What Can Red Light Therapy Do for Your Skin?

Young woman in a red coat mediating with a red background.

If you care about skin care, then you’ve heard about red light therapy. Red light therapy (RLT) is a therapeutic treatment that uses red LED lights that produce low-level wavelengths. The treatment has a wide range of applications for both beauty and pain management. However, much of the interest is in its applications for skin. 

Today it is easier than ever to use red light therapy at home with the many portable devices now available in all price ranges. Maybe you own a red light therapy device already and want to take full advantage, or you want to vet the technology before you buy, here’s everything you need to know about red light therapy for your skin.

What is red light therapy?

Red light therapy uses LED (light-emitting diode) lights in a certain range of wavelengths to promote cell growth and treat a range of skin conditions. LEDs are light sources that rely on semiconductors, which means they generate far less heat than standard light bulbs. That makes them comfortable to use regularly. The amount of energy an LED releases determines the wavelength of the light which, in turn, produces the color.

Red LEDs release long wavelengths of light that travel through the body and stimulate cells to aid in healing. They produce red light you can see, as well as infrared that is outside the visible spectrum. The science behind red light therapy speaks to its legitimacy as a consumer beauty product. NASA initially used red light technology for astronauts in space and continues to study its applications for long-term human spaceflight. 

Back here on Earth, numerous individuals find red light therapy effective for reducing wrinkles and promoting wound healing. You may also hear it called low-level laser therapy (LLLT), low-power laser therapy (LPLT), or photobiomodulation (PBM).

How does red light therapy work for skin?

Although red LEDs do not feel hot to the touch, they create friction and heat below the skin’s surface. Energizing cells in this way increases their activity, causing them to reproduce faster. Cells take in energy through their mitochondria, which tells them it’s time to divide. It’s like a boost to your skin cells’ metabolism. 

Each time a skin cell splits, it creates two new copies of itself. As new cells emerge, they displace old, damaged cells. You end up with more healthy skin cells, which contribute to a healthier, younger appearance. 

RLT also increases blood circulation. Bringing more blood to the skin tissue helps it to thrive on ample oxygen and nutrients. More blood flow also contributes to that timely skin cell regeneration we’ve been talking about.

And unlike harsher skin treatments, such as laser therapy or abrasion, red light therapy doesn’t need to destroy your skin tissue in order to rebuild it. Instead, the light boosts your skin’s natural regeneration.

Benefits of red light therapy for your skin

Many of the most popular benefits of red light therapy involve the skin. It can, for example, reduce the appearance of:

With a recent wound, the light energy may speed healing, mitigating the future appearance of scars. Many users also find that with regular application, they notice fewer skin imperfections and look younger overall.

When used in combination with blue light therapy, red light therapy may reduce acne and the scars it causes. It also has applications for regenerating muscle tissue, gum tissue, and other areas of the body.

What evidence is there that red light therapy works for skin?

It’s not only customers and influencers who appreciate red light therapy. Doctors and scientists also vouch for the treatment. Numerous scientific research studies support the efficacy of red light therapy for treating skin. Here are just a couple of examples.

Improved Complexion

Researchers in Germany conducted a randomized, controlled study of 136 volunteers. After 30 treatment sessions of varying lengths, the subjects experienced “significantly improved skin complexion and skin feeling,” including less roughness and denser collagen.

Cell Regeneration

A study out of the Medical College of Wisconsin showed increases in growth of 155-171% of normal human skin cells in a lab. The same researchers that Navy SEALs experienced significantly faster healing of musculoskeletal training injuries by using LED light therapies.

Of course, the best evidence is your own. Many customers start with a small device and work up to larger devices as they become convinced of red light therapy’s potential for their skin.

Are there side effects of red light therapy on skin?

When using red light therapy in a dermatologist’s office or using FDA-cleared home light therapy devices, there is little risk. Using it too much or for too long could potentially cause burns or eye damage. However, red and infrared LEDs contain no UV rays, so there’s no risk of skin cancer like from the sun. 

It is always advisable to speak to your dermatologist or general practitioner before trying a new treatment regimen and rule out any individual risk factors you may have. However, most people experience positive results from red light therapy with essentially no side effects.

How long does it take for red light therapy to work on your skin?

Like most beauty products, the effects of right light therapy take time. Each device comes with its own recommended usage time, usually from three to 10 minutes per treatment area. You can choose to use it once or twice a day, or every other day, as your schedule allows. Consistency is key to seeing results. Even so, improvement to skin tone and appearance will happen gradually. You may see minor results quickly, but you will continue to see the full effects over three to six months. After that, you will want to use the device less frequently for maintenance. 

It’s best to track your results with “before” and “after” photos. Once you have your new device, take photos every day or week in the same position and report the results over time. It’s also important to use your device correctly for the best results. Make sure to review the instructions or FAQs on how to use your device.

What red light therapy devices are available for skin care?

Red light therapy devices have come a long way from when NASA first used them aboard their spacecraft. Now anyone can buy them to use at home. reVive devices range from portable devices like Glō that fit in your pocket to foldable panels that fit in a purse or backpack and treat your whole face, neck, or back. The variety of devices we sell makes it easier to achieve results on your own timeline and budget, rather than waiting for expensive appointments at a spa or medical office. Explore all reVive red light therapy products for skincare now.

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