Red light therapy has been around for about 50 years after its initial discovery in eastern Europe. Since then, it’s been used by NASA scientists to stimulate plant growth in space, as well as heal cuts and even musculoskeletal injuries.
Today, in the beauty industry, this therapy is more commonly used as a skincare treatment with an LED-based device. Despite claims of how beneficial red light therapy is for the skin, there are plenty of unknown effects that still need further research. In the meantime, interested and prospective consumers of this therapy are advised to get a better understanding of this therapy to manage expectations and properly discern whether or not it can be helpful to them.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses red-colored LEDs or light-emitting diodes and lasers to produce wavelengths that can sink deep into your skin. This red light creates light that you can feel as heat, and infrared light that’s invisible to the human eye. When these wavelengths enter the skin, the cells are able to convert them to energy and stimulate them to regenerate and grow new cells. This is a gradual process where changes can be noticed after a few weeks to months of consistent red light therapy application.
These properties are why this therapy has been used for a number of facial treatments and medical procedures, including cosmetic dermatology, as well as accelerated wound healing and even pain management in healthcare. In terms of skincare, many of the pros and cons of light therapy have to do with the costs and duration of the said treatment. Research that began several decades ago is still ongoing to test the level of effectiveness and efficacy of red light therapy in all its uses.
What Can Red Light Therapy Do For The Skin?
There are numerous red light therapy benefits that have been identified by previous research and consumer results. These include improving skin’s appearance by reducing visible signs of aging and discoloration faster than regular skincare topical treatments. It’s also noted that red light therapy is preferred over other light treatments because it doesn’t rely on destroying cells to make way for new ones that other laser treatments are known for.
In addition to those benefits, red light therapy has been shown to improve blood circulation in the surface layers of the skin to produce faster skin healing and to keep collagen production robust. All these are linked to the benefits of cell regeneration used to minimize the visibility of skin conditions, such as:
- Fine lines
- Crow’s feet
- Acne scars
- Dark spots
Scientific data also support that red light therapy can be most beneficial when used in combination with proper skincare and other LED therapies, such as blue and infrared lights.
Still, the outcomes are determined by factors that include the severity of the skin condition being treated, particularly when treating sun damage and premature aging. Furthermore, when red light therapy is effective, it can be used as a long-term solution to keep skin healthy and reduce the costs associated with frequent esthetician visits.
Does It Work At Home Or In Office?
Red light therapy can be done at home by using FDA-approved or cleared marked handheld devices that can be purchased online at cosmetic e-retailers. These come with varying price points, uses, and even wavelengths. Reviews and studies suggest that different wavelengths can produce different results, which then also affects the duration of the treatments.
At-home users are advised to read the instructions carefully before using any device, especially to take note of the recommended time to apply it. This is an important safety precaution to prevent potential skin damage caused by overuse.
In-office red light therapy is the more costly option as treatment has to be paid for per appointment, which can take weeks or months to complete. However, it’s considered safer, especially for more problem skin targeted therapy, because it’s administered by a licensed and experienced esthetician or cosmetic dermatologist. In such cases, treatments can go by several names, notably photobiomodulation or (low level) laser therapy.
Red light therapy uses LED wavelengths to penetrate skin cells in the face and body. It’s been useful in many disciplines, particularly for skin and health care. It’s shown to have cellular regeneration properties that allow it to stimulate skin cell growth at a faster rate. This makes it ideal for targeting aging skin for a more youthful and smoother appearance. For the best results, consumers should use high-quality devices or attend appointments that stick to a regularly scheduled routine.