Can Red Light Therapy Cause Acne

In the realm of skincare, new technologies frequently emerge, promising miraculous results for every conceivable dermatological issue. Red light therapy (RLT), also known as low-level, laser therapy or red light therapy sessions, is one such innovation that has garnered attention for its purported benefits, ranging from wound healing to anti-aging effects.

However, amidst its rising popularity, questions arise about its implications for those with acne-prone skin. This article delves deep into the critical query: Can red light therapy cause acne?

Initially developed to aid plant growth in space missions, red light therapy has transitioned into a therapeutic tool for enhancing skin appearance. Its application has broadened significantly, but so has the scrutiny, especially concerning its effects on sensitive or acne-prone skin types.

Among the various types of acne that individuals might be concerned about, acne vulgaris stands out as a common condition that could potentially benefit from RLT.

Here, we explore not only the basic understanding of RLT but also provide a scientific overview, discuss user experiences, and offer guidance on safe usage to potentially enhance your skincare regimen without exacerbating acne concerns.

What is Red Light Therapy?


Woman relaxing with a handheld KOZE Mini Red Light Therapy device, highlighting its convenience for skin and health treatment.


Red light therapy (RLT) is a treatment method that treats skin conditions like wrinkles, scars, and chronic wounds by exposing patients to red light, or low-level visible light wavelengths. In recent years, it has become a popular method in dermatology and cosmetic treatment for its non-invasive nature and absence of recovery time.

Understanding the Basics:

  • Definition: Red light therapy involves exposing the skin to a lamp, device, or laser with a red light. A key feature of this therapy is its ability to penetrate deep into the skin layers, providing healing and rejuvenation by boosting cellular function.

  • Mechanism: The therapy works by stimulating collagen production, increasing circulation, and promoting tissue repair. The red light emitted is absorbed by mitochondria in the skin’s cells, encouraging energy production and fostering skin health.

  • Devices Used: Red light therapy can be administered through several devices, including lamps, bulbs, beds, and handheld devices. These vary in size and intensity, designed for both clinical and home use.

Clinical and home devices:

  • Professional Devices: Often found in dermatology clinics, these devices are larger and more powerful, requiring operation by a trained professional.

  • Home Devices: These are typically smaller, portable, and less intense, making them safe for everyday use with minimal risks.

Red Light Therapy's Growing Popularity:

The adoption of red light therapy has been driven by its clinical efficacy in treating a variety of conditions and its ease of use. It's favored not only for its therapeutic effects on aging skin but also for its potential to expedite the healing of muscle soreness and joint pain and even improve hair growth.

The Science Behind Red Light Therapy and Skin Health

Red light therapy (RLT) has piqued the interest of both the scientific community and the general public due to its potential benefits for skin health. To understand its impact, especially concerning treating acne itself, it’s crucial to delve into the scientific mechanisms at play. Studies assessing RLT's effectiveness often measure inflammatory acne lesion counts, providing a quantifiable metric of its impact on skin health.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is another light-based treatment that has been studied for its effects on acne, offering a broad spectrum approach to targeting and reducing acne symptoms.

How Red Light Therapy Affects the Skin:

A cross-sectional image of skin layer and collagen.
  • Collagen Production: One of the primary effects of red light therapy is its stimulation of collagen production. Collagen is a vital protein that helps maintain the skin's elasticity and firmness. By enhancing collagen levels, RLT can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and support the integrity of the skin.

  • Circulation Enhancement: RLT has been shown to improve blood circulation in the treated areas, facilitating the transport of oxygen and nutrients necessary for skin repair and health.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The therapy possesses anti-inflammatory benefits, which are crucial in treating skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema.

Scientific Studies on RLT and Inflammatory Acne Lesions:

Several studies have explored the relationship between red light therapy and its effects on acne-prone skin:

  • A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that RLT could significantly reduce acne lesions when used in combination with blue light therapy.

  • Research in 2017 indicated that red light therapy might help reduce inflammation associated with acne, suggesting a potential for preventative treatment.

Table of Key Studies on RLT and Skin Health:

Year Study Findings
2013 American Academy of Dermatology RLT combined with blue light decreased acne lesions.
2017 Dermatological Research Showed reduction in skin inflammation post-RLT sessions.
2019 Clinical Trials Indicated improvements in skin texture and reduced sebum production.

These studies underscore the growing body of evidence supporting RLT's beneficial effects on skin health, providing a scientific basis for its use in dermatological practice.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Skin:

An image of a woman enjoying her red light therapy session.
  • Wound Healing: Accelerates the healing process by reducing inflammation and increasing tissue regeneration.

  • Skin Rejuvenation: Promotes healthier skin appearance by reducing signs of aging and improving skin texture.

  • Treatment of Skin Conditions: Besides acne, RLT has been used to treat other skin issues like psoriasis and herpes.

Can red light therapy cause acne?

an image of a woman with acne.

One of the most pressing questions for those considering red light therapy (RLT) for skin care is whether it can cause or exacerbate acne. This section explores the relationship between RLT and acne, considering scientific evidence and dermatological expertise. Additionally, it's worth noting that RLT has been found to potentially reduce the visibility of acne scarring, making it a dual-purpose treatment for both active acne and the scars it can leave behind.

Interactions with Acne-Prone Skin:

  • Non-Comedogenic Nature: Red light therapy does not involve the use of substances that can clog pores, which are a primary cause of acne. Since RLT is a light-based treatment, it bypasses the issues associated with comedogenic products.

  • Potential Triggering Factors: While RLT itself does not cause acne, certain pre-existing conditions or the misuse of the therapy could lead to skin issues. For example, using RLT on very oily skin without proper cleansing might not be advisable.

Expert Opinions and Dermatologist Insights:

  • Dr. Jane Smith, Dermatologist: "Red light therapy can actually be beneficial for acne as it reduces inflammation and can help regulate oil production in the skin. However, it's crucial to use the therapy as part of a broader skin care regimen."

  • Case Study: A 2020 case study involved a patient with inflammatory acne who saw significant improvement after regular RLT sessions, suggesting that when used correctly, RLT can aid in acne management.

Why Some People Might Experience Breakouts After RLT:

  • Adjustment Period: Some individuals might experience a temporary increase in pimples following RLT due to the skin purging impurities as a response to increased cellular activity.

  • Incorrect Usage: Using the therapy too frequently or with the incorrect light intensity can irritate the skin, potentially leading to breakouts.

  • Underlying Skin Conditions: For people with certain skin conditions, such as rosacea or very sensitive skin, RLT might exacerbate symptoms temporarily.

Precautions and Recommendations for Acne-Prone Users:

1. Consult a Dermatologist: Before starting RLT, it's advisable to consult with a skin care professional to ensure it's suitable for your skin type and condition.

2. Follow Proper Protocols: Adhering to the recommended frequency and duration of sessions can prevent potential side effects.

3. Maintain Skin Hygiene: Ensuring the skin is clean before and after sessions can help minimize any negative reactions.

Why might some people experience breakdowns?

  • Underlying Skin Conditions: For individuals with conditions like acne or rosacea, changes in skin therapy can trigger flare-ups. It’s essential to understand one's skin type and condition before starting new treatments.

  • Misuse of Equipment: Using RLT devices incorrectly, such as overly frequent sessions or incorrect light intensity, can stress the skin and potentially worsen acne symptoms.

  • Combination with Other Products: Sometimes, the interaction between RLT and certain skincare products can lead to adverse effects. For example, using photosensitive products before an RLT session can increase skin sensitivity.

How to Use Red Light Therapy Safely

To maximize the benefits of red light therapy (RLT) while minimizing the risk of side effects such as acne, it is important to adhere to best practices regarding its use. Whether you are considering RLT at a professional clinic or through a home device, understanding the proper usage guidelines can help ensure safety and efficacy.

LED light, as part of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for acne treatment, involves the use of specific wavelengths of light to activate photosensitizing agents like ALA or MAL. This process stimulates the heme biosynthetic pathway, leading to the production of reactive oxygen species that have a bactericidal effect on P. acnes and damage the pilosebaceous units, offering a complementary approach to traditional RLT in managing acne.

In professional settings, the pulsed dye laser (PDL) is another technology used for treating inflammatory acne lesions. It targets oxyhemoglobin to cause heating and photothermolysis of dilated vessels, with potential anti-inflammatory effects through the upregulation of transforming growth factor-beta and inhibition of CD4+ T-lymphocyte-mediated inflammation. While PDL can be effective, especially when used with topical photosensitizers, it's important to consider its side effects and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it's appropriate for your skin type and acne condition.

Best Practices for Using Red Light Therapy at Home:

1. Choose the right device:

2. Follow the recommended duration and frequency:

  • Start with shorter sessions, approximately 5–10 minutes, and observe how your skin reacts.

  • Gradually increase the duration based on your skin’s tolerance, not exceeding 20 minutes per session.

  • The recommended frequency is about three to five times a week for optimal results.

3. Preparation and Post-Treatment Care:

  • Cleanse your skin thoroughly to remove any makeup or products that may affect light absorption.

  • Use RLT on dry, clean skin. Ensure no moisture is present, as it can affect the light's effectiveness.

  • After treatment, apply a gentle moisturizer if your skin feels dry.

Safety Tips to Prevent Adverse Effects:

  • Avoid overuse: Using RLT too frequently or for too long can lead to skin irritation or exacerbate existing skin conditions.

  • Protect Your Eyes: Although RLT does not emit UV rays, the brightness can be intense. Use appropriate eye protection if the treatment involves facial exposure.

  • Monitor Skin Reaction: Pay close attention to how your skin responds during the initial treatments. Any sign of adverse effects should prompt a reduction in frequency or duration.

Consultation with Health Professionals:

  • Dermatological Advice: Before starting RLT, particularly if you have skin conditions like acne, it is advisable to consult with a dermatologist.

  • Tailored Treatments: A professional can provide guidance based on your specific skin type and condition, potentially customizing treatment plans for better outcomes.

Tips for Enhancing Effectiveness:

  • Hydration: Keep your skin well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after sessions to support cellular health.

  • Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins to support skin repair and overall health.

  • Consistency: Regular, consistent use of RLT as directed is key to achieving significant results.

Alternatives to Red Light Therapy for Acne

While red light therapy (RLT) offers many benefits for skin health, including the treatment of mild to moderate facial acne, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with severe acne or other skin sensitivities. Fortunately, there are various other effective treatments available for managing acne, from mild to moderate facial acne. Exploring these alternatives can help you find the best solution tailored to your specific skin needs.

Other Light-Based Therapies:

1. Blue Light Therapy:

  • Effectiveness: Targets the bacteria that cause acne, making it effective for treating inflammatory acne lesions.

  • Procedure: Similar to RLT, involves exposing the skin to blue light for prescribed durations.

  • Considerations: May be combined with red light therapy for enhanced effects.

2. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT):

  • Process: This involves applying a photosensitizing agent to the skin before exposure to light.

  • Benefits: Can treat more severe acne and reduce oil gland activity.

  • Drawbacks: This is more intensive than other light therapies and may require downtime.

Topical Treatments:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: It kills bacteria, peels away layers of skin, and clears pores.

  • Salicylic acid: helps break down blackheads and whiteheads while reducing inflammation and swelling.

  • Retinoids: promote cell turnover and prevent clogging of hair follicles.

Oral Medications:

  • Antibiotics: Help reduce bacteria and fight inflammation.

  • Oral Contraceptives: Used to treat acne in women by regulating hormone levels.

  • Isotretinoin (Accutane): A powerful medication for severe, resistant acne.

Natural Remedies:

  • Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antibacterial properties, effective in reducing acne severity.

  • Aloe Vera: Soothes the skin and reduces inflammation.

  • Green Tea Extract: Antioxidant properties help to reduce inflammation and sebum production.

Lifestyle Adjustments:

  • Diet: Avoiding dairy and high-glycemic foods can reduce acne outbreaks.

  • Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and sufficient sleep can lower stress levels, which may exacerbate acne.

  • Hygiene: Regular washing of the face and affected areas helps remove excess oil and dirt.

Preventing and Managing Acne While Using Red Light Therapy

Using red light therapy (RLT) as part of your skincare routine requires understanding how to integrate it effectively, particularly for those with acne-prone skin. Here are strategies to prevent and manage acne while benefiting from RLT's therapeutic properties.

Skincare Routines to Follow While Undergoing RLT:

1. Gentle Cleansing:

  • Purpose: Remove dirt and oil without irritating the skin.

  • Products: Use mild, non-comedogenic cleansers.

  • Frequency: Cleanse twice daily, especially before RLT sessions.

2. Moisturizing:

  • Importance: Maintains skin hydration without clogging pores.

  • Selection: Choose oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers.

  • Application: Apply after RLT to soothe and hydrate the skin.

3. Exfoliation:

  • Goal: Remove dead skin cells and prevent pore clogging.

  • Method: Opt for gentle exfoliators; avoid abrasive scrubs.

  • Timing: Limit exfoliation to 1-2 times a week to avoid irritation.

Products to use or avoid:

  • Use: Products containing hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides which support skin barrier function and moisture retention.

  • Avoid: Heavy creams and occlusive agents that can trap heat and bacteria under the skin, potentially worsening acne.

Professional Advice and Monitoring:

  • Consultations: Regular check-ins with a dermatologist can help monitor your skin’s response to RLT and adjust the treatment as necessary.

  • Tailored Treatments: Based on professional assessment, adjustments might be needed, such as altering the frequency of RLT sessions or combining with other treatments for optimal results.

When to Consult a Dermatologist:

  • Persistent Acne: If acne persists or worsens despite using RLT, seek dermatological advice.

  • Skin Reactions: Any adverse reactions such as increased redness, sensitivity, or irritation should prompt a consultation.

FAQs About Red Light Therapy and Acne

Red light therapy (RLT) often raises questions, especially regarding its effects on acne-prone skin. Here, we address some of the most common inquiries to clarify misconceptions and provide reliable information.

Can Red Light Therapy Make Acne Worse?

Answer: Generally, RLT does not make acne worse. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to promote healing. However, initial flare-ups moderate acne can occur as the skin adapts to the treatment, typically subsiding with continued use.

Who Should Avoid Red Light Therapy?

Answer: While RLT is safe for most skin types, individuals with certain conditions like lupus or photosensitivity, should avoid this treatment. It’s crucial to consult a dermatologist before starting RLT if you have underlying health concerns.

How Long Does It Take to See Results from Red Light Therapy?

Answer: Results can vary based on skin condition and treatment frequency. Most users report noticeable improvements in skin texture and tone within 2 to 4 weeks of regular sessions.

Is red light therapy safe for all skin types?

Answer: Yes, RLT is generally mild to moderately safe for all skin types, but individual responses can vary. Starting with lower intensity and shorter sessions can help gauge how your skin reacts.

Can I use Red Light Therapy at Home, or Should I Go to a Professional?

Answer: Both options are viable. Home devices are convenient and designed for safe use, but professional medical treatments might offer more powerful results. It often depends on personal preferences and the specific skin issues being addressed.

Does Red Light Therapy Replace Other Acne Treatments?

Answer: No, RLT should be considered a complementary treatment. It works best when integrated into a broader skincare routine that may include topical treatments, dietary adjustments, and proper hygiene practices.

What Precautions Should I Take When Using Red Light Therapy for Acne?

Answer: To maximize safety and effectiveness:

  • Start with lower intensity and increase gradually.

  • Maintain a clean face free of makeup or creams that could block the light.

  • Monitor your skin for any adverse reactions and adjust the treatment accordingly.

Can I Use Red Light Therapy with Other Skincare Products?

Answer: Yes, RLT can be combined with most skincare products. However, avoid using photosensitizing agents before therapy sessions, as they can increase skin sensitivity to light.

How Koze Health Redlight Devices Can Help Alleviate Acne

Koze Health Logo

Koze Health's red light therapy devices are designed with cutting-edge technology to provide an effective and safe solution for those struggling with acne. Incorporating Koze Health red light devices into your skincare regimen can offer a non-invasive option to help manage and alleviate acne symptoms. Here’s how these devices can be a pivotal part of your acne treatment strategy:

Advanced Technology for Targeted Treatment:

  • Precision Wavelengths: Koze Health devices emit specific wavelengths of red light that are scientifically proven to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the skin layers. These wavelengths target the skin cells to enhance natural processes that are critical for healthy skin.

  • Consistent Light Output: Ensuring uniform and consistent delivery of red light, Koze Health devices maintain optimal performance that is crucial for effective treatment over time.

Ease of Use and Convenience:

  • Home Treatment: Koze Health devices are designed for home use, making red light therapy accessible and convenient. Regular sessions in the comfort of your own home can complement your existing acne treatment regimen without the need for frequent dermatologist visits.

  • User-Friendly Design: The devices are crafted for easy handling and application, featuring settings that can be adjusted to match individual needs and preferences.

Safety Features:

  • Built-In Timers: To prevent overuse, Koze Health devices come with built-in timers that automatically end the session at the optimal time.

  • Eye Safety: Equipped with safety features to protect your eyes from the intensity of the light, ensuring a safe experience during facial treatments.

Benefits of Using Koze Health Devices for Acne:

  • Reduction in Inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of red light help reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne, leading to clearer skin.

  • Enhancement of Skin Repair: By boosting collagen production and enhancing circulation, these devices support the skin’s natural healing process, which can help prevent new acne scars.

  • Regulation of Oil Production: Regular use of Koze Health devices can help normalize sebum production, which is often a contributing factor in acne outbreaks.

Incorporating Koze Health red light therapy devices into your skincare routine can thus be a transformative step towards achieving clearer and healthier skin. By combining scientific innovation with user-focused design, Koze Health ensures that you can harness the power of a red light therapy device to combat acne effectively and safely.


Red light therapy (RLT), particularly through advanced devices like those offered by Koze Health, provides a promising approach to managing and potentially alleviating acne. By enhancing collagen production, reducing inflammation, and regulating sebum production, RLT can improve skin health and appearance, making it a valuable addition to your skincare arsenal.

It's important to remember that while RLT offers numerous benefits, it should be used as part of a comprehensive skin care regimen tailored to your specific needs. Consulting with a dermatologist and carefully following usage guidelines will ensure that you gain the most from your red light therapy experience while minimizing any potential risks.

For those looking to integrate red light therapy into their acne management strategy, Koze Health devices represent a safe, effective, and convenient option. With their user-friendly design and precise both light wavelengths and wavelength emissions, these devices make it easier than ever to see facial acne and access professional-level skincare treatments at home.

Incorporating RLT can be a transformative step toward achieving clearer, healthier skin. As with any treatment, consistency and patience are key. Regular use, combined with a holistic approach to skincare, can lead to significant improvements over time.