The Top Ten Topical Skin Treatments To Use With Light Therapy

Best serums and lotions to use with red light therapy

The use of lotions, creams, or serums with light therapy is a hot topic. Many products are advertised as preparing your skin for light therapy or strengthening and accelerating its results. Are these claims true?

In this article, we will discuss the merits of topical skin treatments and identify the top ten products to use on your skin to supplement light therapy.


Do Topical Skin Treatments Affect the Results of Light Therapy?

No. Skin creams, lotions, and serums can be effective in their own right; however, light therapy acts independently by penetrating your skin with light wavelengths to create a biological reaction.

Blue light penetrates your dermis (just below your skin’s surface). It kills acne-causing bacteria, reduces cellulite, decreases the appearance of spider veins, and heals superficial wounds and scars.

The longer wavelengths of red LED and near-infrared (NIR) light penetrate more deeply, reaching the mitochondria of your cells to increase cellular energy. This activates the production of collagen and elastin, proteins essential for keeping your skin firm and young-looking. Light therapy induces anti-aging and healing through your body’s natural processes.

Blue and red are the most common forms of light therapy, but others are also available. Each has its own set of uses and benefits based upon wavelength.

No matter what type of light therapy you use, it acts on its own. The results of light therapy are unrelated to other skin products used.

Most topical skin products claiming to be specially formulated for light therapy contain the same basic ingredients as other lotions but are more expensive. You can compare ingredient lists and see for yourself that “light therapy” skin serums have the same fundamental composition as other skin products.

Although topical skin products do not impact the results of light therapy, they can act as an effective supplement.


Should You Use a Topical Skin Treatment Before LED Light Therapy? During? After?

You should not use any type of skin lotion, cream, or serum before or during light therapy. This is true whether you are using an acne mask, wand, light panel, or any other device.

Light therapy is most effective when there is nothing between your skin and the light being radiated upon it. Topical skin treatments can create a barrier. Some creams, makeup, and sunscreens may even contain ingredients that are light reflective and prevent your skin from absorbing light optimally.

Immediately before a light therapy session, you should cleanse your skin with a gentle product free of perfumes and dyes (or other drying agents). Gently pat your skin dry and do not apply any topical treatments. Clean, fresh skin during light therapy yields the best results.

After treatment, you can apply a gentle moisturizer. It is best to refrain from intense, targeted serums directly following treatment.


The Top Ten Topical Skin Treatments To Use After A Light Therapy Session

Topical Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cancer, promotes collagen production, treats scars, and provides anti-aging benefits [1]. It helps reverse the effects of sun damage [2], keeps your skin firm and smooth, and boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen.

Topical Vitamin D

Vitamin D from the sun comes with harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Topical vitamin D provides the same benefits to your skin without any damage. Vitamin D is especially effective for treating skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis, and healing burns. [3] It increases the growth of skin cells and improves their metabolism.

Topical Vitamin E

Vitamin E signals your skin to fight free radicals, pollutants, and UV rays that damage your skin [2]. It is a great source of hydration and anti-aging [1]. Vitamin E deeply penetrates your skin to provide a broad defense against aging, and to minimize the appearance of existing fine lines and wrinkles. It is widely believed that Vitamin E is powerful for healing scars; however, there is not yet enough scientific evidence to validate this assertion.

Topical Vitamin K

Vitamin K is especially effective for healing scars and wounds [4], reducing swelling, and decreasing the incidence of bruising [5].

A note about vitamin creams: Topical vitamins provide your skin with 20 times the level of absorption of oral vitamins, making them highly effective. However, only your skin is reaping the benefits. Oral vitamin supplements are still recommended for overall health.


Because collagen has a large molecular structure, topical treatments have difficulty penetrating the skin. Topical collagen application does not necessarily elevate collagen levels within the skin; however, it contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and safflower oil, which all prevent the breakdown of existing collagen. Thus, collagen creams are a good means of collagen maintenance.


Retinol is derived from Vitamin A. It is well-known as an effective acne treatment and for reducing wrinkles and sun damage. [6] One downside is that some retinol products can be harsh on the skin.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent rich in antioxidants. It is a non-irritating acne treatment, has skin cancer prevention capabilities, and can also relieve the painful itch of eczema and other skin conditions. [7]

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids cannot be produced by your body. They are found in fish, flaxseed, and plant and nut oils. When applied topically, omega fatty acids can help maintain smooth skin, increase hydration, and strengthen skin against environmental damage.

Aloe Vera

Natural aloe vera gel from the aloe cactus plant contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. Aloe relieves burns (including sunburn), treats cold sores, reduces inflammation, and soothes the effects of eczema and rashes. [8]


Never underestimate the importance of sunscreen. Protecting yourself from harmful UV rays is the ultimate proactive, preventative anti-aging method.


In addition to these targeted treatments, mild moisturizers and non-comedogenic oils are a great way to give your skin a break while still keeping it supple and healthy. Many simple and inexpensive products are just as effective in everyday skincare as “fancier”, more complex, costlier options.


Because everyone is unique, your experience with skincare products will be personal. Some people may experience skin irritation or an allergic reaction. It is a good idea to test any new product on a small area of skin prior to broader application. It is also advisable to consult with a dermatologist or another health professional before beginning a new skincare regime.

By combining topical treatments with light therapy, you can customize your own optimal, personal at-home skincare regime.



[1] Anti-aging effects of a topical treatment containing vitamin C, vitamin E, and raspberry leaf extract (opens in a new tab)

[2] A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation (opens in a new tab)

[3] Topical vitamin D3: A randomized controlled trial (opens in a new tab)

[4] Wound healing effects of topical Vitamin K: A randomized controlled trial (opens in a new tab)

[5] The effects of topical vitamin K on bruising after laser treatment (opens in a new tab)

[6] Topical Retinoids: Therapeutic Mechanisms in the Treatment of Photodamaged Skin (opens in a new tab)

[7] A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology (opens in a new tab)

[8] ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW (opens in a new tab)

1 comment

  • I am confused by the article. It says don’t use any creams or products but then states the products to use with the therapy. Please explain! Do you mean afterwards?


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