What Is A Wood's Lamp and Why Do We Use It?

What Is A Wood's Lamp and Why Do We Use It?

By Michael Pollak

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There's some important things that the naked eye and trained hands can't see alone.

One of the first steps that we perform as part of our facials at Heyday is taking a look at your skin with a Wood's Lamp. 

A Wood's Lamp is a kind of 80's-looking, handheld black light. This tool isn't necessarily an industry standard when getting a facial with an esthetician (aka it's not used at most spas). In fact, you're more likely to see it used by dermatologists to help with skin diagnoses or in esthetic schools when teaching skin analysis. 

However, we think it is an important tool and use in our shops, especially when your'e new to us, because it helps us get the whole story about your skin, by showing us what we can't see with just our eyes. We're deep like that.

When we look through the lamp, what we're looking for areas that show up as different fluorescent colors. Some of the colors we look for are orange, purple, white, and brown. 

Balanced skin will have an overall blue glow, like a night sky viewed from a city. If we see orange dots, that means we've found a spot that is producing more oil, common in our t-zones. Your skin needs a healthy amount of oil to protect itself and some of us naturally produce more oil than others, but too much can be a sign of dehydration (i.e., overproduction of oil). Oilier skin, with more defined bright spots, shows up like a night sky as you'd see it in a rural area. (Now if only we could rope astrological readings into this.)

If we see purple patches, it means we're looking at dehydrated skin. And if we see white areas, we're seeing a build-up of dead skin cells which we can take care of during your facial with a manual exfoliant like the Pineapple and Peppermint Exfoliant from Shaffali or a chemical exfoliant like an enzyme peel. 

And finally, there's brown. These are changes in pigmentation, of which there are two types. One type is in the dermis (deep in the skin) and can't be easily changed. The other is in the epidermis (top layers of the skin) and can be treated over time

While we're using this tool, we'll make sure to let you know what we're seeing. (And we'll also warn you that a "skirt" or bag will temporarily go over your face to block out outside light!) Like any tool, it's about the interpretation and context, but the Wood's Lamp is one in our arsenal that helps us truly reveal your skin type, assess your current skin situation, and game-plan how we'll best customize your facial and your routine at home.

So, come hop on our chair. We'll flip on the black light and tell you about the starry sky we see on your gorgeous face.



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