Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles and Fine Lines

woman using red light therapy for skin rejuvenationRed Light Therapy for Wrinkles…Sounds Too Good to Be True

If you’ve been reading all the marketing info manufacturers put out about red light therapy, you’ve probably noticed how unrealistic some of the claims are. I mean, if all of this were true, why isn’t red light therapy for wrinkles more well-known?

I could launch into a opinionated tangent about how a mixture of intellectual property laws and FDA regulations make it unprofitable (and in some cases, impossible) for businesses to sell affordable red light therapy bulbs and devices, but I’ll contain myself. Suffice it to say that without patent protection, there is often insufficient profit incentive for businesses to shell out for the FDA’s costly application and registration fees. And red light therapy itself is not patent-able, as it was discovered by NASA and has been around for decades.

Now, what really matters when it comes to red light therapy for skin is: is there scientific evidence showing it works? The answer is yes.

A lot of the red light therapy products available make outrageous claims. They say they can erase wrinkles and fine lines, make your skin glow, bring back firmness and elasticity. But do they deliver? Indeed, if a bulb or device is properly designed, it can do all of these things and more. The key is finding a product with the right attributes. And like many things of this nature, results seem to vary from person to person. I’ve received emails from people raving about how much of a difference they could see after one use. I’ve also received messages saying it didn’t do anything for them. Fortunately, out of thousands of sales, I can still count the latter on one hand. Anyway, my point is that in general, red light therapy works for skin rejuvenation, wrinkles, fine lines, thinning skin, sagging skin, enlarged pores, and many other signs of aging.

How Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles Works

Red light therapy has more than one mechanism of action. Here are some of the effects it has, which are believed to be the reasons that red light therapy works for wrinkles and other anti-aging objectives.

#1: Red Light Therapy Increases Blood Flow

It increases circulation to the area, bringing oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the skin, which is often a last priority to the body as we age. It encourages the formation of new capillaries. In the short run, this will give you a healthful glow. In the long run, your skin can use this to rebuild and repair itself. Most of us have been told that older skin doesn’t repair…this is nonsense. It just isn’t as efficient and doesn’t have as good of blood flow to power the process. The good thing is that rarely can you go wrong by encouraging good circulation. The one exception that comes to mind is encouraging blood flow to a swollen, recently injured area. Don’t do that without a doctor’s direct supervision.

#2: Red Light Therapy Increases Lymph Drainage and Circulation

Good lymph circulation is not only good for your health. It’s good for your skin. It reduces swelling and puffiness. If you have Lyme disease/Acrodermatitis Chronica Atrophicans, this is a particularly helpful benefit.

#3: Red Light Therapy Promotes Collagen and Fibroblast Production

There it is…the holy grail of anti-aging products: collagen production. It is reduced the older we get and it can be pretty darned difficult to get it back. Collagen is the foundation of the skin, making it firm, full and elastic. Solid collagen structure is associated with having less (or no) cellulite and with having smooth skin in general. It may take some time- think about 2 to 3 months of consistent red light therapy treatments- but your collagen and fibroblasts can be revived!

#4: Red Light Therapy Causes ATP Release

Remember back in biology class when they said that ATP is the basic unit of energy for a cell? That’s the ATP we’re talking about here. And it matters because ATP is usually the rate-limiting factor in most cellular processes. Without it, skin cells cannot carry out their rebuilding and repair functions. As we age, skin cells get less and less energy.

One hugely important effect of red light therapy is that is provides this energy for the cell. Cells then utilize it to spruce things up and get rid of waste…and it shows in your skin.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Red Light Therapy

As far as anti-aging efforts go, red light therapy can accomplish quite a bit. Here are some of the effects it can have:

  • Gives the skin a healthy glow
  • Makes skin smoother
  • Reduces the number and/or severity of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Fades crow’s feet
  • Improves under-eye circles that were a result of thinning skin
  • Reduces marionette and laugh lines
  • Speeds up the healing of skin wounds, like those from acne or cystic acne
  • Improves redness, inflammation, pimples and pustules from rosacea
  • Reverses sun damage
  • Heals and improves the appearance of broken capillaries and telangiectasias
  • Improves the appearance and smoothness of scars
  • Reduces the severity of stretch marks
  • Encourages well-nourished, moisture-rich skin
  • Stimulates hair growth

Honestly, the list of potential uses is much longer. That makes sense when you think about how red light therapy works. It gives your cells free energy. Think of all the processes cells carry out. No wonder red light therapy has so many benefits and uses.

red light therapy before and after pictures

Trying Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging

One of the ways you can test how does red light therapy work is through a professional, such as a dermatologist or aesthetician. Some places to look include doctor’s offices, med-spas, day spas and salons. Some gyms and tanning salons are also now offering red light therapy (I believe I’ve heard that Planet Fitness offers full-body red light therapy).

There are a few advantages to having a pro do your treatments:

  • It can be a relaxing, revitalizing spa experience.
  • You can choose someone knowledgeable and skilled at doing or overseeing the treatments. This is helpful if you are new to red light therapy or have a lot of questions.
  • You don’t have to commit. You can try the treatments without buying a product outright.

Yes, of course I am biased. I prefer doing my own red light therapy treatments at home. This is a good thing, since I do light therapy of one variety or another every day. I use it to regulate my circadian rhythm, for near-infrared sauna and of course, to improve how my skin looks and feels. In my opinion, these are some of the benefits of doing at-home red light therapy:

  • Your bulb or device can be yours alone. If you’re concerned about bacteria, you have direct control over how your product is cleaned and cared for, and whether you allow anyone else to use it.
  • It’s convenient. Personally, I am usually too busy and too cheap to go somewhere and pay someone to lay around for 15-30 minutes and stare at their walls. I’m far happier grabbing my bulb when it’s convenient.
  • It’s cheaper. A lot of pros will try to tell you that their devices are the only ones that work, that their devices are more powerful or that you need a professional to administer red light therapy. I don’t necessarily agree with those statements across the board. What’s more likely is the device’s marketing department has to cook up these sorts of explanations as justifications for the device’s high price tag. Don’t be fooled- look at the facts and numbers yourself to determine if their device really is better than what you could buy for at-home use.
  • Way more treatments. Unless you buy a product with limited uses, such as Illumask, you can get far more treatments if you buy your own bulb or device for at-home use.

The FDA’s Take on Red Light Therapy

Let’s skip my personal (overall negative) opinion on the FDA. For the purposes of this section, let’s pretend they are a valid, reliable guardian of public safety that makes sure the best treatments are available to US consumers.

The FDA has approved many red light therapy devices for reducing and eliminating wrinkles. It has also approved/cleared it for many other uses.

Types of Red Light Therapy Bulbs and Devices

One of the most common options are relatively small, hand-held devices. These travel well and are usually good for spot-treatment. Compared to larger machines, they can be more affordable. The downsides are that you have to hold them on your skin and you might have to move them around constantly (depending on the device). You can only treat one small area at a time and at that rate, doing your whole face can take a while. Forget about doing your neck or hands or décolleté.

A similar option- which is my own personal favorite- is the red light therapy bulb. With these, you have the benefits of hand-held devices, but you can avoid most of the downsides. For instance, they are usually pretty affordable. They travel well. You are free to choose your own lamp type, so you could avoid having to hold it on your skin with your hand. You can choose larger sizes to cover a bigger treatment area at one time. Most of them do not require constant motion.

The third most popular option are red light therapy panels. These are often meant for hands-free use and are usually big enough to do your entire face at once. The cons are that they are kind of pricey, take up a lot of space and you can’t travel with them.

What Red Light Therapy is Like

Red light therapy for collagen and wrinkles is different depending on the product (or professional treatment) you use. In general, this is what most red light therapy treatments are like:

  1. First you’ll need to wash your skin.
  2. The light will be on your skin anywhere from a minute to 20 minutes. It may touch the skin or it may be a few inches away. (In the case of near-infrared light therapy, you’ll be further away from the bulb or device.)
  3. It’s bright. You should wear eye protection to shield your eyes from the brightness.
  4. Most people report that it feels very calming and soothing.
  5. No pain is involved. At no time should you feel uncomfortable.
  6. You may be able to accelerate your results by using compatible treatments, such as microneedling or topical application of green tea extract, which has been shown to amplify results of red light therapy treatment.
  7. Basically, you just sit there and let the light do its job.


What to Expect

I’m sure you’ve been checking out before and after red light therapy photos. But results vary from person to person, so you may be wondering what you should expect from trying red light therapy.

Expect results to take time. While some people do see immediate results, most need to do red light therapy treatments for at least several weeks- if not several months.

Expect to be looking so hard you miss it. Since results are gradual and happen over time, you might not notice some of the changes in your skin. Be prepared for this and take photos before you start. If you’d like to share your before and after red light therapy photos on RedLightTherapy.US, contact me.


Red Light Therapy for Acne and Wrinkles

acne and wrinklesWhat is LED therapy?

Light-emitting diode (LED) therapy, also known as low level light therapy (or LLLT) is becoming very popular as a cosmetic and medical treatment.  Did you know that red light therapy was developed for NASA plant growth in space? It’s true! But since then there’s been a lot of scientific advancement in red light therapy.


Anti-Aging Effects of Red Light Therapy

The aging process is accelerated by the sun! Sun and pollution can act together to destroy collagen. Collagen is the support of the skin and is the main source of elasticity and strength in our skin. Therefore, you need to protect your skin: apply sunscreen every day, even in the winter.

Even though you protect your skin, we can´t avoid aging, it is a natural process.  I am sure we all want to look young for longer time and we are aware about all fancy cosmetic treatments or alternative treatments as surgery.  However, is very difficult to find a 100% natural anti-aging treatment.  Don´t we all want to avoid chemicals on our skin?

Now, fortunately technological advances make it possible. Red light therapy for skin is becoming a very popular alternative, chemical-free treatment. It has already been scientifically demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of sun damage (Baez et al. 2007, J of Cosmetic Dermatology).

How does red light therapy work? Certain light wavelengths stimulate collagen synthesis and accelerate fibroblast–myofibroblast transformation, leading to a rejuvenation effect. Some red light therapy users report noticing a difference within days. A few say they saw a difference after only one treatment session.

It’s hard to tell which is the main advantage- getting a quick effect without any pain or getting it without chemicals.

Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Let’s consider for a moment what acne is. It is a skin infection of Propionibacterium acnes.  This bacteria is becoming very resistant to traditional acne treatments and we need alternative solutions, so blue light therapy is a very welcome advancement.

As an aside, red light therapy for acne may also be a helpful treatment. It seems that it helps skin’s oil glands to reduce cytokines, decreasing inflammation and redness.

Blue light therapy is becoming very popular and has been scientifically proven to control acne and improve the skin’s appearance (Gold et al. 2009 in Clin Aesthet Dermatol.)

acne red light therapy before and after photo

Figures 4a and b from Gold et al 2009

This female patient had her first outbreak of acne at the age of 17. Baseline (a) and after the eight-week treatment period (b). The total number of lesions had reduced by 62 percent.

How it Works: Certain wavelengths of blue light are used to develop reactive oxygen species that kill the bacteria. Depending on the strength of the light used, these treatments can result in redness and flaking for several days.

Benefits:  Blue light therapy is effective, is painless and no chemicals or antibiotics are used. You can do it on your own using an at-home blue light therapy bulb or device.

When to use: Blue light therapy works best for mild to moderate inflammatory acne. It can be used on severe acne as well.

Cons: Blue light therapy can be expensive if is done by a doctor (requires multiple sessions). Blue light therapy treatments are not always effective for cystic acne or blackheads- its effectiveness in these conditions appears to be person-specific. It’s a newer treatment, so long term effects are not as well known as, say, peroxide treatments.

Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles

Wrinkles are signs of aging and nobody wants to have a face looking like a road map. Fortunately, now we have the option of light therapy for skin.

How it Works: Mainly, using certain red light wavelengths causes new collagen to be produced. Remember that collagen is the main support of our skin. The red light helps to improve the ability of the skin to retain key elements that are used to generate new collagen.

Benefits: No pain at all. You can avoid chemicals and it is very effective not only at reducing signs of aging such as wrinkles, but also at controling acne. There are home-use red light therapy bulbs and devices available on the market. Some are quite affordable.

Cons: Some devices can be expensive. You need multiple treatment sessions (which could be very expensive if you opt for having treatments done by a medical professional). Time consuming: you need a bit of patience to see results.


Devices for At-Home Use

Before buying any red light therapy (or blue light therapy) bulb or device you should remember that there’s infrared light therapy that can cause harm. Please buy from reputable manufacturers and research safety and usage instructions before starting to use the device.

You should know that there are laws controlling the production of these type of devices. Producers have to use lower wavelength intensity than the lasers medical professionals use.

When using at-home LLLT devices:

  • Don’t overdo the treatment. More is not better.
  • Please read and follow the instructions and safety information.
  • Be patient. The effects may take a few weeks to see.
  • Use eye protection. Never stare directly into the light.
  • Remember that the FDA approves based on safety, not necessarily effectiveness. Research scientific results for safety and effectiveness.


To Keep in Mind

Finally, I need to conclude this article with some tips to keep in mind and help you to make a decision about whether red light therapy or blue light therapy (or some infrared light therapy) is right for you.

When it comes to acne, consult with a dermatologist first. Get a diagnosis- acne can come in different forms and some conditions mimic acne. Remember that treatment effectiveness depends on the type of acne you have. Traditional acne skin-care products and other medical options are the options where you should first start.

For anti-aging, red light therapy is a great complementary option. It does not mean that you don’t need an appropriate skincare routine. Together the two can give you wonderful results.

There are five pillars of a good skin care routine:

1. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser each day and night.

2. Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells.

3. Tonify.

4. Hydrate. Use a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type.

5. Protect your skin from sun damage by using sunscreen.

And if you decide to try LLLT keep in mind: be consistent and patient! If you want to invest the money in one of the at-home bulbs or devices, you need to be committed (don’t waste your money if you are not going to use it).  Not sure? Go and see your dermatologist and ask if LLLT is for you.


Red Light Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation

woman using red light therapy for skin rejuvenationIn studies, red light therapy has been shown to greatly speed up skin healing and repair. It isn’t known for certain how it accomplishes this effect, but it appears that the effect is due to more energy becoming available to the cell.

Does Red Light Therapy Work for Skin Rejuvenation?

Red light therapy works on the overwhelming majority of people to induce collagen repair, healing and restoration of the skin’s natural radiance. Sagging skin tightens and regains some of its plumpness. Undereye circles due to aging may be improved if they are caused by the skin thinning in the undereye area (letting the blue veins show through).

Red light therapy has been shown to:

  • Erase fine lines and wrinkles
  • Heal and improve the appearance of scars
  • Tighten and firm the skin
  • Induce the production of new collagen
  • Ward off blemishes
  • Improve skin redness and inflammation

Red light therapy itself was discovered by NASA. They had noticed that astronauts in space wouldn’t heal quickly if they got cut or hurt. NASA developed LED light therapy technology to help the body heal.

Scientists have known for a long time that light affects the human body. We produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. And we wouldn’t be able to see if it wasn’t for the way light affects our eyes. So it isn’t surprising that researchers have discovered even more effects of light on our bodies.

Scientists used to believe that the skin stops repairing itself after a certain age, but this has turned out to be incorrect. We now understand that the skin constantly works to repair itself- it’s just that as we age, it’s not so easy for energy to get to our skin cells anymore.

The two main culprits of skin sagging, thinning and wrinkling are sun damage and the body’s own aging process. The body does have cells working constantly to repair skin, but they don’t work as well as we age. The decrease in functioning isn’t from wear and tear on those cells- it’s because the cells get less and less energy as we age. Over time, not only does our metabolism slow, blood flow to the cell decreases.

LLLT encourages renewed blood flow to the area, which helps skin cells acquire energy in their usual way. Studies also suggest that it has more than one mechanism of action.

The skin has cells called fibroblasts that are responsible for producing collagen and elastin. As we get older, not only does a fibroblast’s work load get bigger, but our slowing metabolism deprives it of the energy it needs to function to the best of its ability. So even though the aging fibroblast can produce lots of collagen and elastin, it doesn’t because it doesn’t get enough energy.

In addition, aging skin produces lots of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase (MMP). MMP are responsible for destroying the structure that keeps skin looking firm, plump and tight. The more MMP the skin produces, the more its collagen and elastin weaken and break down. Red light therapy inhibits the action of MMP.

It appears that it’s not possible to get these effects of red light therapy/LLLT with just any red light. The light’s photons must be powerful enough to reach the skin cell, even those beneath the surface. To be effective, the light has to be strong and the source must be placed as close to the skin as possible.

Anti-Aging and Red Light Therapy

anti-aging and red light therapyIn studies, red light therapy has been shown to greatly speed up skin healing and repair. It is not clear exactly how it works, but it seems to have multiple effects at the cellular level. It appears to increase the amount of energy available to the cell, and this is key in reversing aging of the skin.


The two main culprits of skin sagging, thinning, discoloration and wrinkling are damage from UV rays and a slowing metabolism.

The body does have cells working constantly to repair the skin, but they don’t work as well as we age. This decrease in functioning isn’t from wear and tear on those cells, though. It’s because the cells receive less and less energy due to our slowing metabolism. Over time, not only does our metabolism slow, blood flow to the cell decreases. The slower a person’s metabolism or the worse her circulation, the more signs of aging typically appear.

The skin has cells called fibroblasts that are responsible for producing collagen and elastin. As we get older, not only does a fibroblast’s work load get bigger, but our slowing metabolism deprives it of the energy it needs to function to the best of its ability. So even though the aging fibroblast can produce lots of collagen and elastin, it doesn’t because it doesn’t get enough energy.

Part of the solution, then, is getting adequate energy to skin cells. Enter red light therapy, which is believed to work by increasing the energy available to cells.

Another issue is that aging skin produces larger quantities of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), an enzyme that destroys the structure that makes the skin look firm, plump and tight. The more MMP the skin produces, the more its collagen and elastin weaken and break down.

To add insult to injury, MMP also degrades dentin, contributing to the natural darkening or yellowing of the teeth that occurs with aging.

Red light therapy, because of its ability to energize cells, can be helpful in reversing aging. It provides the needed energy to repair the damage that occurs in the normal course of aging. Indeed, anti-aging related skin care is one of the most popular uses for light therapy, particularly red light therapy and near infrared light therapy.