Does Red Light Therapy Really Help With Acne?

If you're plagued with acne, you're probably ready to try just about anything to get rid of it. Creams, gels, patches, cleansers — there's plenty of different acne treatment options. But what about using LED lights via a mask to clear up acne? Here's what you need to know.

Red light therapy featuring LED lights has been touted as a great addition to skincare and healing in recent years. Using LED lights was originally designed by NASA for growing plants, but it was also discovered that it aided healing (from NASA). "The light is stimulating the cells to speed up activity to produce collagen (to lessen wrinkles and fine lines, smoothing out scars)," explained esthetician Jillian Kibildis to Teen Vogue. The treatment can also "calm inflammation, remove waste by increased lymph activity ... and [promote] quicker healing of the skin," according to Kibildis. 

Of the options in LED light therapy, blue light seems to be used most to treat acne, but red light therapy can also play an important role in acne treatment, too (via Marie Claire).

Red light penetrates deeply to help reduce inflammation and promote healing

According to a scientific article published in the Indian Dermatol Online Journal, penetrating the skin deeper than blue light, red light "may directly target sebaceous glands and exert anti-inflammatory properties." Red light can also help with acne scars, since it also works to boost collagen and elastin production. And as aforementioned, red light helps speed up healing (via Byrdie). Keep in mind that both red light and blue light therapy don't work on cystic acne or acne from clogged pores (via Teen Vogue).

There are at-home devices that you can buy to treat yourself to a DIY light facial, but keep in mind that while the price point may be higher for a visit to the dermatologist or esthetician, the devices they use will penetrate deeper into the skin (via Curology). Whether you decide to try it at home or go to a pro, it's always a good idea to check in with a dermatologist before trying a new acne treatment, including red light therapy (from Healthline). It also won't have immediate results — it will likely take a series of treatments to see the benefits (via Byrdie).