Go for red light: From wrinkles to cold sores, red light therapy is the latest trick to save your face

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

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-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.


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GinZing eye cream, 21, origins.co.uk
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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.

Devices such as the ColdSoreClear Advance (24.99), SpotClear Advance (39.99, both lloyds pharmacy.com), or the lipstick-sized LMS Spotlight (29.99, lmsspotlights.com) use targeted red light to increase blood flow to the affected area and stimulate immune cells.

They all work on the same principle: simply hold the device against the spot for around one minute up to three times a day. Small areas, such as a spot or a cold sore, will show improvements in a relatively short space of time, usually within three days, so these types of treatment are both practical and very satisfying to undertake at home.

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.

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.

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.

Omnilux new-U (195, consulting roomshop.com) has been approved by the
notoriously hard-to-please FDA, the U.S. body that regulates beauty
treatments. Clinical trials show that after eight 20-minute treatments
over four weeks, three-quarters of patients showed a significant
improvement to fine lines and wrinkles. A budget option is the
Rejuvenating Skin Light Therapy Unit (49.99, thebeauty-works.co.uk).

separates an at-home device from a clinical therapy is the strength of
the light used. ‘A salon treatment may blast you with red light
delivered through 1,800 separate LEDs, but a hand-held device will use
fewer — more like 40,’ says Louise Taylor of Serious About Skin,
specialists in light therapy.

‘The light has to be absorbed for a minimum of 15 minutes but they should all give some benefit,’ she adds.

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.




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Not as easily absorbed as others and did little to disguise puffy eyes or dark circles.

Bliss All Around Eye Cream, 24.50, houseoffraser.co.uk
A lightweight cream, but we went through it quickly and it left a faintly sticky residue.