How Blue (and Red) Light Can Help Treat Acne

Christina's picture

Though it has been around for decades, Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) has been attracting a lot of attention lately. Its safety and lack of side effects makes this modality very alluring. Couple that with recently accessible technology (hello creepy home-use Neutrogena mask), and you have peaked our collective interest.

So what is what is LLLT? Basically, it is a treatment using cold lasers or LEDs to deliver specific wavelengths of light in order to obtain therapeutic benefits. The benefits will depend on the wavelength of light (red, blue, near infrared etc.), the amount of surface area exposed, the length of exposure time, and proximity of the light to the tissue.

In the case of inflammatory acne, blue light (in the spectrum of 405-420 nm) penetrates just the upper levels of the skin which is where acne causing bacteria live. P.acnes produces by-products called porphyrins which are highly sensitive to blue light. These substances absorb the light causing free-radical damage to P.acnes which, in turn, kills it off.

The best part about using LLLT to treat acne is that it is gentle, safe, and effective without harmful UV-rays, harsh chemicals, or damaging abrasives. There is no down-time and the only side effects are the reduction of current acne and prevent future breakouts before they happen.

Acneic skin is inflamed skin, and it really needs to be treated gently. Another benefit of LED light therapy is the ability to combine both blue and red wavelengths to provide a more comprehensive treatment of acne. The blue light, as mentioned, targets the skin surface to kill acne causing bacteria. Red spectrum light penetrates deeper into the dermal layers where it helps to regulate inflammation and repair damaged tissue. In fact, studies have shown that the combination of red and blue light was more effective in treating acne than infrared or either blue or red alone.

You may have heard that your device screens also produce blue light. So why doesn’t sitting in front of your computer or holding your smartphone up to your face get rid of acne? Again, exact wavelength, proximity, time exposure etc. need to be in therapeutic parameters (plus, your phone screen is filthy).

LLLT technology has exploded onto the marketplace which is great in terms of access to therapy. Keep in mind when considering these devices that in order to be cleared as safe for mass market and home use, the strength will be lower than what you would find in a clinical setting. Thus, the treatments need to be performed far more frequently (typically every day) and the device might need to be replaced often. I encourage you to do your research keeping the above parameters in mind (what wavelengths, how much surface area is covered/ how concentrated are the LEDS, how many uses will the device provide etc.).

If you would like to try Low Level Light therapy treatment for acne in Vancouver, Acubalance offers this therapy as part of our Facial Acupuncture program. Safe, professional strength LEDs combining blue and red spectrum light are used in combination with traditional acupuncture in this whole-body approach to skincare. The use of custom herbal formulas to further support the treatment of acne can also be discussed.

For moderate to significant acne, we recommend treatments twice weekly for 4-8 weeks.

See more on Facial Acupuncture >>

To make an appointment for Facial Acupuncture with Light Therapy, please call Acubalance Wellness Centre at 604.678.8600 or email

acne treatment vancouver, LLLT for acne vancouver