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This Treatment May Help Fade Dark Spots On The Hands & Boost Collagen

mbg Beauty Director

By Alexandra Engler

mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she’s held beauty roles at Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.

Image by Addictive Creatives / Stocksy

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LED therapy does wonders for the skin: With just a few minutes a day, it can give your natural collagen and elastin production a boost, help thicken the dermal layer, ease inflammation, smooth the appearance of fine lines, fade dark spots, and improve overall tone.

All of which are skin concerns that can also appear on the hands. This begs the question, should you be using LED masks on your hands? Well, beauty brands are betting that you will—and introducing a new crop of LED tools designed specifically for the area.

These new LED masks are all about the hands

The hands are where many of the first visible signs of aging appear. Even before the facial skin, the skin on the hands starts to indicate lack of moisture, collagen loss, sensitivity, fine lines, thinning dermis, and dark spots. It makes sense when you think about it: Hands deal with a lot—from increased exposure to the environment, UV damage, stripping hand washes and sanitizers, to just day-to-day physical wear. 

What’s more, most folks don’t take care of their hands with the same dedication they might their faces. In fact, people usually don’t start adopting a hand care routine until they’ve already started to see the telltale signs of damage. And once these start to show up, folks actually start to get serious about hand care. That’s where the growing interest in LED therapy for the hands comes in. 

These tools—like Omnilux’s Contour Glove and CurrentBody’s Skin LED Hand Perfector—are built just for the area. The CurrentBody, for example, looks almost like a cave with two openings that you can slip your hands in. While tucked away inside, the skin is exposed to 70 medical grade LED light bulbs emitting clinically proven red (at 633nm) and near-infrared (at 830nm) wavelengths to boost collagen. The brand suggests 10 minutes of use daily. 

The Omnilux is shaped, as the name suggests, like a glove. Just slip it over each hand and secure it with the velcro strap for 10 minutes (each, so 20 minutes total) 3 to 4 times a week. The silicone glove uses 144 LED bulbs at red (633nm) and near-infrared (830nm) wavelengths.

LED Hand Masks

What are the benefits of LED therapy for the skin & hands?

LED light therapy—also known as red light therapy, blue light therapy, infrared therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT), photobiomodulation, and cold laser therapy—involves exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of light with LED light bulbs to encourage changes in the skin and body. For example, the most common are red and near-infrared light, which utilizes wavelengths of around 660 nm and 890 nm respectively.

It’s built on the science of photobiomodulation, which shows that skin cells are activated or react to specific wavelengths of light. The exact mechanisms of photobiomodulation are not completely understood, but the effects have been clinically studied1.

Here are some benefits you may expect from using light therapy:

Improves mitochondrial function: One of the primary mechanisms of LED light therapy is mitochondrial health2. LED therapy supports and optimizes the skin cells’ mitochondria, which are the energy suppliers for the skin and body. By improving mitochondrial health you can essentially help the skin cells act younger. Supports collagen & elastin production: Collagen and elastin are the skin’s structural proteins, and what keep the skin looking young, firm, and supple. Research suggests that LED light therapy can help improve collagen and elastin production3. This can also help thicken the dermal layer of the skin. Reduces inflammation: Red light and infrared therapy has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body4. Inflammation—especially chronic inflammation—wreaks havoc on the skin and body. Reduces fine lines & dark spots: Due to a combination of the factors above, research also notes that LED light therapy improves skin tone5 and can soften the appearance of wrinkles5.Improves the appearance of scars: Lots of folks have scars on their hands, and research shows that red light therapy improved wound healing and reduced appearance of scar tissue6.Eases joint pain: This is a huge benefit for the hands, as many folks suffer with joint pain in the area—be it knuckles, fingers, or wrists. Research shows that it helps with pain management, especially with joint pain. 7Improves blood flow: Red and near infrared light is shown to improve circulation8, which brings oxygen and nutrients to tissues, thanks to the production of nitric oxide. 

The verdict: Not necessary, but would likely improve hand health 

Do you need to rush out and buy an LED for your hands? Certainly not, especially given how pricey LED technology is in general. (The modality is unfortunately cost prohibitive by nature—the technology is expensive to make, and therefore purchase.) Even as someone who is deeply excited about the science of photobiomodulation and an avid user of LED technology herself, I put LED masks in the category of “nice to have.” I’d rather people focus on consistent daily skin care, and then add in an LED face mask if they’d like to take results to the next level. But do not mistake LED as a substitute for daily skin care. 

And I feel the exact same about LED tools for hands! I’d rather you build out a hand care routine focusing on the basics first: That being using a hydrating hand cream and non-stripping hand washes. Then, for the beauty consumer who is ready to level up, LED therapy is a great technology to turn to. If you already have an LED tool at home (like a mask or wand), you can already start by simply using the lights over the area. Consider it off label use.

However, those whom I think would benefit from these hand devices the most are those with joint pain. LED’s been studied for pain management, circulation, and reducing inflammation—all of which could help folks who struggle with joints in the hands. And since these tools are specifically designed to be comfortable to use on the hands, there are fewer barriers to usage. 

The takeaway

LED therapy has many benefits for the skin and body, including collagen production, tone improvement, inflammation reduction, and pain management. It’s no wonder people want to start using it on the hands! It’s certainly not a necessity, but for those with more severe aging concerns on the hands, these might come in handy. Wink wink. 

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