Tell Me About Acne Lights
March 10, 2011 7:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some new skin care techniques to add to my arsenal in the war against acne, and I'm interested in hearing about people's experiences with acne lamps/lights.

Gadgets like this or this. Worth it or no when dealing with mild to moderate acne?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is not a lamp, but it is a weapon in my acne arsenal, so I figured I'd throw this out there: maybe it's confirmation bias or placebo, but I've had good results with the ThermaClear device. It doesn't really eliminate acne entirely so much as it shortens the duration of any outbreak, but it's pretty darn useful.

I was surprised how useful, actually.
posted by aramaic at 8:17 AM on March 10, 2011

Response by poster: That looks like the sort of thing I'm talking about. Do you use it regularly all over your face or just on bad spots as they come up?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:26 AM on March 10, 2011

Just on spots that seem to be turning red. Sometimes I get a bit aggro and do a whole area, but mostly it's spot-treatment. I find it especially useful for those really deep zits that want to last forever & be painful.

Um, the device does do what it claims, and therefore is a wee bit painful itself. The heat is so rapid it doesn't feel like heat, more like a shock. It has two power levels, and at level 2 it's roughly equivalent to snapping a rubber band against your skin. Level 1 is, for me, largely unnoticeable, so I elected to go for the gusto and always use level 2 (figuring that MOAR POWAR is always better).
posted by aramaic at 8:44 AM on March 10, 2011

Response by poster: Guys, please stick to the question- I'm asking specifically about acne light devices. I do not need advice on alternative acne treatments at this time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:36 AM on March 10, 2011

$4.95 at Electronic Goldmine, a parts outlet.
Super power blacklight glows a deep purple and brilliantly lights blacklight posters, invisible ultraviolet inks, some currencies, certain minerals, etc. Unit is complete with a sophisticated circuit board and was designed for use by a cosmetic company for use in detecting skin problems.
posted by Ardiril at 11:40 AM on March 10, 2011

Please don't use Ardiril's suggestion on your face or any part of your skin. The acne lights you're looking at produce light on a different wavelength than blacklights which produce UV rays.
posted by exhilaration at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2011

Which would explain why they were surplussed. Thanks, exhilaration.
posted by Ardiril at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2011

The theory behind blue light acne therapy is that it activates porphyrin in the bacteria most commonly associated with acne.

When I was doing my research into whether it'd be worth it for me to try, a couple of years ago; most of the (rather expensive... at the time(?)) commercially available products didn't/couldn't deliver enough energy to be particularly effective. I did look into building my own multi- LED mask*, but got lazy. Depending on your skin type and darkness, photonic penetrance may also be a factor.

The table-light-looking thing very probably won't be strong enough to deliver enough photons nor penetrate deep enough (depending on what kind of acne and skin type). The sephora machine might... but it's rather pricey. There aren't any specs on how many lumens/joules it outputs but if you use this, you'll probably need to spend a *lot* of time holding it up to one area before moving to another (hence my idea of building a full-face mask of a panel of LEDs). Might work well to speed up spot recovery, but you're likely not obsessive-compulsive (and have the time) to do a full coverage of your face every day, spending the necessary time for the thing to actually be effective.

I've been using Kern formulation of benzoyle peroxide; it works well when I use it regularly... and a *lot* of it. It limits breakouts and decreases how long individual acne lasts. However, for me if my skin decides to break out, there's no stopping it. I also get some refractory (to everything) zits popping up every so often. A combination of salicylic acid plus this stuff speeds recovery a little. However... caking my face with (the albeit thin and non-cake-like formulation) benzoyle peroxide during the summer kills my skin and makes my face tan a lot faster. It works amazing for my sparse body acne, though.

* LEDs outputting at a peak near 414nm are available in bulk for pretty cheap
posted by porpoise at 8:58 PM on March 10, 2011

Oh, yeah. The "research results" on the Sephora Tanda is super duper sketchy/weasel-ey.

In-vitro = shining this light on an agar plate or a vial growing A.vulgaris - nothing getting in the way between the light and the bacteria. Like, your skin. Some acne types start pretty deep down in pores. Good on them, though, for showing that their LED outputs enough photons at 414nm.

University Health Network what?!

User Preference Studies aren't very rigorous; also... a user preference study.

300 hours = 6000 treatments = 6000 3 minute treatments (is that right? 60 treatments/3 hours, 20 treatments/hour, 60/20=3). Ok, I can see 3 minutes holding the thing against a zit being an effective dose. The in vitro tests lasted 6 minutes. Which reduced unprotected bacteria by 86%. Can't tell how they showed 86% decrease; probably from colony forming units (cfu) which doesn't count bacteria that are still alive and "shitting" (and causing inflammation) but can't divide/reproduce.
posted by porpoise at 9:10 PM on March 10, 2011

Response by poster: I ended up purchasing the Tanda Clear this weekend from Sephora (which has an excellent return policy that will let me return it if I don't enjoy it), and have started using it. Results so far have been promising, I'll be doing a full review after I've been using it for a few weeks.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:44 PM on March 22, 2011

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