Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment

12:36:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Review

My only associations with dermatologists are prescription ointments and sensitive, flakey skin. It wasn't until a few Korean beauty and lifestyle YouTubers shared their dermatology visits did my scope of what dermatologists were capable of increase. They showed something more akin to a high-tech spa treatment filled with extractions, masks, and interestingly lights that weren't exactly lasers to treat troubled skin and other preventative care.

When the Neutrogena Light Therapy range came out it I was intrigued yet skeptical. How could colored lights, that aren't even UV, help with acne? I know medical professionals supposedly use these on their patients yet it still seemed like an impossible solution. I remember my friend sharing the ads for the Light Therapy Acne Mask and I immediately scoffed at it being ridiculous—both the idea of light therapy seeming gimmicky and the plastic mask looking like something straight out of a horror film.

But that's the beauty of marketing; when people are skeptical of something new, coupons can be a great initiator. A $10 off discount circulated the popular couponing websites around the same time my interest in the technology changed. If there wasn't the less expensive and compact Acne Spot Treatment nor the $10 coupon, I would have easily glossed over ever giving new consumer technology a try.

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment packaging

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment pamphlet

Neutrogena's description:

Pop-up pimple? Light is on it. With dermatologist in-office technology, the spot treatment harnesses the power of light therapy to target and treat breakouts fast. This clinically proven two-minute acne spot treatment uses red and blue lights to reduce breakouts without flaking or burning. The easy-to-use portable design is ideal to treat acne anytime-anywhere! Battery can be replaced for continued use.

Red lights - Reduces acne inflammation
Blue lights - Targets acne-causing bacteria

100% UV Free
Chemical Free Treatment
FDA Cleared

Turn on device by pressing the button for a FULL second until it powers on.
Apply directly on skin so light is fully surrounding pimple.
Treat for two minutes. Device will automatically turn off after two minutes.

Neutrogena: USD $19.99*

*Prices vary depending on where you live and the retailer you purchase from. In NYC, the prices at the drugstores are closer to USD $25.

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment security seal

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment symbols


The Acne Spot Treatment doesn't look fancy. It is made of lightweight plastic and what I am assuming aluminum. There are 3 lights, 2 of which are blue-colored and 1 is a reddish pink. It functions via a single button and is simply AA battery operated. Of course, it would be more eco-friendly to have the wand be rechargeable but I think the price would definitely not be as affordable otherwise.

If I have to nitpick about anything, it would probably just be that Neutrogena assumes everyone will have a screwdriver handy at home because the battery chamber is locked shut to the handle of the wand via a small screw.

The biggest confusion with the Neutrogena Light therapy is in regards to the inclusion of an expiration date. It seems that the "Use by" date is for ~2 years after the light wand is made. (I got the one in the pictures in 2017 and it was set to expire 2019. Another wand I bought in late-2018 is set to expire in mid-2020.) I am unsure how lights could "expire" and neither does Neutrogena say in its included pamphlet. Nevertheless, the first Acne Spot Treatment I purchased did not even last until 2019 when the lights died a few months shy of the February 2019 date.

lavlilacs Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment lit up

How I Use

Neutrogena recommends that the wand is pressed right up against the skin to completely surround a pimple. I do use the light in that way but also do just hover the light close to my face without any contact, especially when I have makeup or freshly applied skincare on. This way the surface of the wand doesn't get as dirty and I don't leave a rectangularly shaped mark on my face because the action of pressing something against the face for 2 minutes could create a slight suction/cupping effect.

Obviously, the latter method results in a less concentrated blast of light. However, after having done both methods I think a little distance between the light wand and skin doesn't have too big of an impact on the results. I would recommend keeping a mirror handy because I find that any slight movements in my hand or face and the light is nowhere near a pimple at the end of the 2 minutes.

They say to only target pimples 3 times per day, totaling 6 minutes per spot daily. Sometimes I abide by those rules and other times I am either too busy (more so lazy) to wait around for 6 mins or overzealous and "zap" the zits a couple times more than suggested. I never kept a schedule for this gadget. I have used it for continuous 2-minute sessions and I have also broken it up by daytime/nighttime.

Thoughts & Recommendations

For those with acne that isn't a random, isolated pimple here and there, I am sad to say this Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment is not the answer. You will have to take the name "Spot Treatment" quite literally in order to not get mad at how it performs.

For those with acne that is cystic or deep, this little light wand is also not the best choice. The change isn't as dramatic and honestly not worth the time dedication. A dermatologist in a HuffPost article said that it may slow down the development but this consumer-oriented light gadget ultimately isn't designed to zap away the deep stuff. If possible I would wait for the pus to push through before treating.

So what is it good for then? What I found after a year or so of use on varying pimple types is, this particular light therapy seems to work best on the small, pus-filled pimples. Even then it takes the 3 (three!) 2-min sessions per zit, at the very least, to see results. Imagine if it was a cluster of pimples or a very persistent and big, pus-filled pimple it would take way too many 2-min sessions per day to treat all said pimples. In short, owning and using this gadget requires time and patience.

When the light does work, I think it does wonders. The small pustules I have targeted often dry up a day or so quicker than normal and just flakes right off like a scab. I find myself relying less on acne patches for the small fry spots. It is a nice reusable complement to those who find themselves going through too many acne patches. Save the hydrocolloids for the deeper-rooted stuff.

Each AA battery lasts for about ~100 2-minute sessions. After about 70 2-min light-ups the battery juice starts to slow down and there is a wait time of a few minutes before it can be initiated again. That waiting period slowly increases from a couple minutes to many (15+ min) as the power depletes more. When the gaps elongate past an hour, it is safe to say that AA battery is done for.

Neutrogena's Light Therapy Acne Mask is an option for those who often get more than a couple pimples at any given time. But keep in mind the mask itself is almost double the price of the Acne Spot Treatment AND it requires the purchase of a separate "Activator" to work, each having only 30 light-ups. The mask might not fit all face shapes nor the specific troubled area (say around the hairline or way under the chin and jaw). It also requires a longer session, 10 minutes for the entire face versus 2 minutes per spot.

Both versions have initial and reoccurring financial costs. The Spot Treatment will still be much cheaper than the Mask because AA batteries are sold in packs much cheaper than the single Activator.  I think it all boils down to how bad the acne problem is because time is valuable. For those skeptical, I would recommend waiting for the usual 40% off coupon from CVS and buying the Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment version before upgrading if necessary.