You know how the “Real Housewives of Wherever” always end their Twitter fights saying, “Love and light,” as if those two things ever really fixed anything? Well, I’m here to praise the power of the latter. Not in the professional-grade setting my colleague experienced, but with good old-fashioned, watered-down-so-you-can’t-kill-yourself home devices. For the past six months, there’s been a significant increase of light in my life, specifically of the LED variety. And it’s led to something close to love.
First, let’s establish some healthy boundaries and set realistic expectations. So far, I have not been cured of anything (that I can tell—never sure what’s going on on the molecular level). What has happened is that I’ve experienced a few accelerated and pleasant quick fixes.
Many light devices claim to treat everything from cystic acne to ancient-wise-man-type wrinkles. But when these guys are really ace is if you treat them like a mask—like your tightening Aztec clay one or your Ed Gein–chic Korean sheet mask. The results are a bit more advanced, though: Your forehead will be smoothed out in that slightly Botoxy way that looks relaxed but tight, which is usually a hard balance to strike.
That’s what happens to my forehead anyway, after basking in the piercing glow of the red LED light of the Baby Quasar (which, yeah, sounds like some kind of cheese-filled mini taco), specifically the “Clear Rayz for Acne” variety ($249). It’s double-sided—red light, as the one-sheeter it came with explains, is good for wrinkles; blue is best for acne. But of course, when you have acne, you always disregard the instructions and do everything possible, because who knows what’ll help, right? So I did alternating turns on red and blue over a patch of hormonal unpleasantness on my chin. Each little nub seemed to get a bit smaller for the night, much easier to conceal, and they got even closer to my actual skin tone. Hey, every little bit helps.
If you just want the blue-light special, the Pulsaderm LED Blue ($149) feels gentler, and comes with a nice long handy handle to hold. So it’s kind of like playing karaoke, but with the mic pressed against your cheek. If you’re not ready to be plunged so deeply into this “investment purchase,” there’s the Illumask, which is available at Target for a pretty reasonable you-were-gonna-spend-that-on-Wednesday-happy-hour-anyway $30. Although technically you’re supposed to throw the device away after 30 uses, YouTube has instructional videos on how to jailbreak it for longer-term happiness. God bless the Internet.
Of course, one thing that makes these light devices experientially different from a clay or sheet mask is the application process. Unless you’re Nicole Richie, you can’t throw this on and eat a burger (see above). It’s not cute for selfies. And it’s definitely contraindicated on a plane. In fact, they come with a pair of horrifying beady-eye goggles that you can put on if you want—or you can use my own patented method:
If you’re smart and don’t mind looking like a lunatic in your own home, get an old, super-wide, preferably slightly stretched-out headband, and use it to strap the Baby Quasar to the part of your face you want ameliorated—forehead, cheek, jawline, whatever. It’s like the inverse of an ice pack. It heats up, and, at times, at the end of its few-minute cycle, it can smell a little like burning plastic. Apparently, that means it’s working. Strap enough dark headbands on, and you can cloak out enough extraneous seeping LED light to watch your “Sherlock” rerun in peace.
Instant results are never permanent results. But my emerging forehead wrinkles get immediately smoothed out for the night, like they got stopped in traffic at a particularly long red light (get it?). So if you’re tired of your goopy, slidey mask routine, give the cheap one a shot, and see if it works for you.
Love and light.