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Light up your life – harmful light, helpful light, and the best treatments for your skin
Skin Institute
July 5, 2018

Light is more powerful than it seems. Sunlight, as we all know, can cause serious damage to skin – including premature aging and skin cancer. But other types of light, used properly, can help reverse the signs of aging and improve the appearance of your skin.

Treatments like IPL and laser resurfacing use controlled light to target pigmentation, reduce the appearance of sun damage, and stimulate collagen production. Depending on your skin type and treatment needs, these types of treatment can be an effective option.

Here’s our guide to the different types of light – and how they can help.

Types of light

We’re all exposed to sunlight on a daily basis, so it’s essential to protect ourselves against it. Sunlight causes damage thanks to its ultra violet – or UV – rays. UVA, or long-range ultraviolet, is primarily responsible for causing tanning and premature aging, and is thought to contribute to skin cancers. Short-range ultraviolet, or UVB, causes sunburn and skin cancers. Protect against both with a broad-spectrum sunscreen – choose at least SPF30 – wear a hat and long clothing, and avoid the sun at peak times.

On the positive side, other forms of light can be actively helpful to skin. Red and blue light are both used for skin rejuvenation, and safe at-home treatments are increasingly common. Infrared light is also thought to help boost circulation and stimulate collagen production. Intense light of the type used in IPL and laser treatments interacts with melanin in the skin, which is why it’s so effective for treating pigmentation. The LED light used in our GentleWaves treatment offers low impact rejuvenation and brightening. And a special form of red light, used in our Photodynamic Therapy treatment, can actually undo sun damage and treat some forms of skin cancer when used to activate a special medication.


Treatment options

Fractional Laser Resurfacing

Like IPL, this light treatment uses a laser to improve skin texture and reduce imperfections. It targets the top layer of skin, refining and resurfacing for a fresh, smooth look.

During treatment, the fractional laser is used to target small areas of skin. The pulse of the laser creates microscopic holes in the surface of the skin, which triggers the body’s healing processes and generates new, healthy skin in the affected area.

This light treatment can be very effective in treating fine lines, spots and discolouration, scars and skin tone issues. Unlike IPL, which tends to deliver subtle improvement over time, fractional laser resurfacing can have a dramatic effect on imperfections.

Because the treatment does cause tiny holes in the surface of the skin, it leaves skin in a delicate state for a few weeks after treatment.

IPL for skin rejuvenation

IPL – or intense pulsed light – is probably the best-known and most commonly used light treatment. And it’s easy to see why – IPL is non-invasive, minimally uncomfortable, and doesn’t break the surface of the skin.

IPL uses a specially-designed, medical-grade device to target pigmentation and sun damage in your skin. It can reduce the appearance of pores and discolouration, and multiple treatments can stimulate collagen production to help skin look smoother. It’s also an effective option for rosacea treatment, helping to reduce the appearance of red veins in the cheeks and nose. Unlike laser treatment, IPL targets the lower layers of skin, rejuvenating from the inside out.

IPL works by directing carefully-timed pulses of concentrated light at target areas. The light reacts with melanin in the darker spots, causing it to break down and fade over time. Because IPL relies on the reaction with melanin, it’s not usually suitable for people with darker skin types or people with tanned skin, as they run the risk of burns or discolouration. For this reason, people often opt for IPL treatments during winter.

GentleWaves LED

This is our latest light treatment. As the name suggests, it’s an incredibly gentle and non-invasive procedure, using carefully timed pulses of LED light to treat large areas of skin very quickly.

GentleWaves is generally used to improve skin tone and activate the skin’s natural rejuvenation processes. It can make the skin look more radiant, but for imperfections like scarring or pigmentation, fractional laser treatment is a better option.

Because it’s so safe and non-invasive, GentleWaves can be used alongside other treatments, such as Botox or fillers, to improve the overall appearance of the skin.


Making the most of your light treatment

Light treatments may seem simple and non-invasive, but you still need to prepare your skin prior to treatment, and follow skincare guidelines afterwards.

Before treatment

Preparing for laser treatment involves suppressing the skin’s natural production of melanin, to avoid triggering overproduction in response to treatment. Most people will need to use a pigment inhibitor for at least two weeks before a procedure. For darker skin types and people with hyperpigmentation issues, four weeks of daily use may be needed. Your Skin Institute expert will advise you on your specific needs.

After treatment

Following light therapy – especially fractional laser treatment – skin will be delicate and sensitive, even if it feels normal. It’s important to avoid sun exposure, stop using some skincare products, and use a high-SPF sunscreen for at least two weeks following treatment. You can use a gentle cleanser and moisturiser, but avoid products with active ingredients like antioxidants, retinols, and vitamins. These can be used once redness and flaking have settled, but are too harsh for post-treatment skin.

Want to know more about light treatment options? We can give you an assessment and recommend a treatment plan. Book your consultation now.