light therapy


Learn why light therapy is the key to keeping winter skin at bay

Light therapy really works–and you can easily do it at home, too!


Colette Bennett


Posted on Dec 13, 2018   Updated on May 24, 2021, 10:31 am CDT

Despite the buzz around light therapy in the skincare world, some are skeptical that it’s truly effective. Will it really get rid of my wrinkles? Or will it make the redness go away? Will it fix that dry, papery look I get every winter? Here are some of the best SAD lamps available

Presented by FOREO

When it comes to light therapy, a lot of the answers are yes. The power of light therapy is not only proven by scientific studies but treats everything from signs of aging to eczema. Best of all, you don’t even need to go to a med spa to get treatments like these anymore. Tech-savvy brands like FOREO even sell light therapy devices for home use.

What is light therapy?

Also known as phototherapy, LED therapy, or photobiomodulation, light therapy involves exposing the skin to a low level of specific types of light. The light penetrates the epidermis and transforms the skin on a cellular level. LED stands for light emitting diode, which is the powerhouse behind the treatment. It gives off different wavelengths of light energy that can heal wounds faster, repair tissues, and improve the overall quality of the skin. And it does all that without doing any harm to the surface of your skin–which makes it much gentler than procedures like microdermabrasion.

How does it work?

LED stands for light emitting diode, which is the powerhouse behind the treatment. It gives off different wavelengths of light energy that can heal wounds faster, repair tissues, and improve the overall quality of the skin.

Our skin absorbs and metabolizes LED light and turns it into a form of energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). That energy is naturally produced in the cells of the human body, but an additional dose of ATP can speed that cell’s production of it up. Naturally, this results in amping up your body’s already-ingenious system. I could go into really dense science about what ATP does, but I’ll give you the TL;DR version with this video.

There are several ways to do light therapy treatments. One involves wearing an LED light therapy mask that directly delivers it to the skin. Another is to lay inside of a device like the one shown above while wearing a protective eye mask. If you opt for at-home treatment, FOREO’s UFO is one of the top-rated devices on the market. It’s also the only at-home LED device that features Korean sheet mask ingredients, elevating it a tier above the rest.

Will it hurt my skin?

Some types of light therapy can be harsh on the skin (think laser and intense pulsed light). However, LED therapy with best SAD lamps is not. The reason why is because the methods used are different. Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) actually do a low level of damage to the skin’s surface in order to encourage it to heal itself.

Sounds great, right? If the thought of that makes you nervous, LED therapy would be a better choice for you. It penetrates the skin more deeply than the former treatments–about five millimeters below the skin’s surface, in fact. By delivering the light in this way the top layer of the skin is bypassed completely, so no damage is done.

What’s the most affordable way to try out light therapy?

If you’d like to give light therapy a shot, we suggest FOREO’s UFO as the most affordable at-home option. At $279, this luxury beauty device shrinks those big machines used in medspas down to something that fits in the palm of your hand. The UFO uses three types of light therapy–thermo, cryo, and LED–and each treatment only lasts 90 seconds. The line also uses Korean-made sheet masks tailored for all the skin concerns you may have, from oily to dry to aging skin. And if you’re looking to revitalize your skin during these colder months, the UFO can take care of that too.

You can check out our full review of the UFO here.

Best SAD Lamps

1) TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp: Perfect for beginners


Do you want to dip your toes into light therapy? Look no further than the TaoTronics UV-Free 10000 Lux Therapy Lamp. It stimulates natural daylight to make even cloudy days a thing of the past. At least indoors, anyway.

Price: $34.99

2) Miroco Light Therapy Lamp: Great personal lamp

In Body Image

There are light therapy lamps and then there are personal light therapy lamps. These are perfect for taking in light therapy sessions while you’re also taking in a book, streaming a movie, or perhaps even gaming. Plus, the charming wood panel blends in with just about every room.

Price: $29.99

3) Hydraskincare LED Light Photodynamic: The ultimate therapy lamp


If you want to throw yourself into the miracles of light therapy, this is one of the fanciest lamps on the market. While it does require your full attention, it also comes with goggles so you can perform your light therapy sessions safely. It’s one of the best SAD lamps you can invest in.

Price: $279.99

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*First Published: Dec 13, 2018, 9:38 am CST