Red Light Therapy: Improve Skin, Energy & Sleep

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red light therapyRed Light Therapy: Improve Skin, Energy & Sleep

You might’ve heard about red light therapy and its potential to create more youthful, glowing skin, but you may not be aware of all of its health benefits. Red light therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses red low-level wavelengths of light.

It has many health benefits, including a reduction in pain and inflammation, improvement in skin elasticity, skin health, and skin glow, enhanced hair growth, better sleep, and more energy. I love red light therapy, use it personally, and recommend it to my patients, friends, and family regularly.

In this article, you will learn what red light therapy is and what benefits it holds for you. You will learn how to use red light therapy effectively and the best red light therapy device I recommend.

What Is Red Light Therapy 

Red light therapy (RLT) is a powerful therapeutic technique and an alternative healing method. It uses red low-level wavelengths of light for a variety of therapeutic purposes, including wound healing, scars, and other skin issues, inflammation, pain, hair growth, and sleep quality (1)

Red light therapy was originally used in the 1990s by scientists to help grow plants in space, because of its ability to promote photosynthesis and plant growth. Further research and experience have found that alterations influence cellular redox state and function and positively affect their photosensitivity resulting in a variety of health benefits.

Today it is widely for the listed therapeutic benefits. It is used in medical settings for skin conditions, wounds, and chemotherapy side effects, in salons for cosmetic skin concerns, and even in personal home settings for any desired benefits (1, 2)

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Red light therapy is a low-level laser therapy that is a form of photobiomodulation.  Photobiomodulation refers to using light to modulate our biology.  This process exposes your body to low wavelength red lights that penetrate deep into your skin. Unlike ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, RLT is safe and doesn’t burn your skin.

You won’t get a tan or get a sunburn, instead, you receive all the benefits of the red light deep inside on a cellular level when standing or sitting several inches from an RLT device. This process may help to increase cellular energy and antioxidants in your body.

Research has shown that through red light therapy, the mitochondria in the skin cells are able to soak up the beneficial light particles, create more ATP energy, and able to fuel all cells with energy with it. Since your body is able to use this extra energy for rejuvenation and repair, this energy provided to your cells may contribute to many of the positive benefits of RLT (2).

Benefits of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy has several potential benefits. In fact, scientists have found that red light therapy may have some benefits that have been limited photosynthetic organisms and specialized photoresponsive cells.

Due to the fact that light interacts with all the cells of our body, RLT has profound influence on many systems of the body.  Let’s take a look at them (2).

Supports Collagen Production

Collagen is the primary structural protein in the body. It is found in skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, and teeth. It is built up of tightly bound amino acids that help to hold your body together. Collagen is important for your skin because it ensures its elasticity and reduces wrinkles. Collagen, however, is also important for a healthy gut, mood, hair, nails, ligaments, and bones. To learn more about the importance and benefits of collagen, read this article.

The natural red wavelengths in red light therapy provide a boost of collagen production in your body. Research on the skin health benefits of RLT has found that red light may increase collagen production and increase intradermal collagen density. The same study has also found that RLT may promote fibroblast production which helps the creation of collagen in your body (2, 3)

Reduces Inflammation and Pain

Red light therapy is also incredibly beneficial for pain and inflammation. According to a systemic review and meta-analysis evaluating low-level laser therapy for musculoskeletal disorders in adults, RLT may reduce pain when used regularly and a recommended dose.

Another study has discussed the benefits of this therapy on inflammation. It seems that it improves inflammatory and inflammation-related chronic health issues, including psoriasis, tendonitis, obesity, arthritis, and autoimmune thyroiditis (4, 5).

Red light therapy may be particularly beneficial if you have arthritis or other joint-related inflammation or pain. A meta-analysis looked at the benefits of red-light therapy. Scientists looked at 13 trials. 212 patients received randomized laser, 174 patients got the placebo laser, and 68 patients recieved active laser on one of their hands and placebo on their other hand. Treatment lasted from 4 to 10 weeks with follow-ups to 3 months.

Researchers have found that RLT was effective for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis with few side effects. Another randomized double-blind study has found that RLT may benefit knee osteoarthritis and compliance with rehabilitation exercises (6, 7).

Improves Skin Conditions

One of the main reasons people use red light therapy is for its skin health benefits. A study on the benefits of the stimulating, repair, and skin benefits of RLT found that it may increase collagen production, fibroblast production, mRNA and circulation between skin cells. As a result, RLT may help skin elasticity and facial texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and lower free radical damage (2)

Red light therapy may also help to treat acne. Just like sunlight it may reduce sebum production. However, too much sun exposure can be problematic because of the ultraviolet (UV) and UVB rays, making RLT a great option. Another study has found that it may improve complexion and the overall feeling of the skin, and help to rejuvenate skin cells (2, 3).

red light therapy

Stimulates Mitochondrial Health

The mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells. They are small organelles that are the center of cellular energy in your body.

Researchers have found that one of the main benefits of red-light therapy is that it helps to stimulate mitochondrial health and help your mitochondria to create more energy. This happens because the red and near-infrared lights interconnect with certain photoreceptors called cytochrome c oxidase within your cells. 

This process allows the mitochondria to use oxygen more efficiently which results in the production of more ATP.  ATP is the molecular unit of currency for the intracellular energy transfer process.

It is a complex organic chemical that supplies your living cells with energy to help bodily processes, including chemical synthesis, nerve function, and muscle contraction. Healthier more energy efficient mitochondria help to improve energy and mental clarity (2, 8, 9).

Red Light

Improves Circadian Rhythm & Sleep Quality 

Red light therapy may be a natural and effective sleep aid that improves your circadian rhythm and sleep quality. Exposure to red light may help your body to adjust its circadian rhythm resulting in physical, mental, and behavioral changes and benefits.

A study on female basketball players has found that using red light therapy for 14 days for 30 minutes each day resulted in better sleep quality and improved endurance performance based on melatonin release and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire. 

Another study on different color temperatures has found that red light therapy may be beneficial for sleep. They looked at exposure to different color temperatures before research participants spent sleeping in darkness. Melatonin production and body temperature during sleep was different for each light and has shown improvements for RLT (10, 11).

Supports Hair Growth

If you are looking to grow beautiful hair or simply want to grow more or better quality hair, red light therapy may be an option. About 50 percent of man over 40 and 75 percent of women over 65 suffer from Androgenetic Alopecia, a common form of hair loss. Research has found that light therapy may benefit this population (12, 13).

A study on 90 participants between ages 18 and 70 found that low-level red light therapy may help people with alopecia, or spot balding. Participants who received red light therapy of 665 nanometers (nm) and 808 nm improved their hair density compared to the control group. A further meta-analysis of 8 clinical studies of 11 double-blind randomized trials has found that red light therapy may result in a significant increase in hair growth and hair density (15).

Red Light

Promotes Wound Healing & Tissue Repair

One of the most commonly known benefits of red-light therapy is wound healing. It has been well-researched and has been used in professional settings in order to improve wound healing and tissue repair.

According to a review of 68 studies on the biological effects of red light therapy on wound healing, it may help to reduce inflammation in the skin cells, increase collagen and fibroblast production, and help angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth stimulation. The review concluded that red light therapy is beneficial for wound healing and tissue repair, however, treatment protocol, wavelength, and the dose may be important and determine the outcome (16).

Red Light

How To Use Red Light Therapy   

Using red light therapy is simple and easy to fit into your self-care routine. You can set up your red light therapy device on a chair or table or hang it on the wall or a door. Remove your clothes before using the device. Undergarments, such as underwear and socks, they won’t interfere with the treatment.

Position yourself 4 to 6 inches away from your red light therapy device for best results. You can sit or stand, it’s up to your preference. 

Treat each area that needs attention for 5 to 15 minutes. At first, I recommend starting with 1 to 2 minutes with each area. Slowly increase the time over the next few weeks as your body gets used to the red light.  I personally use the full body RLT and NIR at the same time for 12-20 minutes each day with 6-10 minutes on each side of my body.  

Use your red light therapy device four to ten times a week depending on your symptoms. If you use it several times a day, allow at least 6 hours between treatments. 

I recommend consistent, full-body use with special attention to your specific problem areas. Remember, when it comes to RLT, consistency is key. For long-term and full-body benefits, use the light therapy regularly.

Red Light

Best Red Light Therapy Device 

If you are looking for a high-quality red light therapy device, I personally use and highly recommend Mito Red Light Therapy Device. It is a third-party tested device with the highest power on the market.

Most red light therapy devices use only 2 watt or 3 watt LEDs, whereas Mito Red Light Therapy uses 5 watt LEDs for the best results. You will experience higher irradiance for better results in less time. I love that it comes in different sizes for your convenience. It’s affordable yet effective. I recommend that you try it.  Use the coupon code DRJOCKERS at checkout to save 5% on the MitoRed product line.

Image result for Mito Red

Final Thoughts

Red light therapy is a popular therapeutic technique that uses red low-level wavelengths of light. RLT has many benefits, including a reduction in pain and inflammation, improvement in skin elasticity, quality, and health, improved hair growth, better sleep, and more energy.

I love red light therapy, and I hope that you will find it beneficial as well. Follow my tips on how to use RLT regularly to improve your skin, sleep, energy, and overall health.

Red Light

Red Light Therapy Face Mask

If you are looking for red light therapy benefits specifically for your face, I highly recommend this HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask. It offers a functional cordless design, which is very convenient. You can use it anywhere in the house and take it with you on trips. It helps to rejuvenate your skin and may be great for acne scarring, scarring, fine lines, wrinkles, and your overall skin tone.

Even just one session can make you feel more rejuvenated and fresh in your skin. However, if you use it regularly, you may notice a visible difference in your skin. Less scaring, fewer fine lines, fewer wrinkles, and more importantly, a visible glow are among the potential benefits.

I highly recommend that you add using a HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask to your daily routine. This is a great time for relaxation, meditation, and some well-deserved ‘me time’.  Use the coupon code DRJOCKERS to save 15% off on HigherDOSE products including the Red-Light Face Mask.

red light therapy, Red Light Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation and Anti-Aging

Sources in This Article Include:

1. What is red light therapy? WebMD. Link Here
2. Avci P, Gupta A, Sadasivam M, Vecchio D, Pam Z, Pam N, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013 Mar;32(1):41-52. PMID: 24049929 
3. Wunsch A, Matuschka K. A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase. Photomed Laser Surg. 2014 Feb;32(2):93-100. doi: 10.1089/pho.2013.3616. Epub 2013 Nov 28. PMID: 24286286 
4. Clijsen R, Brunner A, Barbero M, Clarys P, Taeymans J. Effects of low-level laser therapy on pain in patients with musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2017 August;53(4):603-10. Link Here
5. Hamblin MR. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophys. 2017;4(3):337-361. doi: 10.3934/biophy.2017.3.337. Epub 2017 May 19. PMID: 28748217
6. Brosseau L, Welch V, et al. Low level laser therapy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis. The Journal of Rheumatology. Aug 2000; 27(8): 1961-9. 10955339
7. Alfredo PP, Bjordal JM, et al. Efficacy of low level laser therapy associated with exercises in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind study. Clinical Rehabilitation. Jun 2012; 26(6): 523-33. PMID:  22169831
8. Mito red light user manual. Link Here
9. Tafur J, Mills PJ. Low-intensity light therapy: exploring the role of redox mechanisms. Photomed Laser Surg. 2008 Aug;26(4):323-8. doi: 10.1089/pho.2007.2184. PMID: 18665762
10.Zhao J, Tian Y, Nie J, Xu J, Liu D. Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players. J Athl Train. 2012 Nov-Dec;47(6):673-8. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-47.6.08. PMID: 23182016
11. Morita T., Tokura H. “Effects of lights of different color temperature on the nocturnal changes in core temperature and melatonin in humans” Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 1996, September; 15(5):243-246. PMID: 8979406 
13. Barikbin B. Comparison of the effects of 665 nm low level diode Laser Hat versus and a combination of 665 nm and 808nm low level diode Laser Scanner of hair growth in androgenic alopecial. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. Link Here
14. Delaney SW, Zhang P. “Systematic review of low-level laser therapy for adult androgenic alopecia.” Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2018 Aug. PMID: 29286826
15. Liu KH, Liu D, et al. “Comparative effectiveness of low-level laser therapy for adult androgenic alopecia: a system review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Lasers in Medical Science. 2019 Aug. PMID: 30706177
16.Chaves ME, Araújo AR, Piancastelli AC, Pinotti M. Effects of low-power light therapy on wound healing: LASER x LED. An Bras Dermatol. 2014 Jul-Aug;89(4):616-23. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20142519. PMID: 25054749

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  1. I only have a near-infrared lamp, is this effective at all for hair loss, skin issues, psoraisis and brain/mood health? If so, how long does it take to see any positive effects?

    1. a few days ago i watched a video about hair loss and it stated that it is caused by over testosterone production..and that is caused by insulin resistance..and yesterday i watched a video that chrome regulates sugar and insulin and blood pressure and prevents sugar oxidation even if you are a sugar narco usage and also removes the fat even around the waist..and a whole lot more of positive effects …

  2. RLT – not quackery. I have benefited with reduced keen pain since starting RLT. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in March, and have been addressing inflammation through lifestyle changes. When I added RLT in October, I noticed an immediate decrease in knee & joint pain.

  3. Which model is a good model for collagen production? My esthetician has used RLT on me and has boasted About those same benefits. I could use the RLT for myself but I was thinking about a gift for my 31 year old daughter who is into facials, taking care of her skin, etc, which I do as well. Any advice on which model would be best for those circumstances would be greatly appreciated. And then of course I would sneak and use hers for the other benefits you discuss, if I don’t buy two

      1. Thank you; your article tells how to build up to 15 Minutes and to use regularly.when you say regularly Can you use daily? Should you use both NIR and RL at same time or should each light be alternated every other day for collagen production and or acne

    1. IM Esthetician and I God a equipment called Lead Ligh or Fotosintesis it does the same like this one I would like to use on my knees

  4. There are many kinds of electro-magnetic frequencies (ELF’s) in our world. RLT seems to provide helpful ELF’s and it must resonant energetically and effectively with the body. There are frequencies that are not so positive, i,e,. cell phone emissions and soon to bombard everyone 5G. You would provide a great service if you could help to distinguish good light frequencies from those emanating from a different sector of the frequency spectrum that are harmful, and why they are.
    Thank you.

      1. So which is better, RLT or infrared sauna? I’m really confused because I bought an infrared sauna based on your recommendation. Is RLT better than an infrared sauna?

  5. I heard a physician in one of the video conferences that you are associated with also stating that you get better results by using a 250 watt analog bulb (sauna bulb) for NIR than LED pads which are not as powerful, I have been using one such bulb for months and must say that it has helped mitigate my knee joint arthritis greatly at a fraction of the cost of the LED pads.

  6. I am interested in the red light for hair loss. I can’t figure out how you get the red light on The top of your head? How does this work. Also for collagen and facial wrinkles

    1. If you are looking for specific results related to hair loss on the top of your head, you may want to consult with a hair loss expert that has been trained in photobiomodulation. Home units, although very helpful, may not be specific enough to stop hair loss on the top of the head. However, the home units – using them on a daily basis can absolutely benefit your collagen and help to improve/prevent the formation of wrinkles.

  7. Thanks for the great information. I just purchased the Visum Light (at a discount) but have not begun using it. I bought it to help with a meniscus tear I have; generalized inflammation in my husband & support for previous ACL injuries on my large breed dog. Is this device the same as Mito Red? Are you familiar with Visum Light?

    1. Hello Nancy, while the Visum Light is not the same as the Mito Red it does use similar technology in a device that can be specifically focused on joints for enhanced healing.

  8. I’m a 75-year-old female. Will the red/nir light help with my aged wrinkles? I gather from your article that it is good for rheumatoid arthritis which I have.

  9. Is it OK to expose the eyes to RLT and IRLT? Is the red light and/or infra-red light beneficial to the eyes? Or, if it damages the eyes, how do you protect them when exposing the face (for collagen production)?

    1. Yes there are benefits. The RLT comes with eye goggles because many don’t want to expose their eyes, but I like to just close my eyes and gradually open them from time to time so I get some RLT & NIR into them for short periods while I am doing a session.

  10. I am sensitive to EMFs and wonder if the emissions from the red light therapy would be detrimental. We had a building biologist come and take readings from our electronic devices and also electrical outlets and she made recommendations to bring the numbers down (ethernet cables/no wifi and an electrician fixed outlets and changed dimmer switched to regular ones). I’m not very scientific, so an explanation (not just numbers) would be helpful. Thanks!

  11. So which is better RLT or infrared sauna? Or are they designed for different issues? I’m really confused because I bought an infrared sauna based on your recommendation.

    1. Yes both are fantastic and have different benefits. The sauna adds in the high heat and sweating component which activate heat shock proteins to enhance autophagy, detoxification, etc. Both the RLT and Infrared sauna have infrared which is very anti-inflammatory and the RLT also has the red light.

  12. Hi! I just ordered the MitoPRO 1500 and I’m super excited about using it for so many reasons. The biggest of which is my eczema which just can’t be controlled. Would you recommend that I use both the red and near infrared for this purpose? How long do you recommend that I use it for each treatment?

    1. Yes absolutely, I would recommend both the Red and NIR. The Red will be more effective directly on the eczema but the NIR will help reduce whole body inflammation that will help improve immune health.

  13. Can RLT and/or NIR be useful in helping erectile dysfunction (e.g., to restore or improve blood flow to maintain erections)? If so, exactly how would you do so if you have such a device?

  14. Hello,
    Am interested in the articles you referred to that are related to hair growth – resources #12 and #13.
    #12 is missing from your source list. Can you please post the citation details for this source?
    Thank you.

  15. I have the Mito red therapy light. I use it daily on my face & love it. Definitely has improved elasticity. How would you recommend I use it for my hair?
    Thank you in advance.

  16. Is this the same red light therapy that is beneficial for eyes with Macular Degeneration? If so, how would you apply the treatment?

    1. Yes absolutely. Just do RLT and you can look away (not directly at the RLT) but with your eyes open and within 3 feet of the device for 10 mins or so a day, you will get anti-inflammatory and mitochondrial stimulating benefits on the eyes.

  17. My 24 yr old daughter has EDS ( Ehlers Danlos) which is a connective tissue dysfunction disorder. She has the Hypermobile type with fragile brain tissues that concuss easily. Would RLT or NIR actually help or not for those with EDS?

  18. Hello Dr. Jockers. I’m currently undergoing radiation for breast cancer. Would it be beneficial for skin healing to use red light therapy while doing the radiation? If so, do you recommend both red and near-infrared? Thank you!

  19. Hello. Would RLT be helpful for plantar fasciitis? My husband has been suffering with that condition for almost 10 months now. Thank you.

  20. Comments from another health professional mentioned that if you have had cancer their suggestion is to not follow the keto diet but use the paleo diet instead. What are your thoughts? Also I noticed that your contact is in Dahlonga, Ga. Do you have an office there?
    and accept patients?
    Thank You

  21. I’ve been using a full spectrum NIR/IR sauna with RLT. The Red lights are in a row above…. Possibly 5ft above where you lie down. How close do you have to be to the red light to be effective? Is 4 feet even going to do much? The NiR lights are probably in that same line of lighting. The IR plates are placed throughout the sauna walls.

  22. Good day Dr
    my daughter is epileptic and on 4 types of medications for it. Can the red light therapy assist in the reduction / elimination fo seisures?

  23. Dr. Jockers, my daughter has hypothyroidism and is pregnant. Can she use the small device for local therapy while pregnant?

  24. 5-6 INCHES AWAY? I followed the link and they’re not using it that close. But anyway, I’m in AU and cant purchase. It was just an obs

  25. Since you mentioned that red light therapy increases red blood cells, is it wise to not use RLT for cancer? Thank you!

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