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Lighting the Way to Beautiful Skin

February 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Although light therapy has been used worldwide for more than 40 years, its popularity for cosmetic enhancement only recently has increased exponentially. In fact, it has become so popular so quickly that most skin care professionals aren’t educated on the variety of light-based technologies available, as well as informed about who can use them legally. Lasers, intense pulsed light (IPL) and light-emitting diode (LED) treatments are three current light-based technologies that are used commonly for skin rejuvenation.

A brief review of the physics of light

The visible light spectrum is the most familiar—the wavelengths are from 400 nanometers (nm) to 765 nm, which are seen combined as white light and diffracted as a rainbow. White light is composed of colored light. Daylight and standard light bulbs give off light in this range.

Estheticians already should be familiar with the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the spectrum: 0–400 nm. These are the invisible wavelengths that cause UV damage, such as sunburns and photoaging. UV light also is used by estheticians to kill bacteria on their instruments.

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Visible and Infrared Wavelengths

UVC 290 nm
UVB 320 nm
UVAII/UVAI 340 nm
Visible 400–765 nm
Infrared 2,000 nm

Common Lasers and Their Wavelengths

In general, the longer the wavelength, the deeper it penetrates into tissues.

UVAI—400 nm
Argon—488–514 nm
KTP—532 nm
Dye—585–600 nm
Ruby—630 nm
Alexandrite—755 nm
Diode—810 nm
Nd:YAG—1,064/1,320 nm
Er:YAG—2,940 nm
CO2—10,600 nm

Common IPL Wavelength Ranges

Redness and rejuvenation: 560–1,200 nm

Pigment and rejuvenation: 590–1,200 nm

Darker skin types: 640–1,200 nm

Hair removal for light skin types: 695–1,200 nm

Hair removal for darker skin types: 755–1,200 nm

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