My Skincare Gadgets (Pt. 1: LED Device)

By Minji

  • LED penetrates deeper layers of the skin for beneficial reactions, including collagen stimulation
  • At-home LED gadgets shouldn’t be compared to in-office treatments
  • Rather, they should be thought of as daily add-ons akin to good serum or moisturizer

Last time I was in Seoul, out of the blue, my mom bought me a fancy new LED-therapy skincare gadget.  It was cute – white and sleek, about the size of a mini ice cream sandwich.  My mom is not one to waste money nor shower me with compulsive gifts.  Apparently, she had noticed the subtle improvement in one of her friend’s skin quality, complimented her, and subsequently learned that she was crediting this cool little skincare gadget for the improvement.  That was enough to convince my mom to shell out $700 to buy three of these.  One for me, another for my sister, the last one for herself.  The three of us made a pact then and there to use this gadget diligently and live the skincare dream.

LED (light emitting diode) therapy is a type of low-level light energy that penetrates the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate different beneficial reactions.  Depending on the color of the light and the corresponding wavelength (most devices have a variety of color – mine has three), it targets different skincare issues.  My favorite, the red light is supposed to work with the cells responsible for the loss of collagen and elastin.  Red light is anti-inflammatory and because it can help stimulate collagen, is supposed to result in plumper and tighter looking skin.

I sometimes use the blue light too.  The blue light on my device is supposed to kill the bacteria that contributes to acne and also keep my skin well-hydrated.  The blue light feels a bit weaker than the red, but for both settings, I can feel a mild sensation.  Like a gentle prickling feeling – which makes me think that these devices are indeed doing something. 

Although it’s supposed to be safe for the eyes, I usually have my eyes closed when using it.  Also, it’s important to have adequate gel or other hydrating product on your face before you use it.  Make sure it's a water-based product though as some of these devices can't penetrate through oil.  The surface of the gadget should glide smoothly on your face without causing friction or unnecessary wrinkles.  Like with all other skincare products, make sure your strokes are moving in and out and upwards (never drag down your face).  The instruction manual for mine says you can even use it over a sheet mask to enhance absorption.

There are many differences between at-home LED devices and those specifically designed for in-office treatment by physicians.  The at-home gadgets have significantly less power and are often in hand-held form.  Therefore, it can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and impractical to expect in-office level results.  Based on my research, although certain brands tout successful customer survey results, their effectiveness hasn’t been validated by authoritative clinical studies (as compared to medical-grade in-office treatments which have been proven to be effective).  I asked Dr. Yoon to opine and he agreed that effectiveness is questionable and also cautioned that there could be side-effects with poorly made products and hence the importance of purchasing from reputable brands.

My conclusion?  I’ve been using the gadget for close to a year now - almost daily and very diligently.  I'll usually work it in after my eye cream and before my face oil step during my night time ritual on most days when I have the energy.  I like what I see.  Don’t get me wrong – there are no miraculous changes in my skin, but I definitely think it’s helping. 

These gadgets shouldn’t be compared to in-office treatments.  Rather, they should be thought of as daily add-ons and hence it would be more appropriate to compare their efficacy to a good serum or moisturizer.  I think that by using it alongside my other products, I’ll continue to see positive results. Plus, it’s kind of fun to use and only takes three minutes. Make sure you join our newsletter so you never miss a skincare tip and other exclusive content - be in the know and spark a glow!