch break if you are extremely busy!
Very Safe for Short-Term Use:
So far there is no evidence that can prove that blue light therapy is harmful when used for a short period of time. The treatment is extremely safe, and you can target the same area with the blue light multiple times when necessary.
As a result, you can easily use an at-home device to treat your skin up to 3 times a week. Once your acne has mostly cleared up you can use it once a week, and then once a month to ‘maintain’ your skin and keep it in good shape.
Blue Light Therapy- The Cons
While there are some great benefits to blue light therapy, there are also a couple of drawbacks. Here are the things you need to remember before starting the treatment:
Potential Eye Damage:
Blue light penetrates all the way into the retina of your eyes. This means it can cause macular damage, injuring the light-sensitive areas of the retina. Because of this, make sure you wear adequate eye protection when exposed to blue light, especially if you are treating areas close to your eyes.
However, if you are performing the treatment at home with the handheld device, the effects will be much milder as the blue light isn’t as intense. Either way, make sure your eyes are safe and protected.
Minor Adverse Reactions:
Some people react a little differently to blue light. People with sensitive skin are rather more prone to reactions after their blue light therapy sessions. And because of this, they can experience things like dry skin, redness, and mild swelling after their treatments. These reactions aren’t dangerous and have no long-term effects.
Using ice and some light, non-comedogenic moisturizer with no fragrance can minimize these effects and make them subside very quickly.
Can Be Dangerous for Some:
While blue light therapy is safe with no major side effects for most of the population, for a few folks it can be downright dangerous. These include people with porphyria, a blood disorder that results in extreme sensitivity to light. Similarly, those with lupus and porphyrin allergies should not undergo this treatment.
May Not Work for Everyone:
As with all kinds of skin care treatments and procedures, your mileage will vary with blue light therapy. Some people see results quickly and their skin improves dramatically after just a few sessions.
For others, their improvement is slower and they have to undergo more frequent treatments before they notice results. And some people don’t really notice much of a difference even after months of undergoing blue light therapy sessions.
This can be a problem for people who choose to go to a skin clinic for their treatment. Each session is pretty expensive and a couple of treatments can wrack up a pretty huge bill. If the blue light treatments don’t work it can end up being a huge waste of money.
Not all blue light therapy devices or practitioners are the same. This is one of the reasons everyone has different results. And if your at-home device is faulty or poorly constructed, the treatment won’t be effective. The same applies to your practitioner–that includes you if you’re doing it at home!
Make sure the device you’re using is FDA approved. Also, make sure you know how to use your blue light therapy unit properly. If you plan on doing it at a spa or clinic, go to one with lots of testimonials and positive reviews. Moreover, make sure your practitioner is experienced and knows what he or she is doing.
I’m not going to lie. Blue light therapy isn’t cheap. Like I said before, each session is pretty expensive, especially at a well-reputed clinic or spa. Similarly, a good handheld device is also pretty pricey. Trying to save money on these treatments is not a good idea, as a faulty device can damage your skin even more.
Do plenty of research before buying a device or choosing a place to get your treatment done. While the price isn’t pretty, consider it a long-term investment for your skin; something that will make you happier in the long run.
Now that you know all the ins and outs of blue light therapy, you can make an informed choice on whether you want to do the treatment. Also, you can decide which form of treatment (at home or at a skin clinic) will be preferable to you.
Dealing with acne can be tiresome and daunting, but treating it head-on is the best way to go. And for those of you who are always busy or on the run, blue light therapy at home is a safe alternative that will cure your skin and keep your skin healthy.
Knowing the pros and cons of blue light therapy means that you can choose if and how to treat your acne the right way. Although some of the cons seem serious, the right precautions will prevent and mitigate them. Taking advice from a dermatologist is always a good idea as well. When all is said and done, blue light therapy is definitely worth trying out.
Have you decided what kind of blue light therapy is right for your skin?
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