Light: It’s a part of our day-to-day survival. We depend on light, in both its natural and man-made forms, to help us navigate through life as we know it. Everything we see is a variance of light, as it is light that carries information from our eyes to our brain, creating and translating images of the world in which we live. Throughout history, a number of findings prove that color and light have been used for centuries to facilitate healing and well-being. In skin care, phototherapy has been used to treat such skin disorders as psoriasis, eczema, and acne.
It is also traditionally used in neo-natal wards to treat infantile jaundice. It is the recent surge of light-based procedures like Laser, LED, and IPL that has made this technology a principal player in the fight against aging skin.
Light therapy, or phototherapy, is defined as the application of exposing skin to light for therapeutic purposes. Every cell in our body radiates light and has a mechanism of color with which it is associated. Sunlight, for example, is a key component to maintaining the health and function of the body. Most of us don’t think about basic exposure to sunlight having a specific effect on how our body operates. The suns rays specifically trigger the action of the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system. The relationship between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland greatly affects the endocrine system. When we are exposed to light, the hypothalamus sends electrical impulses or messages to the pituitary gland, which in turn sends instructions to the endocrine system to produce the hormones we need for our basic bodily functions such as body temperature, appetite, growth, metabolism, emotions, reproductive functions, and energy fuels like adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP). This “molecular currency” is the basis of intracellular energy transfer and all biological processes.
The Science of Light
To understand light therapy, we first have to have a basic understanding of the science behind light. Light is defined as the electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength. We can compare a light wave to an ocean wave in the way that it moves, seamlessly from one region to another. We view the water itself as moving, but the truth is the water is not moving, it is the wave that moves. The water stays in place and the energy moving through the water is making the wave. This type of wave is called a transverse wave and all transverse waves need a medium for movement. Light waves work differently in the fact that they do not need a medium like water. Light energy travels through a vacuum via electric and magnetic fields. It is the vibration of these fields that direct the movement of the light in specific directions. Light is also referred to as electromagnetic radiation because it possesses these electric and magnetic fields. As such, the full spectrum of light is known as the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Light wavelengths are detected by the eye, transferred to the brain and then detected as color. This is what we see as visible light. This rainbow of color ranges all the way from red, which has a wavelength of 700 nm, to violet, which radiates at 400 nm. The wavelengths at the end of the violet spectrum are the UV rays which are responsible for the UV damage that is associated with the sun. The light that we see is made up of photons, or little packets of color, and as our eyes absorb these photons, we see the world around us. The visible spectrum, or the light that we see, is only one small component of the electromagnetic spectrum. The spectrum can be divided into an electric part and a magnetic part, hence the name electromagnetic. Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere but are invisible to the human eye. Besides natural sources, the electromagnetic spectrum also includes fields generated by human-made sources, such as, microwaves, radio waves, and X-rays.
Light and Frequency
We understand that light is composed of an elementary particle called a photon. The energy that a photon carries is related to their frequency or number of electrical impulses per second. Light can be viewed as single sachets of energy that create an electromagnetic vibration (frequency); a single photon of one color differs from another photon of color only by the energy it carries. Light waves come in many different frequencies. The frequency can be related to the number of waves that pass a specific point during any time. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), the frequency of visible light is measured in its color. The amount of energy that a light wave carries is related to its frequency. High frequency lights radiate high amounts of energy, contrary to low frequency lights, which radiate low amounts of energy. Gamma rays have the most energy and radio waves carry the least. Of the electromagnetic spectrum, violet rays are the most energized and red are the least.
Light and the Cell
As previously mentioned, light energy has the ability to nourish the body on a cellular level because all cells and tissue absorb light and convert it into energy for the body. As such, every cell, tissue, and organ of the body “vibrates” or emits frequency that can be measured scientifically. Different tissue types and different cells have unique absorption characteristics so different wavelengths will have different effects on individualized cells and tissues. Each color of the electromagnetic spectrum has a specific weight, temperature, wavelength, density, and energy level to stimulate or minimize various metabolic functions. Since the vibration, wavelength, and frequency is specific to each cell, if the cell, tissue, or organ is unhealthy in any way, their vibrational frequency changes. Once a cell’s vibrational frequency is modified, one of two things can happen: The host will experience a mild shift in energy, or there will be a dramatic shift that will lead to disease. The aim with light activated photo-rejuvenation is to re-establish the proper condition by providing the correct energy through the use of color.
Cytochromes are color-coded proteins that dwell within the cytoplasm of the cell and help to carry out electron transport. The process of respiration, which energizes ATP, consists of a series of cytochromes associated with proteins. Cytochromes emit light, which energize electrons, thus increasing the electromagnetic frequency of the electrons which orbit nuclei. Similar in function to hemoglobin and myoglobin, the crimson colored proteins, which ensure that our blood is oxygenated, cytochromes transport electrons instead of oxygen. When we expose the tissue to light therapy, these cytochromes absorb the photons and the effect is enhanced cellular function and increased activity.
Light Activated Facial Rejuvenation
Light Activated Facial Rejuvenation is another name for LED technology. LED is the acronym for light emitting diodes. Light activated facial rejuvenation utilizes monochromatic color in the absence of heat for facial rejuvenation. This particular type of light is delivered at a constant and very low intensity, making it an ideal service for any kind of skin type and skin condition. LEDs generate a multiplicity of wavelengths when compared to the single wavelength of a laser. This allows LEDs to be effective over a broader range of tissues and to produce a wider range of biochemical reactions via the light. Recent studies prove that light activated facial rejuvenation can:
1. Increase vascularity of skin tissue
2. Stimulate the production of collagen and elastin
3. Stimulate synthesis and the release of ATP
4. Reduce edema
5. Increase lymphatic system activity
6. Regenerate tissue and support wound healing
7. Reduce pain
Light Colors and Their Therapeutic Purpose
We understand that different colors vibrate at different frequencies and wavelengths. This relates to the fact that different colors will have a different absorption rate by the tissue and have a different effect on the cells. It is best to use a variation of color versus just one color, because we can increase the number of skin conditions we can treat. The four most common colors are:
BLUE: 470nm + / - 10nm (visible blue light)
This wavelength is indicated for acneic skins and helps with dehydration.
GREEN: 525nm + / - 10nm (visible green light)
This wavelength is indicated for pigmented skins.
YELLOW: 590nm + / - 10nm (visible yellow light)
This wavelength is indicated for sensitive skins and to help reduce inflammation and edema.
RED: 640nm + / - 10nm (visible red light)
This wavelength is indicated for aging skins. It is also ideal for dry, sun-damaged skin in need of circulation and dermal thickening as in collagen and elastin synthesis.
Finding the Light
Progressive manufactures will have devices that offer the ease and use of an LED panel versus handheld accessories. The hands free ability of the LED panel offers the client the ability to sit in a chair or lay in the bed while under the light. It also gives the skin therapist the freedom to tend to other parts of the body. Pre-programmed facial settings will also offer you the best possible service because the device is already programmed with the most effective parameters for whatever skin condition you are treating. You will also want to look for a complete product line that supports the symbiosis between the light and active ingredients of your skin care products. Look for high-performance concentrates that accelerate the cellular function of the skin, and monochromatic serums made with precious micronized gems of ruby, emerald, citrine, sapphire, and tourmaline, which parallel the color of the LED light you are using for your photo-rejuvenation services. By increasing the reflection and absorption of the light you can increase the benefits of your light services and maximize your services and time in the treatment rooms.
Jennifer McDaniel is the Education Development Director for Bio-Therapeutic, Inc. Her responsibilities include developing curriculum for the Bio-Therapeutic Institute of Technology, developing technology protocols for Bio-Therapeutic related technology, and training all of the Bio-Therapeutic Corporate Educator’s worldwide.