Using red light therapy at home has become a huge hype these days. And I too have tried it.
In this post, I’ll explain what red light therapy does to your skin and what to expect from it. I will also cover the potential side effects that not so many talks about.
The device I have personally been testing is the Hooga 300 panel from Hooga Health. But I will also cover other device options.
This is what my post will cover in detail:
- What’s the fuss about red light therapy?
- Review of Hooga 300 panel
- Red light therapy Q&A
- Can red light therapy tighten loose skin?
- Does red light therapy make hyperpigmentation worse?
- Red light therapy and fat loss?
- Red light therapy vs infrared?
- Red light panel vs mask?
- Red light therapy pros and cons?
Hopefully, this will answer most of your questions about using red light therapy at home. If not, let me know in the comments at the end of the post
What’s the fuss about red light therapy?
Red light therapy, either at home or at clinics, is a treatment that uses low wavelengths of visible red light. With the purpose of improving cellular function.
Red light therapy (RLT) is used in both low-level laser treatment (LLLT), as well as with LED devices. Another word for this is also photobiomodulation
The red light can reach deep into your skin and be absorbed by the skin cells in the dermis. Inside the cells, it affects the mitochondria to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy source that is used by all living cells.
This effect is believed to be one of the large reasons why Red light therapy is beneficial. Since more energy gives the cells a better chance to recover from damage, lower inflammation, and rejuvenate themselves.
Red light therapy is used as an anti-aging treatment for the skin, pain relief for the body, wound- and fracture healing, and a lot more. But even though there is research supporting this kind of treatment, there is actually far from conclusive evidence of its efficiency. More studies in humans are definitely needed.
Also, even though many sites claim that red light therapy is risk-free, it can for sure be harmful and cause free radical damage if used in too high doses.
Now, let’s talk a bit more about what red light therapy is used for and what it potentially can do.
Red light therapy for skin improvement
As mentioned above, red light can help energize our skin cells in the dermis. And that reaction will in turn potentially help with speeding up the production of collagen and elastin. Which in turn has a rejuvenating effect and helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
The extracellular energy will also increase oxygenation, lower inflammation, and increase circulation. For all of these reasons, RLT has become a popular treatment for improving skin health.
Tip: Microcurrent (my favorite treatment) has an even higher effect on increasing cellular energy (ATP). See this post to learn more.
Red light therapy can also be helpful when it comes to wound healing. And, potentially, help with acne due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
Red light therapy for broken bones (and to strengthen bones)
Red light therapy has been shown to have a positive effect on bone remodeling. And to have the potential to be a tool in the prevention of osteoporosis.
This is important to mention. Since one of the most important things for a younger-looking face is strong facial bones. In this post, you can read more about why bone loss contributes to sagging skin and an aging face. But for now, what is worth mentioning is that red light therapy might have a positive effect.
Red light therapy for fertility and much more
Red light therapy, as well as infra-red light, is also used for improving fertility among women (and men) who have difficulties conceiving.
Several clinics have found low-level light therapy to be helpful in improving the chance of infertile women becoming pregnant. And to have successful births. Even women classified as severe infertile have had a much higher success rate compared to only doing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The hypothesis is that the boost of ATP and the lowering of inflammation and oxidative stress, in turn improves the quality of the follicles. The extra collagen production is also thought to be of help since that helps strengthen the ligaments that support the uterus.
When it comes to male infertility, red light therapy might also be helpful in improving sperm mobility and sperm quality.
The list goes on. But as mentioned earlier, there is not enough evidence yet to actually conclude that red light therapy is effective for any of these concerns.
Review of Hooga 300 panel
So, what are my own personal experiences of using red light therapy at home? Unfortunately, this section will be short due to a negative side effect. But it will still give some valuable information I hope.
I bought the Hooga 300 panel from the company Hooga Health. Their panels come in different sizes but I thought this was a convenient one to start with. And it seemed perfect to use on my face as well as on parts of my body. I had heard some women saying it helped them with period cramps, and I was eager to try that out. As well as my face of course.
The panel is 12″ X 9″ X 3″ in size and utilizes both red light (660nm) and near-infrared (850nm). You can choose to use either one of them or use them combined. Personally, I only used the red light.
So, experience number one: This was a very heavy device! And clumsy as I am I happened to drop it on my thigh! It was very painful and I could literally feel how a large bruise and bump were forming.
After a few seconds (of cursing out loud), I realized this was a perfect opportunity to test my device, and see exactly how healing it was. So I turned on the red light and held the panel over my thigh for a few minutes (maybe 10, I don’t remember exactly).
And wow, something for sure happened! The bump I was starting to feel disappeared and the bruise that formed was tiny. I usually get bruises that are huge and last for many weeks, so this for sure was a positive experience!
But then, experience number two: This was not as positive. I used the device on my face, following the guidelines with distance and time. I held my face about 12 inches from the panel and only for about 2 minutes.
I got quite red but even worse, my melasma was triggered! I got really worried about this, especially since I had seen no warnings about it. And in the studies I had gone through, there were only safety warnings about the fact that infrared and heat could cause hyperpigmentation to get worse. But not a word about red light causing this.
Anyway, I started to ask around in Facebook groups, to see if there were people out there experiencing the same thing. And yes indeed. In every group I asked, I got several people saying they have had the same experience with red light and melasma. Despite what device (or brand) they were using.
So after this, I just stopped using my red light panel completely on my face. I did try it for my period cramps but it did not help much at all.
Hooga health has a 60-day money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied. But I decided to keep the panel. The reason is mostly because of my positive effect on my thigh. And I thought that even if I cannot use it on my face due to my melasma, it will still be a great SOS device to have at home in case I do need to speed up any healing anywhere on my body.
Also, the device was not that expensive, so I thought it could be worth keeping.
I do believe that red light therapy has its advantages. But it may not be right for everyone, and you should be careful especially if you have melasma.
With this said, I will try to answer more questions below regarding red light therapy in general.
If you are interested in trying out any product from Hooga Health my code “ayoungerskin12off” will give you a discount of 12 %. And as mentioned, they do offer a 60 days money-back guarantee to try it out risk-free.
Red light therapy Q&A
Now, let’s answer some of the most common questions about red light therapy. And more specifically about the usage of at-home devices.
Can red light therapy tighten loose skin?
Red light therapy can possibly help with increased collagen production, increased blood flow, and more cellular energy overall. This will indeed help with improving fine lines and wrinkles, but will probably only give a very modest (if any) effect on true loose skin.
For loose or sagging skin, a more effective method (for us who wants a natural treatment) is to work with microcurrent to improve facial volume. That is my personal favorite treatment for my skin and face.
Does red light therapy make hyperpigmentation worse?
In general, red light therapy does not make hyperpigmentation worse. But there are exceptions and more research is needed in this area.
Visible light (where red light is included) is shown to cause melanogenesis (leading to uneven pigmentation) as well as formation of free radicals in the skin. Even though this is most probably due to the blue light, there is a need to be cautious.
As mentioned above in my review, I did personally experience a worsened melasma after using red light on my face (and I am not alone). Which made me stop using it.
Red light therapy and fat loss?
There are studies showing that lasers with red light therapy can reduce body fat. This fact makes it possible to fear facial fat loss if using red light lasers in that area.
On the other hand, when it comes to LED red light, the light is emitted in a broader range of wavelengths and the output is much lower than with lasers. So it should probably be safe to use even though I advise never to overdo any red light treatment. And again, always think less is more.
Red light therapy vs infrared?
Many of the at-home devices that emit red light, also have the option to combine the treatment with near-infrared. The red light wavelengths that are shown to be beneficial are 630 nm and 660 nm. And the infrared 810 nm, 830 nm, and 850 nm. So most devices will provide some of these wavelengths.
When it comes to infrared light, some studies do show that it may have a healing and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin cells. As well as stimulation of collagen production. Just as red light does. But at the same time, it is known that prolonged exposure to infrared radiation causes downsides.
Infrared light in excess, as well as heat, can cause inflammation and lead to premature skin aging. But it’s also difficult to draw conclusions about the negative effects since the studies that have been done have used quite intense treatments.
It is uncontrolled doses of infrared rays that have been shown to damage skin by creating oxidative stress and free radicals, as well as slowing down collagen production. So the best conclusion regarding infrared light (and the same goes for visible light) is that it is dose-dependent.
The bottom line is that infrared radiation can be beneficial when used with the right intensity. But it also causes damage if used too intensely. Personally, I would advise being careful (I simply don’t use it at all). And if you have skin pigmentation issues, do not use infrared at all as this can make the problem worse.
When it comes to melasma, you should be careful with red light therapy too. Since this (as mentioned earlier) can trigger melasma in some individuals.
Red light panel vs mask?
The purpose of both red light therapy masks and panels is the same. To increase collagen formation and skin rejuvenation. What separates them is that panels are stronger and require only a few minutes per treatment. While masks are less intense and require longer treatment sessions.
Masks are also (obvious) limited to be used on the face. While panels can be used on the face as well as the decolletage, neck, and other body parts.
If you’re interested in a mask, one of the most popular (and quite pricey) is this one from Dr Dennis Gross. On top of the red light, it has the option to use blue light (to fight acne). But I would advise being careful with the blue light since that is also known to be harmful to the skin if used in excess.
Other kinds of red light devices are the hand-held ones or so-called wands. They target a smaller area at a time and are usually cheaper than the panels and masks. But they also require more time commitment.
If you think that a handheld device would be a good option for you, Revive light offers this affordable one for 99 dollars.
Red light therapy pros and cons?
The benefit of using red light therapy can be increased cellular energy. Leading to more collagen synthesis and lowering of inflammation.
The consequences can be, for some people, a worsening of the skin condition melasma. There is also a risk of causing damage to the skin tissue if someone exposes themselves to too intense red light. Or for too long.
Never exceed the recommendations of the product you purchase. And think less is more rather than trying to overdo it.
- Red light therapy treatments at home have the purpose of reducing fine lines and wrinkles. As well as increasing overall skin health. It has become increasingly popular and the devices that are sold include panels, masks, and wands.
- An interesting fact (that needs a lot more research before any conclusions can be made) is that red light therapy has been shown to strengthen skeletal bones.
- Even though several studies show promising results with using red light therapy. There is still a need for more research. And some side effects are possible, including worsened melasma and increased free radical damage.
- You should never exceed the treatment dose that your device manual suggests. And if you have very sensitive skin and/or are prone to melasma, be even more cautious.
- Personally, my melasma was triggered and I do not use red light therapy on my face anymore. Even though I do think it has its advantages and I still have my panel for use on body parts.
I’ll list a few devices if you want to try out red light therapy at home for yourself.
Panels (or bulbs) to use on both face and body: Hooga health (use the code “ayoungerskin12off” for a discount of 12 %.
Mask to use on your face (requires a bit longer treatment time): Dr Dennis Gross DRx spectralight.
Wands to use on smaller areas at a time (can be a good idea if you have melasma and want to avoid certain areas of your face but still treat other areas): Revive light handheld device.
Hope you found this information helpful! If you have any questions or if you want to share your own experience of using red light, I would love to hear! Let me know in the comments below.
Also, please remember that effective anti-aging is not just about products and treatments. Your diet, sleep patterns, sunscreen commitment, and overall lifestyle will matter more in the long run. Check out those blog posts to learn more.
Until next time, love your skin!