“Red light therapy is thought to promote collagen synthesis in the dermal layer of the skin and help to dial down inflammation in the skin,” says Bowe. “The light interacts with the skin to stimulate regeneration, healing, and repair of skin cells and supports our healthy collagen production and skin elasticity.” These benefits can be applied to scarring, fine lines, and acne, too, though the latter is commonly treated with blue light.
“In clinic, benefits range across skin rejuvenation (collagen production, fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation) right through to healing (using near-infrared light),” says Laurence Newman, Founder and CEO of Current Body
. The dialing down of inflammation has more benefits than simply reducing redness: When used on certain areas of the body, phototherapy (aka light therapy) may help to reduce pain and soreness and even heal deeper tissues.
How Often Should You Use Red Light Therapy?
Frequency and duration of red light exposure is dependent on the “what” and “where” of your red light therapy device. “In-office red light devices are significantly more powerful than the devices you can get at home, and the at-home devices that are FDA-cleared are safer and more effective than the ones that are not FDA-cleared,” says Bowe. “When we are referring to at-home devices, I recommend patients stick with regular use (daily or 3-4x/week) for at least 6 weeks to give the device a chance to work.” Bowe goes on to note that skin-firming results can require up to three months of a regular red light routine.
While benefits like improved signs of photoaging and collagen boosting may take a few months, red light can calm inflammation in a single 10-minute session—the dermatologist-recommended span of exposure.
“Whilst clinic LED treatments are both effective and popular, at-home devices are a much more cost-effective and convenient way of using LED,” says Newman. “You can use it more consistently at home, resulting in better long-term effects on the skin.” That said, red light is an additional complexion aid—not an excuse to skip out on skincare. “Optimal at-home results will be achieved while combining light therapy treatments with a well-designed skincare routine,” says Murphy-Rose.
Are There Any Risks with Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is generally considered a safe and effective method for all skin types, but there are a few commonsense caveats. Step one: close your eyes.