Cures without Creams: Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

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Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

I admit I'm not much of a gadget or tech person. My computer is old, my phone is old, and when I'm home alone talking to something, it's a cat, not a smart device. I don't really do any type of beauty treatment that doesn't just involve smearing some kind of liquid or cream on my face. I've never lasered or needled anything. But hey, this is just a light, so after reading a positive review of it from Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick, I figured it wasn't beyond my capacity to understand and use. And it's only about $20, so not beyond my budget either.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

With a consistent skincare routine that includes lots of moisture along with BHA and azelaic acid (review here), I'm lucky that I have very few breakouts these days. But I still have an average of one pimple, even if it's a small one, somewhere on my face at most times. Sometimes these are deep, cystic pimples (usually on my chin, usually around PMS time), and there's not a whole lot to be done about them, except to let the azelaic acid do its work and shorten their life span. Inflammatory zits--i.e. the scabby ones where the infection is near the surface of the skin--respond better to spot treatments. When they first appear, I usually dab on a little tea tree oil to kill some of the bacteria. If they are oozing or scabby, I'll use a hydrocolloid patch (review here) to absorb the goo and protect the surface. Both of those things help my inflammatory acne clear up more quickly.

This light pen fits into the same category. I've noticed absolutely no effect when I've tried it on cystic pimples, but it has definitely helped inflammatory pimples heal faster. That is exactly what it claims it will and will not do, so thumbs up.

There's not too much to explain in terms of how to use it. You just put a couple of batteries in it, cover the pimple with the light end of the pen, and hold the button for a couple of seconds to turn it on. It will beep to let you know when it comes on and goes off, but chances are you will be able to see the light out of the corner of your eye--it's very bright. Then you hold it in place for two minutes while you watch The Good Place, and it automatically shuts off when the time is up. You move it to the next spot and repeat as necessary. You're supposed to use it twice a day, but I usually forget and only use it once. Nonetheless, I'll find that if I use it before bed, my zit is less inflamed and starting to heal by morning. It's not an instant fix, but it does make a noticeable improvement.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

As for the science behind how this thing actually works, here's how I understand it. The LED light has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial effects on the skin, and so, much like a topical cream or other treatment, it kills some of the infection in the pore and also calms down the redness and inflammation so that it looks and feels better. The blue light kills bacteria on the surface and the red light penetrates a little more to help with inflammation. You can see both colors in the photo below. Apparently a device like this isn't powerful enough to penetrate the skin enough to treat a cystic pimple, which is why it really only works for those inflammatory zits on surface. You can find more information here and here.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

Also, the instructions say to use it on clean, dry skin. Sometimes I forget and apply moisturizer or something else, so then I don't use it. I'm just not sure what effect the light would have on the product. Any thoughts? Am I being too cautious? One (popular) article I read advised not using it on the same day/day after using a product that can cause photosensitivity, so I guess I would be careful about using it in conjunction with an AHA in particular. That said, there are no UV rays in these things, so again I'm not sure how much of a concern that should be.

Overall, I think this Neutrogena pen is a good option for spot treatment in addition to more holistic (not in the woo-sense of the word) skincare products. For me, it also helps to have an alternative to picking, in addition to the zit patches--or at least something to use after I've picked and I'm worried I've made things worse. I got my pen with a 20% off coupon from Ulta, but the cheapest I've seen it is $17 on Amazon.

Have you used any other skincare treatments that are not creams or other stuff slathered on your skin? What works? What's bullshit?

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

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