LED light therapy for skin: Colors, how it works, benefits and risks

You may be familiar with LED lights, but do you know they are used in skincare?

An image describing the 7 colors used in led light therapy and how they act to help treat acne and improve skin health

Key takeaways

  • LED lights come in various colors, and are used to cure acne, wounds, sunburns, and wrinkles, among other things. 
  • A qualified aesthetician or dermatologist typically administers LED light therapy, but you can also do it at home. 
  • LED light therapy is believed to be safe for all skin types. However, you should seek approval from your dermatologist before trying it.  

Dermatologists and aestheticians use various techniques to treat skin issues, including LED lights.

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Similar to more recent skin treatments like chemical peels, LED light therapy has gained popularity for its skin benefits, such as healing, stimulating new tissue growth, and protecting tissues on the verge of dying. It is also used in acne treatment. 

The light rays emitted by LEDs are different. They have different colors and wavelengths, and each type is used for a specific purpose. The wavelengths of the light are measured in nanometers.

What is LED light therapy?

LED light therapy is a non-invasive procedure that uses light to achieve a medical result by penetrating the skin and improving healing and other aesthetic outcomes.

A dermatologist can administer this treatment, or you can use an approved manufacturer's LED light device at home. One common way to use LED lights for skin treatment is as a face mask.

Is it safe?

LED light therapy is unlike some skin rejuvenation techniques with side effects like inflammation, uncomfortable pain, and prolonged social downtime. 

Studies have shown that LED light therapy has an outstanding safety profile and does not harm the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) or dermis (inner layer of the skin).

While LED therapy is generally considered safe, you should contact your dermatologist first to determine if it is the correct treatment. 

Is it effective?

It may seem unlikely that light particles penetrating your skin can improve its appearance, but evidence suggests LED therapy does work.

Early LED research focused on wound-healing abilities, but a series of studies have shown that it may also decrease skin swelling and redness, among other things. 

Light in the spectral range of 600–1300 nm promotes wound healing, tissue regeneration, and skin rejuvenation due to its high degree of penetration in the skin and absorption by respiratory chain components, such as the enzyme cytochrome C oxidase, an enzyme that helps the body carry out normal metabolism.  

Benefits: What is it used for?

Just like every other procedure done to enhance the skin, LED light therapy has a lot of medical benefits, and they include:

  • Treatment of mild to moderate acne 
  • Phototherapy and wound healing
  • Psoriasis treatment
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Photodynamic rejuvenation
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Sunburn prevention
  • Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation treatment
  • Reducing and preventing the formation of scars

Different colors and types of led-light therapy

LED lights have various wavelengths that are absorbed by different layers of the skin. 

While some light rays are absorbed in the epidermis, others go deeper into the dermis. How deep the light rays go determines how they work on the skin.

The types of LED lights are listed below, along with their wavelengths:

  • Blue lights (400-470 nm) 
  • Green lights (470-550 nm) 
  • Red lights (630-700 nm), and 
  • Near-infrared (NIR) (700-1200 nm) 

Blue light (400–470 nm)

This light penetrates the epidermis, which makes it a good option for mild-to-moderate acne treatments. 

Research shows that blue light can be very effective for inflammatory acne. However, it has a few side effects, like skin dryness, redness, and itching, but they usually resolve soon after treatment. 

Green light (470–550 nm)

The green LED lights penetrate deeper into the epidermis and can help with wound healing.  

Red light (630–700 nm)

Red light penetrates the dermis and is an excellent option for healing wounds as severe as a third-degree burn. Using red LED lights in wound healing resolves any redness, swelling, and bruising associated with the wound.

Near-infrared light (700–1200 nm)

Near-infrared light penetrates the skin deeper than red light and plays a vital role in wound healing. It may significantly improve inflammation-induced exudation, swelling, crusting, and pain. Additionally, it may enhance the appearance of the skin, making it look younger.

An aesthetician can use a combination of different colors to achieve the desired results.

How does LED light therapy work for skin treatment

LED light therapy works by penetrating the skin at different wavelengths. The different wavelengths penetrate different layers of the skin. Simply put, the longer the wavelength, the deeper the light rays penetrate the skin. 

For example, blue light only penetrates the epidermis because of its relatively short wavelength. This is why it is typically only beneficial for minor treatments. On the other hand, red LED light has a longer wavelength and therefore penetrates deeper. 

Risk and side effects of LED light therapy

Most procedures for skin enhancements like chemical peels have side effects such as burns, severe skin dryness, and itchiness, but LED therapy has little to no side effects.

In the rare cases where side effects are observed, they are usually mild. Some examples include: 

  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Itchiness and
  • Skin dryness

What to expect after a LED light therapy

As a non-invasive procedure, LED therapy treatment requires no recovery time. However, you should avoid sunlight and use sunscreen. 

You may have to undergo several sessions before seeing a noticeable improvement in your skin’s condition. 

Speaking with a skincare expert about using LED light therapy

LED light therapy may not be the best skin treatment option for everyone. This is why it is important to consult people who are certified and qualified to treat skin issues before you try this method. If the skincare professional approves of you using LED therapy, you can further discuss with them the type that will be best suited for your skin. 

Additionally, if you experience any reactions like redness, itchiness, and dryness after undergoing LED light therapy, or if you use any medications like tretinoin, it is best to l your dermatologist or aesthetician know.


LED light therapy is essential if you want better-looking skin. If approved for your use, you can get an at-home device from an approved manufacturer or book an appointment with your dermatologist or a licensed aesthetician.