Light therapy is the real deal. It’s hard to imagine that basking under some ethereally-tinted lights can change the way our cells operate, but believe it, baby. LED (aka light emitting diodes) is a powerful tool for healing, strengthening, and protecting our tissues with therapeutic exposure, but not all devices were created equal. A little background to clear the air…
It’s easy to think of most light as the devil when it comes to our skin health. While we need vitamin D from sunlight, yet over-exposure to UV causes rapid aging in the form of discoloration and wrinkles, and even cancer. Blue light messes with our circadian rhythms and contributes to eye strain, aging our vision and causing sleep issues. LED is an exception.
At Amé, we are always looking for the absolute best. We know that people are hungry for the most healthy, happy, optimal versions of themselves, and are willing to invest in the products that help them achieve that (us too, hello). But we also see the beauty and wellness industry as a vast, ambiguous place that can be difficult to navigate.
We steer clear from cashing in on people’s goals and insecurities, and instead, take the long route. This means doing intensive, hands-on research to find the best and the brightest (pun-intended) when it comes to the products we advocate for. Because LED therapy ain’t cheap, hear us out. We’re here to shed some light on the topic.
"It’s crucial to look at these factors when purchasing a therapeutic LED source."
LED light is able to penetrate the skin between 5 and 10mm, reaching the deeper levels of the dermis and even muscles and other tissues. It stimulates our cells, triggering natural intracellular reactions that boost circulation and promote growth and turnover. But, not just any LED bulb will do.
There are regular household bulbs for everyday light in the form of energy-saving LED, but this is not what is going to heal us. There are also many LED devices on the market, but not all of them will yield the same results. It’s crucial to look at these factors when purchasing a therapeutic LED source.
Fluence is a measurement of energy delivered per unit, or area. If the fluence is too low, you won’t experience any of the healing benefits as the light won’t be able penetrate the dermis. Fluence levels that are too high can actually burn or damage our skin.
Radiance is the infrared radiation known in layman’s terms as the brightness, so it’s an obvious determining factor on the efficacy of the LED being chosen. It’s showcased by how much illumination is emitted and essentially, it’s reach. However, it’s not easy to determine fluence and radiance from the naked eye. So how do we know what to look out for?
LED and IR (infrared) are measured by watts, in most cases, but you may also see a measurement known as joules. A watt is a unit of power, and one watt is equal to one joule per second, aka watts are measured in joules. In many cases, this may be indicated in nm, aka Newton-Metres. Still with us?
Now that we are marginally aware of the metrics, how do we know how much we need? We tested some LED facial devices from several gorgeous lifestyle brands using a radiance meter, and discovered that many of them were too low, indicating wavelengths of just 0.0009nm (pr joules) per square meter. This tells us that not enough energy is being emitted to effect any sort of results or rejuvenation, even to the surface of the skin.
So what do we need to see results? 4-100nm/joules per square meter. This will likely be indicated in watts, or in nm, so look for those metrics on the packaging to determine the most effective wavelength. This is what produces the most realistic healing to the body. Expect boosted collagen and elastin production, reduced inflammation in the skin and surrounding tissues, relief from muscle and tissue discomfort due to injury or overexertion, clearer skin, and overall glowing vitality with regular use.
We say this with confidence, because Jenan has been using low level laser therapy (LLLT) at her clinic. We compared our expensive, professional machine that we selected based on hundreds of valid studies to many of the machines that are commercially available, noting that the metrics do not align. Of course, the machine in our clinic is expensive— think thousands of dollars— but the products commercially available for hundreds of dollars are no small price to cough at, all while yielding little to no results.
At Amé, we are founded on principle. Jenan’s background in medicine and proven therapies for healing makes us slow to jump at the trends before diving in head first, and we want to encourage the same from our readers. We want to be a safe space our readers can trust, develop, and grow from. LED light therapy is proven science— it’s something we believe in wholeheartedly. But we want you to know what you’re looking for, so you can spend your dollars, and your time, wisely.