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4 Minute ReadFeature by Jess Lacey, Beauty and wellbeing Editor
26.05.21 (Updated 13.12.22)
Know your LED from your laser? How about your microneedling from your microcurrent? Here’s how to choose which skincare device is worth investing in.
Skincare has always had the penchant for the hi-tech. The newest formulations and the latest innovations all promise the holy grail of brighter, bouncier skin but gaining the most traction in the beauty arena right now are skincare gadgets. Zapping, pricking, whizzing beauty devices have all made their way out of the professionals’ safely gloved hand and into our bathroom cabinets. Now we can wave the hi-tech wands, it’s just a case of working out what they can do for us.
Light therapy masks are billed as the ‘high-tech facial at home’ and the novelty of looking like a badass storm trooper is admittedly rather fun but apart from winning first prize in a Marvel convention, what’s the point? Light therapy uses different wavelengths of light to penetrate the skin. Skin absorbs the light and this stimulates a response in cells to promote skin regeneration. Inside the sculpted shells of light masks are lattices of LED bulbs, (some boast an illuminating 1000 bulbs). Most work on a combination of colours from the spectrum; bacteria-battling blue light is absorbed by the oil glands in skin and kills the microorganisms that contribute to acne whilst anti-aging red light repairs cells, stimulates collagen and elastin production and can reduce inflammation. Early tests show that green and yellow light have the potential to fade melasma and hyperpigmentation but that’s one for the future.
The reality? LED face masks look dramatic and are certainly able to get skin boosting results but LEDs are a scattered light source that can only ever have an effect on the very top layers of skin because they can't penetrate through the dermis and into the fatty muscle tissue beneath.
“Fundamentally LED and laser light are two completely different light forms,” explains Lucy Goff founder of LYMA, who has transformed the skincare gadget market by launching a world-first at-home 500 milliwatt laser. “Whereas when LED reaches a dense surface like the skin, bounces off the surface, laser light can penetrate all the way past the fat and muscle tissue beneath the skin, without losing any physiological power,” says Lucy.
This ability to reach the base layers of the skin, means the LYMA laser can effectively treat wrinkles, pigmentation and sagging – all skin concerns only targetable at the deepest layer of cellular renewal. In clinical trials, the laser has also shown unprecedented results on acne and rosacea. Such a powerful tool being used at home had predictable safety concerns but these have been solved by advanced lens diffusing engineering whereby the 500 milliwatt central beam of light is diffused 25,000 times across the 3cm lens. “Because the light is dispersed so many times, it removes all the heat from the laser but it doesn't alter the structure of the light, so what you’re left with coming out the other end is still a coherent fragment of light,” explains Goff. The medical grade technology of the LYMA laser is being lauded as a significant skincare breakthrough and reported to be effective on every skin type and tone.
Microneedling is not for those with a low pain threshold, it involves a lot of topical anaesthetic and a fair amount of blood.The creation of small micro-channels and injuries to the skin with an acupuncture-size needle, the skin is forced to respond to these micro-injuries and heal itself. This has the effect of stimulating collagen production which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and give a smoother, more glowing skin texture. At-home needling devices are both shorter and duller than their in-salon sisters but work on the same basis of systematically damaging the skin to kick-start it into repair and rejuvenation mode. The argument against such a technique is that although widely effective, it causes the skin unnecessary trauma. Moreover, at-home needling equipment is difficult to keep clean and therefore there is a high risk of infection. “Fundamentally the skin shouldn't be damaged because it's there to protect the body,” warns LYMA founder, Lucy Goff.
Microcurrent skin devices are a targeted approach to muscle toning and lifting, designed to train the skin as you would your body muscles at the gym, to become firmer and more sculpted. Using a very low level of electrical current with a conductive gel, the device works on the muscles of the face to define your facial contours. Microcurrent puts heat and energy into the skin and is largely pain and damage free but still only works at the superficial layers on the skin. The results can look instantly impressive but much like your workout routine, efforts must be continually maintained otherwise muscles become slack once more and the return of the droop is inevitable. What’s more, some experts dispute that you’d get the same results with a face oil and some vigorous facial massage.