My first LED facial

Posted on October 30th, by Helen in Blog, I tried it!, Treatments. 7 comments

My first LED facial

LED lights aren’t just for christmas trees; some spas are using LED bulbs in futuristic looking machines for the purpose of painless skin rejuvenation. LED, short for light emitting diodes, has been studied by NASA for their ability to help plants grow and heal.

I recently visited In Beauty Spa in Yorkville for a LED photo facial. Their company site says that LED light helps “increase the penetration depth and absorption of cosmetic products to improve your treatment results by up to 200%!”

Hmm. No actual study to back that up. But hey, that’s a nice boost to my skincare regime.

LEDs are definitely not as agressive as lasers, so results can take quite a long time. In fact, at one dermatology clinic in downtown Toronto, LED facials are sold as “Gentle Waves” for about $150. My LED photo facial at In Beauty Spa costs about $75. As the name implies, LED light therapy is a form of non-invasive, holistic energy that gently stimulates structures in the skin at the cellular level. Over the course of six to nine in-clinic treatments, LED light is said to improve and changes skin cells according to the properties of the different wavelengths.

I’ve taken an interest in LED also because I’ve been testing out the Baby Quasar, an at-home LED device on and off for the past month now. It’s said to treat skin concerns such as aging, lack of firmness, acne and inflammation. Besides the hilarious looks from the beau when I have this space-age gavel on my face before bed, the Baby Quasar hasn’t resulted in any noticeable improvement on my skin, albeit once it did help calm down a rash on my hand.

A LED expert told me that at-home devices are not nearly as powerful as the machines used in clinics, so off to a LED “clinic” I went.

My experience

When I walked through the doors of the small space and spotted their gnarly-looking LED bed in the corner, I was tempted to switch my service to a body treatment, just to say I was in that thing. The aesthetician explained that the machine’s thermal (heat) energy increases and stimulates the metabolism and detoxifies the skin for healthier tissue and new cell growth. The vibration energy relaxes muscles, reduces stress and relieves pain. Does this thing look like a tanning bed or a coffin from The Jetsons to you?

So how it works: LED wavelengths have different properties, penetration depths and benefits. The facial machine at In Beauty has four different coloured lights, each targeting a different skin concern:

Red lights for anti-aging (650 nanometers)

Yellow lights for pigmentation (585 nanometers)

Green lights for acne (55 nanometers)

Blue lights for oily skin (430 nanometers)

My 30-minute treatment consisted of 10 minutes with the red lights and 20 minutes with blue lights. It felt cold on my face. Luckily I was under two blankets, albeit scratchy ones, but this itchy uncomfortableness served as a helpful distraction from something else I was fighting back…gagging from holding my breath. I was trying not to take in the body odour that was lingering in the treatment room. It was pungent at first, but after forcing myself to take small breathes, it was tolerable.

So the b.o. and itchy blankets I could take, but low quality skincare products is when I scream uncle.

After the LED lights were turned off, the aesthetician placed a gel-based collagen mask on my face for a few minutes. I was told to relax (hard to do when you’re not breathing properly). When she took it off, after what seemed like an eternity, but was really only 5 minutes, she placed the mask in its bag and instructed me to use it three times once a week after the treatment. I’m usually diligent with post-treatment instructions because I want to optimize my results as much as possible, but when I got back to the office and took the bag out to read what was this mask exactly, my trust in this establishment and treatment itself plummeted. The mask must’ve been manufactured in China because this is what it read…

Say what?! Why would you trust your skin to a product considered a five-star product among hairdressers?

In terms of sensation on the skin, the facial was pain-free so it gets the lowest rating on my…


But my overall experience was a disappointment. They used low-quality skincare products and equipment which resulted in zero improvement in my skin. Even after a few days, I saw no changes and received no compliments on my skin – the usual factors that make you want to return to a place. I realized that LED facials might be appealing to someone who wants a relaxing gentle approach to anti-aging, but I think you can get the same effect by following up a yoga class with one of those single-use packet facial masks from the drugstore.

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