Greetings from the future!!! Actually, not really, but the newest beauty breakthroughs I’m about to discuss do seem more like science fiction then fact. I got an email from Sephora this morning advertising the latest in beauty gadgets. Most of them were the usual: hair removers, trimmers, flat irons, Clarisonic skin brushes. But then I saw these two gizmos:

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And I was all, “Whuuuuut? Those are nothing but a couple of LED panel arrays(matrices, whatever), what the hell does that have to do with beauty?” Apparently, a lot. It’s about to get science-y up in here!

First, we’ll hear what the slick marketing peeps from the cosmetic industry have to say for their products:

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Tanda Regenerate, $275 at Sephora

Tanda Sez:

What it is formulated to do:
The Tända RegenerateTM Anti-Aging Starter kit brings you Tända RegenerateTM, a light therapy device combining proven light therapy and botanically based, light-optimizedTM topicals to provide natural, non-invasive, scientifically proven solutions for common unwanted skin conditions. A 660 nm red light LED treatment encourages collagen production to help repair skin texture, color, and tone while diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Also provided are the Tända Light-OptimizedTM Cleanser and Anti-Aging Serum, products index-matched to enhance the effectiveness of light energy. They’re formulated to help repair skin texture, color, and tone.
It’s portable, cordless, and easy to use with a large treatment head and high power output which allows for shorter treatment times and increased effectiveness-one replaceable Tända RegenerateTM skin treatment device will last for 300 hours (6,000 treatments). Use it daily as part of your Tända Skincare System treatment regime.

What else you need to know:
The set includes a Tända Light Therapy cordless handpiece, a Tända recharging stand, a 9 V medical grade universal power adapter, eye goggles, a user manual, a cloth carrying case, a Tända RegenerateTM Treatment Head, a bonus full-size 4.0 oz Tända Light-OptimizedTM Cleanser, and a 1.0 oz Tända Light-OptimizedTM Anti-Aging Serum.
*Tända RegenerateTMlights up when pressed to the skin and remains unlit when held or charging.
*Age, skin type, the amount of photo and environmental damage, correct use, and each person’s individual body chemistry may all affect the speed of results. The device is suitable for use by all skin types. It typically takes 30 days to achieve results and continued use to maintain.
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Perricone LIGHT Renewal, $335 at Sephora

Perricone Sez:

What it is formulated to do:
Perricone LIGHT RenewalTM Kit is an advanced system designed to restore your skin to a radiant, youthful state. Perricone’s dermatological hand-held device puts the power of light therapy within your reach. LIGHT Renewal offers an FDA cleared, groundbreaking approach to combat the signs of age utilizing LEDs to help regenerate cells and increase collagen production. Collagen, the major supporting protein of the skin, is essential for a healthy, glowing complexion. As we age, collagen regeneration begins to slow, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to set in, and compromising texture and tone. The results are the telltale signs of aging. LIGHT Renewal’s collagen stimulation helps erase damage, lines, and dullness-especially crow’s feet-leaving you with a firm, smooth, healthy, enLIGHTened look.

What else you need to know:
How light therapy works: Our cells contain receptors that absorb photons of light. This absorption maximizes the normal cellular process that otherwise occurs naturally in the body. Light therapy accelerates this process by making cells more productive and efficient. LIGHT Renewal uses targeted light spectrums 830nm near infrared light and 633nm visible red light-to encourage collagen production.
This kit comes with a LIGHT Renewal device, a Nourishing Milky Cleanser, and a Serum Prep.

Got all that? Yeah, it’s still sounding pretty futuristic. I wonder if the Tanda comes with that cool pupil test that can identify Replicants…

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Anyway, lemme real quickly break down all of that jargon: As I’m sure nearly all of you know, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and they are not fancy.They are everywhere. Provided you don’t live in the mountains and make your own soap by rendering fat from mooses you’ve killed and cleaned (ie, someone who’d never be reading this post), then you’re surrounded by LEDs on any given day. They’re in your clock radio, they’re in your car stereo, they’re sometimes embedded in the very mouse you’re clutching in your hands right now, bored out of your mind and thinking of clicking away from this post. The “nm” they speak of is the abbreviation for wavelength. The whole light spectrum has corresponding wavelengths for each color- Red light measures between 625-740 nm. So, the 660nm the marketeers speak of relates to the wavelength output of a particular LED bulb or “lamp”, as they’re sometimes called in the biz. Got it so far? It’s really as simple as that.

How it relates to health and beauty is rather interesting. For a quick primer on red light therapy, read this article from NASA:

However, in a nutshell, it’s like this: “Biologists have found that cells exposed to near-infrared light – that is, energy just outside the visible range – from LEDs grow 150 to 200 percent faster than those cells not stimulated by such light. The light arrays increase energy inside cells that speed up the healing process.”

Whooooooooooooooooa. Very cool. Seriously, seriously cool. So far, this light therapy has been tested on cancer patients, primarily of the bone marrow transplant variety. I’m going to keep researching, but I have yet to see an unbiased clinical trial yielding results on red LED’s capacity for shrinking wrinkles or making folks look better in general, so the LED’s use in beauty is dubious. However, people have been using artificial light therapy to help with maladies such as depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder, so a little glow-y light in your face certainly won’t hurt.

Now, do I think that these “cosmeceutical” companies are just trying to cash in on a scientifically-backed health trend? The HELL yes, I do! Given that the NASA findings say nothing about light-reactive beauty serums (like the ones accompanying these therapeutic Rudolph noses), I’m thinking that they’re just trying to push product. Also, because these light therapy units cost HUNDREDS of dollars, even though you can buy red LEDs for .26 cents each through retailers like Allied Electronics. HMMMMMMMMMM…. I feel a gadget hack coming on…

Stay tuned for future posts, where I will catalogue my step-by-step attempt to DIY the red light therepy device, and hopefully I’ll be able to tell you if it does a damn bit of good on this worry-lined face!

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