If you’re prone to acne, it’s important to continue to take advantage of the treatment options that work best for your skin even when it isn’t broken out. But what are the best treatment options, and where can you find them?
The most common treatments are easily accessible, cost-effective, and available for home use — facial cleansers and medications, for example. Other treatment options require special devices or even a scheduled session in a clinical setting.
One treatment that’s growing in popularity is blue light therapy for acne, which is available both at home and in clinics. Each treatment setting has pros and cons, but for many people, blue light therapy for acne at home is the preferred option to deal with breakouts.
Is Blue Light Therapy an Effective Treatment for Acne?
Before we compare the two treatment settings, let’s break down how blue light therapy addresses existing acne and prevents future breakouts.
Your skin has millions of very small holes called pores, which are easily clogged by dirt, dead skin cells, excess oil, and, most significantly, acne-causing bacteria called P. acnes.
The pores in your skin open into hair follicles, which contain the sebaceous glands that produce an oily substance called sebum. Your skin needs a certain amount of sebum to remain hydrated and healthy, but too much is a problem. In fact, excess sebum can block your pores, trapping dirt, dead skin cells, and inflammatory P. acnes inside. Voila! An acne breakout occurs.
So, how does using blue light therapy for acne at home or in a clinic help?
Blue light is the enemy of P. acnes. When blue light meets P. acnes, the light disrupts the bacteria on a cellular level and destroys it. Without this bacteria in the mix, acne breakouts are much easier to manage.
What About Red Light Therapy?
Even though blue light therapy is a powerful acne-fighting tool on its own, clinical studies show that a combination of both blue and red light therapy is most effective.
Red light therapy has several benefits for acne-prone skin. Like blue light, it produces a biochemical effect on a cellular level. Red light penetrates deeper into the skin, stimulating cells to boost cellular energy. The effect is faster skin cell turnover and quicker healing of surface wounds, including acne.
Red light therapy also calms inflammation, which aids in the healing process as well.
Because of the powerful benefits of both treatments, you’ll see the best results if you combine red and blue light therapy for acne, whether at home or in a clinical setting.
Blue Light Therapy for Acne at Home
Red and blue light therapy for acne at home is a relatively new but quickly growing treatment method.
There are a wide variety of at-home light therapy devices on the market that allow for fast, easy treatment sessions from the comfort of your couch. Each device comes with its own features, benefits, and drawbacks.
One example is the DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device. While many in-home light therapy devices come in the form of wands or panels, the SpectraLite is a mask.
Mask designs are becoming more popular since they strap to your head for hands-free treatment and allow you to target all acne-prone areas of your face at once. However, some users complain that the SpectraLite and other masks don’t fit well over their face, making the products less effective at treating trouble spots. Another tradeoff is that you can’t use light therapy masks to address breakouts on the rest of your body.
Light therapy wands, like the Luminance RED Acne Device, can target acne breakouts with pinpoint accuracy no matter where they occur on the body, giving total control to the user. The downsides are that the treatment session may take longer since the device targets a small area at a time, and you may need help reaching certain areas of your body, such as your back.
To treat more of your body at once, or hard-to-reach areas like your back, a light therapy panel can help. The dpl IIa Professional Acne Treatment Light Therapy Panel provides both blue and red light wavelengths via a foldable, book-like panel. The drawback is that panels tend to be more expensive than wands and many masks
Larger panels, like the Joovv Solo 3.0 for example, are priced in the thousands — and they don’t necessarily include both blue and red light.
As you can see, there are plenty of devices available for blue light therapy for acne at home. But what about clinical treatments? Are blue light treatments better in a professional setting?
Blue Light Therapy for Acne at a Clinic
As with any treatment, in-clinic options have their own pros and cons.
A blue light therapy device used in a clinic is likely to be larger than an at-home device, leading to a shorter treatment time. This is good news if you have a large area of acne-riddled skin to treat.
If you opt for an in-clinic treatment session, you also won’t need to worry about getting those hard-to-reach areas, like your middle back. If you have acne in such areas, it may be impossible to complete in-home treatments by yourself using most devices on the market. If you want to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of asking a loved one for help, a clinic may be the way to go.
There are some drawbacks to blue light therapy for acne at a clinic, however. Light therapy is not a one-and-done treatment. Like all aspects of your skin care routine, you must use light therapy regularly to see results, and regular in-clinic appointments can quickly exceed the price of an at-home device.
Additionally, because the large machines clinics use to administer light therapy are very expensive to replace, some put off replacing them until long after the devices are out of date. This means you could be paying top dollar for outdated technology when more effective options are available to use at home.
Blue Light Therapy for Acne at Home vs. at a Clinic: Final Thoughts
Before choosing a clinic or an at-home device, check online reviews. The experiences and perspectives of people with the same type and severity of acne as you can help you reach a decision on which method, clinic, or device will work best for you.
Blue light therapy for acne at home or at a clinic may be the treatment option you’ve been searching for. But remember, acne is a varied and often stubborn condition. It may take some experimentation before you find the best option for you. And remember, only regular use can tell you for sure whether a certain treatment will get the results you’re looking for.