As a full-time beauty writer, I get sent a lot of weird crap. As an advocate for weird crap, this pleases me greatly most of the time.
When it comes to beauty tools, however, I'm actually a gigantic stick in the mud. I have too many bad experiences under my belt to want to try out the "next big thing" in beauty technology. For example, I had a horrible experience with the Clarisonic, which everyone and their mom seems to love.
So I was suspicious when the Michael Todd Clear Bi-light Acne Anti-Aging LED Treatment crossed my desk. Then, after months of staring at it, I decided to give it a go. I’d become bored by my current skin care routine and wanted a spa treatment without the spa price.
Here’s how my at-home trial went down: I did my usual nighttime skin care routine of Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil (my FAVORITE cleanser), Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion, and Sunday Riley Artemis Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil. I’m a big fan of oil cleansers, as they’ve greatly reduced my redness and breakouts. But they don't prevent hormonal breakouts, and I have some scarring, which is where the LED system comes in.
Unfortunately, I have pretty uniform acne and scarring all around my face, particularly on my chin and cheekbones. I used the light treatment on half of my chin and the right side of my face. I left the other side untouched.
You need to use each light setting for three minutes on the area you’re targeting. As far as discomfort, the only thing I felt was a little bit of dry eyes after each use, but it didn't last long at all.
The question remains: What the hell does LED light therapy even do, though? Well, photo-therapy is meant to kill acne-causing bacteria and calm inflammation that accompanies a breakout.
It’s the combination of blue and red light that researchers from the British Journal of Dermatology found helpful for reducing acne. According to their findings, the blue and red light produced more effective results than the use of blue lights or benzoyl peroxide alone. Since benzoyl peroxide does absolutely nothing to help my breakouts, and this light system seems to work, I can say without skepticism that I believe the research here.
Using the red light on my face made my skin look so glow-y and plump that my friends asked if I got laid the night before. (I did not. It was the light. Unfortunately?) I saw a visible difference in the skin being treated by the light and the skin I was purposely neglecting after only three days of use. My skin was smoother and the lighter scars had disappeared.
This isn’t a miracle product, though. I don’t think it's preventing my acne entirely, and studies have also shown it’s not particularly effective for cystic acne, which is a bummer. But scarring was my main concern and it is helping with that.
I was SO prepared to dismiss this product as hoopla and trash it, but it won me over. It’s easy to use, easy to clean (just wipe with alcohol), and it has made a difference in the swatches of skin that I’ve used it on. It's certainly more cost effective than a similar series of treatments at the spa. Plus, you can customize the experience by listening to Bjork or FKA twigs naked while you bathe in the light.
The selfie opportunities this system provides is at least 50 percent of the reason I recommend it, I won’t lie. That being said, it works, and I feel like a cyborg every time I use it, which is my beauty agenda anyway.
So...what do you think? Have you tried light therapy for the purposes of treating acne? If so, what were your results?