Up until now, my main method of defending my face against breakouts has been conscientious cleansing, exfoliating, and if those efforts don't suppress a volcanic eruption on my chin, a glob of my trusty zit cream. But the beauty industry is an ever-changing, always-innovating being, and it seems a little thing called LED lights is the latest at-home acne breakthrough.
To be clear, LED light therapy, using red and blue lights to address skin concerns, is nothing new (like at all), but it is when it comes to being housed in a product you can use in the comfort of your own apartment to fight off breakouts.
Neutogena and Tria are two of the brands doing so, but before we get into how those work, a refresher in LED light therapy is a good idea.
"Blue light has traditionally been used as a great supplement to treating acne,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali. "It kills the acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes or P acnes), which causes the inflammatory response in a red pimple.”
He also says that patients tend to notice less pain in the "red pimples" after treatment with blue light, and over time, they have less breakouts and their oil regulation is improved.
The red light, Dr. Bhanusali notes, tends to focus on inflammation.
The newly launched Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask ($35; target.com) uses both types of light with the main purpose of preventing acne. The lights are planted inside a rather intimidating-looking chargeable white plastic mask with built-in protective glasses which last for about 30 uses. You’re supposed to put it on freshly cleansed skin for about ten minutes a day and it shuts off when it’s finished with the session. You feel nothing and it’s working to rid you of skin stresses.
Then, there’s the Tria Acne Clearing Blue Light ($299; sephora.com). Once again, this product uses the power of blue light against acne. According to dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler, it "is a non-UV, high-energy light-based device for mild to moderate acne. It works immediately to clear existing blemishes as well as prevent future blemishes using blue light only.”
The brand suggests using it for five minutes total each day on the entire face or in problem areas, and it lasts for about 60 days of treatment.
And according to Dr. Wexler, both can be used to prevent and treat breakouts, which means you don't need to be dealing with a mountain-sized blemish on your nose to put it in action.
So who can benefit from these types of products? Dr. Wexler says both are safe for all skin types, but it might only replace topical treatments for those with mild acne.
She also notes that they are contraindicated in pregnancy and nursing, and that goggles and eye shields are recommended. "LED products can trigger headaches in sensitive patients. It should not be used in patients with active herpes infection—consult your doctor if you are on light sensitizing medication," she continues.
Whether or not you plan on adding yet another plan of action against your pimples, you can't deny these devices will take your at-home spa night to the next level.