While sunlight may be bad for your skin, the opposite is true for some forms of artificial light. Several studies using visible red wavelengths of light have shown anti-aging effects on skin leading to perceived improved texture and tone.
"There are very small studies that suggest that some forms of lights that are helpful to the skin," says Dr. Hollmig.
Often referred to as phototherapy, spas have incorporated this treatment using devices equipped with LEDs to deliver specific wavelengths of light to the skin. As an anti-aging treatment, some wavelengths of red light have been shown to induce the same wound healing effect that increases collagen and elasticity in skin without the downtime or side effects that can result from harsh chemical peels, lasers, or other exfoliants. Because it has anti-inflammatory benefits, it can also be used to reduce the recovery time of some treatments. However, the degree to which they work depends on the wavelength used, the power of the device, the distance from the skin, and the duration of the treatment.
Dr. Hollmig seems less reticent about using blue light phototherapy to treat acne, and says that studies have shown 76 percent of patients reported improvement in inflammatory acne lesions in twice weekly sessions over a 12 week period. But as an anti-aging treatment? "You'd be much better off spending money on sunscreen and Retin-A," he says. That said, there's no reason you couldn't do both.
Verdict: Effective treatment for acne and subtle and variable results for anti-aging.