Red Light Therapy 101

You must have heard about the many benefits of red light therapy from influencers, your local salon, or from the Kardashians. It does sound like one of the many fads today, except it isn't. Red light therapy, and light therapy in general, has been a medical therapeutic procedure for over 100 years.  

If you're looking for a quick answer about red light therapy, here it is: it's true that red light therapy is an evidence-backed, scientifically proven procedure. It can be used to manage certain skin conditions, reverse signs of aging, increase the growth of hair, and more. 

However, there is a lot of misinformation out there presenting red light therapy as a miracle cure. The following is a full breakdown of what red light therapy is, how it is used, and what benefits you can gain from a red light therapy bed at home. 

What is Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy (RLT) is a therapeutic treatment procedure that relies on light in the red region of the spectrum (30nm-830nm) to bring about various skincare benefits. The light is produced by Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) at very specific wavelengths depending on the desired effect.

RLT is a subset of light therapy or phototherapy. Light therapy has a long history, ever since Niels Ryberg Finsen developed the first procedure in 1896 for the treatment of lupus. 

Dr. Finsen went on to win the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physiology for his work in phototherapy. Since then, red light has been used in various ways, including by NASA. The agency was experimenting with red light as a part of a plan to boost plant growth in space, but they noticed that skin lesions healed faster under the light as well.

A lot of scientific research is still ongoing to study the effects of red light therapy and its applications in healthcare and/or cosmetics. 

Science Behind Red Light Therapy: How Does It Work?

A clinical trial was carried out in 2014 to establish the efficacy of red and near-infrared light in treatment. The results of the trial showed improved skin rejuvenation in patients who underwent the procedure as well as better skin complexion, more collagen production (thus reducing wrinkles and signs of aging), as well as a general feeling of well-being. 

It is known that high-energy light in the 600nm-1300nm wavelength range penetrates the skin to about 5 mm and its energy is absorbed. From here, it interacts with skin cells called fibroblasts, keratinocytes, and immune cells to cause various effects. 

The absorbed energy increases energy production cell activity. This triggers cell division, regeneration, the production of collagen by fibroblasts, reduced inflammation, and many other benefits. 

Effects of Red Light Therapy on the Skin

The biggest benefits of LED red light therapy are experienced on the skin. The fibroblast cells in the epidermis are stimulated to produce more collagen, which improves skin elasticity. This is why red light therapy for wrinkles is such a good anti-aging alternative treatment. 

In addition, skin regeneration causes the newer cells generated to push out old and damaged ones, resulting in a more youthful and radiant appearance. This regeneration also increases the growth of new hair follicles, which can mitigate the effects of alopecia.

For those with acne, red light alters the behavior of sebaceous glands and reduces overactive oil production. This helps to stop the clogging of pores, thus helping to manage acne. For effective treatment of acne, red light therapy is often combined with blue light therapy.

Red light therapy also helps to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria on the skin, and reduce irritation due to various skin conditions. In short, the skincare benefits of red light therapy include:

  • Improved collagen production to reduce wrinkles and increase elasticity
  • Increased production of fibroblast cells, which produce more collagen and connective tissue
  • Regeneration of skin cells, which pushes out old and damaged cells
  • Improved growth of hair, especially people suffering from androgenetic alopecia

Effects of Red Light Therapy on Performance and Recovery

Red light therapy research shows promising evidence of improved recovery for athletes after workouts by reducing muscle soreness, fatigue, pain, and inflammation. For this reason, many gyms and wellness centers had installed red light beds for full-body exposure. 

Since muscle cells are extremely high in mitochondria (which produces energy in cells), the effects of RLT on muscle recovery are even more profound. Red and near-infrared light also increases the activity of natural antioxidants in the body, which reduces cell damage from harmful free radicals. 

Finally, red light therapy also helps to improve blood circulation in the muscles, which ensures better distribution of oxygen and nutrients for muscle cell recovery and regeneration. All these benefits were studied as part of research on photobiomodulation in human tissue using red and near-infrared (NIR) light. 

Sleep

As opposed to harmful blue light, red light stimulates the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm and sleep. In the same way, red-light wavelengths combined with white light during the day induce more alertness.

Red light is used in military flashlights and instrument panels for planes and submarines because it doesn't cause squinting and helps to improve night vision. Similarly, red light at night helps the eyes to relax, which is good for inducing sleep. That's why snuggling up with a red light mini can help you relax and go to sleep more easily. 

Potential Side Effects of Red Light Therapy

The next question to ask is, are there any side effects to red light therapy? The answer is that there are none, so long as it is used responsibly and using only high-quality red light devices. 

Red light therapy is non-invasive, which means that there is virtually no risk when using red light therapy beds. However, red light devices at home are prone to misuse, with a higher risk of burns and eye damage. 

As such, it is always recommended that you start with a 15-minute therapy session every day for 5 days a week - you should see positive results within 8-12 weeks.

Where to Buy Red Light Therapy Devices 

Red light therapy may not be a miracle cure, but is an effective though still experimental treatment that can transform your skin and body. It has no known side effects and a lot of possible benefits, which makes it a brilliant investment for anti-aging skincare, muscle recovery, and general well-being.

The only concern is to make sure that you purchase high-quality, proven red-light LEDs for the best results. Here at Red Light Therapy, we have an assortment of red light emitters for full-body and portable uses. Explore our collection now to help you achieve your skincare and general wellness goals.  Also feel free to contact us.

References: 

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4272231/#:~:text=In%201993%2C%20Quantum%20Devices%20(Barneveld,to%20heal%20faster%20as%20well.

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/

3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24078483/

4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5167494/