Light Therapy for Acne: Can Blue Light Devices Really Clear Your Pimples?

blue light therapy for acne
Courtesy of Nordstrom
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Skincare devices tend to fall into two categories: Either they’re miracle workers or they end up in the junk drawer. So, if you’ve been hearing a lot lately about light therapy for acne, we don’t blame you if you’re a little skeptical. But we’re here to tell you that light therapy for acne actually works, and we’ve got receipts. Dermatologists have known for years that blue light treatment reduces facial acne outbreaks.

“LED light treatment is truly a breakthrough because now professional technology is available at home,” dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, M.D. said in a recent interview with SPY. “The truth is acne and anti-aging treatments are best approached by using multiple treatments. Until recently there has not been anything as technologically advanced or effective as LED technology available for home use.”

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Dr. Gross is a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. He is also the founder of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare line, which sells light therapy acne devices.

How Does Blue Light Therapy for Acne Work?

You can think of light therapy devices like a topical skincare treatment that fights acne on two fronts. At the cellular level, blue light stimulates healthy cell functioning in multiple ways. In addition, light therapy helps destroy acne-causing bacteria.

“Just like vitamin C, your skin cells have receptors for LED,” Dr. Gross explained. “Then the light enters a cell and performs its diverse functions. For example, it can enter the fibroblast cell and stimulate your skin to make more of its own collagen, which is the only way one can truly build back firmness. Also, it can work on the cells of the blood vessels and have them diminish their size and that’s why you see reduced redness with LED light.”

Blue light targets P. acne bacteria — the bacteria that causes pimples and breakouts. Once the light penetrates the bacterial cell, it destroys the cell’s DNA, stopping it from turning into a pimple. Essentially, blue light kills acne breeding bacteria.

blue light therapy Licensed from Adobe

What makes light therapy for acne an innovative treatment is that unlike other topical acne treatments, you don’t have to worry about LED over-drying your skin. “You can also find at-home devices, like the DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, that incorporate both red and blue LED light,” Dr. Gross said. “Red LED stimulates collagen production and reduces inflammation. Used together, you can simultaneously target acne and other skin aging concerns like fine lines and wrinkles.”

Blue LED is best to treat acne, according to Dr. Gross. There are different lengths of blue light and some are better than others. “The most effect length of blue LED light for acne is 415nm,” Dr. Gross said. “But the red LED light is also very useful in acne because it reduces the inflammation and redness often seen with this condition. This also reduces inflammation so the acne is no longer bumpy and elevated off the skin surface.”

How To Incorporate Light Therapy Into Your Skincare Routine

You can use LED as part of your morning or evening skincare routine, but you should always use the device on clean, dry skin. If you apply products before using an at-home LED device, the light won’t be able to penetrate and you won’t see the best results. “In addition to LED, you should add a gentle chemical exfoliator into your routine,” Dr. Gross said. “The most [common] cause of acne is clogged pores. If you are consistently removing dead skin and debris from the surface of your skin, you are much less likely to clog pores, which causes acne. I recommend the Alpha Beta Daily Peels.”

To get the most out of light therapy for acne, Dr. Gross recommends using the devices daily, since blue LED treats existing acne and prevents future acne from forming. “I always tell my patients that prevention is the best treatment,” Dr. Gross said. “You should always be working to prevent acne before you see a blemish appear. It’s important to remember that the breakout you’re seeing now actually started forming beneath your skin’s surface two weeks ago. By using a full-face LED mask, you are continuously killing acne-causing bacteria and can avoid future breakouts. If you have a single pimple you want to target, there are spot treatment LED devices available, like the DRx SpotLite Acne Treatment Device.”

If you’re ready to give light therapy for acne a try, consider one of the at-home light therapy acne devices below.


Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Pen

Foreo is one of our favorite beauty brands, and we’ve named their facial cleansing brush one of our top gifts for her in both 2019 and 2020. However, Foreo’s blue light acne pen is another worthy addition to your beauty arsenal. This blue light treatment for acne delivers 415NM of blue light via powerful LED bulbs. The light penetrates deep into your pores to fight acne-causing bacteria, and it could be your secret weapon in the fight against breakouts.

foreo espada blue light acne pen Courtesy of Foreo

Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Pen (Blue)


Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Pen (Pink)


Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device

Sure, it’s a splurge, but in just three minutes you can use this red light and blue light device to smooth fine lines and tackle bacteria that triggers breakouts. “It is FDA approved and clinically proved to clear acne in two weeks,” Dr. Gross said. “Plus, it has red light, which has anti-aging benefits.” If you’re only looking for a spot treatment, scale down to the DRx SpotLite Acne Treatment Device.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device Courtesy of Nordstrom

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device


Tria Positively Clear 3-Step Skincare Solution 

To ensure it’s shrinking every zit, this light therapy device includes three stages. First, cleanse with the Positively Clear Foam Cleanser to clear out all impurities that could get in the way of the blue light. Next, use the Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light on the area you’d like to treat for five minutes daily, whether that’s your whole face or just a spotty area. Finally, target pimples with the Positively Clear Spot Treatment, which was designed to work with the blue light.

Tria Positively Clear 3-Step Skincare Solution Courtesy of Amazon

Tria Positively Clear 3-Step Skincare Solution


LightStim for Acne

It only takes one minute a day for this light therapy device to zap acne-causing bacteria, helping you treat current breakouts and prevent future ones. It works on cystic acne, bacne and blackheads, and it’s safe for all skin tones and types.

LightStim for Acne Courtesy of Dermstore

LightStim for Acne


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