This post is about red light therapy. Maybe you’ve seen red light beds in tanning salons, or maybe you’ve seen it advertised at your veterinarian’s office. It is simply red light (all visible spectrum, therefore it does not tan your skin) that is beneficial to the surface and stronger lights can penetrate deeper. Topical red LED benefits were first discovered by NASA and now I use a light at home to relieve my eczema & keratosis pilaris.
The quick version is that I think that red LEDs are amazing and I happily own a few bulbs just for the beneficial wavelengths. Ready for the long version and a lot of links? Here goes.
Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links; I may earn a tiny commission from purchases.
Q. What are LED lights?
A. LED is an initialism for Light Emitting Diode. These are compact lights that produce very little heat. LEDs are used all over the place; think about pre-lit holiday trees, outdoor rope lights, and even shower heads. LEDs are easy to love because they are bright, they have a wide color range, and they’re affordable. (My daily setup was under $50.)
Q. How are LEDs used?
A. Besides the household uses I mentioned above, LED lighting is also used for aquariums, and terrestrial plants that don’t get enough sunlight. That’s actually how red LED benefits all started -a NASA scientist was working on their micro-gravity plants and noticed that a shallow cut healed quickly with daily red/blue LED exposure. LEDs are used by shining the light on your skin. That’s it, no fancy preparations needed.
Q. What do LEDs do?
A. The links below go into more detail, so i’ll keep it short here. Photoreceptors in our skin cells easily convert red wavelengths into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the same energy that mitochondria produce, and it’s this same compound that helps your cells carry out their normal functions. Plus the right wavelengths can stimulate new collagen production. So the right red light wave lengths provide your cells with ready to use energy, while improving collagen. Take that, wrinkles.
Q. Is LED light therapy popular?
A. Yes! You may not see it everyday, but it is popular. Some tanning salons have red light beds (these don’t tan, but instead give your body a huge pro-collagen ATP boost). Celebrities have shared their love of LEDs on social media including Chrissy Teigen, Kate Hudson & Jessica Alba, and Kristen Bell.
Q. What do you use?
I only use My first photo therapy bulbs were small bulbs from Ruby Lux. I have three of their LED bulbs.
- Red/blue for healing + collagen (I use this one the most)
- Blue for pimples
- Yellow/amber for facial redness
These each plug into a standard bulb socket, so I keep a long lantern bulb socket by the bed.
Each morning I try to use the red/blue bulb on my eczema as I listen to the news. When away from home I often pack my blue bulb so I can treat young pimples as soon as they begin to form.
Update – I also have a flexible panel that’s great to use anywhere to relieve pain or stiffness, and I have a high powered Mito Red panel that can easily treat half of my body at once. More details on those lights are in these posts:
Q. Why do you -specifically- use LED therapy?
A. I use LEDs because they work for me. I was skeptical when I bought my red/blue bulb, but optimistic. I started using it on my ankle -on a very determined patch of eczema that I was trying to heal for years. After weeks of daily use my ankle was healed! No more tiny open wounds, no more scabs. The texture wasn’t smooth yet, but it did eventually level out with maintenance use (reducing use from daily use to weekly). It wasn’t healed overnight, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Like most things it took time and dedication. I am so happy with the results!
Unfortunately for me, my skin dislikes compliance. I call areas like my ankle an ‘active spot.’ They’re unique because I only have one active spot at a time, but I have had one active spot since I was 18. I turned 37 in 2021, so I’ve been dealing with this for a while.
Q. What is that?
A. I have adult eczema and keratosis pilaris (KP), plus I’m allergic to nickel (often found in cheap jewelry, blue jean rivets, zippers, etc). These two disorders come together in undocumented ways and present in odd locations. But despite my unique conditions, doctors always give me the same prescriptions; topical steroids and retinoids, or recommend tanning. I was tired of needing medications, so I searched for alternatives and found LED light therapy.
Q. Do you just use it on bad skin?
A. Nope! I try to use my red/blue bulb daily on bad skin, but I also use the same bulb around my eyes and mouth to encourage collagen production -it’s part of my attempt to look younger as I get older. If I feel a pimple coming I use my all blue bulb to help kill the bacteria, then follow up with a tea tree mask. And if I feel great -but my skin doesn’t- I use my amber bulb to perk it up.
I’ve made you a list for further reading if I’ve piqued your interest:
- Dave Asprey – Has a nice long article about red light mechanics + benefits
- Red Light Man – Writes in-depth about how red light improves a variety of conditions
- Red Light Therapy – Gets detailed about the visible red spectrum
- Light Therapy Options – Has information about all color ranges + their benefits
- Dr. Axe – Talks about red and blue lights
- Joovv – Compiled six clinical studies about red LED’s anti-aging benefits
- Or just search Google Scholar for “Red LED therapy”
Thanks for sticking around for the whole post! I hope you learned something new -either about LED lights or just knowing that sometimes bad skin never quite goes away.
This post has been lightly refreshed for 2020.