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Red and blue light therapy devices can be an effective way to get rid of pimples without the irritation or drying sometimes caused by topical acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
Up until recently, the only way you could use light therapy devices to treat your acne was to book an appointment at your dermatologist’s office and have it done there. Now, the FDA has cleared at-home versions that aren’t quite as strong as the ones dermatologists use, but can still make a huge difference in your skin.
Unlike other acne treatments, light therapy can help kill bacteria before it has the chance to cause inflammation (and become pimples).
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Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City, explained to Shape magazine how blue light works against acne: “Blue light has been shown to penetrate the skin’s hair follicles and pores, which harbor bacteria and can cause inflammation, and therefore acne,” she says. “Bacteria are very sensitive to the blue light spectrum — it shuts down their metabolism and kills them.”
On the other end of the spectrum, red light stimulates collagen production and reduces inflammation. Fellow New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., says some light therapy devices may give off a purplish light because you’re seeing a combination of red and blue; red light’s benefits make it “useful alongside blue light in treating acne,” he explains.
At-home light therapy devices used to cost hundreds of dollars — until Neutrogena released its Light Therapy Acne Mask, available in drugstores for just $34.99. The product packaging reads, “Light therapy is a clinically proven, effective acne technology used by dermatologists for over a decade.”
She adds, “The energy from red and blue lights gently filters through skin and has been scientifically shown to target acne-causing bacteria, reducing the appearance of breakouts.”
The mask has no dangerous UV light and no chemicals, and you can use it daily.
Even Lena Dunham’s singing its praises on Instagram.
“Saw the ad for the light therapy acne mask and became obsessed so when we got home from our journey it was waiting on my side of the bed,” she wrote.
And if you don’t suffer from acne all over but rather the occasional big spot, Neutrogena also makes a spot treatment device with the same light therapy technology.
New York-area cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf told HuffPost that these at-home light therapy products are good for the acne sufferer who “finds acne spot treatments containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or resorcinol too drying.”
Light therapy devices of this strength won’t work against deep cystic acne, and no light therapy is currently effective against blackheads, whiteheads, or nodules, but dermatologists do believe the at-home products have the potential to help keep away acne-causing bacteria with limited side effects.
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