Can LED lights really lead to better skin? According to some, yes. An LED facial, aka Color Light Therapy, uses four clinically proven wavelengths of UV-free LED lights that claims to boost collagen production and treat existing acne. Sounds miraculous, but it could also be too good to be true. To get to the bottom of it, we asked InStyle.com Editorial Assistant Grace Gavilanes to try her hand at the method, and report back on the results. Keep reading to find out if it really worked!
I typically don't associate facials with LED lights. Before stepping into Red Door Spa's flagship location in NYC last week, I thought of getting a facial as a pretty conventional process solely involving gels, peels, and pricking. Nope! This facial was different. As I walked into the dimly lit room, I met with Claudia, the incredibly sweet and personable esthetician who would be taking care of my skin. The facial, she tells me, is quite popular at the spa -- depending on the day, Claudia sees from three to eight people for the 50-minute treatment alone.
Now, for a bit of background on my skincare routine: I have an oily complexion, so I'm a big fan of charcoal masks (charcoal is indeed having a moment!), which I tend to use on a weekly basis. On the regular, I turn to Proactiv, RoC Retinol Eye Cream, and Aveeno Positively Radiant Targeted Tone Corrector to aid my fight against blemishes, acne scars, and dark circles. This trusty trio has noticeably improved my skin, which was acting up for the past two years. But! I'm always game to try something new, so I was pretty pumped to try a facial that doesn't heavily rely on harsh chemicals, but on light.
The esthetician examined my skin as soon as I sat down to check its current state (a.k.a. inspecting for signs of sun damage). I didn't have any (phew!) All those years of religiously applying SPF 25 moisturizer and avoiding the sun like the plague paid off. To open up my pores, Claudia pointed a nozzle to my face that released steam, followed by wiping off any remnants of makeup and exfoliating, which she said was "the important step everyone should incorporate into their skincare routine." Then the fun really began. Here came the beige machine, which was placed over my head, that would emit four different LED lights, all of different wavelengths and functions: Amber (said to build new collagen and elastin), Red (said to reduce inflammation and promote circulation), Blue (said to destroy acne-causing bacteria; also, the one I was most excited about), and Infrared (said to accelerate skin recovery). Claudia turned on each of the lights for a few minutes, individually, before and after extracting any whiteheads or blackheads she caught while peering through her magnifier. She then buzzed over the affected areas with a high frequency tool to rid my skin of existing bacteria, and finished off with a cold mask for added hydration.
The LED light facial itself reminded me of sunbathing, which, in the freezing temps of January, is a really sweet treat to say the least. I was looking forward to seeing if the different wavelengths really took to my skin. "When do most people see results?" I eagerly asked. "Right away," Claudia said with a smile. "In three days you'll see full results." Noted.
And guys, after only two days, I noticed a major difference in my skin complexion. My skin felt smoother and was noticeably clearer (read: lighter spots and less inflammation). Would I try this again? If I were dealing with monopoly money, I'd schedule my next appointment in a heartbeat. But because of its hefty price tag ($195 for 50 minutes; $125 for 30 minutes), the LED facial may just be a go-to before special occasions.