How Red Light Therapy Works

Visible red light is capable of penetrating the skin to a depth of about 8 to 10 mm. Once absorbed, the light energy is converted to cellular energy, stimulating the body’s natural processes on a cellular level and kicking off a whole series of metabolic events, including:

  • Increased circulation and the formation of new capillaries. 1
  • Increased lymph system activity.
  • Increased production of collagen and fibroblasts. 2
  • Increased release of ATP, or raw cellular energy. 3
  • Increased phagocytosis, or cellular clean up.
  • Tissue granulation stimulated. 4
  • Inflammation reduced. 5

All of these things work together to produce many benefits for you in the areas of anti-aging, the healing of wounds and injuries, and the relief of pain, as we’ll see below. But no matter what the application, red and infrared light therapy share the same benefits overall.

Red Light Therapy For Your Skin

By far the most popular use for red light therapy is anti-aging of the skin. If that’s why you’re here, please visit this page to learn exactly how red light is going to make you look younger. But before you go, it’s important to know that red light therapy can be used to treat a growing list of skin conditions including:

  • acne
  • rosacea
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • cold sores and herpes
  • everyday cuts, scrapes burns & bruises

Visit this page for more information on red light therapy for skin conditions.

The Wavelengths of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy uses wavelengths of light roughly between 620 nm and 700 nm. Popular wavelengths used in research and in-home products are 630 nm and 660 nm.  Regardless of claims of only “specific wavelengths” being effective, the whole range of visible red light wavelengths are effective and beneficial.  In fact, many devices today are including two or three of them instead of just one. 

The Wavelengths of Red Light Therapy

Red LED Light Therapy

A red LED diode. What red LED light therapy used to be powered by.
Old style LED diode. What red light therapy used to be powered by.

Red LED light therapy is very popular today, especially for anti-agingacne and rosacea treatment. What’s so special about it? Red LED light therapy is red light therapy, just using an LED light source instead of incandescent, fluorescent, or laser. But red LED light therapy does have some unique benefits of its own.

LEDs were NASA’s choice for red light therapy when it brought the technique into space around the year 2000. They chose this technology for its low energy requirements, as well as its low heat emission and light weight.

Those same qualities made later research more accurate, and, to date, hundreds of studies from around the world have shown the benefits of red light therapy in the fields of anti-aginghealing, and pain relief.

What makes Red LED Light Therapy different?

1. Tighter Wavelength Span. Red LED light has a tighter wavelength span than other types of bulbs. For example, while a fluorescent or incandescent red light might have a 660nm peak, they could include wavelengths of plus or minus 40nm or more. However, in the case of red LED light with the same 660nm peak, the useful wavelengths are only plus or minus about 10nm. For this reason, some consider LEDs a superior vehicle for delivering the necessary light for a given application.

High Power LED Chip on Board Technology for red LED light therapy.
Newer, High Power LED Chip on Board Technology

2. No heat. There is very little heat generated with red LED light therapy, which makes the technique safer and more pleasant.

3. Durable & Long Lasting. Today’s LED devices use solid state electronics and plastic or metal housing which is much more durable and long lasting than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs made of glass.

4. Compact & Portable. LEDs are tiny little things, so it’s easy to pack them into a small, hand-held, portable device.

5. Earth Friendly. Red LED light therapy is more eco-friendly than using incandescent or fluorescent bulbs because they can produce the same amount of light but do so while using a small fraction of the energy.

That’s it! Those are the major things that make red LED light therapy any different or better than red light therapy from any other light source.

Effective red light therapy can be accomplished with any red light source including incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, LED, low level laser or cold laser. Each type of light has its benefits and drawbacks, but ineffectiveness is not one of them.