I have to admit, when I first heard about using light as a beauty treatment, I was suspicious. As a Lifestyle Editor, I get my paws on a lot of products, and I thought you had to use the biggest and boldest in skincare to get results - retinols, anyone?
Plus we all know that the main provider of light - the sun - is in fact HARMFUL to the skin, what with all the UV rays and the like. Same goes for sunbeds, which were the last phenomenon involving lying under a warm light for an extended period of time.
But increasingly, LED (light-emitting diode) therapy is becoming more popular with celebrities and beauty bloggers alike as a painless, non-invasive treatment to rejuvenate the skin and treat skin concerns like acne and ageing.
Different coloured lights serve different purposes; red light stimulates the cells which produce collagen and elastin, blue light targets and destroys acne bacteria, and infrared light soothes inflammation and promotes healing within the skin.
To try it myself, I turned to Romy Burgess, owner of The Beauty Elixer in Grey Lynn, and one of the best in the business at rejuvenating overstressed and overworked skin.
At the Beauty Elixer, they know a thing or two about LED - they even have a special Light Lounge, where they're now offering drop-in treatments, so you can get it done in your lunch break or while the kids play sport.
Romy was quick to alleviate my fears about shining a light so close to my face, explaining the type of infra-red light that comes from high quality, FDA approved LED machines.
"[It] emits very low EMFs, and has a detoxing and healing effect within the body," she explained.
Laser treatments, often popular for getting rid of pigmentation and scarring, have an ablative effect on the skin, creating trauma to elicit results. LED, on the other hand, is like a battery recharge for our skin cells.
"One way we like to describe it to our clients is to imagine you are a plant. A plant uses sunlight for photosynthesis. Your skin uses LED light for ATP (energy) synthesis and is stimulating your skin to work more efficiently and effectively.
"Light has the power to create and nurture life, without it nature would not grow and express as she does - the same thing happens within your skin. Just 20 minutes in our Light Lounge will leave your skin glowing, plumped and radiant - it’s like a recharge for your skin and your soul."
I wanted to try one session, but Romy said I required a full 10 session course to really see results - and hey, I was happy to comply in the name of science. They recommend starting with three sessions in one week if you can make it work for your schedule.
"This is usually enough for people to notice their skin looks and feels a bit brighter and healthier," Romy explained.
"LED light therapy has a cumulative effect in the skin, which means the more you have the better your results will be, and your skin will also be more resilient and bounce back more quickly if you needed to take a little break.
"We always explain to our clients, it's like going to the gym. You can't go to the gym for a month, see results, and then stop going and expect your results to maintain. The same thing with our skin - we need to put in continuous work and effort in order to maintain optimal results and vitality."
I popped into their Light Lounge a couple of times a week, fitting it in in my lunch break or before heading off to the gym after work.
It's without a doubt, one of the most pleasant experiences you can have, lying under a warm glow that feels like Fijian sunshine (just without all those pesky UV rays). In the grips of winter, I had forgotten what it was like to be warmed to the bone like that. A couple of times I even dozed off - something that doesn't tend to happen in a laser session, let's be honest.
Whether you can afford ten sessions or two, I have to say, do as many as you can. After only a couple of sessions, I had a workmate tell me I was glowing. (Thank god Dry July was over or pregnancy rumours would be through the roof.) By the end of the course, my skin was bouncier and more hydrated, and my stubborn chin-based hormonal acne, which always sticks around for at least a week at a time, was healing within a day.
It felt like my skin had a little more 'oomph', meaning less makeup and less stress
You can buy at-home LED kits but if you have the chance to pop into a facialist I would highly recommend. The lovely ladies at Beauty Elixer were able to cater my treatments for my skin, and a little pampering never goes astray.
The Beauty Elixer has a three-session Light Lounge pass for $99, or you can add a session on to any facial for an extra $45. Find more information here.