From wrinkles to cold sores, red light therapy is the latest trick to save your face
By Alice Smellie
The weather may be freezing, the days still short, but there is now light — red light — at the end of the tunnel. The power of red light was originally harnessed by NASA, which proved that it helped to heal wounds and burns, and it has been used — successfully — for the treatment of skin cancer.
As with many medical breakthroughs, the cosmetic benefits of red light subsequently emerged and it’s now becoming widely available in High Street salons and shops.
We’ve all heard of infra-red light, which is invisible. But the fast-growing trend is for visible red light — a gentle and effective way of healing and rejuvenating skin.
Save face: Visible red light is leading the way for rejuvenating facials
‘Red light easily penetrates the dermis and can help with a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, scarring and eczema, as well as improving skin quality,’ says Jo Martin, clinical director of Mapperley Park Clinic and an expert in light therapy and laser treatments.
‘The heat and light boost circulation, bringing more blood and nutrients to the area,’ she explains. ‘It also instigates the release of chemical messengers called cytokines. As more cytokines are released, collagen-
Lightwaves get their colour from their wavelength. Red light has the longest, violet the shortest
producing cells called fibroblasts leap into action. If healing is required, then the skin will heal; if it is already healthy, you will get a plumping effect from the extra collagen created.’
This month, big brands such as CACI are harnessing the power of red light and rolling out affordable salon therapies nationwide. Their Wrinkle Revolution (£40, caci-international.co.uk, from January 23) is a 20-minute treatment that combines red light with microcurrent.
But even if you can’t justify splurging in a salon, a number of new home-use gadgets, designed either for all-round facial rejuvenation or to speed up the healing of spots and cold sores, have recently been launched, too.
Even if you don’t suffer from spots or cold sores, you can still benefit from red light therapy — though you might need to be a little patient and have more time on your hands.
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Hilary Allan, who uses red light extensively within her clinics, has seen a huge growth in the number of home treatment systems. ‘Everyone is leaping on the red light bandwagon,’ she says.
So what are the stand-out at-home products? The new Fine-Light Mask by Innovate Photonics (fine-light.co.uk) is the priciest at £400. It claims to stimulate collagen and plump up fine lines, as well as giving a lifting effect by increasing elastin production. Put on the protective goggles and lower it over your entire face to bathe in warming red light for 20 minutes a day.
‘The light has to be absorbed for a minimum of 15 minutes but they should all give some benefit,’ she adds.
Most salon treatments don’t cost as much as a standard facial, and over time an effective home gadget can work out even cheaper. And don’t worry, it may all sound super high-tech, but all you’ll feel is a slight warming of the skin being treated. No wonder more of us are giving the green light to red light.