As much as I strive for simplicity in my routine, I'm a product junkie at heart. I began applying creams and toners when I was about seven years old, and by the time I was in college my roommates were making bonfires out of my Sephora delivery boxes. Those days are for the most part over, as the constraints of finances and time have taken hold. I no longer prioritize quantity and variety over pruning a minimal collection of carefully selected products that have proven themselves to work. However, when a company approaches me to try out a new product, I'm all over it. Barring anything that will make me break out in hives, I'm willing to experiment with whatever you got. Portland-based Oregon Aesthetic Technologies has presented me with one such opportunity, and a particularly unique one, with their hand-held home-treatment ANSR LED beam.
I've had a handful of LED treatments at the salon, as add-ons to a facial. I'd heard of their effectiveness in treating acne and aging, but professional treatments don't come cheap, and they require persistence to work, out-pricing most of the unwashed masses. I brought my little beam in to show my delightfully no-bullshit aesthetician. Her "Solitone Infinite Energy -2500 EXTREME LED" uses hundreds of thousands of LEDs as opposed to the ANSR beam's four, but she still gave it her stamp of approval, contending that "any LED is good," but the key is diligence. I'm about four weeks in, using the beam every morning and night with few exceptions (maybe I skipped it once or twice when I was running late in the morning, okay?), along with the line of products the company offers alongside it. Hit the break for my thoughts so far, plus a video and a Q&A with co-founder and Vice President of Product Development, Shannon Monihan.
I'm 30, and while I think I'm doing pretty okay on the aging front, I harbor plenty of vain paranoia, and I'm determined to age gracefully, or at least mitigate the damages of time and red wine. I never had acne as a teenager, but I'm more likely to break out now. So the fact that the ANSR beam is a two-in-one, with both blue light (which kills Propionobacterium Acnes, or "P.acnes," the bacteria that causes breakouts), and red light (which activates cells to produce collagen) is delightful. The science behind phototherapy is pretty cool: It was originally developed by NASA to stimulate the growth of plants in outer space, and they quickly discovered that it had similar growth and healing effects on human cells. I haven't had any noteworthy breakouts since I started using the beam, and slight discolorations on my cheeks have noticeably started to diminish. At four weeks of use, I'm still just scratching the surface of the purported results, though. According to research, I can expect even more dramatic improvements after two months, even more after a year, etc. It's motivating, and motivation is necessary: By far the biggest disadvantage of using the beam is time. You can use just one kind of light at a time if you wish, but it's recommended for best results to do five minutes of each light twice a day—that's 20 minutes of your life, every day. The upside is that you can do it whenever, wherever. The device has to be plugged in to charge but it's totally portable. According to the aesthetician at Blush Beauty Bar who first introduced me to the device and its associated products, the beam will last through about two years of regular use before kicking the bucket. But priced as low as $148, that's a minute fraction of what you'd spend on two years of professional LED sessions.
A word on the products: You can buy the beam and it products a la carte, or you can choose an acne package or a rejuvenating package, both of which come with an exfoliating prep cleanser that purifies your skin of dirt and oils right before you apply the beam. The rejuvenating serum contains an intriguing, relatively new peptide on the skincare scene, which is extracted from snake venom (it "paralyzes your wrinkles" as I like to say). I like to think I was using it sparingly, but the $52 bottle lasted a mere week! The acne package comes with two creams, one for day and one for night, each containing small levels (1%) of salicylic acid and a proprietary natural ingredient called "Aurazin" that prevents oils from hardening and clogging pores. I can't say that it's not working, however unremarkable they seem in texture and scent—I am getting results. I'm going to recommend the beam (which can be used with other products, too), but with the caveat that you have to be committed. The thing appears to really work, but it's not worth it if you're lackadaisical about using it. I sent a few questions over to ANSR's Shannon Monihan, here's what she had to say:
What other products on the market are competitors for the ANSR beam?
There are other handheld photo light devices on the market that offer some of the benefits of ANSR: Beam. However, we are the only device that offers the multitude of benefits and ease of use in one product. Professional lasers also offer the results of the beam at a much more expensive price point.
Can you give a brief rundown of how the LED lights work on the skin to achieve the cosmetic purposes of bacterial reduction, collagen production, and scar/discoloration removal?
The ANSR: BEAM utilizes harmless phototonic energy to help treat the skin deep below the skin's surface. Narrow spectrums of light waves are produced by special, high-intensity LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and are absorbed by the skin and cells in the body. This light, called phototherapy or light therapy, is converted into chemical energy, which initiates a cascade of events at the cellular level. The ANSR: BEAM utilizes narrow-band, high-intensity blue and red photo light wave applications for treating acne and to rejuvenate the skin - and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Blue photo light waves (430 nm) are precise wavelengths of light energy that are selectively delivered to the targeted area beneath the skin. Bacteria that causes inflammation associated with acne is known as Propionobacterium Acnes or P.acnes. P.acnes release porphyrins, which absorb the light energy and in effect, self-destruct. By removing P.acnes, inflammation disappears and acne clears up. A different photo light wavelength than skin-damaging ultraviolet light, blue light safely kills bacteria without causing dryness, redness or pain. Red photo light wavelengths (632nm) are longer wavelengths that are able to penetrate the skin more deeply stimulating the collagens to create new, healthier cells - up to 200% more rapidly. New cell growth rejuvenates the skin, even outs out skin tone, reducing redness and filling in fine lines and wrinkles.
I understand you have a proprietary ingredient in the day and night creams for acne. and that it is the other active ingredient besides salicylic. What is this ingredient?
It’s called Aurazin, a proprietary combination of natural ingredients that helps inhibit the thickening of skin oils so that they can pass freely up the hair follicle and safely onto the surface of the skin. This helps to keep oils from clogging the pores, preventing outbreaks.
The serum that pairs with the red beam has an extract of snake venom. It's my understanding that the use of this type of peptide is generating a lot of buzz in the industry but that it is too early to confirm how effective the long-term results are of its use. Tell me about how the ANSR company decided to use this ingredient.
Because we are a very science driven company, we strive to use raw materials and technology that is cutting edge. Synake has proven to be a great, non-invasive way to diminish fine lines and wrinkles in the skin which makes it a perfect ingredient for our hydrating and nourishing SERUM.
I showed the beam to my aesthetician, whose motto is "any LED is good." She said that while the ANSR beam has 4 LEDs, her clinical machine has thousands, and that diligence is key to getting any worthwhile results from the handheld version. The beam is clearly more cost effective given that it's priced at the amount of only a handful of professional LED machine exposures, but it costs the user in time—if used twice daily on both settings as recommended, that takes 20 minutes per day. How do you perceive the pros and cons of the professional and at-home options?
The quality of our LEDs would be considered the “gold standard” of LED lights. Meaning, they are going to last longer and be more effective than others on the market. In addition, our recent findings have shown that you can use the BEAM for has little as five minutes a day for visible results. That’s because your aesthetician is correct, diligence is key to effective results. The time it takes to make a monthly appointment at a spa or laser clinic, plus the cost of the treatments, makes ANSR: a much more realistic regimen to adhere to. It takes as little time as brushing your teeth to see results with the BEAM!
Maybe I should, but I helluv do not spend 10 minutes brushing my teeth. But still. Point taken. Peep Shannon over-viewing it in handy video form, and if you decide to try it out you can get it at Blush or even New Seasons: