By now you’ve likely heard the hype around red light therapy and its long list of benefits that seems to expand daily. It almost seems too good to be true that simply laying under a light can impart so much good. But are all the supposed benefits to the skin, hair growth, wound healing, inflammation and pain really true? Let’s find out.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Bear with us for a red hot minute while we get the boring stuff out of the way…red light therapy (RLT), also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, is a form of phototherapy that involves exposing an area of the body to wavelengths of light in the red and near-infrared (NIR) spectrum. The wavelengths of light in this spectrum can absorb deep within the skin, even penetrating through bone.
Let’s shed some light (pun intended) on what happens to your cells when your body is exposed to red light therapy.
Cellular Energy & Antioxidant-like Effects
At the cellular level, red light therapy stimulates an increase in mitochondria, which are like tiny powerhouses in your cells. Literally. They produce the primary source of cellular energy, called ATP.
The benefits of red light therapy at the cellular level are not limited to increased mitochondria and a boost in energy; when the body is exposed to red and near-infrared light therapy there is also an antioxidant-like effect, minimizing the free radicals in your cells.
Red Light Therapy for Skin
If you’re like us, you’re really thirsting for more about what red light therapy can do for skin and hair growth, so let’s go there.
Seriously, who doesn’t want better skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles? According to a study performed on patients with facial wrinkles, red light therapy produced significant reductions in wrinkles and increased skin elasticity. (Yes! #letsglow)
So, what’s happening to produce these skin rejuvenation results? Red light therapy increases pro-collagen and collagen, fibroblasts (the cells that produce collagen), and decreases collagen breakdown. It also increases blood flow in the skin.
And that’s not all! The benefits of red light therapy for the skin are not just limited to its anti-aging and rejuvenation results. RLT is also beneficial for several skin conditions, a few of which include: sun damage, vitiligo, psoriasis, acne, scars, and burn wounds.
Red light therapy facial anyone? (Us with both hands raised)
Red Light Therapy for Inflammation, Pain and Wound Healing
One of the reasons RLT may be so helpful for the skin conditions mentioned above is its ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a major underlying factor in ALL chronic and acute conditions in the body, including injuries. This benefit alone makes RLT well worth it.
Red light therapy’s powerful ability to reduce inflammation is just one explanation for the accelerated wound healing results it’s known for. An added bonus that comes with these two benefits is less pain. Score!
All of this also means faster recovery time after injury, as well as quicker recovery after intense exercise. Is that cheering we hear coming from the athletes, weekend warriors, and injury-prone go-getters out there? We don’t blame you…who wouldn’t be excited about faster healing, less inflammation, quicker recovery and less pain?!
Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss
We promised to explore this miracle light’s impact on hair growth, so let’s do it.
Thinning hair can be a real bummer for the self esteem. Traditional treatments often come with side effects or, in the case of hair transplants, a high price tag. Red light therapy is an excellent alternative worth considering with it’s stellar safety record, virtually no side effects and impressive results.
A 2017 meta-analysis evaluated eleven studies for the effectiveness of red light therapy for hair loss caused by male and female pattern baldness due to genetics. Nine of those eleven studies showed red light therapy produced statistically significant improvements in hair count, hair strength, and hair thickness in both men and women.
How Does Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss Work?
By increasing cellular energy, reducing free radical damage, and improving blood flow, all of which are factors that stimulate hair growth.
Limitations of Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss
When hair loss is due to chemotherapy or other drugs that cause hair loss, red light therapy likely won’t be effective until those drugs are discontinued. After they’re discontinued, red light therapy can be a great way to stimulate hair re-growth!
How to Get Benefits of Red Light Therapy at Home
There are so many options available that it can be a little overwhelming. The key, as with anything else, is to look for a quality unit.
Three well-known companies that produce high-quality red and near-infrared light therapy devices are MitoRed, Joovv and PlatinumLED Therapy.
We’ve chosen to use the PlatinumLED BIOMAX series of lights because they use a wider range of wavelengths. The wider range of wavelengths delivers more advanced and powerful benefits, which is why we like this option for our at-home use.
Final Thoughts on Red Light Therapy Benefits
It’s probably obvious by now what we think of this amazing therapy. It’s a little joke in our family. Whenever someone comes to Nicole (our resident wellness guru) with an ache or pain, the initial loving response is, ‘Red Light Therapy!’
One last thing we haven’t touched on yet. Perhaps one of our favorite benefits of red light therapy is that it’s soo relaxing! We like to enjoy our red light therapy with a little calming music while we imagine relaxing on a tropical beach somewhere. Every red light session is a 20 minute tropical vacation!
Here is a summary of the benefits of red light therapy we covered:
- More mitochondria = energy boost
- Antioxidant-like effect
- Reduced wrinkles
- Better skin elasticity
- More collagen
- Better skin circulation = fresh faced glow
- Helpful for: sun damage, vitiligo, psoriasis, acne, scars, and burn wounds
- Lowers inflammation
- Decreases pain
- Speeds wound healing
- Quicker recovery from injury and exercise
- Stimulates hair growth
- Can be enjoyed at home
- Incredibly relaxing
Have you ever tried red light therapy? What’s your favorite way (or red light therapy brand) to enjoy this powerhouse therapy? #glowforit