Shining red light on your skin. It sounds a little far-fetched but there is evidence that red light therapy works. And it works well. Red light consists of long wavelengths of light. These wavelengths can penetrate deeper into your skin than any other light source can. These light sources will naturally stimulate the production of collagen. Collagen is important as it can fill out any cracks or …wrinkles… that may exist in your skin.
If you’ve never heard of red light therapy before, you might already be familiar with other terms that are used to describe this treatment, such as low level laser therapy (LLLT), biostimulation (BIOS), photonic stimulation or simply light box therapy. Red light is considered “low level” because it works at an energy density that’s low compared to other forms of laser therapies.
Red light therapy sounds admittedly like something a snake oil salesman would try and sell but it has recently been FDA-approved for treating conditions like chronic joint pain and slow-to-heal wounds.
Quick overview of the best red light therapy devices
Click here to skip below to the reviews
What is red light therapy?
Basically when you have red light therapy you are allowing yourself to be shined upon by low-power red light. You don’t need to worry about pain or heat as red light in itself does not produce or induce any heat whatsoever. So the therapy sessions go completely painless. The red light can be absorbed by the skin to a depth of 10 mm, which means it has an excellent effect on a cellular, metabolical and neurological level.
Red light therapy has been shown to have positive effects on wrinkle reduction and acne-scar reduction. More so has it shown positive results in arthritis pain relief. This is due to the collagen stimulating effect of red light. In just the same way as it boosts collagen production in the skin to reduce wrinkles, so does it stimulate collage production in the joints. As a result people who have joint pains can benefit greatly through this therapy.
Although there is still controversy over this treatment and more research needed, according to the company Light Therapy Options LLC, there are virtually “no known adverse side effects” of red light therapy treatments, rather a growing list of many anti-aging benefits.
Some scientific proof about the effect of red light therapy are the following studies:
Red light has been shown to increase the energy levels on a cellular level by promoting the release of ATP from the cell’s mitochondriae. Secondly it stimulates DNA/RNA synthesis.
Red light activates the lymphatic system, which is an important part of our immune system that helps carry waste out of the body. It also increases blood flow, which as a result helps oxygen and nutrients to get to our cells. As a result your skin will look and feel much younger. In addition new capillaries are more easily formed under the influence of red light.
As mentioned already several times, collagen production is boosted by red light therapy, which can help in arthritis pain relief and will help reduce wrinkles.
5 Benefits of Red Light Therapy
1. It can reduce the side effects of Cancer treatment
Nasa and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital did research together that shows that red light technology can be successful in reducing symptoms caused by cancer treatment. The side effects of radiation- and/or chemotherapy can be extremely painful. So it pays to look for ways in which to reduce these side-effects. However during this study red light therapy was a proven way to stimulate cells in order to promote healing.
NASA tested whether red light technology could treat oral mucositis in cancer patients, a very common and painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. The study concluded that 96 percent of patients experienced improvement in pain as a result of the red light treatment.
2. Wound Healing and Tissue Repair
Red light is proven to be useful in wound healing, tissue repair and skin rejuvenation. However the mechanism in which this works is different than in for example laser resurfacing treatments. Most laser therapies used in dermatology offices use intense pulsed light to promote skin rejuvenation by inducing secondary tissue repair. In other words, they cause intentional damage to the skin in order to trigger healing.
Red light therapy actually bypasses this initial destructive step and instead directly stimulates the cells into healing.
3. Anti-Aging Effects for Skin and Hair Loss
Increasingly popular in red light therapies is wrinkle reduction. Results from a 2014 study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery demonstrated both the efficiency and safety of red light therapy when the goal is to reduce wrinkles. Researchers concluded that red infrared therapy “provides a safe, non-ablative, non-thermal, atraumatic photobiomodulation treatment of skin tissue with high patient satisfaction rates.”
Yet another anti-aging effect of red light therapy is reversing hair loss and stimulating follicle growth. The way in which this happens is similar to how red light therapy works for wound healing. Results have been mixed according to studies, but at least a moderate portion of both male and female patients have had positive results for reversing baldness/hair loss when using LLLT.
4. Improved Joint and Musculoskeletal Health
Red light therapy is now being used to treat arthritis symptoms thanks to its capability of stimulating collagen production and rebuilding cartilage. A 2009 Cochrane review of red light therapy for rheumatoid arthritis concluded that “LLLT could be considered for short-term treatment for relief of pain and morning stiffness for RA patients, particularly since it has few side-effects.”
Even in those who don’t suffer from arthritis but have other signs of tissue damage or degeneration due to aging, LLLT can still be beneficial. A 2009 study published in The Lancet showed, “LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.” Other studies have found that even when patients with musculoskeletal disorders don’t experience less pain from red light therapy treatments, they have a high chance of experiencing “significantly improved functional outcomes,” such as better range of motion.
Cellular rejuvenation and increased blood flow due to red light therapy are two key aspects of improving joint and tissue health. Decreasing oxidative damage, which degenerates joints, and modulating inflammation are other ways that LLLT benefits soft/connective tissue.
5. Reduced Depression and Fatigue
Another way to explain the benefits of red light is through the lens of Eastern medicine. Ask a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner how light helps improve health, immunity and recovery, and he or she will likely compare it to acupuncture’s mechanism of action:
- Light is a form of energy, and our bodies are just big energy systems. Light has the power to stimulate specific meridian points and chakra zones in the human body.
- Red is said to stimulate the first chakra because it correlates most strongly with our survival instinct (hence why it gives us energy and makes us act quickly, in order to motivate us to pursue things like money, food, sex, power, etc.).
- While acupuncture uses tiny needles to achieve bodily harmony through stimulating certain points in the body’s energy system, light therapy uses focused, visible, red wavelengths in much the same way.
Red light has been shown to be naturally energizing and correlated with improved moods by increasing self-confidence, positivity, passion, joyfulness, laughter, social awareness, conversation skills and sensory stimulation. While results vary from patient to patient, there’s reason to believe that LLLT has mental and emotional perks in addition to physical benefits.
Red Light Therapy devices reviews
First up is the Tendlite.
The reason why we choose to rank this device at our number one spot is simply to the fact that it has over 800 reviews on amazon that are absolutely positive. A score of 4.2 out of 5 with 800+ total reviews is something you simply cannot contend with.
It can be used to complete a total of 3 functions. The first one is an analgesic action. In simpler terms this simply means that it reduces muscle aches and promotes muscle relaxation. This is what botox achieves as well. The toxins in botox promote muscle relaxation which ultimately leads to less wrinkles. As such this red light therapy device can be used to get a similar effect, painlessly and for a lot less money!
Secondly it has an anti-inflammatory action as it increases lymphatic activity and blood circulation. It also reduces swelling and stiffness.
Lastly and more importantly, it stimulates the production of collagen. Thanks to collagen any dips, wrinkles and cracks in your skin will be fully filled up. As a result you can use this device to treat any acne scars you might have.
If you are not completely satisfied, Tendlite offers you to return the item within 60 days for a full refund of the purchase price. This means you just pay the cost of having it shipped back to them. Luckily they offer free shipping within the US. It is also made in the US using imported parts and you get a 1 year warranty.
For more info on the FDA approval, simply google “FDA Cleared K-100213”.
Then we have the more extravagant looking LED photon therapy
In second place we have the skin rejuvenation photon mask by Project E beauty.
In contrast to other red light therapy devices this one gives you green and blue as well! The reason however as to why it is placed second in our review is due to some reported quality issues. It seems that in some cases the blue lights on this device stop working after 2 months of use. Therefore it wouldn’t be right for me to recommend this any higher than second place.
In addition the red light that it gives off does not feature the much needed infrared pulse lights that are beneficial to permeate below the dermal layer of skin and significantly reduce wrinkles. While the the constant red LED light is still good for the dermal layer, it might prove ineffective for wrinkle treatment. But of course every person is different and how it affects will vary from person to person.
With over 100 reviews on Amazon and a near 4/5 star review it does seem though that for most people the device does what it says on the box. You should see the rejuvenating effects already after 5-6 treatments.
Here’s what they state regarding the effectiveness and purpose of each of the treatments:
“Red(630 nm)— One of the most powerful colors to increase blood circulation. Stimulate skin cells to excrete collagen to achieve firm and smooth texture. The red light penetrating 8-10mm is suitable for any type of skin; it can reach derma to stimulate fibre cells. Heating can improve blood circulation and collagen albumen hyperplasia to reduce wrinkles and make skin more elastic and smooth. The mild wave length is suitable for surrounding eyes and forehead.
Blue(415 nm)—Excellent effect of kill bacteria, improve sensitive skin The blue light penetrating about 0.5mm has the function of calming against skin rashes; suitable for the skin which is sensitive, oily and with skin rashes. It can adjust skin sebum secretion, effectively get rid of whelk to reach the aim of beautification. Besides, the blue light can astringe and tighten loosened skin.
Green(525 nm)—Anti-aging, smooth wrinkle and fine lines, cure wounds The green light between red light and blue light is suitable for mixed skin. It can improve the function of alternating use of cells and oxygen and activate the microcirculation function of body surface. Meanwhile, calming the skin can make both body and skin relax, and reduce the pain of skin.”
Be aware that only the Red light therapy has been FDA approved as of today and no scientific evidence exists yet of the effectiveness of green or blue light treatments that I know of. Let me know in the comments below if you have other information!
Thirdly the elegant Pulsaderm Red LED
As with all red light therapy devices, this one has also been FDA- cleared. Clearly the industry is struggling to believe that shining a light on your skin can actually do something to enhance it. However several studies have shown this to be the case!
This device uses a NASA® developed light therapy technology that activates skin cells. It employs a wavelength at the optimal power intensity that’s medically proven when it comes to alleviating the skin problems caused by aging and sun damage.
The Pulsaderm Red LED should ideally be used in 3 minute treatments 3 times a week. Before use, make sure that your skin is clean, free from any makeup, oil, or dirt. Use the included safety goggles as a precaution to shield your eyes from the light. The non-coherent light is not harmful to the eyes. Gently place the device over the desired skin area and hold it in place! No other tools or products are needed.
Unlike laser treatments or IPLs that require long healing periods, Pulsaderm Skin Renewal is gentle, painless, and non-abrasive. It utilizes red, non-coherent LED light waves that are designed to penetrate deep into the skin. Some may even find the treatment to be comfortable and relaxing.
This product activates skin cells to promote collagen production. The energy delivered by the LEDs enhances cellular metabolism in order to accelerate the repair of damaged skin cells and stimulate the production of structural proteins.
The best-rated Nova Intraderma
This device looks much sleeker than the Pulsaderm. You might wonder why this one features so low in our review list as it has a 5/5 rating on Amazon.com. Unfortunately this device is relatively new and untested. The 5/5 review simply comes from 2 different buyers and it is just too small a sample to draw any real conclusions from. However it looks extremely promising for this Nova red light therapy device.
Contrary to the photon therapy LED mask at number two in our list, this device DOES have infrared light emission as well. As a result this device is excellent in reducing any wrinkles you might have.
In addition it has the same collagen boosting technology as all the other devices in our list have. As a result this will only aide in the soothing of acne scars and withering of wrinkles.
Lastly the Neutrogena Light therapy Acne mask
Anyone who has read the posts on this site will be familiar with Neutrogena. As one of the leading brands in the fight against blemishes, they had to be on this list as well. Anything Neutrogena will stake their name on must be good.
Not so in this case.
For one you have to buy an “activator!” with this device. It is basically a device that limits the use you can get out of this machine. However without the activator this machine won’t work. Per activator you get about 30 uses out of the machine. Each session lasts about 10 minutes and you can’t change this either.
So once the activator has run out of its 30 uses, you need to buy a new one in order to keep using the machine. This clearly is a way Neutrogena will try and squeeze the most out of its customers it can. Hence this is also the reason they feature so low on our countdown.
As for the mask? If you have extremely bad acne you will see a benefit from this light therapy device. It will dry some of the worst spots and will lessen inflammation. However the complete un-user friendliness of this device is reason enough to go shop somewhere else!
Still doubting whether or not red light therapy is for you? Send us an email with your concerns or let us know in the comments below and we’ll try and sort you out!