In a sea of ”revolutionary” beauty products, it can be difficult to separate the science-based from the unnecessary. It’s no different with the best red light therapy devices – do they live up to the hype as a beauty game changer or are they just another expensive device that will end up gathering dust in your medicine cabinet? (And practically speaking, how do they differ from the best LED face masks on the market?)
Our top tips:
First, the basics: Red light therapy is “a non-invasive treatment that uses dim light to produce what we call photobiomodulation.” Sejal Shah, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City. In simpler terms, it is a treatment in which low-wavelength red light and near-infrared light penetrate cells and activate a repair process in the cells themselves, which can help reduce inflammation, accelerate wound healing, and even signs reverse skin aging.
Red light therapy is nothing new in the clinical setting, this “Low-level laser therapy“Cold laser therapy” has been around for decades, but recently it has exploded in the world of home skin care devices based on the tantalizing promise that you can potentially rejuvenate your skin cells by literally waving a magic wand (think: : the Solawave).
But are red light therapy devices really effective? Here’s everything you need to know about the potential benefits of red light therapy and what to expect from these home devices.
Benefits of red light therapy for skin
“Red light treatments are very popular [in skin care]especially with home devices,” says Y. Claire Chang, MD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “It can benefit the skin in many ways, including collagen production to smooth fine lines, reduce inflammation, and aid wound healing,” she says. There is evidence that it may theoretically be useful for combating signs of aging, targeting scars to speed up the healing process of surgical incisions, and treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, she says.
“Red light – particularly when combined with blue light therapy – has also been shown to help improve acne by reducing inflammation and bacteria on the surface of the skin,” says Dr. Chang. (It’s especially useful as part of a pregnancy-safe skincare routine, since pregnant women may not be able to use other effective acne fighters like retinoids or salicylic acid.)