Do anti-aging lights really work?

Commercial Anti-aging Lights

Why go to the doctor and spend thousands of dollars to have the years blasted away when you can do it all from the comfort of your home? Many companies market hand-held Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights as an affordable, natural way to look younger without surgery.

According to advertisements for these do-it-yourself anti-aging lights, some infrared light lamps stimulate cell activity in skin causing it to look younger. Where do we sign up?

It's no secret that light therapy can grow, rejuvenate and heal damaged skin. Dr. Harry Whelan, a professor of neurology and pediatrics and hyperbaric medicine, and director of the hyperbaric medicine unit at the Medical College of Wisconsin, says LED lights were first invented by NASA scientists studying ways to grow plants in space. Researchers soon found that LED lights stimulated cell growth when used to heal wounds and treat brain tumors. Whelan says if cells are struggling, they can heal much faster when LED lights are applied [source: WUWM].

When used as anti-aging lights, they supposedly direct infrared light at the skin to smooth wrinkles and improve texture. The devices are costly, between $200 and $400, and there is little evidence that hand-held LED lights that consumers can get at their local big box store can make you look younger. A 2009 study conducted by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute concluded these scaled-down versions of what dermatologists use have little impact on wrinkles [source: Pitman].

Good Housekeeping studied five of the leading brands. Over a six week period, a series of volunteers used the devices following the manufacturers' instruction. The study found that with a few exceptions, fine lines and wrinkles were still visible [source: Pitman].

Only two of the lights improved skin slightly. The magazine's editors said while consumers might get some benefits from hand-held LED devices, they are expensive and time consuming to use. In other words, we'd be better off using a much less expensive face cream [source: Pitman].

The search for the Fountain of Youth continues.

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More Great Links


  • Bouchez, Colette. "Top 6 Anti-aging Breakthroughs." Web MD. (May, 2011).
  • Bradley, Barbara. "Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing latest face of anti-aging." The Commercial Appeal. Feb. 11, 2010. (May, 2011).
  • Pitman, Simon. "Consumer watchdog find home LED anti-aging devices ineffective." Cosmetrics Design." April 15, 2010. (May, 2011).
  • Preidt, Robert. "Study: Light Therapy appears to rejuvenate aging skin." USA Today. Oct. 23, 2008. (May, 2011).
  • Web MD. "Photodynamic Therapy." (May, 2011).
  • World Health. "Global Anti-Aging Products Market to Reach $291.9 Billion by 2015, According to New Report by Global Industry Analysts." Feb. 19, 2009. (May, 2011).
  • "Light & Wound Healing." July 12, 2010. (May, 2011).

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