Vampire facials, microcurrent treatments, infrared saunas — just like every other popular skin-care breakthrough of the recent past, you probably saw LED therapy first on Instagram, either in the form of that serial killer-looking mask that Jessica Alba and half the Kardashians love (see what we mean here, here and here) or a hand-held device that, on first glance, looks a bit like a sex toy. Let’s dive right in.

Even though LED, or Light Emitting Diode therapy, has been around for decades — NASA used the technology in plant growth experiments on board the Space Shuttle in the ’80s — it recently found its way into the zeitgeist as an Insta-worthy skin treatment for everything from severe acne to fine lines and dullness. And it’s no wonder: As with most things involving NASA, it’s equal parts intriguing and effective. But how can a futuristic-looking mask that simply shines a light on your face be such an all-star skin savior?

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Vijay Nanda

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