This $250 LED light-therapy device has dramatically cleared up my acne in the first 2 months of use — here’s how it works

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At $249, the LightStim for Wrinkles device is expensive but I've seen such powerful results that it's a worthy investment for me.

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At $249, the LightStim for Wrinkles device is expensive but I’ve seen such powerful results that it’s a worthy investment for me.
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Light Stim Facebook

  • I first discovered the skin-healing and collagen-boosting benefits of LED light during a facial with celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia, and I loved the results so much that I decided to splurge on an at-home LED device of my own.
  • I’ve been using LightStim for Wrinkles for about two months now and have noticed gradual but definite changes in my skin – from fewer fine lines to less active acne.
  • LED light technology was first developed by NASA, and LightStim’s LED tool has been FDA approved for its anti-aging benefits. In other words, it’s pretty powerful.

My skin-care routine usually revolves around all-natural ingredients and low-key practices, like an application of pure marula oil followed by a jade roller facial massage. But even I can appreciate a good technology-driven beauty breakthrough every once in a while. Take, for example, my newfound obsession with LED light therapy tools.

I first experienced the wonders of LED light during a facial with Angela Caglia, a Los Angeles-based aesthetician whose fans include Minnie Driver and Sting. So yeah, she’s kind of a big deal.

Caglia’s La Vie en Rose Power Facial includes a mix of natural elements like using rose quartz crystal massagers and products infused with meadowfoam seed oil, and more in-depth treatments like the aforementioned LED light mask. My session with her was the first time my skin had been exposed to LED light, and also the first time a facial left me literally glowing. No redness, no inflammation, no downtime. Coincidence? I think not.

The technology behind LED

“LED lights” – that stands for Light Emitting Diode, by the way – “give off red wavelengths to deliver effective doses of light to your skin,” explains Dr. Josh Axe, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, and author of the best-selling book “Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease.”

“Light in this range is believed to trigger an increase in cell metabolism, protein synthesis (including collagen), antioxidant activity, and other positive effects,” he says. In short, LED light has been shown to help make skin look younger and clearer.

It’s easy to meet claims of that caliber with an eye roll, but LED actually has some serious science behind it. In fact, it was first developed by NASA. The organization found that LED light accelerates the skin’s healing response, making it ideal for wounded astronauts to use in space. When the beauty industry caught onto the power of LED, it co-opted the technology for use in facials and personal use tools – the latter has become an integral part of my everyday skin-care routine.

Why I chose the LightStim device

After my skin-changing facial with Caglia, I wanted an at-home LED device of my own and opted for the LightStim for Wrinkles (currently $249 on Sephora). I decided $249 was a small price to pay, and this one is specifically designed to address wrinkles and signs of aging.

In addition to being one of the more affordable options on the market (some high-tech LED devices can retail for closer to $400-$600), the LightStim appealed to me because it’s a handheld tool instead of a face mask. Personally, I can barely be bothered to sit still long enough to let a sheet mask soak in (a combination of general busyness – who has time for that? – and anxiety), so lying underneath the weight of a hard-shelled plastic mask with insufficient eye holes for 30 minutes? No, thank you.

In contrast, the LightStim lets me have one hand (and both eyes) free to either scroll through Instagram or turn the volume up on whatever Netflix show I’m currently bingeing. Because, yes, Netflix-and-LightStim is my life now. My nightly skin-care routine consists of getting under the covers, flipping on the TV, and LightStim-ing my face. I call it “LED before BED,” and even store the tool in my nightstand for easy access.

How I incorporate it into my skin-care routine

If the fact that I use the device from bed didn’t make this clear enough, the LightStim is super easy to use.

First, I thoroughly cleanse my skin and apply serum. The brand has its own PhotoSerum which is designed to work with the device to help hydrate and repair skin, but experts agree that you can use any serum or oil you like, so I usually opt for an all-natural version. The device also comes with small protective goggles which I pop on before I bring it up near my crow’s feet or forehead.

Once plugged in and powered on, the red LED lights come to life and a timer starts. I press the LED portion against an area of my skin and hold there for three minutes. Unexpected bonus: The lights are warm, so it feels relaxing and soothing – like a cup of tea to the face.

When three minutes have passed, the device beeps, reminding me to move to a new area until I’ve treated my whole face. In other words, I can completely zone out without worrying about whether I’ve lost track of time or focused on one area for too long.

Afterwards, I clean the head of the device to eliminate any lingering bacteria and store it in its handy travel pouch until the next night when I repeat the process all over again. For best results, LightStim suggests daily use.

There's a device specifically made for acne as well. It uses blue LED light to kill acne-causing bacteria.

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There’s a device specifically made for acne as well. It uses blue LED light to kill acne-causing bacteria.
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LightSim Facebook

The results I saw

There are some immediately visible benefits. The heat helps calm inflammation and boost circulation, so my skin takes on a nice little glow. But consistency is everything with LED light, and the long-term effects take some time to register. I started seeing smoother, clearer skin around the two-week mark.

As of this moment, I’ve been using LightStim for Wrinkles for about eight weeks, and the laugh lines around my eyes and lips are definitely less prominent. There’s also been a significant improvement in my acne levels, which I wasn’t expecting.

According to Caglia, that last part isn’t exactly a surprise. “The red light can help with acne by targeting oil glands and reducing inflammation,” she tells Business Insider. If blemishes are your main skin-care concern though, check out LightStim for Acne, a separate device that features blue LED light to kill acne-causing bacteria.

There are clinical trials to back it up too

Clearly LightStim works for me, but what’s even better is it’s clinically proven to work too. “Our LightStim for Wrinkles is FDA approved for the treatment of wrinkles on the entire face, and is backed by two clinical studies done for the FDA,” Steve Marchese, the CEO of LightStim, tells Business Insider. After eight weeks of using the LightStim tool five to seven times per week, subjects saw a visible improvement in fine lines and wrinkles. “In the study, doctors wrote that the LEDs stimulate increased collagen and elastin,” says Marchese.

The best part? The results, apparently, are lasting. “The FDA wanted us to prove that the reduction in wrinkles was not the ‘Cinderella Effect,’ meaning that when you stopped using our light, the results didn’t go away overnight,” the CEO explains. So three months after the initial eight-week trial, participants came back to have their skin evaluated. “Of the total participants, 8% retained the reduction in wrinkles which they had achieved during the eight week study – and 92% had an even further reduction in their wrinkles.”

Do you need your own LED light tool?

Those numbers honestly speak for themselves, but if you need more convincing before you add LED to your at-home routine, here’s some anecdotal evidence based on my own experience -I’ve seen better skin-plumping results with LightStim than with any hyaluronic acid serum. And even though $249 seems like a lot to spend on a skin-care product, this is one that never runs out or needs to be refilled.

Caglia notes there are no risks to using LED light on the skin; on the contrary, it’s soothing and helps calm inflammation and irritation. One scientific study concluded LED “displays an excellent safety profile,” while another clinical trial based on a 30-session course of LED treatment noted, “No severe adverse events were registered during the study or follow-up phase.”

As always, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the same results from LED light therapy that I have, and you should talk with your dermatologist before incorporating LED light therapy into your routine. But if Sting and NASA approve? Yeah, I’d give it a shot.

Buy the LightStim for Wrinkles at Sephora for $249