LED light therapy is based on the idea that each wavelength affects our health in different ways.
Of the various types of light therapy, red light has by far the most scientific documentation.
But what about the other colors of light therapy?
Read on to learn more about the difference between LED light therapy colors that have therapeutic value and the ones that may be better to avoid.
The Light Therapy Spectrum
LED light therapy has its roots in using natural sunlight as a treatment for respiratory conditions and skin conditions. The use of lights of different colors in the visible light spectrum has been used for treatment since ancient times.
Today, light therapy relies on the absorption of light photons into the tissues of the human body through the skin.
Alternative forms of light therapy are also available, known as color therapy, which is more about surrounding oneself with a color scheme at home or sometimes getting out in nature.
Light therapy currently includes red, green, yellow, cyan, and blue. Red is the most popular, followed by blue.
Light Therapy Colors: Claims vs. Reality
While red and blue light therapy treatment are both fairly well known, there are a host of other colors, including indigo, green, pink, cyan, yellow, orange, and others.
Some are scientifically validated, whereas others are more questionable.
In this section, we discuss different light therapy colors used in exposure treatment and evaluate them from a therapeutic perspective.
Is Indigo Light Therapy Effective?
Indigo light has wavelengths that are below blue light, at around the 410nm to 420nm wavelength range, which may actually be harmful to the skin after prolonged exposure.
These indigo light wavelengths are actually closer to ultraviolet light, which is known to damage the skin.
Effective therapeutic wavelengths are typically higher, at about the range seen in the BIOMAX Series blue light diodes, which are 480nm.
If you’re choosing an LED light therapy device with indigo light, make sure it’s in the therapeutic spectrum of around 480nm, not in the low 410-420nm spectrum, which is true deep indigo.
If you can’t find that information on a specific LED light therapy device, we would recommend avoiding it to prevent possible skin damage.
Is Green Light Therapy Effective?
Green light therapy has not been widely studied but has several known benefits.
In one study, green light showed mild pain-relieving benefits. It may also boost serotonin levels and reduce sensitivity to input from the nerves by stimulating the body’s own opioid system. According to this study, green light treatment also helps regulate the circadian rhythm.
Another documented benefit of green light therapy is the reduction of migraines. In one study, out of 29 patients who saw no relief from traditional migraine remedies, some saw a significant reduction in headaches.
Despite this, potential users should keep in mind that green light therapy needs to be protected at the retina of the eye to be effective. This is said to stimulate the production of the body’s natural opioid painkillers.
However, receiving green light therapy through the eyes later in the day may disrupt the circadian rhythm. The brightness of LED light therapy devices may also cause eye strain.
Is Pink Light Therapy Effective?
Essentially, no. There is no wavelength of light that can be called ‘pink.’ If you look at a chart of the visible light spectrum, you will notice there is no pink. We recommend avoiding any light therapy devices that use pink because they are only using colored bulbs, and not any specific pink wavelength, which does not exist.
Some companies claim that pink light will detoxify the body but since it’s not part of the light spectrum, this would be within the realm of ‘color therapy,’ which has more to do with the psychological effect of exposure to tones of light that some find pleasing.
Some users may find pink light to be relaxing, but there aren’t any studies that confirm that exposure to pink light does anything more.
Is Cyan Light Therapy Effective?
This greenish-blue hue falls between the blue light spectrum and the green spectrum. The wavelengths are somewhat longer than blue light, but they will not absorb past the epidermis layer of skin.
We know of no reputable manufacturer that offers cyan lights. If you do see these turquoise or teal-colored lights, they are colored bulbs and not actually LEDs calibrated to a specific wavelength.
There is little to no research on a wavelength between blue light and green light so if you do find this in a treatment device, we recommend avoiding it. In the case of cyan light, you will most likely be getting colored bulbs rather than LEDs that are calibrated to a specific therapeutic wavelength.
Is Yellow Light Therapy Effective?
Yellow light therapy can be effective for skin issues that involve redness, such as rosacea. It may also reduce the effects of sun damage.
In one in vitro study, yellow wavelengths were used to reduce damage from UV rays. The yellow wavelengths supported recovery from oxidative stress, reduced inflammation, and boosted collagen production.
Like red and NIR wavelengths, yellow wavelengths stimulate cellular energy production to boost cells’ ability to perform their functions, repair themselves, and replicate, which is an important part of the healing process.
This effect is limited to skin cells, given that yellow wavelengths can't absorb deeper than the outer layer of the skin, whereas red and near-infrared wavelengths absorb much deeper into the skin.
Is Amber Light Therapy Effective?
In the world of light therapy, amber light refers to the color yellow.
This wavelength has anti-inflammatory effects and is effective at treating a variety of skin concerns (see above), but lacks the deeper absorption of red light. And, more human studies are needed to verify its effectiveness.
Is Orange Light Therapy Effective?
Technically, orange light is between yellow and red. However, there is no research to date on orange light for therapeutic uses.
Any devices that claim to use orange light are either referring to amber light or they are using colored bulbs. This is not true light therapy, but color therapy. To be fair, there’s a bit of a blurred line between “amber” and “orange” since amber could be considered a deep yellow.
However, we recommend sticking to the scientifically validated wavelengths used by reputable manufacturers.
Red Light Therapy: The Difference
Many quality LED light therapy devices feature a combination of red light and near-infrared light, used independently or together.
Red light treatment benefits the skin. It’s popular for its anti-aging effects. Meanwhile, near-infrared light treatment can relieve pain and offer deep tissue support.
Extensive research has been done on red and near-infrared wavelengths. Red light therapy is used to treat signs of aging, brain health, osteoarthritis joint pain, muscle recovery, wound healing, nerve-related conditions, hair regrowth, and much more.
The Learning Center provides a wealth of information on the many uses of this all-natural treatment.
"When it comes to harnessing the full potential of light therapy, selecting a reliable device is paramount. While many devices offer a multitude of colors, prioritizing scientifically validated wavelengths such as red and near-infrared light is crucial for optimal results across various conditions. Among the trusted options, PlatinumLED stands out as the leading choice for photobiomodulation, renowned for its exceptional outcomes and unrivaled quality. Don't compromise on your light therapy journey; choose a device that delivers excellence."
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Is Blue Light Therapy Effective?
On the higher end of the spectrum, blue LED light therapy kills acne-causing bacteria. This makes it one of the most popular acne treatments.
Blue LED light therapy is especially beneficial for people who are sensitive to topical or oral acne medications. It may also be a good alternative for those who have not enjoyed good results with other medical treatments.
480nm blue light therapy has some of the same biological effects on the body as red light therapy. Aside from acne, blue light is also used to treat hyperproliferative chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema.
You will get the best results not just by choosing the most effective wavelengths, but by choosing the most effective LED light therapy device.
Red Light Therapy with the BIOMAX Series
Check out the BIOMAX Series for optimal, effective, convenient, and affordable, at-home red light therapy treatment.
All the panels include the following wavelengths: 630nm, 660m, 810nm, 830nm and 850nm. In addition, it has traces of blue light diodes at 480nm.
They’re the most advanced red light therapy panels available on the consumer market.