Say anything + NASA in the same sentence and it just feels WOW. NASA takes something ordinary and makes it extraordinary. I mean chicken nuggets are great an’ all but NASA developed chicken nuggets – now that sounds a bit more wow-wee. Maybe it’s the science thing, maybe its those sexy astronaut suits (!) or maybe it’s the knowledge that if NASA put their name to it there is absolutely, definitely some hard core, well-proven science behind it. Probably the second reason ‘eh *wink wink*.
One pretty darn awesome discovery that started from NASA research is light therapy for skin. This stuff is real science my friend, it really works. If you have skincare concerns of aging, inflammation or acne then light therapy could be your ‘Holy-grail’ skincare solution. Here is why…
WHERE DID THIS WHOLE NASA & LIGHT THERAPY SKIN THING START?
If you ever embark on space travel then there is one HELL of a health and safety briefing coming your way. I mean it’s going to be like buying a bus ticket in 50+ years time right? Once you’re off out and into the abyss of space, a lot of things our bodies ‘normally’ do become challenged.
A biggie for astronauts is skin healing. On earth a paper cut [y-owch!] heals in a couple of days, in space it is a snail paced 30-scene play that might not even reach it’s finale before your space mission is ended and your feet are back on planet Earth.
That is a BIG problem. We take our skin for granted because it is SO good at its job we don’t have to worry about it. In space, skin needs some help.
Space + slow skin healing is what led NASA scientists to discover the skincare benefits of light therapy!
I THOUGHT LIGHT WAS BAD FOR YOUR SKIN?
You can think of light like a packet of Skittles. [sweetie based analogy coming attcha!] With every colour of the rainbow in that one little packet you’re getting a whole jumble of ‘rainbow’ flavours. Yellow tastes all lemony, green gives us a punch of lime, red take us to a strawberry picking field and purple makes us feel like we are sipping down on a glass of Ribena. #PartyInYourMouth
This is exactly like light. Light is not just ‘one’ thing. Light is a mixture of lots of types of light that have very different personalities!
We have the instant thought of ‘light is bad for skin’ because of a VERY specific type of light called UV [ultra-violet]. This is the light which is bad for skin because it can damage your DNA and eventually lead to skin cancer – whozer.
Moving on from the ‘killer’ stuff, there are a load of other types of light. One of the most important [without it we’d be literally lost in the dark] is visible light – the stuff you can see, the stuff that gives us ‘daytime’. This stuff is GOOD for us and without it our bodies have trouble getting enough vitamin D, making enough happy hormones [SAD] and making good healthy skin!
THE 2 AWESOME KINDS OF LIGHT THERAPY FOR SKIN
There are 2 awesome kinds of light therapy for skin that are carefully selected from the ‘visible light’ rainbow. Our skin winners are red and blue light. They can be used alone or ‘powered up’ together to lend your skin some of these light therapy benefits…
- Red light therapy for skin. Anti-inflammatory, boosts collagen production, boosts elastin production, increases the rate of healthy cell production (in NASA experiments by 150-200%), increased rate of skin healing (wound healing benefits – very effective for that space travel you had planned – obviously), reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, promotes even skin tone, increased skin hydration.
- Blue light therapy for skin. Anti-acne effect, shown to reduce ‘inflammatory lesions’ [also known as spots], acts on spot causing bacteria P.acnes.
PRO-TIP: There are lots of different kinds of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ light, the 2 specific ones which most positive research uses is red light of 630-660nm and blue light of 404-420nm. If you are looking for treatment devices, make sure to check their light ratings are hitting in this range.
WHAT LIGHT THERAPY FOR SKIN STUDIES SHOW US…
Light therapy for skin is so effective because it can ‘penetrate’ skin so well. That means it gets to where it needs to, to ‘do its thing’. Light therapy doesn’t have to over come your skins’ ‘water-proofing’ like a cream does to sink in. Light ‘shines’ through without effort. Ever tried to ‘black-out’ your room for a really good nights sleep? It requires lot of effort to stop that visible light from creeping around! Here are some of the results from using light therapy.
NASA found red light to accelerate the growth of healthy skin cells by 150-200%. Can we just stop and let that sink in for a moment. 150-200% – that is some result! As we grow older/age gracefully/become our parents (!) our body gets less efficient at doing things. It slows down [it’s decided its time to put it’s feet up and switch on the TV!]. That is why skin becomes less resilient as we add the digits to our ‘years of experience’. It is slower to ‘turn over’ and reveal new skin cells and it is not as good at making new skin cells. That means our skin starts to look dull, dehydrated, un-even and is prone to wrinkles forming. Red light therapy for skin can spring your skin factory from the sofa back into acting like it was a much younger version of itself! The best bit – red light therapy has no reported side effects!
Red light helps your skin make MORE collagen & elastin. These 2 are like the scaffolding to your skin, as we get older our ‘scaffolding’ starts to be weakened and wrinkles are more easily made. Red light therapy works by helping your skin to make more collagen & elastin which means your scaffolding structure is back in PRIME condition. Good skin scaffolding means wrinkles find it MUCH harder to get ‘comfy’ and take up a seat. Using red light therapy twice a week for just 1 month has shown wrinkle reductions of up to 36%.
Blue + Red light is a winning combination against acne. Red and blue light therapy works faster against acne than blue light alone PLUS when tested against Benzoyl peroxide it produces superior long term results. After 12 weeks of use a 75% improvement in ‘inflammatory lesions’ [also plainly known as spots!] was seen.
WHERE DO I GET SOME LIGHT THERAPY FOR MY SKIN?
With all those benefits who wouldn’t want some light therapy in their life? Whether it’s red or blue light you’re after I have some recommendations for you my pal…
Lumie Clear, red (660nm) & blue (415nm) light therapy, £149
If you are after light therapy for acne treatment then this is a great little device. Remember I mentioned red+blue light was more effective in treating acne than blue light alone? The Lumie Clear uses both, so it is a cut above a plain ‘blue’ light acne treatment. It’s the perfect size for treating facial areas and you can also use it for larger areas by using its trusty stand and leaving it on for a little longer. The further away from the device you are, the weaker the dose [because it’s not ‘concentrated’ on one small area] so you compensate by treating for a little longer.
Baby Quasar, red (633nm) light therapy, £269
As recommended by my girl crush Nicki over at FutureDerm.com, the Baby Quasar is one of the more powerful red light therapy devices available for home treatment. They claim 4 x more powerful than their main competitor. If you are serious about red light therapy then the Baby Quasar is a serious contender.
Available through Boots and Superdrug the Love My Skin ‘anti-aging compact’ is a purse friendly shout. The device has some good reviews but after a search I cannot find the wavelength of red light it uses. Based on reviews if you are wanting to dip your toes into red light therapy then the Love My Skin compact could be a good stepping stone device for you.
Omnilux light therapy – [salon only] – red (633nm) light therapy, £40-75 depending on treatment type & time
You could also opt for a red light salon treatment. Salon treatments using devices like the Omnilux will give you a more ‘intense’ dose than at home treatments. That doesn’t mean at home treatments aren’t going to be as effective, just that you’d need to use the at home devices more frequently to get the same results. It’s all about dose [big dose over a short time or lower dose over a longer time].
Had you heard of the skin benefits of light therapy? Have you even tried it before?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.