Red light therapy has been gaining a foothold in the world of skin care as clients and researchers report its effectiveness at stimulating your body’s production of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin. This in turn can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, calm mild to moderate acne and fade the appearance of scars.
It’s believed this happens when red light penetrates the skin and triggers a chemical reaction that strengthens the mitochondria, or energy source, that’s found within each cell. This prompts the cells to more actively repair and regenerate themselves, leading to a rejuvenated skin surface.
Red light therapy differs from laser or intense pulsed light treatments because it’s believed to directly interact with skin cells and doesn’t cause the controlled abrasions the other procedures create to spur the skin to regenerate itself. This makes it an especially good choice for those with sensitive skin. It also does not contain harmful UV rays.
The procedure is performed in dermatologists’ offices and salons, and at-home devices also are available, though the rare side effects of burns and blistering are more likely to happen with a DIY product.
Red light therapy is also known by several other names including low-level laser therapy (LLLT), soft laser therapy and photobiomodulation (PBM). Some of the skin conditions it can alleviate include:
- Skin laxity/wrinkles/fine lines — Small studies have reported a decrease in these signs of aging and/or sun damage due to the heightened collagen production. A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found red light and LED laser light therapy led to higher production of collagen and elastin within one week of the beginning of treatments.
- Acne — Red light is often used in conjunction with blue light to treat inflammatory acne. The red light calms inflammation and speeds healing while the blue light, which has a shorter wavelength, causes a reaction that kills bacteria on the skin’s surface.
- Scarring — Red light’s ability to stimulate collagen production and creation of new blood vessels can reduce the appearance of scars by covering up the abnormal healing process that creates the scarring in the first place.
- Alopecia — Both male and female pattern baldness, as well as chemotherapy-induced hair loss, have responded well to the use of red light for re-energizing growth in hair follicles that have not been scarred over. The activated mitochondria produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), each cell’s energy source, more efficiently to activate hair growth.
- Psoriasis and eczema — Both of these skin-related chronic conditions, neither of which has a cure, create dry, scaly and itchy skin patches that have been reduced after the use of red light therapy, which improves healing through stimulating blood flow through new capillaries. For psoriasis in particular, it’s best to cons.