The technology is proven to work, and unlike accutane or antibiotics, there’s almost no side effects. The market is growing and growing and new devices are being invented constantly.
The summary is that blue light wavelengths are proven to reduce total acne levels by 30 to 50%. They work by activating porphyrins in the cell walls of acne bacteria (p.acnes), which swell and burst when exposed to blue light and effectively cause the bacteria to self-destruct. By killing p.acnes you eliminate one of the main aggravators behind acne. This process also occurs naturally, from sunlight exposure, but blue light devices are a super concentrated and effective version.
Through this natural mechanism, blue light devices can reduce acne by up to 67%, whiteheads by 30%, and blackheads by 50%.
You can discover the full, in-depth science behind blue light here. Today, we will simply discuss the greatest blue light devices money can buy. As with any developing area of acne technology, a lot of weak, poor quality products are starting to float around. Therefore in this article, you will only find the home blue light devices which are decent and above, including good, great and truly excellent ones.
If you want to know my recommendations right now, then here they are: Baby Quasar MD Blue as the most powerful handheld device, Norlanya for desktop machines, Foreo Espada for a cheap yet highly intense handheld, and Tanda Clear Plus for a slightly different cheap handheld. Stay away unless you want to make a (worthwhile) investment; the best products here are all above $100.
Let’s get started:
AMAZON LINK: LightStim for Acne.
Our first product is one of the more famous – LightStim, a handheld device which is based on technology invented by NASA to heal wounds in space. LightStim was originally a manufacturer of high-intensity, clinic-grade blue light machines, but their products have now reached the mass market.
The blue light intensity is 36 LEDs, enough to improve acne, but weaker than high grade products. A bigger problem is the wavelength, which for blue light is 450 nanometres. That’s far from the optimal range for killing p.acnes bacteria of 405nm to 420nm. It will have plenty of benefits, but it could be much better.
Nevertheless, many acne patients have great experiences with this device. LightStim also has FDA approval for usage against acne. LightStim combines both red and blue light within the same beam, with the coined name of multiwave. The red light has the bonus benefit of calming inflammation and decreasing oil production.
Other features include a 3 minute built-in timer, and a 30 minute shut down timer in case you leave the machine running by accident. LightStim is eight inches in length and one pound in weight, with a two inch diameter light screen. The instructions are to shine LightStim on each acne-prone area for 3 to 5 minutes each day, making for a swift process.
The price point matches the quality: LightStim is weaker than the more expensive products, but effective for a lower budget.
PROS: combines red and blue light, portable, easy to use.
CONS: an imperfect wavelength.
Foreo Espada Acne Treatment Device
AMAZON LINK: FOREO Espada At-home Light Acne Treatment Device.
Foreo Espada is in the elite tier of handheld blue light devices, but has a unique twist which might catapult it to ultimate greatness.
Once more, the wavelength of the blue light is a perfect 415nm to 420nm; Foreo knows their science well. The product has a two year warranty and a ten year quality guarantee.
The unique feature of Foreo Espada is the “T-sonic pulsations” it uses for skin tone. Instead of shining the device onto the skin, you have to press the wand directly against your skin. Press the button, and the device will vibrate mildly, with the blue light activating simultaneously. According to Foreo, this vibration stimulates blood flow and improves your skin’s appearance, using their special T-sonic pulsations for extra stimulation. Furthermore, the close proximity should make the acne-killing blue light even more intense.
Foreo has also conducted its own study on the device. Remember their possible motives, remember that they wish to sell a product, but the results are undeniably excellent. 90% of participants improved after 4 weeks, blackheads declined particularly strongly, and 3 out of 4 users experienced visible improvements after 1 usage.
For those reasons, Foreo Espada and Tanda Clear Plus are both the best affordable blue light devices. The specifications are equally excellent, but Foreo has the pulsations and close proximity, giving it a unique opportunity.
Your directions are to shine the device on each pimple for 30 seconds, 3 to 4 times. If you have six pimples on your face then a Foreo Espada session will last for 10 to 15 minutes, a short timespan for people committed to slaying acne. If diet and lifestyle improvements get your pimples down to low levels, Foreo Espada could successfully finish off the last few stragglers.
Both the light and vibration automatically switch off after 30 seconds. Charging Foreo Espada will give you 240 sessions and you never have to buy replacement cartridges, unlike with mask devices. Foreo Espada succeeds by being a onetime purchase, an investment.
Foreo Espada is an excellent blue light device, beating LightStim with ease thanks to its optimal wavelength.
PROS: perfect wavelength, close proximity, unique feature, long warranty.
Baby Quasar MD Blue
AMAZON LINK: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE.
Perhaps the ultimate blue light product available today. The exact LED strength is not listed, but MD Blue is confirmed to be 50% more intense than their separate “baby blue” product, and a main feature of MD Blue is having more intense blue light than any other handheld device on the market. The wavelengths are perfect for acne, at 415nm to 420nm. At 2 inches, the lens diameter is equal to lightStim.
The housing of MD Blue is comprised of tough anodised aluminium. No additional purchase of activators is required; MD Blue is all yours once you’ve bought it. The only potential replacement is the LED bulb, but these bulbs are sturdy and last for 50,000 hours, equivalent to half an hour per day for over 200 years.
The instructions are simple: divide your face into four segments. Ensure that your face is dry and clean. Turn on the device and shine it on the first section in a slow circular motion. Repeat for 4 minutes. Then repeat the process for the other three sections, amounting to 16 minutes of application. If your acne is only concentrated on your forehead, or one cheek, the process is even shorter.
Baby Quasar recommends a session 1 to 3 days per week, but the choice is yours. To use the product, press the button and apply; no calibration is required. MD Blue has a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty in case of breakdown, and a 90 day money back guarantee in case of dissatisfaction. It is another FDA approved product too.
PROS: optimal wavelength, high intensity, durable, lifetime warranty, easy to use.
CONS: high price.
Illumask Light Therapy
AMAZON LINK: illuMask Acne Light Therapy.
With Illumask we arrive at our first blue light device which you wear directly on your face. You turn on the mask, and wait for 15 minutes while the light shines directly onto your acne and skin. No effort is required. Illumask contains numerous LED lights with widely varying wavelengths. The blue light bulbs range from 405nm to 470nm, meaning that many are in the optimal range.
At less than one hundred dollars, Illumask looks like a bargain, but that’s where it falls down. Each 15 minute session requires an activator. You originally receive 30 such activators, but have to purchase more afterwards, and each pack costs a significant amount (it’s subject to change). Therefore if you enjoy a huge reduction in acne and grow excited about the prospects for more, the price increases significantly.
Illumask has some strong specifications, but the constant replacement of the activators is a big deterrent. It’s no longer an investment like the more expensive blue light devices such as MD Blue. Furthermore, it makes the device look like an excellent deal, when it’s really nothing of the sort.
That said, Illumask is a decent option for experimentation, for acne-clearing enthusiasts who want to experiment with blue light therapy for only a month.
PROS: no effort required, decent wavelength, contains red lights, looks quite snazzy as well.
CONS: activator replacement.
Angel Kiss Photon Therapy Skincare Machine
AMAZON LINK: Angel Kiss Photon Therapy Skin Care Machine.
A table-top machine with a snazzy, futuristic appearance. You turn on the lights, place your face within close proximity to the machine, and wait for 10 to 15 minutes while the light takes effect. This machine contains the standard blue colour, but also red and yellow for lowering acne inflammation.
The first thing that stands out about Angel Kiss’ device is the intensity. There’s a huge total of 420 LEDs, and 150 LEDs for blue wavelengths. This is like a home version of the highly intense, pharmaceutical blue light machines used in clinics.
The wavelength is non-ideal, at 463nm. Nevertheless, with such high intensity, acne bacteria will much more vulnerable compared to a low intensity machine with an optimal wavelength. Furthermore, the red light is in the optimal wavelength, of 650nm.
The instructions are similar to Norlanya – place your face in the machine but maintain a reasonable distance from the light. The manufacturing defect warranty is 1 year, but the lifetime of the LED bulbs is high. The light should inundate your entire face, making full exposure an easy task; the only slight downside is minor discomfort or boredom.
Overall, Angel Kiss is one of the best table-top devices out there, and the reviews are mostly positive. Could this be due to the addition of the yellow colour? Maybe – for acne, its far less researched. Its not essential, but its promise cannot be denied.
Regardless, if blue light is what you want, Angel Kiss’ machine is an excellent way to obtain it. The reason why Norlanya wins is both its great reviews and the high number of great reviews.
PROS: very intense, easy to use, quick to use, multiple colours.
CONS: the wavelength could be better.
TANDA Clear Plus
If you’ve done your own research, you’ll have discovered other Tanda products like Tanda Zap and Tanda Power Zap. But by far their best product is this, Tanda Clear Plus, and alongside Foreo Espada, it’s the best cheaper blue light device money can buy.
It has an optimal wavelength of 414nm. The exact intensity is unknown but high. It’s as simple to use as any handheld.
The key factor though, is that one of the greatest studies on blue light and acne used Tanda Clear Plus as its treatment. In that study, patients were taught how to self-apply blue light using the handheld Tanda Clear Plus machine. They did so twice daily for eight weeks, reporting in for analysis at one week, four weeks and eight weeks.
Total papules fell by 21.8%, 41.03% and 35.64%. Total whiteheads fell by 30.4% after 1 week. Blackheads fell by 50% after four weeks. These excellent results don’t mean that Tanda Clear Plus is unique – other products aren’t extensively tested – but it’s excellent to get such strong confirmation.
Official directions for usage: firstly, cleanse your skin. Apply Tanda Clear Plus to acne-prone areas for 3 minutes, twice daily. Moisturise with a non-comedogenic moisturiser. The latter instruction may be a precaution, but if you’d like to stick to their rules, I would recommend grapeseed oil.
While the cheaper Tanda Zap is effective for 1000 3 minute treatments, Tanda Clear Plus is effective for 6000. If you use Tanda Clear Plus an average of 6 times per day, you have a 1000 day device.
The one downside then, is that the device will only last for just under three years, compared to 200 years for Baby Quasar MD Blue. But that estimate will have been very conservative, and if you only blast the areas with acne, it could last for ten years.
If we were judging products based solely on specifications, Tanda would be equal to reVive. But an actual study is brilliant to have, and that helps Tanda Clear Plus to join Foreo Espada as the greatest cheap device.
PROS: great wavelength, intense, easy to use, proven to clear acne.
CONS: lasts for slightly less time than other expensive products.
Tria Positively Skincare Solution
AMAZON LINK: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE.
Another popular product, this time with unique features – a foam cleanser and spot treatment cream. You are instructed to use the foam cleanser before blue light application and the spot treatment afterwards.
On one hand, these topical treatments look like generic chemical-filled cleansers, cleansers which I would normally advise against. On the other hand, many testimonials speak of burning and heat from Tria Skincare. That’s a rare occurrence with other blue light devices and it seems that the Tria Skincare device has extra heat to it.
Therefore if you do use Tria Skincare, you might have to use your own natural topical treatments alongside it. There’s also very few technical details available for the blue light device; no wavelength nanometres, no intensity. The device has a 5 minute timer and the entire product has a 1 year warranty. The company’s recommendation is to follow the routine for 8 weeks.
On paper, I see no advantage in using Tria Skincare over other products. However, there was once an excellent clinical study performed on the technology used in it:
- 77% of patients experienced milder breakouts after 2 weeks.
- 100% experienced reduced acne after 8 weeks.
- 96% experienced milder breakouts and an improved skin tone after 8 weeks.
The other products reviewed here are almost certainly just as effective, but Tria Skincare has promise nevertheless.
PROS: respected product, device is easy to use, has a great study to its name.
CONS: no wavelength details, requires cleansers with chemicals.
NORLANYA Photon Therapy Machine
AMAZON LINK: NORLANYA Photon Therapy Skin Care Treatment Machine.
Norlanya is a table-top blue light device like Angel Kiss’, with the bread and butter acne features: a simple blast of high intensity blue, red and yellow light. The blue light LED count is even higher than Angel Kiss’, with 150 blue LEDs and 135 LEDs each for red and yellow. The wavelength is identical, once more at 470nm, but once again, the extra intensity will make up for it.
The light panel measures at 13.78 inches wide by 8.27 inches tall, so it’s even easier to blast your face with the light this time. Not to mention that with both Norlanya and Angel Kiss, you can use the machine anywhere on your body. Back acne, chest acne and neck acne are not as safe as they thought.
The Norlanya Photon Therapy Machine has a customisable duration; you can set the timer to between 5 and 20 minutes. According to Norlanya, the yellow light has a bonus quality of improving skin circulation. This is excellent for your skin tone and increased blood flow is even proven to make your skin more attractive to the opposite sex.
Meanwhile, red light is excellent at reducing inflammation, so combined with the blue light, your acne will have no place to run or hide. Another unique feature of red light is its deeper penetration into the skin’s layers, which also targets sebaceous glands (which pump out sebum, AKA your skin’s oil) and reduces their activity. Norlanya can thus reduce oily skin effectively.
A slight flaw is that you cannot mix the colours; you have to turn on red, blue, and yellow one by one. However, that’s also positive if you have no interest in one colour. The breakdown warranty is lengthy at 1 year.
In terms of specifications, Norlanya is extremely similar to Angel Kiss. However, where Norlanya steamrollers the opposition is in its excellent reviews. Angel Kiss is also well-reviewed, but has comparatively few of them. Many people have had excellent reductions in acne when combining the red and blue wavelengths.
For that reason, Norlanya is a top notch blue light device, and the best table top machine for acne.
PROS: very intense, easy to use, quick to use, three colours, excellent results from users.
CONS: imperfect blue wavelength.
ReVive Light Therapy Device
AMAZON LINK: reVive LED Light Therapy Acne Treatment System.
Returning to handheld devices, we have reVive, a less known product. What it lacks in brand recognition and shock and awe through a high price, reVive makes up for with its seemingly perfect specifications.
In fact, reVive is probably the second best lower-priced blue light device an acne patient could purchase. The LED count is 60, compared with 36 for LightStim. The blue light wavelength is a bullseye at 415 nanometres.
Instead of buttons, reVive features customisable light heads. You have blue light and red light, as usual. There’s no yellow this time; instead you get a purple/pink light head designed to slow ageing. The device also features a fan to prevent overheating, which turns on after three minutes of usage. The recommendation is to use reVive for three minutes on each acne zone, twice daily.
Baby Quasar MD Blue is still the best handheld product for acne, because of its equally perfect specs and higher intensity…
…but if you are starved for cash yet still enticed by the prospect of blue light treatment, reVive is an excellent handheld device.
PROS: high intensity for price, perfect wavelength, customisable heads, easy to use.
CONS: only the lack of reviews.
RubyLux ALL BLUE Antibacterial LED Bulb
AMAZON LINK: RubyLux All Blue Antibacterial LED Bulb.
Our cheapest product. RubyLux is a blue light bulb which you can screw into your desk lamp. The glass is studded with 38 LED lights, a decent total, while the wavelength is perfect at 415nm.
The major downside of this product is that you have to press your face within 6 inches of the bulb to get the proper effect. Given that you are so close, using goggles properly is a must. RubyLux lacks flexibility as well, since you are forced to screw it into a nearby lamp socket. It’s very difficult to blast specific acne-prone areas of your face with extra precision.
The wavelength cannot be argued with, but the intensity is beaten by other products easily, most notably the also affordable reVive device. 38 LEDs will destroy plenty of acne bacteria but plenty will survive, ready and waiting to trigger acne again.
Nevertheless, if you really want to use blue light therapy cheaply, this is a good option to try.
PROS: perfect wavelength, cheap, decent intensity for price.
CONS: impractical, uncomfortable to use, other products are more intense.
Silk’n Blue Acne Solution
AMAZON LINK: Silk ‘n Blue Acne Solution Device.
The Silk’n Blue device is described as using the “synergistic power of fractional blue light and deep dermal heating” to clear acne. It’s a roughly similar proposition to the Tanda Clear Plus device. The wavelength is 416 nanometres, while the intensity is moderate to strong.
Like Tanda, Silk’n Blue has promising acne studies to its name, this time two. The first observed that 91% of participants experienced a reduction in acne after three months. 40% of patients experienced 100% clearance within three months. The second study achieved a reduction in acne of up to 67%, with 92% of patients achieving improvements.
The directions are to use Silk’n Blue daily. Use it on each acne zone for 3 to 4 minutes. Stick to this regimen for 6-8 weeks.
The device features a built-in heat sensor and fan to prevent the interior from reaching 41 degrees and overheating. The head of the device does not need to be replaced. The power source is charged energy; you have to charge Silk’n Blue with a cord after every few sessions, but this makes it cordless during usage, increasing portability and convenience.
PROS: optimal wavelength, good intensity, well designed, strong studies.
CONS: other products are more intense.
The verdict – which device wins?
The greatest device matches the greatest price tag – for pure blue light, Baby Quasar MD Blue is the ultimate thanks to its optimal specifications. For table-top devices, Norlanya is victorious, beating Angel Kiss into second thanks to its great reviews.
Your ultimate cheaply priced blue light device, yet still highly intense device, is Foreo Espada, due to it having the perfect specifications and a potential bonus power to improve blood circulation.
For readers wanting to spend under $150, I would also recommend Tanda Clear Plus. However, reVive is also an excellent cheaper option. The famous LightStim is good, but at an intensity disadvantage compared to equally priced products.
In fact, every blue light device reviewed here is decent. I would advise you to remember the constant activator replacement in the Illumask though: it really isn’t as cheap as it looks. Again, it’s a good choice for a one month experiment. Thereafter you can move onto a more permanent investment.
Thanks for reading!