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Do At-Home LED Therapy Devices Really Make a Difference?

In short: Yes!
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I've been using Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare's DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, $435, a three-minute LED device for the face, for over a month. Now I'm convinced that LED therapy devices work. It has a setting for wrinkles, one for blemishes and a combination setting. I use the third option almost daily and could tell after about a week that it cleared up lingering blemishes and redness.

Dr. Dennis Gross, dermatologist and skin cancer researcher, now has a body version as well. My own success story is probably not enough to convince most people to spend over $400. So I was curious to see what experts with no dog in this fight had to say about them.

Image via Imaxtree

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What exactly is LED and why is it so great for skin?

"LED therapy is a common skin treatment that uses wavelengths of light, such as red and blue," explains Dr. Anna Guanche, dermatologist and beauty expert from Bella Skin Institute. "In general blue light is great for active acne as it mutes bacterial cell division and helps to soothe and calm down acne flares, while red light stimulates collagen production and can help to speed the healing process for the marks from acne. Some use red and infrared to stimulate collagen. Remember that this is light not a laser so it's a low-energy device that's subtle unlike laser treatments."

Guanche actually singles out Gross' LED products as her top picks. "They're not only FDA-approved, but have clinical studies to show that, after 10 weeks, 97 percent of subjects saw visible improvements in fine lines, wrinkles and skin tone."

Image via Imaxtree

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Are at-home LED therapy devices as good as in-office treatments?

It really depends on the office. "I've seen some locations use the exact devices offered at department stores, which is totally fine because they work!" says celebrity facialist and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. "However, most in-office devices are larger, have stronger wavelengths and have way more bulbs which require less treatment time. You can cover the entire face, neck and chest in 10 minutes. There are even LED body beds so you can treat your entire face and body in 10 to 20 minutes! At-home devices are smaller, making treatment time longer because the size can only treat smaller areas at a time, but many can't make time for multiple weekly sessions so this is where an at-home device would give great results and be beneficial."

Image via Imaxtree

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Can they be used on all skin types?

LED light is generally considered safe for most skin types. But if you're pregnant or have particularly sensitive skin, make sure you consult with your doctor before purchasing any device. It's best to avoid treating compromised skin, though. When doing an at-home treatment Aguilar recommends avoiding areas that are burned or areas with very inflamed acne or rashes unless your doctor gives you the green light. You'll also want to avoid tattoos and waxed sections or skip treatments altogether if you're a fan of dermaplaning.

It's also important to note that LED devices only work when used consistently. So if you don't have time to use a device a few times a week, it won't be worth investing in. That said, there are also people who overuse these devices.

"Only use LED for the amount of time recommended. If the company recommends 10 minutes, only use it for 10 minutes," says Aguilar. "Just because we don't feel anything doesn't mean it's not working so it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions."

Image via Imaxtree

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