What you need to know about LED therapy 

Previously confined to the four walls of a facialist’s clinic, light therapy has now fully broken into the mainstream, with several brands offering at-home devices promising transformative results. But are these masks and tools efficacious, and, more importantly, safe in untrained hands?

Research has proven that LED masks and devices can effectively treat a multitude of skin concerns, but the results are cumulative, meaning you won’t see long-term benefits from that single salon trip you treat yourself to once a year. If regular appointments aren’t an option, investing in an at-home device could be the answer.

“At-home LED devices are an excellent way to bring a normally in-office treatment to the comfort of your home," says Dr. Maryam Zamani, oculoplastic surgeon and founder of MZ Skin.

What is LED light therapy?

"Light therapy has been around for over 30 years and were originally developed for astronauts to help with tissue healing and repair," explains Dr. Zamani.

According to dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, the benefits of LED light therapy are manifold. They include treating acne, regulating natural oil production, stimulating collagen and elastin and minimising redness and wrinkles.

Certain wavelengths have even been shown to reduce dark spots and uneven skin tone. As the spectrum of light used does not include UV, there's no risk of damage – and no, you won't get a tan.

How does light therapy work?

“LED therapy uses light in the visible spectrum – including blue, yellow, amber and red – as well as light beyond the visible spectrum to penetrate different depths of skin,” explains Dr. Gross.

Color Effects

Different wavelengths (nm) penetrate the skin at various levels to enhance the skin's natural healing abilities.

As the light wavelength increases, so does the depth of penetration. This light is absorbed by receptors in the skin, just like topical skincare, and each colour of light stimulates a different response in the skin. LED is suitable for use on all skin types and tones.

Dr. Zamani adds that one of the primary benefits of LED therapy is the absence of downtime and discomfort – in fact, skin often looks positively glowing as soon as you slip out from behind the mask. What’s more, the healing properties of LED also make it ideal for use after in-office procedures, such as peels, lasers and microneedling.

What color LED do I need?

RED LIGHT - 630 nm

Sterilizes acne-producing bacteria and shrinks sebaceous glands to combat acne, blackheads and greasy skin, while minimizing redness and scars.

BLUE LIGHT - 415 nm

Increases production of collagen and elastin to fight sagging skin, reduce wrinkles and improve tone and firmness.


Promotes cell oxygenation to prevent pigmentation, undo sun-damage, reduce age spots and improve radiance.


Red and blue light make a powerful combination to fight off acne and signs of aging, while reducing inflammation, scarring and sagging skin.

GREEN LIGHT - 525 nm

Reduces melanin production and promotes lymphatic drainage to balance oily skin, fight hyper-pigmentation and enhance skin's natural radiance.

CYAN LIGHT - 500 nm

Reduces swollen capillaries and balances skin texture to fight discolorations, dark spots, scarring and enhance complexion.

WHITE LIGHT - 490 nm

Penetrates skin deepest, speeds up skin metabolism, tightens loose skin, reduces wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, inflammation and scarring.

How to use an LED tool at home

Today, there's a small but growing list of options when it comes to at-home light therapy devices. For a complete facial treatment, an LED mask is the most obvious investment, but the emergence of targeted 'wands' and smaller (more portable) treatment lights is especially interesting for treating areas of acne-prone skin.

As LED treatments deliver cumulative results, commitment is key. As Debbie Thomas, laser aesthetician and celebrity facialist says, "just owning a device won’t give you any results."

While instructions will vary depending on the device you choose, LED treatments are usually light on labour. "The good thing about LED masks is they are pretty simple to use and generally only need around 10 minutes of dedicated time," explains Thomas. While a mask offers more 'slip on and relax' appeal, "wand devices are designed to be held over your skin for 20-30 mins, so it's normally a toss-up between an aching arm or boredom that leads a dedicated skin warrior to fall out of love with their new skin gadget."