What exactly is red light therapy?
Red light therapy is sometimes referred to as cold laser therapy or low-level light therapy. It is an effective skin care treatment used to treat various skin conditions such as wrinkles, scars, and persistent wounds. This method involves exposing the skin to red LED lights with wavelengths ranging from 660 nm - 890 nm.
Professional vs at-home light therapy
Light therapy is a great way to boost your mood, energy, and focus. It can be done in a professional setting or at home. Professional light therapy typically involves a doctor or a therapist, who will tailor the light therapy plan to your individual needs. At-home red light therapy treatments can be delivered by handheld devices, tanning beds, or stationery ‘heat lamps’ positioned to the targeted body segment. Many innovatively designed red light therapy devices have entered the market on the back of the strong demand for red light therapy at home.
Although at-home devices may lack the strength of the LED used in a clinical setting, there is no difference in benefits. You may have to spend a few more minutes on red light therapy at home than during professional treatment.
Red light therapy generally uses wavelengths between 600 and 900 nm. Your body absorbs some ‘peak wavelengths’, which are the wavelengths where the spectrum reaches its highest intensity, more effectively. These peak wavelengths are 620 nm, 670 nm, 760 nm, and 830 nm. Wavelengths falling between these peak values are slightly less effective on your skin but get the job done.
When choosing an at-home red light therapy device, check if it uses wavelengths that are close in value to the peak wavelengths. About +/- 15 nm is just fine, and you will find many devices that use 630nm, 660 nm, and 850 nm. They are preferable to devices using 650 nm or 880 nm.
You could also have a look at FDA-approved at-home RLT panels that use many LEDs in different colors with different wavelengths to penetrate the skin at different levels. An example would be an RLT device that uses 660 nm (red), 630 nm (amber), 590 nm (yellow), and 880 nm (infrared).
Benefits of LED light therapy treatments
The exact science behind how red light therapy improves skin health is yet to be understood fully. It appears that the low wavelength light stimulates the skin’s mitochondria, the energy-generating ‘powerhouses’ of cells. Mitochondria are essential to processes such as wound healing, pigmentation, and hair growth. There is clinical evidence of a correlation between mitochondrial DNA damage and increased oxidative stress and aging.
Red light therapy is a great way to give your skin a boost! It can help reduce the appearance of acne, scars, and wrinkles, heal burns and other wounds, and improve your overall complexion and skin texture. Noninvasive phototherapy may also be useful in promoting hair growth in people with androgenetic alopecia.
Low wavelengths penetrate the skin more deeply than creams and serums, they could be more effective in addressing skin problems and ailments.
Red light therapy has been used for decades to effectively improve skin health. It is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin than most creams and serums.
Light therapy devices for health and wellness have various wavelengths that correspond to different visible colors and depending on their purpose. Therefore, each color penetrates the skin at different depths.
Blue light phototherapy uses blue-violet light to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Blue light affects the uppermost layer of your skin and typically uses light in the range of 400-450 nanometers, which is absorbed by the bacteria that cause acne. This light penetrates the skin to a depth of about 2-3 millimeters, which is enough to reach the sebaceous glands where acne-causing bacteria reside. The exact depth of penetration depends on several factors, including the intensity of the light and the specific device used for the treatment.
This therapy has several benefits, including being non-invasive, pain-free, and requires no downtime. It's also a suitable treatment option for people who cannot take oral antibiotics or who have not had success with other acne treatments. Blue light therapy can be done in a clinical setting or with at-home devices.
Red light typically uses light in the range of 630-700 nanometers, which is absorbed by the skin and other tissues. This type of light penetrates the skin to a depth of several millimeters, depending on the intensity of the light and the specific device used for the treatment.
Generally, red light therapy devices are designed to penetrate the skin to a depth of around 8-10 millimeters, which allows the light to reach the underlying tissues and stimulate cellular activity. The exact depth of penetration can vary based on factors such as skin pigmentation, age, and overall health. However, red light therapy is considered a safe and non-invasive treatment, with minimal risk of side effects.
Near-infrared light penetrates deepest to relieve muscle and joint pain, for example, while blue light works closer to the skin’s surface.
The depth of penetration of near-infrared (NIR) light therapy into the skin can vary depending on various factors. Such as the wavelength, intensity, and duration of the light source, as well as the skin type and condition.
Generally, NIR light with wavelengths between 700 to 1000 nm can penetrate the skin to a depth of several millimeters. This can help to promote healing and reduce pain and inflammation in deeper tissues.
During treatment, skin specialists may use a combination of lights to treat your specific issue. At-home devices may also combine colors.
Side-effects of red light therapy
LED light therapy at home devices is generally safe for all skin types, including infrared light therapy treatments. However, when used too frequently, some may experience temporary redness. LED light therapy treatments don't require recovery time, besides being careful about sun exposure in the 48 hours after treatment, you can return to your normal routine. Unlike other skin treatments, such as chemical peels there isn’t any damage to the skin.
There are no known dangerous side effects of this treatment, it could be why the FDA has approved the use of therapy for a variety of skin, hair, and medical issues.