What if we told you that you could make your skin appear younger with the flick of a switch? That you could fade your acne scars, improve your skin’s texture, and kick enlarged pores to the curb all with just a beam of light? Cue red light therapy (RLT), a treatment that emits light of various wavelengths to combat skin issues at a cellular level. RLT has become so common that it can be done anywhere from your derm’s office to your local sauna, or even from the comfort of your own home. Plus, there’s little risk when it comes to red light therapy (read below for detail), and most skin types are a good candidate. And while multiple sessions are required to see visible results, it may be worth a shot if you’re ready to say goodbye to your fine lines. If you’re curious to learn more about how red light therapy works, its benefits, and potential side effects, keep reading on.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy falls under the umbrella of LED (light-emitting diode) light therapy. There are a number of light therapies to choose from depending on your skincare concerns (for example, blue light is effective at targeting bacteria, ridding acne, and minimizing breakout-induced inflammation). Red light therapy is a safe, restorative treatment that delivers red LEDs to the skin in low-level frequencies. Benefits range from pain relief to anti-aging. While the LEDs don’t feel hot to the touch, they produce heat underneath the surface of the skin by using concentrated wavelengths. This increases collagen production and signals to skin cells to regenerate quicker, resulting in more radiant, younger-looking skin. Red light therapy can have health benefits, too. When used at a wavelength of 850 nanometers, it can help with muscle recovery, joint pain, and full body healing. Because the light treatment is non-invasive (and doesn’t involve any chemicals), it’s received praise from skincare experts, medical professionals, and celebrities alike.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy has a variety of benefits that extend beyond just the realm of skincare. Keep reading to learn how it can relieve pain, improve muscle recovery, speed up wound healing, and improve the appearance of sun damage.
Good blood circulation isn’t just crucial for the health of your body, it’s vital for the health of your skin, too. Proper blood flow means your body is receiving a continuous flow of oxygen and nutrients, which helps each organ (including your skin) operate normally. Red light therapy is an effective, non-invasive way to boost circulation in the skin, and it helps keep your skin nourished, your complexion clear, and your cells healthy by encouraging them to regenerate.
Because RLT therapy boosts circulation, it helps speed up the rate at which the body can repair itself. Studies have found that light therapy can stimulate the wound-healing process, and can reduce the appearance of acne scars, hypertrophic scars, bruises, and burns. And, if used in conjunction with blue light therapy, red light therapy also has the potential to minimize inflammation caused by acne.
Reduces the Signs of Aging
By stimulating collagen and fibroblast production, red light therapy has been proven to minimize the tell-tale signs of aging such as crow’s feet, deep-set wrinkles, and fine lines. It can also brighten dark spots over time, which can make the skin appear more youthful overall. In one study, the subjects “experienced significantly improved skin complexion and skin feeling,” as well as smoothed out skin roughness and a higher collagen density after low-level laser therapy.
If you’re struggling with joint or back pain, arthritis, or other forms of chronic inflammation, red light therapy can be an effective treatment to offer relief. It can also help with muscle repair and recovery—especially when used with infrared light therapy—and can be used as a preventative measure before you hit the gym (to reduce muscle soreness) as well as a therapeutic solution after a grueling workout (to keep post-workout muscle impairments to a minimum).
Repairs Sun Damage
LED light therapy is not to be confused with UV lights, which can not only accelerate aging in the skin but can lead to serious issues such as skin cancer. Because red light therapy speeds up the body’s natural healing process, it can increase the immune response against dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and scarring by eliminating dead skin cells and making way for new ones to form.
Potential Side Effects of Red Light Therapy
Though red light therapy is FDA-approved, has no downtime, and has been deemed safe by experts for most skin types and tones, there are some potential drawbacks to the treatment.
If you’re sensitive to light in general, or you’re taking medications that increase photosensitivity, you may not be a candidate for RLT. It’s always best to speak to your medical professional before trying out a new beauty treatment, as some medications don’t clearly list that they may have photo-sensitizing effects.
Everyone responds differently to light therapy, and though you’ll see minor results after three to four sessions, it’ll likely take eight to ten sessions spaced one week apart to reap the full benefits of the wrinkle-fighting treatment. The good news? Because results are accumulative, your skin will likely have a noticeable improvement after each session. Follow-up treatments to maintain results and keep your skin looking healthy may also be necessary. Because it takes multiple sessions to see a noticeable change in the skin, try supplementing your RLT routine with medical-grade silicone patches such as the SiO Beauty SuperLift Pack. These patches are designed to minimize the appearance of wrinkles while hydrating the skin, and have shapes for your forehead, underneath your eyes, and along your smile lines. When coupled with red light therapy, they can help your skin maintain its youthful glow.
Red light therapy is a safe, non-invasive treatment that combats a multitude of skin conditions such as wrinkles, dark spots, sun damage, and smile lines. It also overall improves skin health by boosting circulation and increasing collagen production. Studies have also proven it to be an effective tool for relieving joint and muscle pain, as well as healing wounds. While the treatment can be done at home using a red light therapy device, the treatment is more likely to have better results when performed in a doctor’s office, as they’re able to use higher concentrations of LED light. If you have sensitive skin, it’s always best to speak to your dermatologist before trying out a new beauty treatment.