Lean into Light Therapy - Whole Body Design

Lean into Light Therapy

Let there be light!

Maybe not of biblical proportion, but for your skin, pain, and mental health, red light therapy has enormous potential. And thanks to increased access, FDA approval, and extensive research, it has become a promising treatment for a wide range of aesthetic and health issues.

Let's Get Some Red Light Knowledge

Light therapy has been around for more than 50 years. It was discovered by the Hungarian physician Endre Mester in the 1960s during experiments to improve hair growth and was later developed by NASA to assist astronauts with wound healing while in space. Since then, the efficacy of Red Light Therapy has been well validated by thousands of clinical studies. 

The technology goes by a few different names, but they mean basically the same treatment. Names include, photobiomodulation, low-level laser treatment (LLLT), photostimulation, and cold laser treatment. Praveen Arany, PhD, DDS, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo shares:

“Red light therapy has a host of beneficial applications, and with the availability of affordable at-home devices, skin care is among the most popular.”

How Red Light Therapy Works


Among the various types of light therapy, Red light therapy has grown in popularity and is perhaps the easiest to access. “Red light devices are easier to manufacture and are widely available,” Arany says.

The red light wavelength (and process of photo-bio-modulation) is captured at a specific frequency within the visible light range, on the spectrum. 

All of the colors (purple, Blue, green, orange, red) on the above spectrum are visible and have been used effectively for various treatment. Near-infrared light, which is a longer wavelength light (up to 1,200 nm), is also commonly used in conjunction with RLT. It may appear red, and in reality, exists just outside visibility for the human eye. Near-infrared light is readily accessible in at-home devices and often considered to be an adjunct improvement when used in combination.

So, How Does it Work?

When photons (particles of light) are placed near the skin they enter tissues and activate chromophores which triggers changes in cells, according to the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery. Red light therapy also affects the mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells), to generate ATP (energy), and promote healing. 

The process uses light within specific wavelengths. For example: 

  • Blue, 400 nanometers (nm)
  • Red, has wavelengths between 620-750 nm
  • Near-infrared up to 1,200 nm 

Are there Different Types of Red Light Therapy?

No, not really. Depending on the reason and desired results of treatment, typical devices feature LED red lights for handheld, panels, or full-body beds. Some devices use both red and near-infrared lights, which can improve the overall effect. 

Benefits of Red Light Therapy


Of the more commonly cited benefits of red light therapy is its effects on skin, and the ability to:

  • Enhance a youthful looking appearance
  • Treat acne vulgaris
  • Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improve hair growth
  • Reduce hyperpigmentation and redness caused by rosacea 

Red light therapy decreases inflammation to address redness, acne, and hair growth, and also allows topical or oral treatments for these conditions to work even better. When it comes to banishing breakouts, red light therapy increases our immune defenses against the bacteria associated with the formation of acne. For lines and wrinkles, these treatments target enzymes associated with the breakdown of collagen, and stimulate collagen production, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

  • Assists Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Being sidelined by an injury is extremely tough  - mentally and physically, and studies show that red light therapy can help. The authors of a  review published in December 2021 in the journal Life noted that PBM can be used in both rehab of sports injuries, and to enhance sports performance. And Arany adding that “red light can be used to improve skeletal muscle performance, reduce pain, and improve recovery from injury.” 

  • Helps Heal Wounds

Whether you have an ulcer in your mouth or an open sore on your foot, the anti-inflammatory properties of red light have been shown to improve the body’s ability to heal, says Arany, who published a review in April 2019 in Advances in Skin and Wound Care on the topic. Arany cited that “research could be especially important for oral wounds.

  • Lessens Pain

Pain is notoriously difficult to treat, but light therapy is a viable tool to help because red light acts on the specific neurons that transmit pain. 

  • Decreases Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

When used preventively before a chemotherapy or radiation treatment, red light therapy has been shown effective in helping to decrease side effects, such as pain, and severity, says Arany. In fact, one study in December 2021 in the journal Photonics, found that red light and near-infrared therapy decreased the severity of skin damage in radiation and improved skin’s ability to heal. 

What about the Risks of Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the PBM Foundation. It is considered very safe, says Jagdeo, though there’s certainly an opportunity for user error if you’re utilizing an at-home device. For example, it’s possible to overuse the device, or use it more frequently than is recommended by the manufacturer. The fortunate news is that many at-home devices have an automatic timer and shutoff, says Jagdeo, which makes it easier not to overdo it. Always follow the instructions, and be aware that the Journal of Pain review noted a risk of worsening migraine symptoms for some users. 

It's also important to check in with the appropriate doctor (for example your dermatologist or PCP) to make them aware that red light therapy is in your treatment plan. Finally, seek treatment from a reputable practitioner. “Light can cause damage, but if the right protocol is used, you don’t see any side effects,” says Jagdeo.

What about Contra-Indications?

Red light therapy is safe and non-invasive. It's designed as a adjunct treatment, meaning that it's likely not the only modality being used to address health or skin concerns. are problem. For instance, along with red light, you may also use a topical (such as a retinoid) for acne or fine lines.

If pregnant, you should avoid red light therapy, or consult your physician prior to starting with treatment, says Arany.

Getting Started With Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy should be used regularly and with consistency. To treat skin concerns, or used for anti-aging effects, it is recommended to start with three-five times per week for 10-20 minutes per session , for a minimum of one month. Most important is to follow the directions from your specific device.  People often see results within just a few weeks, depending on the application.

What to Expect Before, During, and After Red Light Therapy

It won’t hurt at all. It’s entirely painless and usually quite soothing. Red light therapy is noninvasive. A handheld device may be pressed against the skin at the site of the injury or pain, a mask and other devices will be worn, and if lying in a full body bed that uses both red and near-infrared light, you may feel warmth from the near-infrared bulbs. You should not expect to experience side effects from treatment, says Arany.

Relax and enjoy the feeling. One of the big perks of red light therapy is how relaxed and at ease the treatment will make you feel. Consider this time your time and lean into the soothing effects.

Hopefully you have found this article to be useful and informative. Most of all I hope that you choose to lean into Red Light Therapy because I truly believe in the benefits and have experienced results, first hand. My go to product is the Flawless Face Mask for its ease of use, portability, and impact. Quality skin care products are essential, but even those with cutting edge ingredients have limited ability to penetrate the dermis.

The LED Mask stimulates cellular function, wakes up activity beneath the skin so that products are absorbed, and all efforts are amplified.

The landscape of skin care and self care continues to evolve. Advanced resources, such as light therapy create tremendous opportunity for many more people to experience, healthy, youthful, and more radiant skin, and without having to spend thousands of dollars on risky procedures.

I hope you stay connected, and continue to learn about the options and opportunities, for you are beauty, body, and emotional well-being with the power of light therapy. 

Here's to your health and vitality!

Lisa B., owner, Whole Body Design


PBM Foundation. An excellent resource with videos featuring testimonials from individuals who talk about how red light therapy has helped them. 

American Academy of Dermatology. The premier dermatological association educates on a wide-range of skincare topics, including on the use of light therapy for various conditions, such as rosacea, acne, and psoriasis, offering an unbiased, science-backed view on where the research stands.