WHY YOU SHOULD ADD IT TO YOUR NEXT FACIAL
Fun fact: your skin contains over 11 miles of blood vessels, with the average adults skin weighing 20 pounds. In case you were wondering, that's the weight of your average pug.
I may be alone in this, but I feel like I'm in a constant battle with my skin. Either it's dry, or I'm having a breakout that might be related to that dairy I just ate or maybe it's hormones or maybe I've just been extra stressed recently?
It seems like everyone falls into two groups: either they're battling acne, or they're battling wrinkles. I suppose the third group would be people who are genetically blessed with the face of an angel and have never experienced a pimple or wrinkle in their life, but I try to pretend those people don't exist. So we don't need to talk about them right now.
Okay! Moving on. Whether you hail from the City of Zits, or the Town of Wrinkleton, both in the Province of I Don't Wanna Look Like The Crypt Keeper, there is one device that will welcome you into its warm, colorful bosom: the LED light.
"LED" sounds much more concise and sophisticated, but for educational purposes, and if you want to get techie, it stands for "light-emitting diode". Not quite as sexy sounding, but that phrase in and of itself tells you what LED is--light. Basically, these bad boys (and girls #equality) convert electrical energy into light energy. Back in college I thought I wanted to be an engineer (spoiler: I didn't) so I took a buttload of science classes where I was forced to memorize the electromagnetic spectrum and its corresponding wavelengths/etc. Right smack dab in the middle of this spectrum is visible light (on either side are things like microwaves and x-rays). Stay with me, because this is where it gets interesting: while we can only see visible light (duh) we can feel parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are outside of our visibility. For example, infrared light.
Now, you might be extremely confused at this point, but don't worry, this all has a purpose. Infrared light has extremely therapeutic benefits and I highly recommend seeking out a spa or yoga studio that uses it. In some ways, though, infrared light is a bit of a misnomer. Infrared is right after "regular" red light on the electromagnetic spectrum, but it doesn't actually have any color, it's just light energy that feels warm but is completely invisible to the human eye. So, returning back to LED light--this light IS on the visible light spectrum, and because of that, it doesn't penetrate as deeply into the skin, but works very effectively on the surface. And, in conclusion, this is what makes it a must-have addition for facials!
I know it seems like a lot of effort to get to such a simple conclusion, but I'm not done yet. If you trust me and just want to go get some light therapy without reading any more, go you. But for those of you who are interested--read on!
Returning to our main point:
1. Infrared light: we can't see it, but it penetrates deeper into the skin (about 1.5 inches into the body) making it great for injuries, sore muscles, detoxing, etc.
2. LED light: we CAN see it, and it's most active on the surface of the skin, making it perfect for aesthetic concerns like acne, hyper-pigmentation, and wrinkles.
Let's dive back into the science again. Take a peek at this handy-dandy graphic below:
On one side we've got the Idyllic Indigo (blue/purple) and on the complete opposite end we've got Ravishing Red. Notice that Idyllic Indigo has the most energy--she's the life of the party. But Ravishing Red has the longest wavelength--she's got the best dance moves. Here's why that's important: longer wavelengths, as a general rule, penetrate the skin more deeply. But, don't forget, Idyllic Indigo has tons of energy, being the life of the party. All of this energy means that blue light is perfect for killing bacteria i.e. eradicating acne. Wild, right? In case you're wondering, that bolded text also happens to be the answer to an often-missed MCAT question, so if anyone reading this is pre-med...you're welcome. For those of you not taking the MCAT, you just got a heavy dose of physics thrown at you, so if you want to go pour a glass of pinot, rest your brain, and then come back, I would highly approve.
Moving forward (I swear that was the last of the science lesson), let's talk about the actual uses for LED light.
Red light: red light penetrates the deepest into the skin (p.s. I'm sorry I keep using the word "penetrate" but is there really another word??) which is what makes it great as an anti-aging tool, since anti-aging starts deep in the skin, by building up and strengthening your cellular structure.
Blue light: blue light is our friend Idyllic Indigo who is chock-full of vibrant energy, ready to get the job done. This is what makes blue light perfect for slaying acne bacteria on the skin.
Red AND blue light: whoa-ho-ho did you think this wasn't an option? Because guess what, it is! Here's what I didn't tell you about red light: it targets oil glands to diminish cytokines (I don't want to overwhelm you with more science, so let's just call these Pimple Demons). Pimple Demons aren't always bad (other forms of cytokines are great, actually) but the ones that become Pimple Demons are suuuuper inflammatory. Like, super super inflammatory. As we all know, inflammation=acne. So by using red and blue light combined, you're reducing acne on both the surface of the skin, and on a cellular level! Woop woop.
I'm hoping I've convinced you of the magic of LED light, and if I have, then you're probably thinking, "Great! How do I get started?". Well, buckle up buckaroos, because I'll tell you how: go find a professional medical center or spa that offers it.
I know all of the cool cats are buying those somewhat-freaky-looking LED masks for at-home use, and this is totally a-okay to do, but, to put it bluntly, they just don't work the same. The at-home devices are not as potent as the in-office systems. The at-home systems are generally $100-$400, while in-office systems run closer to $1000. This should give you a pretty solid clue that the professional versions are much more effective. So while I don't discourage anyone from buying a system to use at home, remember that it's not a substitute for professional treatments.
In case anyone is wondering what to expect from an LED treatment, it's pretty simple: you'll have some small goggles placed over your eyes (like the ones used for tanning), the light system placed over your face, and then you get to chill for 15-30 minutes. Sometimes the systems have a pulsing component which helps the light penetrate (sorry) more effectively, but it can bother some people, so if it does, make sure to let your esthetician know.
I also find that that I feel a little dizzy after an LED treatment, so make sure you're careful as you sit up. Make sure you also drink plenty of purified water post-treatment (although this is also a good rule for life in general) as light therapy promotes detoxification and it's important to make sure you give your body a way to flush itself out.
Happy Facial-ing, everybody! This was a science-heavy post, so let me know if you have any Q's!
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