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Red Light Therapy Pros And Cons: Benefits, Uses & Risks

Light therapy has become popular these days. Whether it be red, green, yellow, purple, blue, cyan light, orange light therapy, low-level laser therapy, or cold laser therapy. Even infrared saunas fall into this category.

You’ll see TikTok’ers banging on about the benefits of red light therapy; but, is red light therapy effective, and can red light therapy be the magic solution to solve your nagging health issues?

Well, let’s look to answer these questions… we’ll delve into the science behind red light therapy, its applications, and the evidence supporting its use.

From enhancing skin health to potentially easing chronic pain, the promises of red light therapy are vast.

Read on as we unravel the red light therapy pros and cons, guiding you through an informed journey into the realm of red light therapy.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

At its core, red light therapy (RLT) is a therapeutic technique that utilizes low-wavelength red light to address many health concerns, ranging from skin conditions to chronic pain relief.

Unlike more invasive procedures, this form of therapy, also known as low-level laser, near-infrared light therapy or soft laser therapy, stands out for its non-invasive nature, promising beneficial outcomes without the drawbacks of traditional medical interventions.

How Red Light Therapy Works

The effectiveness of red light therapy hinges on its ability to penetrate deep into the skin, targeting cells at a mitochondrial level. This interaction boosts the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), enhancing cell function and rejuvenation.

By stimulating collagen production and increasing blood flow, red light therapy works to promote skin health, accelerate wound healing, and reduce inflammation. Its operation is a testament to the power of light wavelengths in harnessing the body’s innate healing mechanisms, making it a versatile tool in the pursuit of wellness and vitality.

Red light therapy devices typically feature red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and are available in various forms, including handheld devices, light-emitting diode (LED) panels, or full-body beds. These devices may utilize both red and near-infrared lights to cater to different treatment needs.

Red Light Therapy Pros

Red Light Therapy (RLT) has emerged as a beacon of hope in the wellness and health industry, promising many benefits backed by scientific curiosity and clinical trials.

It’s a testament to the power of non-invasive treatments in promoting health across various aspects of physical and mental well-being.

Skin Health Benefits

RLT is renowned for its skin rejuvenation capabilities. It aids in enhancing skin tone, reducing wrinkles, and improving elasticity by boosting collagen production. This is particularly beneficial for those looking to mitigate the signs of aging and achieve a healthier, more vibrant complexion.

Joint Pain Relief

For individuals suffering from joint pain and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, RLT offers a ray of hope. It helps reduce inflammation and pain, making daily activities more manageable and improving the quality of life for many.

Wound Healing and Pain Relief

RLT accelerates the body’s natural healing processes, aiding in faster wound healing and reducing pain. It’s beneficial for both acute injuries and chronic conditions, promoting quicker recovery without the need for heavy medication.

Hair Growth

Thinning hair and hair loss can significantly impact self-esteem. RLT has been shown to stimulate the follicles, encouraging hair growth and providing a non-surgical option for those struggling with hair loss.

Mental Health Benefits

The benefits of RLT extend beyond the physical, offering relief for mental health conditions as well. Preliminary studies suggest it could help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, contributing to overall mental wellness.

Promotes Muscle Recovery

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts may find RLT particularly beneficial for muscle recovery. Reducing inflammation and soreness post-exercise, it helps speed up recovery and enhances performance.

Accessibility and Affordability

With the advent of portable and affordable red light therapy devices, the benefits of RLT are no longer confined to clinics and spas. This democratization of technology means that more people can access the therapy at their convenience, making it a practical addition to their health regimen.

Incorporating red light therapy into one’s wellness routine represents a promising avenue for enhancing health and well-being across multiple dimensions.

From skin health to mental wellness, the pros of RLT underscore its potential as a versatile and effective therapy.

As technology advances and more research becomes available, the scope of RLT’s benefits continues to expand, offering a glimpse into the future of non-invasive therapeutic solutions.

Red Light Therapy Cons

While using red light therapy, (RLT) has gained recognition for its many benefits, it’s essential to approach this treatment with a balanced perspective, acknowledging its limitations and the challenges that users may encounter.

Necessity for Consistent Use

To achieve and maintain the benefits of RLT, consistent treatment is crucial. This demands a commitment to regular sessions over extended periods, which may be challenging for some individuals to integrate into their busy lives.

This aspect underscores the importance of dedication in realizing the potential health advantages RLT offers.

Varied Results

The effectiveness of RLT can differ significantly from person to person. The effectiveness of red light therapy can be affected by several personal factors, including the type of skin, how severe the treated condition is, and the unique way an individual’s body reacts to the therapy..

Therefore, while some may experience profound benefits, others may find the results less pronounced, leading to a spectrum of user experiences and satisfaction levels.

Lack of Standardized Guidelines

One of the challenges facing RLT is the absence of universally accepted treatment protocols. Variables such as the optimal frequency, duration, and intensity of red light exposure for various conditions are still under investigation.

This lack of standardized guidelines can make it difficult for users to determine the most effective treatment plan, potentially affecting the therapy’s efficacy.

Potential Side Effects

Although RLT is celebrated for its safety and non-invasiveness, like any treatment, it is not entirely free from potential side effects. Users may experience temporary redness, irritation, or discomfort, particularly those with sensitive skin.

It’s also crucial to use the therapy as directed to avoid adverse effects, highlighting the importance of adhering to proper usage guidelines.

Unsupported Claims and Lack of High-Quality Evidence

In exploring the terrain of red light therapy (RLT), it’s easy to stumble upon a myriad of claims—some solidly backed by research and others, well, not so much.

Let’s break down these discussions to get a clearer picture.

Promising Yet Pending Proof

It’s true; RLT has been hailed for its myriad benefits, from the rejuvenation of skin to the easing of chronic pains. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that the beacon of science—clinical trials, specifically—is still seeking solid ground for many of these claims.

While certain benefits stand on firmer ground, the scientific community urges caution, especially with claims about treating severe diseases or significantly altering body weight.

The Science Behind the Claims

When we talk about the effectiveness of RLT, it’s a mixed bag of proven benefits and areas needing more evidence. For skin health and pain management, there’s a good chunk of data backing up the therapy’s use.

However, for broader claims—think curing significant health issues or dramatically improving mental health—the research isn’t quite there yet.

Seeking Standardization

One of the big puzzles with RLT is figuring out the “how” part. With no standardized guidelines on dosages or treatment lengths for different conditions, users and practitioners alike navigate a bit in the dark.

This lack of uniformity plays a big part in why experiences with RLT can vary so widely. Without clear protocols, it’s challenging to ensure consistent results across the board.

Navigating the Claims with Caution

Given the current landscape, approaching RLT with an informed skepticism is wise. Yes, the potential benefits are exciting, and yes, it’s a field ripe with possibility.

But as with any emerging therapy, balancing optimism with a critical eye for solid, scientific backing is key. After all, the goal is to harness the true potential of RLT safely and effectively, grounded in evidence rather than carried away by unchecked enthusiasm.

As we continue to explore the possibilities of RLT, let’s remain curious but cautious, eagerly awaiting more research to illuminate the path forward.

Red Light Therapy in Practice

As we dive deeper into red light therapy (RLT), understanding how to incorporate it into daily life becomes crucial.

This innovative therapy, celebrated for its versatility and wide range of benefits, is accessible in various formats and settings, making it adaptable to individual needs and preferences.

When And How To Use Red Light Therapy

Navigating the “how” and “when” of RLT is key to maximizing its benefits. Whether it’s for skin rejuvenation, pain relief, or muscle recovery, the timing and method of application can vary.

Typically, sessions might last from a few minutes to longer, depending on the device used and the condition being treated. Consistency is also crucial, with many users finding daily or several times-a-week sessions most effective.

Red Light Therapy Devices

The market is awash with red light therapy devices, ranging from handheld units to larger panels. These devices offer the flexibility to target specific areas of the body, catering to personal health goals.

When selecting a red light therapy device, considering the light wavelength and intensity is essential, as these factors influence the therapy’s effectiveness.

Where To Get Red Light Therapy

The availability of RLT has expanded, making it accessible in various environments suited to differing needs and preferences.

Spa or Salon

For those seeking a pampered experience, spas and salons offer RLT sessions, often combined with other beauty treatments. This option allows users to enjoy the benefits of RLT in a relaxing, luxurious setting.


Consulting with a dermatologist for RLT can be particularly beneficial for skin-related concerns. Medical professionals can provide tailored advice and use clinical-grade devices, ensuring the treatment is both safe and effective.

Red Light Therapy At Home

With the advent of portable and user-friendly red light therapy devices, the convenience of at-home treatment has become a reality. This option allows individuals to integrate RLT into their daily routine, making it easier to maintain consistent use.

Moreover, at-home devices often represent a cost-effective alternative to professional treatments, with the potential for a high return on investment over time.

Looking to buy an LED face mask? Check out my post where I review the best on the market.

At-Home Red Light Therapy Device: Buyer’s Guide

Finding the right red light therapy device can be daunting with so many options. See the below guide to help you make the right choice:

Research the Brand: Look for companies with a strong reputation in health and wellness technology. Reviews and testimonials can provide insights into customer satisfaction and product efficacy.

Check for Clinical Evidence: Opt for devices that have been backed by clinical research. Manufacturers should ideally provide references to studies that demonstrate their product’s effectiveness.

Consider the Wavelength: Effective RLT devices usually operate within specific wavelength ranges, typically between 600nm to 850nm, as these are most beneficial for skin health, pain relief, and other therapeutic effects. Ensure the device you’re considering specifies its wavelength.

Look for FDA Approval: While not all RLT devices require FDA approval (as many are considered low-risk wellness devices), checking for any form of FDA registration or approval can be a sign of quality and safety.

Evaluate the Power Density: The effectiveness of RLT depends on delivering the right amount of energy to your skin. Devices should specify their power density (measured in milliwatts per square centimeter) to ensure they’re potent enough to be effective without causing harm.

Assess the Size and Coverage Area: Consider the size of the device and the area it covers. Larger panels or arrays might be better for overall wellness and treating large body areas, while handheld devices could be more suitable for targeting specific spots.

Ease of Use: The device should be user-friendly, with clear instructions and safety features. Portability might also be a consideration if you plan to travel with it.

Warranty and Customer Support: A good warranty and responsive customer support can be indicative of a company’s confidence in its product and its commitment to customer satisfaction.

Price Point: While higher-priced devices may offer more features or higher power, it’s important to balance cost with the features you need. Remember, the most expensive option isn’t always the best for your specific needs.

Safety Features: Look for devices with built-in safety features, such as automatic shut-offs, eye protection (for devices used near the face), and materials that are safe and non-toxic.

Additional Tips:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional before starting RLT, especially if you have existing health conditions or concerns.
  • Start slowly with any new RLT device to see how your skin or body responds before increasing usage.
  • Combine RLT with other wellness practices for the best outcomes. Diet, exercise, and good sleep hygiene can complement the benefits of RLT.

Red Light Therapy and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Exploring the intersection of red light therapy (RLT) and mental health reveals intriguing possibilities, particularly in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD, a type of depression that typically occurs during the darker months of fall and winter, can significantly impact one’s mood, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being.

The Potential of Red Light Therapy for SAD

RLT, known for its ability to stimulate cellular activity and improve mood, presents a promising avenue for SAD treatment. The therapy’s potential to influence brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep could relieve those affected by seasonal mood variations.

While traditional treatments for SAD include light therapy focusing on exposure to bright, white light that mimics natural sunlight, red light therapy introduces a novel approach.

It proposes benefits that go beyond the visible spectrum, aiming to enhance mitochondrial function and, possibly, mood regulation.

Understanding the Mechanism

The therapeutic effect of RLT on SAD might stem from its ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than the visible light used in standard light therapy.

This deeper penetration could stimulate serotonin production, a neurotransmitter often called the “feel-good” hormone, which plays a significant role in mood regulation.

Additionally, the potential of RLT to regulate circadian rhythms might help correct the sleep disturbances commonly associated with SAD.

Research and Evidence

Research into the efficacy of RLT for SAD is ongoing, with early studies showing promise but also highlighting the need for further investigation.

As with many RLT applications, understanding the optimal parameters for treatment, including wavelength, intensity, duration, and frequency, is crucial for maximizing therapeutic outcomes.

A Complementary Approach

For individuals seeking alternatives or complements to traditional SAD treatments, RLT offers an intriguing option.

It’s essential, however, to approach this therapy with informed expectations and, ideally, under the guidance of a healthcare professional familiar with both SAD and RLT. This ensures that individuals receive a holistic treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

As the dialogue around red light therapy and its applications in mental health continues to evolve, it represents a frontier of exploration that could broaden our understanding of non-invasive treatments for mood disorders.

With further research, RLT may become an integral part of comprehensive strategies to combat SAD and enhance overall mental wellness.

Conclusion: Red Light Therapy Pros And Cons

So, despite being early days for red light therapy, there appears to be promising evidence proving it’s beneficial for health. Whether you’re looking to relieve pre-existing health issues or simply optimize your health – healthy red light therapy is a great option.

The potential downsides are few, and – with the evidence we have – are not severe as long as you ease into your RLT regime and listen to your body.

Picking the right RLT device is key—think of it as choosing the best equipment for your wellness journey. It’s about finding a balance between quality, effectiveness, and budget.

So, here’s to the adventurers, the wellness seekers, and everyone in between looking to add a little more red light treatment to their lives—literally.

Red light therapy offers a fascinating glimpse into the future of self-care and wellness. Whether you’re dipping your toes or ready to dive in, the world of RLT is waiting to be explored.

And that’s it… have a healthy day!

P.S. interested in the health benefits of infrared saunas? Check out my other posts covering the health benefits, the skin benefits, post-workout benefits, and how long you should sauna… enjoy!


What are the negatives of red light therapy?

Negatives of red light therapy treatments can include the necessity for consistent use over time to see results, potential short-term side effects like skin irritation for sensitive individuals, and the initial cost of devices. The effectiveness can also vary based on individual conditions and usage.

What do doctors say about red light therapy?

Doctors acknowledge red light therapy’s potential benefits for skin health, wound healing, and pain relief, noting its non-invasive nature. However, they often emphasize the need for more high-quality, large-scale studies to fully understand its effectiveness and long-term safety.

Can you overdo red light therapy?

Yes, it is possible to overdo red light therapy. Excessive exposure can lead to skin irritation, redness, and discomfort, especially in those with sensitive skin. It’s important to follow recommended guidelines for duration and frequency to avoid potential side effects.

What medications should be avoided during red light therapy?

Medications that increase light sensitivity, such as certain antibiotics, cancer medications, and some acne treatments, should be used with caution during red light therapy. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting RLT if you’re taking any medications.

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