Aussiemomma asks…What do you think of the new creams (i.e. DermaDoctor Photodynamic Therapy, Serious Skin Care Light Fraxion Light Therapy in a Bottle) that supposedly mimic red light therapy? Do they really work? Are they just gimmicks?
The Right Brain responds:
I have to admit, Aussiemomma, that we’re really skeptical on the idea of a lotion that delivers the same benefits as a light therapy treatment. To begin, let’s look what DERMAdoctor says about their product.:
DERMAdoctor Photodynamic Therapy
- Imagine a new reality in skin rejuvenation where skin can experience continuous exposure to anti-aging red light through the mere application of a lotion.
- This ground-breaking, patent-pending solar powered technology in lotion form captures UV light transforming it into visible red light, a proven energy source for eliciting anti-aging effects on the skin.
- Just like solar panels on the roof capture the sun’s UV rays and convert them into energy to power a home, Photodynamic Therapy captures and refracts the sun’s UV rays, turning them into a powerful, device-free anti-aging machine.
- DERMAdoctor Photodynamic Therapy is clinically proven to restore skin firmness, radiance, tone, elasticity and reduce the appearance of redness, age spots, discoloration, pore size, fine lines and wrinkles.
- This “sunlight activated laster lotion” works because it contains Morinda Citrifolia Extract (Noni Fruit) contains a special polyphenol that specifically captures the sun’s rays then converts and emits this energy as a highly focused visible red wavelength of light (648nm) equivalent to that of a red LED. Encapsulating this polyphenol with an inert tricalcium phosphate particle creates a complex capable of transmitting the visible red light to the skin where it works to firm the skin.
- Emit a visible red wavelength of light measured at 648nm by spectophotometer
- Continue to emit visible red wavelength of light 7 hours following initial application
Legitimate Light Therapy
First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: Light therapy does really work. Visible red light, at wavelengths from 630-660 nanometers, penetrates tissue to a depth of 8-10 mm where it is absorbed by the skin. This light energy stimulates fibroblast cell activation which increases the production of collagen and elastin. Light Therapy Devices use Light Emitting Diodes with a peak power output in thousandths of a watt and have a 85% duty cycle which means that the light pulse is on for .85 seconds and off for .15 seconds. Each treatment generally lasts about 20 minute and are required 1 to 2 times per week for the first month will begin to show lasting results.
So does DERMAdoctor Photodynamic Therapy work or not?
There’s almost no doubt that this product delivers the promised benefits of restoring skin firmness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, etc. because any decent anti-aging lotion will do that. But does it provide the same effect as an LED device? From what I’ve learned this would mean the lotion is capable of producing several thousands of a watt of energy, just like the LED. I can find no evidence that this is the case. Because the claim is relatively extraordinary, I’d need to see one of three pieces of information:
- Measurement (or calculation) showing that this lotion has the capacity to output red light at the same intensity as an LED device.
- A controlled study showing the effect of the lotion with and without the active “laser lotion” ingredient.
- A supportive technical rationale from a legitimate (preferably peer-reviewed) source.
Without further data, I’m assessing this product as more marketing hype than scientific breakthrough. But for the sake of thoroughness, we checked with an expert dermatologist, Dr. Jasmina Jankicevic. Here’s what she had to say about the subject:
Human medicine has been intrigued by Morinda citrifolia for a long time and many studies have been published so far investigating effects of its compounds (especially from fruit pulp and root) on human health. However, to our best knowledge, no data is available about its LED-like capabilities that can positively affect human skin. In addition, ingredient based claims are not considered most valuable anyway as the effect of the whole formula on human skin is what counts and needs to be investigated.
Thanks Dr. J.!
The Beauty Brains bottom line
It’s true that red light is good for skin. It’s also true that this product is a good moisturizing cream and can help reduce visible signs of aging (as most anti-aging lotions do). But, before spending $85 for one ounce I’d want some kind of reassurance of how it compares to the real LEDs. Until we see further evidence we we’ll chalk this product up to marketing hype. (Of course, if DERMAdoctor has further data to share we’d be glad to revisit the subject.)
Dr. Jasmina Jankicevic (MD, MS, CCRP, Consultant Dermatology Scientific and Medical Affairs Medical & Spa Centers Strategic Management) is an expert dermatologist – clinician, researcher and peer-educator. She is an independent consultant for cosmetic and spa industries, and sought after speaker and writer.