How Red Light Therapy for Skincare Works
With a flick of a switch, red light therapy (RLT) devices or low-level laser therapy (LLLT) promises to reverse signs of aging, reduce the appearance of scarring, get rid of stubborn acne, and improve the overall texture and radiance of the skin without the use of chemicals and zero downtime, unlike some chemical peels.
Does this light therapy device sound too good to be true?
From the dermatologists' office to your fitness center, red light therapy is becoming increasingly popular for its reported wide range of health benefits.
In this article, we're diving into what the current scientific research says about red light therapy for skin health, including how it works, what are the benefits, and how you can use red light therapy at home.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a non-invasive therapeutic technique that also goes by the names photobiomodulation, low-level laser therapy, or cold laser therapy.
Devices used in spas, dermatologists clinics, and even wellness centers use LED light therapy devices that emit two particular light wavelengths, red light at 660 nm and near-infrared light (NIR) at 850 mn that have been studied for its ability to penetrate the skin and emit therapeutic effects on a cellular level.
While the concept of light affecting us on a cellular level sounds too good to be true. It's actually not an absurd concept. Human beings have many physiological and psychological reactions to light both good and bad.
We Are Hard-Wired To Respond To Light
Our circadian rhythm, aka our internal clock, is highly sensitive to light.
The circadian rhythm primarily controls our sleep-wake cycle. We're only now beginning to understand the effects of blue light — the part of the sun's light spectrum that gives us a boost in mental alertness, energy, and mood.
Modern technology has let us work way past sun-down, and we're constantly bombarded by artificial blue light sources whether from our screens and indoor lighting, which why more and more people are experiencing sleep issues.
In terms of light that we can't see from the sun, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) can lead to sunburn and tissue damage. Shorter wavelengths have been shown to cause more damage to the human body with extended exposure.
Red light and near-infrared light waves have long wavelengths that aren't damaging to our skin. NIR specifically has been found to penetrate deep into the skin to target deep muscles, joint paint, and tissues to exerts its benefits on a cellular level .
Red and NIR light is understood to work by strengthening the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cell. By improving the function of the mitochondria, the cells can perform optimally to repair and regenerate.
When it comes to the superficial layers of the skin, the skin cells are constantly replacing (every 27 days, on average). These skin cells are mostly made up of a protein called collagen. Red light therapy supported with near-infrared wavelengths stimulate cells within the epidermis to renew faster, increasing skin cell turnover rate to reduce scarring, and reveal a more radiant, and youthful complexion.
The Benefits Of Red Light Therapy For Skin Health
The skin is our largest organ. It protects us from our environment, regulates our body temperature, and is filled with nerve endings, blood vessels, lymph glands, and epidermis and hair cells. It plays a major role in maintaining our health. On the other end of this, the condition of our skin is often a reflection of our internal health.
While low-level laser light treatments have highly promising benefits to your skin, the effects of light therapy are compounded when combined with other skincare practices. Here's what the latest research has to say about the benefits of LED therapy on the skin.
Clear Up Acne & Reduce Acne Scars
One of the more popular uses for red light therapy in cosmetic treatments is to clear up the skin from stubborn acne and to reduce scarring.
Unlike many other in-spa treatments for acne, LED light therapy is non-invasive and better tolerated on sensitive skin types and a variety of skin tones. This therapy also doesn't come with a recovery downtime like some microdermabrasion or chemical peel treatments, that leave you red and puffy after your appointment. You can typically carry on with your day after your red light treatment.
Red light has been shown to inactivate certain strains of acne-causing bacteria in the skin without causing severe side-effects. It's also known to have anti-inflammatory benefits by reducing inflammatory cell markers, making it effective at treating acne caused by inflammation .
Reverse The Hands Of Time: Anti-aging
A 2014 study found that red and near-infrared treatments reduced fine lines, wrinkles, and skin texture for a more youthful appearance .
LED light therapy has a rejuvenating effect on the skin by increasing the production of collagen, a protein that gives the skin a plump and youthful look, filling in fine lines and wrinkles.
Unlike intense pulsed light treatments, red light therapy does not damage the surface of the skin in order to kick-start the skin's natural regeneration process. Instead, it penetrates into the deeper layers of skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production for a more youthful result.
Speeds The Process Of Wound Healing
RLT has extensive research on its benefits for healing wounds, surface cuts, and reducing scaring with less pain and inflammation .
Collagen is produced by fibroblast cells. When the skin is wounded, fibroblasts create a different type of collagen to quickly close the wound. However, this collagen quality is a lot different from regeneration collagen, which takes a lot longer to produce.
Scar collagen acts as a patch to close up a would quickly to prevent infection, which means it's often uneven and more pronounced when it forms, creating a noticeable scar.
Near-infrared light waves promote the proliferation of fibroblasts to stimulate the regeneration collagen protein for a more even appearance of wound recovery.
Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched from rapid growth.
Although the skin is quite flexible, when it becomes overstretched, scar collagen forms quickly in clumps to prevent an infection from occurring. However, it can cause visible stretch mark scarring.
Other factors such as your genetics and your stress levels can play a part in the prominence of your stretch marks. And while stretch marks are not a medical problem, many people are bothered by their stretch marks.
Most topical treatments don't work for stretch marks because stretch marks aren't on the surface of the skin. It occurs in the deeper layers.
Red light therapy and near-infrared waves can penetrate deep into the layers of skin to energize the skin cells to perform their repair and regeneration processes to breakdown the scaring and reveal fresh new skin cells.
How To Take Advantage of LED Light Therapy At Home
The benefits of red light therapy are noticed when used 3–5 times a week.
While some people can see the benefits of light therapy on their complexion after the first treatment, the most significant results come from continued use along with other healthy skin care practices.
The problem is those dermatologist office treatments can become quite costly starting at $50–$200 a session.
Home light therapy devices have become an appealing option for those looking to take advantage of the benefits of light therapy for their skin at the comfort of their home, at their convenience, and more affordably.
The KOZE Mini is a rechargeable, handheld LED light panel that emits a powerful 1:1 ratio of red and near-infrared waves.
Because of its sleek and light-weight design, you can hold it in your hand to target the effects of LED light therapy on the desired parts of your body. This is perfect for addressing both facial concerns and stretch marks in hard-to-reach places.
It's also the best solution for people looking to take the benefits of LED light therapy with them as they travel.
KOZE S Series
For a stand-alone unit, the KOZE S Series is made for half-body and spot treatment areas. It covers a larger surface area.
Our red light devices are more than just red-light emitting light bulbs.
They emit powerful red and NIR wavelengths that have been widely studied to produce therapeutic benefits on a cellular level. All KOZE panels are Class 2 Medical Devices by the FDA and are used both in-clinic and home to treat everything from skincare, seasonal affective disorder, improve pain caused by injury or surgery, and promote healing.
Frequently Asked Questions On Light Therapy For Skincare
What Are The Side Effects Of Light Therapy Treatments?
LED light therapy treatments are considered safe and well-tolerated. However, it doesn't mean it can't come without side effects.
When used correctly, light therapy is very safe. But there are instances of people developing burns from their light therapy devices due to faulty wiring or having adverse effects on the levels of light exposure. Always make sure you purchase your light therapy device from a trusted brand and that you follow the directions for safe application.
You should also wear eye protection when exposing red light and near-infrared to your face. While R+NIR therapy has been shown to have some benefits to eye health, it's still important you protect yourself from too much exposure. For those who are highly sensitive to light, the bright light could be uncomfortable on your eyes.
How Long Does It Take To See The Benefits Of Red Light Therapy?
Most people begin to see the noticeable results in the diminishment of scaring and improvement of skin quality when they undergo consistent light therapy exposure, typically over a few weeks.
People may react differently to red light therapy, but you can expect to see improvement in your skin between 8–12 weeks of consistent use.
Is Red Light Therapy Suitable For All Skin Types?
Red light therapy has been shown to be safe and effective for all skin types and tones, making it an excellent option for those with sensitive skin and differing pigmentation.
The Takeaway: Red Light Therapy And Skin Health
When it comes to skin health —whether it's scarring, anti-aging, or acne-fighting — it always comes down to collagen production and improving the blood supply to the tissues to stimulate the skin's self-healing process.
Red light and NIR wavelengths penetrate into the layers of skin to exert their effects on a cellular level, targeting the mitochondria, supercharging its energy output to improve cell performance. This treatment also reduces oxidative stress that could contribute to the signs of aging.
As far as noticeable benefits to your complexion, you can expect to see an improvement with consistent use after 8 weeks. If you're looking to learn more about the effects of light on our health, you can check out our blog for more evidence-based resources.