The idea that light can improve your skin texture and mental wellbeing is an ancient notion. As far back as the ancient Greeks, light has been treated as a factor of good health, so it’s no wonder that Apollo, the famed Greek god of light and sunlight, is also the god of medicine.
Over the millennia, we’ve gotten more advanced with our medical application of light, from creating specific devices that mimic sunlight to specialized light therapy that can narrow in on specific colors based on what benefits they offer.
In modern beauty, the most popular kind of colored light therapy is red and blue light thanks to the intensity and impact that they have on our skin cells, such as having the ability to accelerate healing, repair skin tissue, synthesize collagen, improve acne breakouts and improve overall skin texture. As two of the most impactful forms of colored light, they are popular options in spas for easy, quick yet powerful skin-improving treatments.
Colored Light Therapy
Colored light therapy differs from traditional light therapy in that it harnesses the specific wavelengths of individual colors to impact skin conditions. Traditional light therapy utilizes any bright light to stimulate the brain, whether sunlight or simulated sunlight. This treatment is often used to counter seasonal affective disorder during the winter.
Red and blue light therapy use low-level wavelengths of light — red light has a wavelength of 620-750 nm while blue light has a wavelength of 446–477 nm — in order to impact skin cells at or just below the skin level.
Direct hits of light at these wavelengths cause hardly discernible damage on the outer layers of skin. As skin “heals” from this damage, it kickstarts tissue repair that works to combat the various issues that red and blue light therapy can work to treat. Treatments can last anywhere from seconds (small areas on your face) to an hour (legs) depending on how large of an area you wish to treat.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light was used in the early 1990s by scientists to help grow plants in space, and they found that the direct colored light increased plant growth and photosynthesis. This growth — both in plants and humans — stems from red light’s effect on mitochondria.
Increased productivity in the mitochondria brought on by red light increases the amount of ATP produced in the body, which in turn increases the efficiency of cells. More ATP means less oxidative stress and allows cells to rejuvenate and repair themselves with more energy and vigor.
Red light therapy benefits
In general, red light acts as an anti-inflammatory, treating pain and inflammation at skin-level (or just below skin-level). As such, it has been used in order to treat skin concerns like decreasing the look of wrinkles by rebuilding collagen in the skin and mending the effects of sun damage or treating scars.
Depending on the circumstances of the condition, red light therapy can also be used to treat more advanced skin conditions like psoriasis lesions, slow-healing wounds, rheumatoid arthritis and promote general wound healing and tissue repair.
In addition to all these physical benefits of red light therapy, it can also work to promote better mental health as well. One study shows how red light therapy has been used to decrease depression, anxiety, headaches and insomnia in some patients.
Plus, red light can be great as a relaxation tool as “the color signals that it’s night, which may encourage the body to produce melatonin,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., an advisory board member for SleepScore Labs told Shape.
What is Blue Light Therapy?
Blue light has gotten a bad rep lately in conjunction with phones and excessive screen time. You’ve probably seen all those blue light filters and settings that newer devices offer and assumed that blue light as a whole is something to be avoided, but that’s not necessarily the case.
One of the main reasons for the distrust of blue light of late has been the research that shows how blue light can affect your circadian rhythm which when disrupted, can cause negative effects on your health. But that disruption mainly occurs if too much blue light hits your eyes late at night, making it only situationally unpleasant.
Like red light, blue light therapy treats areas of the skin that it can reach and penetrate, so it usually treats conditions that are at or just underneath the skin. When blue light hits light-sensitive skin cells, they respond by releasing molecules that promote inflammation and control skin growth.
Blue light therapy benefits
While blue light can affect your circadian rhythm, if you’re smart about how you use blue light, you can actually use it to your advantage.
Since blue light lowers melatonin production and can signal to your brain that it’s daytime, having blue light therapy during the morning or in the afternoon can help give you more natural energy for increased brightness, fatigue and reduce daytime sleepiness. According to research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, blue light during the day can even help improve your reaction time.
Blue light therapy also offers several benefits other than psychological. It can improve skin texture, reduce hyperplasia, target and minimize acne and acne scars and remove sunspots. And since blue light decreases the production of the inflammatory protein cytokine, it can also function as an anti-inflammatory for skin-level irritations.
Ready to see the light?
The expert team at Courted can guide you through the benefits of red and blue light therapy to help you come up with a routine to bring out the skin you’ve always wanted. We offer 15 and 30-minute sessions of both red and blue light therapy to work with your schedule and make it as easy as possible to get the skin of your dreams.
Stop by Courted at The St. James or give us a call at (703) 239-6910 to schedule your red or blue light therapy treatment today.