Step into the LED light


Some skin “truth talk”

Let’s admit it right here: skin care options can be confusing. Not because they’re inherently complex...but because there’s an assumption that you (the lovely person eager to wisely care for your skin) have a ton of knowledge about the hundreds of choices available (with more options blossoming even as you read this). Unless someone talks you through those choices in simple language…it can feel like you’re surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling library of services written in Sanskrit.

Here’s the explanation that Skin Care Therapists are familiar with: LED Light Therapy (LED stands for light emitting diode) is a “non-ablative, non-thermal, gentle form of light therapy that can increase beneficial skin cell function, reduce inflammation, increase wound healing and reduce the bacteria present in breaking out skin.” That’s quite a description! Here’s the translation: LED Light Therapy does NOT remove skin tissue (non-ablative), does NOT use heat (non-thermal) and does NOT disrupt skin’s natural, protective barrier function as medical dermal needling does (thus, LED Light Therapy is also non-barrier breaching)…making it a supremely kind treatment that can leave your skin boosted on the cellular level. So much easier to understand once someone explains!

And who doesn’t want to consider an excellent skin treatment choice, pioneered by brilliant rocket scientists who put humans on the moon? NASA scientists figured out that plants thrived amazingly in space by bathing them in LED light! Even deprived of their natural food-creating source (the glorious sun), these “space plants” used LED light to deeply feed their wonderful green plant cells (a process you may recall from 3rd grade science class, called photosynthesis) and they grew and bloomed outrageously.

Stealing that process (with love) from NASA, it was determined by the skin care world that human skin cells could also use LED light energy as a massive booster for health and rejuvenation at the cellular level. Our human version is called photomodulation, which simply means: use of LED or laser light which stimulates cellular function, and leads to beneficial clinical effects.

So for a little perspective, here’s a teeny bit about the skin care choices that ARE either ablative, semi-ablative, thermal or barrier breaching: these treatments literally force your skin into “healing mode” by “injuring” it—and during the healing that follows, collagen is produced. There are two major categories to the above type of skin injury: 1. the kind that breaches (breaks) the skin’s protective barrier function (medical dermal needling or medical micro-needling—two names for the same treatment—are examples), or 2. the kind that literally removes skin, either by heat or chemical reaction (lasers, chemical peels or IPLs are among these choices...with IPL standing for intense pulsed light).

The benefit to all this chosen mayhem? The intentional injury to the skin forces collagen to produce much more rapidly, setting into motion a fairly speedy improvement in the quality of your skin’s surface, once you’re fully healed. The downside? The obvious biggie is “down time” (definition: a period of time following treatment where skin is wildly vulnerable and sensitive, and needs specific care that can be a real routine disruptor). Another downside? Unexpected (need we mention undesirable?) side effects, always potentially in-the-mix when you injure your skin’s surface layer. 

LED Light Therapy, being totally non-ablative, non-thermal, and non-barrier disrupting, has none of these issues. While it cannot stimulate collagen production as rapidly or as prolifically as a laser or medical dermal needling treatment can, it also cannot injure your skin--or cause you to experience “down time.” SAFE and GENTLE should be its middle name.


Let’s get a little more specific about what LED Light Therapy can do for your gorgeous skin…

Here’s the science: the light emitted by the LEDs is absorbed by your epidermal cells—that's your protective outer layer of skin. Once absorbed, the light kicks off an impressive chain of happy events within your skin. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the scientific name for a very simple life-building block: energy! ATP is the form of energy that your skin cells use to power a list of important actions, highest on that list being the repair and regeneration of cells and tissue. With LED light flooding your skin and revving up that ATP “engine,” the power of your skin to make changes toward increased vitality and health (both foundationally and in outer appearance) is tremendously boosted. It also encourages mitosis (meaning the process by which all new cells are created—are you fully time-traveling back to that early science class now?!), and helps restore homeostasis(defined as the state of optimal balance that the body is always moving toward).

Another mighty benefit of LED treatments? The increased ATP flooding the skin cells (and ramping up metabolic activity) encourages something called fibroblast collagen synthesis, which basically means cells in charge of making treasured collagen (fibroblasts) kick into gear and start cranking out (synthesizing!) lots of collagen production…while simultaneously slowing collagen loss. That’s a double win! Yet another bonus? Increased production of collagen’s buddy elastin (beloved by us because it’s the protein that’s large-and-in-charge when it comes to skin firmness). All of these LED Light Therapy-generated actions work together to gently, slowly, safely (shall we say quietly?) improve your skin.

Also definitely worth noting? LED Light Therapy is extremely economical, especially when compared to procedures that are higher in both liability and cost (like laser). 


More LED Light Therapy bonuses

Studies of LED light's ability to stimulate overall skin health and repair have actually given us some remarkable data: quite expected was improved skin texture (along with the coveted boosting of collagen production)…and that plus is joined by the unexpected benefit of reduction in the enzyme MMP-1, scientifically known as Matrix Metalloproteinase. MMP-1 is associated with the breakdown of collagen (a condition called collagenase)—the opposite of the direction that any of us want to travel, skin-wise. More bonus points? LED Light Therapy reduces the effects of both sunburns and first/second degree burns, and accelerates wound healing.


Helping breakouts to heal with LED Light Therapy

Having a breakout? LED Light Therapy can reduce problematic bacteria, providing a truly helpful, gentle, healing companion to just about any treatment program you’re currently using for breakouts.

Did you know that the colors used in LED Light Therapy are the key to its healing power? Each color provides a different benefit. The blue light, which resides in the 400 nanometer (nm) range, helps destroy the bacteria in acne. This blue light has the shortest “reach” (ability to penetrate into the upper layers of skin), so is perfect for surface breakouts. For more deeply-located acne, red light (600 to 800 nm range) travels deeper and delivers anti-inflammatory relief—and should be used in conjunction with blue light for targeting deeper blemishes.


Enhancing esthetic results with LED Light Therapy

LED Light Therapy is also the more medically invasive cosmetic treatment’s best friend. Some cosmetic MDs regularly use LED Light Therapy before and after invasive cosmetic procedures, and find it reduces healing time (and can enhance the beauty of the results). Canadian physician Dr. Lance Setterfield, a recognized global expert in dermal needling, specifically recommends LED Light Therapy after needling treatments. Many cosmetic surgeons—having seen positive results for their clients—recommend LED Light Therapy post-surgery to discourage inflammation and support healthy, rapid healing.


Should I receive a professional LED Light Therapy Treatment?

The benefits of scheduling a professional LED treatment are abundant. Working with your qualified practitioner at his/her studio means you’ll have access to professional-grade devices (as contrasted with lower-grade devices available for home use). You’ll also have the peace-of-mind knowing your in-studio treatment is correctly customized for your skin: the right light/lights being used, and accurate light exposure times/pulse durations. 

LED Light Therapy accentuates the benefits of most facials and skin care treatments quite beautifully, and works best as an addition to your facial or treatment. (If you plan to receive only a single LED treatment, this is the way to go.) Simply add an LED session in with your service.

As a treatment wholly on its own, LED Light Therapy must be received frequently (a series of sessions, received within a specific duration of time) in order for the benefits to begin to manifest.


Should I get a home LED device?

Here’s my honest opinion…I would not recommend investing unless I knew for sure:

1. It was helpful for my particular skin;

2. It was safe for me to use;

3. I was using the right color(s) for my skin issues;

4. I was using it correctly; (Here are a few important examples: it’s worth noting that LED light needs to be as close to your skin as possible as well as have a pulsing action—not just stagnant light—to be effective…and, LED devices require protective eye wear--VERY important! Also, LED is usually most effective when received on clean, bare skin. However! Some skin care products are compatible and enhance LED benefits, while others diminish or block LED benefits. It’s vital you’re not accidentally hindering your LED treatments by applying skin care products that inhibit the LED light from penetrating into your skin); 

5. That I had the time to use it as often as needed in order for treatments to be truly effective.

Whew! That’s quite a list! And we’ve all been there…wasting money on a gadget that sits in a drawer, that seemed like such a wonderful idea at the time. So please be gentle and truthful with yourself…if this is something you definitely will spend time and energy on at home, proceed with confidence. If all of the above are a “go,” then it might be truly nice to have a good home LED device; home devices have the bonus of making frequent use (which is more supportive for your skin) extremely easy. 


Who can receive an LED Light Therapy Treatment?

LED is gentle and safe for nearly everyone, although it’s very important to note that there are a few contraindications. I’ll note several here: if you are pregnant, photosensitive, taking medications that create photosensitivity, have active skin cancer, have lupus, have epilepsy or have seizures triggered by light…LED Light Therapy (as well as any other light treatment) is not the right treatment for you.


Why is LED light safe, while ultraviolet light is potentially harmful?

Light is a form of energy that travels in waves. What we can see with the human eye, appropriately called the visible light range, includes all the colors of the rainbow and is measured in wavelengths from about 400 to 700 nm. It’s this visible light range (ponder this the next time you see a magnificent rainbow arcing across the sky) , as well as the infrared light range (beginning at 680 or 800 nm, depending on the branch of science you adhere to) that is used in LED Light Therapy-  not the ultraviolet light range.

The ultraviolet light or UV range (which we’ve all heard so much about, because it’s linked to skin cancer) has wavelengths that are much more powerful than the visible or infrared light range. It's this “extra” power or energy that can cause true damage to the things it touches, including human skin. There’s enough energy in ultraviolet light to damage protein—which is the material that makes up your skin’s collagen and elastin. That’s why laying out in the sun (or in a tanning bed that mimics the sun) will absolutely cause your skin’s collagen to break down.

LED light, wholly in the visible and infrared range, does not possess the excess energy needed to cause damage to your skin. However, it does have enough gentle energy to stimulate your cellular activity, which encourages collagen production as well as an entire panoply of beneficial skin cell activity.


Receiving LED Light Therapy at Rich Earth Organic Skin Care Studio

The final, sweet part of receiving an LED Light Therapy treatment specifically at Rich Earth is gorgeously layered: not only will you experience a complete, multi-color panel of LED lights (much more comprehensive and efficient than what is offered by a hand-held, single color treatment device), but you will receive an aroma-therapeutic, tension-releasing scalp massage simultaneously. Your skin will also be bathed in LED-compatible skin nourishment in the form of highly beneficial serums and/or masques, to bestow as much health and healing as possible. (Who doesn’t love layering benefits on top of benefits…why not layer in as many benefits as we can?)

Click here to book your LED Light Therapy treatment at Rich Earth.


Blog written by Marna Herrington with Rich Earth Organic Skin Care Studio
Blog copy editing and polishing provided by Karen-Eileen Gordon (

This blog is not intended to take the place of in-person consultations with qualified skin care and health care practitioners. This blog  is for the purpose of education and fun only.

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