Hot Take: Is Red Light Therapy Worth It for Your Skin?
Once upon a time, it was a wild thought to refrigerate skin care or roll your face with crystals, let alone get your fine lines, wrinkles and acne zapped with a red-colored laser. Now? Well, we dare you to find a skin-care lover sans a mini fridge and jade roller on-the-ready. But, when it comes to red light therapy, there’s still a decent amount of skepticism from beauty-holics and dermatologists alike. To find out more about red light therapy (RLT), we turned to the experts. Ahead, find out what board-certified dermatologists Dr. Jeanine Downie and Dr. Morgan Rabach had to say about red light therapy and whether it’s worth it for your skin.
So, What Is Red Light Therapy?
According to Dr. Rabach, red light therapy is a technique that employs red, low-level wavelengths to target the appearance of a variety of skin-related issues including wrinkles, wounds and scarring. “Red light is thought to work by producing a biochemical effect in cells that strengthens the mitochondria, or the powerhouse of the cell,” says Dr. Rabach. She explains that once the mitochondria are strengthened, the cells can produce more energy, or energy-carrying molecules. “With more energy, cells can function more efficiently, rejuvenate themselves and repair damage.”
Does it Actually Work?
Dr. Downie says that while red light therapy is showing promising results in treating some skin conditions, there are varying degrees of patient satisfaction with the treatment. She has, however, seen success when it comes to treating her patients with acne. “The red light attacks new bacteria, which helps decrease the actual bacterial amount of acne,” says Dr. Downie. “In my opinion, in conjunction with chemical peels, I’ve seen red light therapy decrease the look of acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”
When it comes to anti-aging, though, neither of doctors would use red light therapy as a first line of defense. “It’s supposed to be an anti-aging treatment, but there is not enough research to support it therapeutically when compared to other laser therapies, microneedling or other topical therapies that have studies and proven benefits like retinols,” says Dr. Rabach.
What Does the Treatment Feel Like?
Dr. Downie says that what you feel from red light therapy depends on your pain tolerance. “Some people say that it stings, and some people say it flat-out hurts.” Should you decide to go ahead with red light therapy, there are a few measures you can take post-treatment to help your skin . One of the most important? Sunblock. Dr. Downie recommends the Senté Invisible Shield Full Physical broad-spectrum sunscreen. If you targeted your under-eye area with red light therapy, Dr. Downie also recommends limiting your salt intake to help prevent eyes from looking puffy.
Red light therapy is not FDA-approved, so before trying anything new, consult with a dermatologist or your doctor before trying the treatment.