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From smoother-looking skin to easing aches and pains, the surprising benefits of light therapy

Rachel Grumman Bender
Beauty and Style Editor

Light therapy is one of the hottest trends in skin care and wellness. The treatments typically involve exposure to certain wavelengths of light, which can affect everything from your skin to your mood.

One of the most popular treatments is the LED light facial, which a slew of celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Kelly Rowland and Kristen Bell use to improve and smooth their complexion, including reducing brown spots and pimple breakouts.

Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City says the treatment offers several skin care benefits. “The benefits depends on the light used,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Common wavelengths include blue light, which helps to reduce bacteria from acne, and red light, which helps to even out pigment, stimulate collagen and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.”

You can get an LED light facial at a dermatologist’s office for around $55. You can also get one at home with devices such as the handheld MySkinBuddy ($265, myskinbuddy.com) and LightStim for acne or wrinkles ($169 and $249, respectively, shanidarden.com) or with a mask, such as Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask ($30, ulta.com). There’s even a handy two-minute spot treatment to target blemishes: Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment ($20, neutrogena.com).

Yahoo Lifestyle’s news and features writer Kerry Justich tried Neutrogena’s spot treatment and went from skeptical to impressed. “After trying it, I think a) it’s supereasy and b) it surprisingly works,” she says. “I’ll just use it when I’m watching TV and the next day I’ll notice that my breakouts are smaller.”

Farber says that LED light is “generally safe,” but be careful if you have extra sensitive skin or if you have a rash or inflammation in the area being treated — in other words, check with your dermatologist first. “If you’re treated in the office, you can make sure that your skin is properly evaluated,” she says.

Infrared saunas can help with muscle aches and pains. (Photo: Getty Images)

So how often should you do an LED light facial? “In-office treatments are best spaced apart by one to two weeks,” Farber says. “At-home treatments can be used daily, but it’s best to follow the directions on a specific device as these vary. Also, anything at home will not be as strong as in office devices.”

Another therapeutic light treatment is an infrared sauna. It uses infrared waves of light to heat the body from the inside out — a better option if you can’t take the heat of regular saunas. Alexandria Charles, manager of Chill Space NYC, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Infrared saunas are different than your typical steam saunas because it’s infrared heat — it’s completely dry.”

The treatment, which costs about $65 per session, is popular with celebrities — such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga, who suffers from chronic pain and uses infrared saunas to help reduce muscles spasms and improve blood flow.

According to the Mayo Clinic, several studies have found the therapy can have some benefit with chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, headache, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. However, more research is still needed.

Curious to try an infrared sauna treatment but don’t have access to one locally? Try using an infrared heating pad — like this full body one from Hammacher Schlemmer ($150) — to reap the benefits at home.

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