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It all started when a friend posted a selfie on Instagram wearing a mask that made her look like a Star Wars stormtrooper. Alas, it was actually Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask, a skin-care tool that utilizes light emitting diodes, or LEDs. (Science!)

Curious, I dug more into how exactly light therapy works: in short, the wavelengths of different colored lights (red, blue, orange, green, etc.) penetrate the skin at certain depths and stimulate specific reactions that can help treat everything from acne and wrinkles to muscle soreness and inflammation. According to L.A.-based dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu, red light targets fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production while blue light helps to kill bacteria, making the combination of these two a dream-team for fighting acne and improving the overall look of your skin. 

So, when NKD NYC, a new luxury wellness center in Manhattan, invited me to test out a brand-new Infrared LED Light Therapy bed, I was psyched. Here’s my experience.

led light therapy review feet
NKD NYC/Facebook

So what was the experience like?
When I arrived at NKD, the general manager, Erin Hamilton, led me to a small locker room to change into a comfy robe and slippers. Hamilton explained that the treatment works best with the more skin exposed, but that I should undress to my comfort level (I decided to go with just underwear). I was then led to another room that houses the LED Light Therapy bed. It looks like a tanning bed that’s covered in tiny Christmas lights. Hamilton let me choose a playlist to listen to (I went with The Hits of the ’70s) and then left me to disrobe and climb into the bed. I pulled the top of the bed down, stretched out and relaxed for 20 glorious minutes.

In the cocoon…
Full disclosure, I am not claustrophobic, but it did take a few moments to get used to being in that tight of a space. Once I was at ease in my little bubble, I got nice and cozy under the warm lights humming along to ABBA and Fleetwood Mac. I’m also fairly certain I dozed off at some point, something Hamilton says many of her clients do, due to both the warmth and calming effects of the lights.

What type of lights were in the pod?
NKD’s LED bed uses orange, green and yellow lights, which boost lymphatic flow and increase cellular growth; target hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries; and reduce redness, swelling and inflammation, respectively. It also uses infrared light, which is a different wavelength from red LED light, to penetrate even deeper and really target any soreness you might be dealing with.

Did the process live up to the hype?
Short answer: Absolutely. I left feeling more relaxed than I had in weeks and my poor muscles, which had been overworked from marathon training, felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle another long run. The skin-improving effects also worked quickly. I got home about an hour after the treatment and my roommate promptly mentioned how glow-y and smooth my complexion looked. Red spots and dark acne marks had faded significantly, and my skin felt smooth, bouncy and happy. Both the relaxation and skin-boosting results lasted for almost a full week afterward.

Is there any actual science to back it up?
There have been a number of clinical studies that support the positive effects of LED light therapy, and it’s been approved by the FDA for use in skin treatments and as muscle therapy. Since it’s non-invasive and doesn’t burn the skin, most dermatologists, estheticians and skin-care experts are totally on board with harnessing the power of colorful wavelengths. In fact, LED light therapy is quickly becoming one of the most popular treatments among celebs (fans include Jessica Alba, Chrissy Teigen and Naomi Watts).

Bottom line?
I am 100 percent sold on the impressive effects of LED light therapy and even wrote part of this article sitting on my couch with my very own Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Mask. I also plan to go back for another session before my sister’s wedding later this month.

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