Lasers and light-based therapies for hair removal, anti-aging and skin rejuvenation have nearly become everyday tools for people seeking smooth, blemish-free or simply more youthful-looking skin. The terms laser and light-based therapies are often used interchangeably, however, there are crucial differences in how the technologies work and what they effectively treat. Here’s a breakdown:
Lasers. The term laser is actually an acronym that stands for “light amplification by stimulated emissions of radiation.” Ablative lasers safely injure the skin at first, but eventually creates a healthy healing/wound response that results in collagen production. By delivering a deep, single wavelength of energy, these are often used to remove deep lines or scars and typically require one session. Nonablative lasers do not damage the skin, which is a plus, but may be less effective and require multiple sessions. These are used to correct skin concerns and remove tattoos and hair by targeting the dark pigments in the hair, which eventually leads the hair follicles to become inflamed and disabled, and voila! Smooth, hair-free skin after a few sessions. Lasers do, indeed, emit radiation-yet in tiny amounts that are deemed harmless.
Light. Intense pulsed light (IPL) delivers a broader spectrum of light energy, unlike lasers’ single wavelength, and is a light source-not a laser. IPL is a strong, in-office treatment used for hair removal, discoloration, broken blood vessels and sun damage reversal. Another type of light therapy, light emitting diodes (LED) is a shallower, gentler treatment, ideal for collagen boosting and rejuvenating the skin. LED comes in a variety of colors, red for fighting acne, blue combat bacteria and yellow to reduce redness.
Read more about laser and light treatments in the Fall 2011 issue of NewBeauty, on newsstands now.
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