Acne treatment includes topical and oral medications that counteract the formation of microcomedones (sebaceous gland plugs), sebum production, and inflammation.
But because of the short-term effects and long-term consequences of many such methods, much research has been done to find new safe and effective treatments for acne. Among these is light therapy, which has equal and sometimes greater efficacy, safety, and convenience than traditional approaches.
Now everyone can easily use light therapy thanks to home devices like the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment. But are they really that good?
What light therapy works for treating acne
The efficacy of light therapy, its non-invasive nature, and the almost complete absence of side effects have led to active trials of light therapy in various fields, including dermatology. As a result, dermatologists have learned to integrate this type of therapy into the context of more established treatments. Nowadays, light therapy is actively used to treat a variety of skin conditions.
For the treatment of acne, two types of light are useful — red and blue.
Red light, thanks to its penetrating ability, affects cells by activating them, which promotes faster tissue repair and healing, relieves pain, and reduces inflammation. It is used to treat inflammatory conditions such as acne, reduce acne scars as well as hypertrophic scars, and heal burns [*].
Blue light has a significant antimicrobial effect. It is also called antimicrobial blue light (aBL). aBL is attracting increasing attention because of its inherent antimicrobial effect without the involvement of exogenous photosensitizers (substances that increase tissue sensitivity to light exposure). The mechanism of action of aBL is still not fully understood. A common hypothesis is that aBL excites natural endogenous photosensitizers (not containing iron) in microbial cells and subsequently causes membrane damage in bacteria [*]. It is also reported to allow monitoring of the condition before an acne outbreak occurs [*]
Red and blue light, when used in combination, have a synergistic effect in treating acne. That is, the red light stimulates healing by reducing the size and redness of existing acne, while the blue light kills the bacteria (p.acnes) that can cause spots [*].
Here we want to review directly devices that use a combination of red and blue light to treat acne.
Home Light Therapy Devices for the Treatment of Acne
Red light therapy to treat acne at the dermatologist or in the salon is quite time-consuming and costly. But it’s also not necessary. Now there are many devices for home use.
One of the most well-known devices that use red and blue light therapy to treat acne is Neutrogena products.
Neutrogena® is a brand of the Johnson & Johnson family of consumer companies. It specializes in facial skincare. It currently manufactures and sells products in more than 70 countries around the world.
The company launched Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask in 2016 and Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment in 2017.
In 2016, a 12-week, blinded, randomized trial was conducted that demonstrated the efficacy of an LED device emitting red (630 nm) and blue (445 nm) light to treat mild to moderate common acne in subjects of different ages, races, and skin types [*]. Johnson & Johnson has also conducted some internal clinical trials on patients with mild to moderate acne to confirm the effectiveness of the devices [*, *].
But in addition to effectiveness, it is important to pay attention to safety and precautions.
Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask
Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask was one of the first mass-market light therapy options. The product won the WWD Beauty Inc Launch of the Year award in 2016 and the InStyle Best Beauty Buy award for acne treatment in 2018. But Johnson & Johnson has recalled its mask from sale in 2019 due to a possible risk of eye damage.
“The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask is safe to use by the general population when used once per day as directed,” the brand wrote. “Reports of visual effects associated with the use of the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask are rare, generally mild and transient. For a small subset of the population with certain underlying eye conditions, as well as for users taking medications, which can enhance ocular photosensitivity, there is a theoretical risk of eye injury.”
But on the market there continues to be a successful version of the Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment device that is safe.
Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment
The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment is a portable product like the pen. It uses the same LED therapy technology as this brand’s full-featured LED mask.
It is designed to treat mild to moderate rashes and can be used from the moment you start to feel a pimple hiding under your skin.
Johnson & Johnson conducts some internal clinical trials to verify the effectiveness of its devices, but they are insufficient because there is a conflict of interest in conducting such studies. Therefore, to understand the effectiveness of a particular device, it is better to look directly at user results.
To evaluate Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment, we conducted a user experience analysis (customers via the official Neutrogena website, Walmart, Amazon, as well as user feedback on social networks). We received these average results:
are satisfied with the results
had some concerns
did not see any results
Consumers have highlighted the following main points:
The best results are achieved when using this product 3 times a day. Some see the first small results immediately after use, with noticeable results as early as two days later.
“I started really seeing results within two days, and my really bad acne, which usually lasts about 1 month, was practically gone in two weeks. I think this product is awesome!!!”
*Click or hover to unblur the image
Convenient and easy to use
The device is simple enough without any modes. The device has one button that turns it on with a beep and automatically turns off after the desired time (after 2 minutes).
“It’s so simple. The device has a built-in timer, so you don’t have to keep track of the time, it will automatically turn off when needed.”
“I would buy it again anytime. They use a battery that is easy to replace at any time!”
Because of its small size, the light therapy pen is easy to find a place and can be taken anywhere.
“It’s easy to carry in my purse, but I can’t imagine using it outside the house, it’s just a little weird for me.”
The coverage area is very small
This device works by pinpointing, which means that you have to treat each pimple separately. If you have a lot of inflammation, it can be quite time-consuming, and in such cases, it is better to use a light therapy mask.
“I bought this thing a week ago and so far it has worked wonders. I only recommend it if you get 1-2 pimples at a time because it’s definitely not meant for a lot of breakouts.”
Not suitable for difficult cases
Spot treatment does not get to the heart of the problem and is generally not ideal for patients with chronic acne. It can be useful when used in addition to the entire preventive acne process to treat small areas of acne.
“I don’t have the patience to see results (but I think it still helps me a little) because I have tons of pimples on my face.”
Drains the battery quickly
It uses a single AAA battery and drains quickly.
“If I didn’t use rechargeable batteries, it would really annoy me how often I would need to replace the battery!”
Light therapy technology has proven effective in numerous clinical studies and has long been used by dermatologists. It is a drug-free treatment with no side effects. It does not cause redness, flaking, or dry skin. The LED lights work by gently penetrating the skin at varying depths to stimulate the physiology of the skin.
LED skin devices do not have a lot of power, so they are safe for your skin, but it is important to protect your eyes from light when using them.
The acne treatment uses light waves in the blue and red range. Blue light targets the bacteria that cause acne, while red light reduces inflammation.
One of the best-known home devices that use red and blue light therapy to treat acne is a portable product — Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment.
The partial or full effectiveness of this device is confirmed by 75-92% of users. From user experience analysis, we can also highlight such advantages and disadvantages:
❓ Is Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment effective?
The partial or full effectiveness of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment is confirmed by 75-92% of users.
☑️ For whom are acne treatments with light spot therapy devices suitable?
It can be useful when used in addition to the entire preventive acne process to treat small areas of acne.
❌ For whom are acne light spot therapy not suitable?
Spot treatment does not get to the heart of the problem and is generally not ideal for patients with chronic acne. If you have a lot of inflammation, it can be quite time-consuming, and in such cases, it is better to use a light therapy mask
🚨 Why does light therapy work for treating acne?
Light treatment for acne uses light waves in the blue and red range. Blue light targets the bacteria that cause acne, while red light reduces inflammation.
👀 Is light therapy harmful to the eyes?
The effect of light therapy on the eyes is not yet fully studied. Therefore, if light falls on the eyes during light therapy, it is better to protect them with special glasses.
👩⚕️ Is red light therapy safe?
Red light therapy is a non-invasive, safe procedure. But if you have a hypersensitivity to light, you should be careful with red light therapy. Too intense light can cause some short-term effects.
⌚ How long should I treat acne with Neutrogena Acne Spot Treatment?
All treatment periods are individual and depend on your situation. Some see the first small results immediately after use, with noticeable results as early as two days later. The best results are achieved when using this product 3 times a day.