Anti-Aging Benefits of Red Light Therapy at HomeLast Updated:
Red light therapy is an increasingly popular and effective anti-aging remedy. This exciting new treatment can turn back the clock to make your skin look smoother, more vibrant, and years younger.
Red light therapy signals your body to change at its cellular level. A healthy, youthful look is restored to your skin, your body texture is smoothed and contoured, and the signs of aging are reduced.
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How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Red light therapy administers light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to your skin in the form of short red light waves ranging from 630 to 700 nanometers (nm) in length. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Red light therapy is also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT). The power density of the red light greatly affects its ability to heal.
Red light penetrates your skin to a depth of about eight to 10 millimeters, reaching your cells’ mitochondria (energy production centers). The mitochondria absorb the red light and stimulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP is the body’s primary “currency” for biochemical energy transfer.
ATP flows to your tissues and organs, increasing the energy within your cells. More cellular energy leads to higher oxygen levels, less inflammation, a better immune system, and enhanced circulation. Red light therapy also kills bacteria and promotes skin hydration.
Increased cellular energy also triggers fibroblast production. Fibroblasts are connective tissue cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin (proteins essential to your skin’s elasticity). In addition to keeping skin firm and supple, higher collagen and elastin levels elevate your body’s ability to heal itself.
Red light therapy has the power to substantially reduce visible signs of aging better than any anti-aging skin cream or serum. Topical solutions cannot penetrate deeply enough to stimulate your body’s natural cellular processes. They will never produce anti-aging results like those of red light therapy.
Does Red Light Therapy Make You Look Younger?
Absolutely! Red light therapy promotes tissue healing and has a profound impact on overall health and appearance, including skin tone, color, and texture.
Red light therapy can even assist with weight loss and the appearance of cellulite. Unwanted pounds are more difficult to shed through diet and exercise alone as you grow older.
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Your body gradually produces lower levels of collagen and elastin as you age. This decrease causes your skin to become thinner and more prone to sagging and wrinkling.
Wrinkles can also result from sun exposure, poor or dry air quality, smoking, squinting or other muscular habits, dehydration, heredity, and other external forces. These external factors accelerate the visibility of the aging process.
As you age, skin on almost any part of your body can begin to sag and wrinkle. The rejuvenating effects of red light therapy can help contour and smooth your entire body’s appearance, not just that of your face.
Red light therapy improves your skin’s hydration, elasticity, natural cellular energy, and healing potential. Deep wrinkles are reduced, fine lines can virtually disappear, and new wrinkles are prevented from forming.
Your bodily and facial skin becomes smoother and appears younger. Sagging skin on your body becomes tighter, giving your body a sleeker contour.
Your skin is drastically affected by sun exposure throughout your lifetime. Tanning, while widely considered to be attractive, represents skin damage.
Each time you get a suntan or sunburn, your skin sustains permanent damage, even if it isn’t immediately visible after fading and healing.
Long-term effects of past sun exposure manifest in the form of “sun spots” (also known as age spots) which can form months or years later. Your skin produces too much melanin (a dark skin pigmentation) to protect itself from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun. Overproduction of melanin concentrates pigmentation in small areas which later develop into sun spots.
Severe, blistering sunburns can cause permanent scarring. In extreme cases, the sun can cause Actinic Keratosis (AK), which is the most serious form of sun damage. AK creates crusty, scaly patches on the skin and often evolves into skin cancer. In addition to skin pigmentation problems, the sun also causes wrinkles.
Sun exposure is a leading cause of premature signs of aging.
The elevated collagen and elastin production and cellular energy triggered by red light therapy boost your immune system so your body works harder to naturally heal itself. Damaged skin cells are repaired and dead cells are eliminated.
Discolorations and age spots are diminished in appearance, evening out your skin complexion and tone. Wrinkles and fine lines are minimized, restoring a firmer, more youthful skin contour. Your skin grows more radiant, smoother, and healthier in tone and texture.
Droopy or Crepey Eyelids
Your eyes are especially at risk for wrinkles. The skin on your eyelids and around your eyes is the thinnest, most fragile skin on your body. Tiny eye muscles work constantly to focus, blink, and move your eyeballs. Eye skin is under continuous strain from this motion as well as from squinting. Because of its thinness and the perpetual muscular activity, the skin around your eyes is often the first to show signs of aging.
Because your body’s natural collagen and elastin production and circulation quality decrease as you age, eye skin becomes even thinner. Eyelids become crepey and begin to sag or droop. “Crow’s feet” (wrinkles extending from the outer corners of your eyes) are also common.
The good news is that your eyes have the highest mitochondria content of any body part, so they are extremely receptive to red light therapy. The red wavelengths penetrate easily to your cells, improving hydration and circulation, and restoring eye skin to a more taut, youthful appearance.
Anti-aging eye creams and lotions may cause eye irritation and they do not penetrate deeply enough to impact your body’s natural healing ability. Red light therapy causes no irritation or side effects and brings about cellular change. Red light therapy diminishes eye wrinkles better than any topical treatment can.
Under-Eye Circles, Hollows, and Bags
Dark circles, hollows, and bags under the eyes can have many causes, and age is one of them. Dark under-eye circles and hollows are mainly caused by dehydration or tiredness. They detract from a youthful appearance and are signs of poor skin health.
Lack of a healthy sleep routine can make you look older, whether temporarily (from a few nights of poor sleep) or long-term due to an overall poor sleep regime. Red light therapy can help return hydration and proper circulation to your eye area, replacing dark circles, hollows, and bags with a consistent skin tone and texture. Because of eye skin’s thin nature and its high concentration of mitochondria, it responds quickly to red light therapy.
Red light therapy reduces inflammation, so puffiness or swelling creating the appearance of eye bags is also alleviated.
Even while undergoing red light therapy, it is important to maintain a healthy sleep regimen. This means getting enough sleep each night (7 to 8 hours for most healthy adults), and keeping a consistent sleep schedule whenever possible.
Red light therapy can lessen the appearance of dark circles, hollows, and eye bags, but not completely on its own. No external treatment can fully counteract the visible effects of poor sleeping habits.
Varicose Veins and Broken Capillaries
Vein health naturally decreases with age, primarily because the quality of your circulation declines. Because red light therapy is known to improve circulatory function, it can assist with the appearance of unsightly vein problems. All of these vein problems tend to become more pronounced with age:
Veins become enlarged and stand out from the surrounding skin, both texturally and in color. This is caused by improper blood flow and the pooling of blood. They appear as twisting, bulging cords above the normal skin’s surface and are usually blue or purple.
Tiny veins branch out beneath the surface of the skin and cause “spidery-looking” configurations of small blue or purple lines. They are visible and affect the skin’s tone but not its texture.
Capillaries are the tiniest of blood vessels. Capillary breakage is most common on the facial skin because it is frequently exposed to external elements and influences such as environmental toxins, makeup, and UV sun rays. Broken capillaries are similar in appearance to spider veins but are usually red. They can also be caused by Rosacea, an inflammatory facial skin disorder causing a red rash-like appearance.
The anti-inflammatory properties of red light therapy can help to relieve all vein disorders, restoring skin to a uniform tone and texture. Depending upon the severity of initial presentation, the physical appearance of veins can be either minimized or eliminated.
Fat and Cellulite
Because your metabolism inherently slows as you age, it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. The development of cellulite (subcutaneous fat located directly beneath your skin) is also more prevalent as you get older.
Fat and Weight Loss
The increased cellular energy created by red light waves elevates your body’s natural fat-burning ability. Your metabolism speeds up, allowing you to burn more calories and lose more fat.
Red light therapy helps to suppress your appetite, aiding in the management of a healthy diet. Thyroid function is also improved by red light. Your thyroid gland produces hormones that are closely linked to metabolism and weight fluctuation.
Chronic swelling and inflammation are related to obesity, so red light therapy’s anti-inflammatory properties prevent new fat cells from forming.
Red light therapy creates pores within fat cells (adipocytes), effectively killing them. Fatty acid compounds called lipids are dispersed from fat cells. Adipocyte apoptosis (the natural death of fat cells) is the result.
Glucose (blood sugar) oxidation is also enhanced through red light therapy. This process is your body’s natural means of ridding itself of waste products. Because your cells are more active, the level of oxidation (waste disposal) is accelerated.
These benefits of red light therapy work together to help you burn fat and lose weight more efficiently.
Fat located directly under the skin, cellulite often has a lumpy appearance similar to cottage cheese. This type of fat is persistent and highly resistant to diet and exercise. Cellulite is related to weight, fitness, age, hormones, and heredity. It presents a very frustrating situation for many people.
Because of the boost in fibroblasts activated by red light therapy, wholesome connective tissue is replenished. A smooth, elastic skin texture is restored and firm skin replaces the rough, dimpled texture of cellulite.
Which Type of Red Light is Most Effective for Weight Loss and Cellulite Reduction?
Near red light waves (630 to 700nm) are appropriate for most anti-aging skin issues, but weight loss and cellulite present a different challenge. Fat cells reside more deeply within your body than skin cells. Since short red LED wavelengths penetrate to a depth of about eight to 10 millimeters, they are not as effective at targeting fat cells.
Near-infrared light is slightly higher on the spectrum than red light and is generally understood to be about 700 to 900nm in wavelength. Near-infrared light is visible, whereas short red light is not.
Near-infrared light is most effectively used in conjunction with short red light to burn fat.
Customizable devices offering multiple red wavelength options (including both short red and near-infrared) are available. These devices allow for comprehensively combatting fat and cellulite in an anti-aging therapy program. A personalized plan can be developed depending upon your own unique goals and needs.
Other Common Signs of Aging Affected by Red Light Therapy
Certain conditions can be caused by factors other than aging, but nevertheless, create the impression of more advanced age. The collagen- and elastin-enhancing properties of red light therapy and its advanced healing capabilities can help to alleviate such problems. For example:
- Stretch Marks — a breakdown of connective tissue creating long, red marks on the skin, usually caused by rapid weight gain, pregnancy, or heredity. These conditions benefit greatly from red light therapy.
- Melasma — gray or brown patches that cause an aged appearance, due to sun exposure, hormones, or reaction to a medication
- Scars — whether caused by acne or other trauma to the skin, scars are unsightly and can cause you to look older than you are
- ”Turkey Neck” — sagging, drooping, and loosening of under-chin and neck skin
How Often Should You Use Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging Purposes?
The course of your treatment will be individualized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or standard dose of red light therapy. Each person’s needs are unique.
Sessions can range anywhere from five to 30 minutes, one to five times per week. A good starting point might be three to five intervals per week, each lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes. After a few weeks, the treatment time and frequency can be adjusted as benefits are realized.
In addition to reversing the existing effects of aging, red light therapy can be a routine, preventative anti-aging measure. Sticking with some level of permanent red light therapy will help you avert the aging process and remain younger-looking in the long run.
To determine the best personal course of treatment, consultation with a doctor or other health expert is recommended.
Is Red Light Therapy Safe for Your Face and Are There Any Side Effects?
Short red light therapy is chemical- and drug-free, completely natural, and FDA-approved. Red light contains no UV radiation and will not damage your skin. This treatment is safe for your eyes and for all ages and skin types and has no adverse side effects.
Near-Infrared light, because of its longer and visible wavelengths, has the potential to mildly burn your skin if overused. As long as near-infrared light is administered safely and according to instructions, the risk of experiencing any harmful side effects is extremely minimal.
Red or Blue Light for Anti-Aging Therapy?
Blue light is lower on the spectrum of visible light than red. Its wavelengths are only about 380 to 500nm.
Since anti-aging relies upon cellular energy change, depth of light wavelength penetration is a major factor. Blue light will have only a minimal effect on anti-aging (if any) because its short wavelengths will not penetrate the skin deeply enough. It is better suited to skin conditions that can be treated closer to the surface (such as minor acne).
Red light therapy is more effective than blue for anti-aging because of its greater cell penetration capability.
What Devices Are Available for At-Home Red Light Therapy?
What Are the Most Common Types of Devices?
- Beds — Beds are a great option for targeting multiple problem areas at once. Beds are, however, significantly more costly than light panels and other devices.
- Light Panels — Light panels are available in a range of sizes, including full-body panels that you stand in front of. Smaller panels are available for more targeted use.
- Hand-Held Devices, Wands, and Pens — Hand-held devices are most appropriate for addressing very specific bodily locations.
- Face and Eye Masks — These devices are designed to focus specifically on facial anti-aging goals
What Are Some Popular Brands of At-Home Light Therapy Devices?
Devices on the market range from minor acne-treatment tools to medical-grade anti-aging red light therapy devices. Leading brands include:
- Trophy Skin — wands, panels, and masks billed as “a time machine for your face”
- Love My Skin — wands and masks primarily for acne and mild skin condition treatment
- Evis MD Platinum — medical-grade panels for higher-end skin care and anti-aging
- Rejuvenist Anti-Aging Red Light Therapy Device by Elevatione — hand-held therapeutic red light device for facial skin rejuvenation
- SkinClinical Reverse Anti-Aging Light Therapy — medical-grade hand-held red light anti-aging wand
- Pure Rayz — hand-held wand for wrinkle reduction
- FaceFX — hand-held tool for facial wrinkle reduction
- Glō by reVive Light Therapy ® Anti-Aging System — hand-held red light anti-aging wand
- Luma — masks and various wrap-around bodily devices for anti-aging, pain management, and treatment of various skin conditions
Do Clinical Studies Prove the Efficacy of Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging?
Yes. Scientific research concludes that red light technology is effective in reducing the visible signs of aging.
- nih.gov - Trial for Efficacy of RLT in Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles (opens in a new tab)
- nih.gov - LLLT in Skin: Stimulating, Healing, Restoring (opens in a new tab)
- nih.gov - Body Contouring Using 635-nm Wavelength (opens in a new tab)
- nih.gov - LLLT for Fat Layer Reduction (opens in a new tab)
- nih.gov - LLLT for Body Contouring and Spot Fat Reduction (opens in a new tab)
- nih.gov - Low-Level Laser Therapy for Body Contouring (opens in a new tab)
Red light therapy is the only anti-aging treatment to stimulate cellular change and activate your body’s natural healing capacity. Best of all, it is easily administered at home, and you need only purchase your devices once. There are no recurring expenses.
Unlike chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and topical remedies, red light therapy poses no risk of skin irritation and requires no healing time after treatment. With a few weekly at-home sessions, you will begin to observe your desired anti-aging effects.