Light therapy is an effective treatment for improving skin tone, anti-aging, hair restoration, pain relief, muscle recovery, wound healing, weight loss, neuropathy, and more .... much more. But not all light therapy devices are the same. The challenge is finding the best light therapy device for your needs.
LED light therapy was once available only through medical professionals and spas, even after light-emitting diodes overtook laser treatments as a safe treatment for skin health.
Today, you can self-administer LED light therapy in the comfort of your own home, and enjoy a brighter complexion, improved skin tone, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and more.
Many at-home light therapy devices, especially those designed for skin health, will use blue, amber, red, and near-infrared LED lights alone or in various combinations.
There are some great LED light therapy devices out there … and others that frankly aren't worth your money.
Below, we’ll review common light therapy devices and show you which ones are best.
Table of contents
Light Therapy Panels
If you want to treat larger areas and if you want to get faster and more profound results, then an LED light panel would be your best choice. Our top picks:
There is no other LED light panel like the BIOMAX 900 on the market. Not only is it large (12” x 36”) and extremely powerful with an irradiance level of 185 mW/cm2, it also features a scientifically backed five-wavelength array of red- and near-infrared light (630nm, 660nm, 810nm, 830nm, and 850nm) for maximum results.
This modular panel can be linked with up to three other BIOMAX LED devices (of the same or different sizes) for unparalleled full-strength all-body treatment.
At $1,149, or $104/month with available financing — less than regular red light therapy treatments at a local clinic — this panel is less expensive than similarly-sized panels and an excellent investment in your health.
Visit the PlatinumLED shop to learn more about the BIO and BIOMAX series of lights. The budget-friendly BIO series is slightly less powerful, and only offers two wavelengths of light rather than five, but is an excellent budget-conscious option. Both BIO and BIOMAX lights come in a range of sizes including the BIOMAX 300, BIOMAX 450, and BIOMAX 600.
Compared to other panels on this list, the BIOMAX is the only line to offer all five science-backed red and NIR wavelengths, and has the highest power output by far.
If you have any questions, feel free to call our U.S.-based customer service team.
The mid-sized and moderately priced ($649) MitoPRO 750 features four wavelengths (630nm, 660nm, 830nm, and 850nm) and an irradiance level of 120mW/cm2. It can be combined with one other panel in the MitoPRO lineup for greater coverage. We like that the company offers phone support during regular business hours.
Mito Red also offers the MitoPRO at a similar price point to the BIOMAX 900, but with less power output and fewer therapeutic wavelengths.
The compact and portable RedRush 360 is priced at $479 and features two wavelengths (660nm and 850nm) delivered by 120 LED bulbs (50/50 ratio) with an irradiance of 100.5 mW/cm2 at 6". The device features a two-year warranty.
The moderately sized Joovv Solo delivers a combination of red and NIR (660nm and 850nm) at 100 mW/cm2 of irradiance. It can be mounted on an optional floor stand to provide a moderately sized treatment area. This modular device can be linked with others to increase the treatment area even further.
The Pros and Cons of LED Light Panels
Today’s best LED light therapy devices are multi-functional and convenient. They are designed for power and efficiency, meaning a single device can quickly address a variety of skin and health conditions. LED Panels are the ultimate in versatility, power, and treatment area.
- Choose a small panel for travel or spot treatment and travel.
- Choose a mid-size panel for spot treatment as well as peripheral skin-deep benefits on a larger area; for example, you could treat facial aging while also improving skin health on your neck and shoulders.
- Choose a large panel for maximum power and greater versatility (spot treatment, full-body treatments, and wellness).
- Look for modular LED light therapy panels that can be linked together for the most powerful full-body effects.
- Other than the upfront cost, there are no downsides to LED light therapy panels. Over their lifetime you will easily recoup your costs while enjoying more widespread and profound results.
LED Light Therapy Masks
If you're after facial rejuvenation only, then an LED light therapy mask could work for you. These devices are not as powerful as the panels above, but if convenience is of the utmost convenience and you’re willing to wait longer for results, they may be worth a look. Our top picks:
This $495 soft silicone mask molds to your face for increased comfort. The mask features a combination of red (633 nanometers, or nm) and near-infrared (830nm) LED light to stimulate skin health and improve blood and lymph circulation. This is a solid combination of wavelengths for improving skin tone and texture.
With three times as many LEDs as other masks, as well as six treatment modes (along with three times the price tag at $1,900), with this mask you can treat acne, wrinkles, photoaging, and sagging skin. Choose from single wave red LED light, single wave blue LED light, single wave green LED light, a combination of red/blue/NIR, a combination of blue/green, and a longer single-wave red LED light.
This $149 skincare mask features red or blue wavelengths, or a combination of the two to kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, and stimulate collagen production. Given the low price, it could be a good introduction to the world of light therapy, but you probably shouldn’t expect the results you’d get with higher-end devices.
Another flexible silicone mask, the CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask is priced at $359 and features dual LEDs (633nm and 830nm) along with live chat and phone support (which we love), as well as a 90-day money-back guarantee.
The Pros and Cons of a Light Therapy Mask: Why We Believe They're Not the Best Choice
LED light therapy masks are intended for one purpose only: facial skin health, meaning they treat age-related skin concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and sagging skin. These masks are not suitable for treating conditions elsewhere in the body, such as hair loss, diabetic foot ulcers, sore knees, or low back pain.
A light therapy mask has virtually no versatility and delivers significantly less irradiance than LED panels. Irradiance refers to the amount of energy a portion of your body is receiving at a given time while using the light, and is typically shown in milliwatts per square centimeter (mW/cm2).
You may get good results if you’re patient and consistent; but the results won’t be as profound as if you used a large, powerful panel.
- Choose a mask if you only want to treat your face and don't mind waiting for results.
- Avoid masks if you want versatility, such as treating fine lines and wrinkles as well as improving muscle recovery after a hard workout. You can’t effectively use an LED light therapy mask to support health in other parts of your body.
- Avoid masks if you want fast results. LED light therapy masks are very thin, meaning they don’t have hefty enough components to be as powerful or as durable as LED panels. This means longer treatment times than if you were to use LED panels.
If you are willing to put in the time and if you are only going to use the device to treat facial aging, then a light therapy mask can work for you.
A Hybrid Product: Not Our Top Choice, but Interesting
Halfway between a mask and a panel lies the $1,795 CellumaPRO.
This unique curved LED device has a certain appeal because it can be placed over the face while you recline comfortably, while not coming into contact with your face. It emits blue, red, and NIR wavelengths, although the website does not specify which wavelengths.
The main limiting factor to this LED device is that it is curved, which severely limits its versatility in full-body treatments or treatment of large areas. The treatment area is small (16” x 8”) and the curved shape means the light source would not be at an optimal distance for body parts that don’t fit within the device.
The manufacturer claims that the CellumaPRO could be placed over the spine, hip, or shoulder, and that’s true – but the added distance from the light source to the skin means fewer light photons enter the skin, and that means longer treatment times and less effectiveness.
This LED light therapy device could be used to treat knee pain, foot pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hair loss, but it’s actually not the most versatile option for treating areas of the body beyond the face.
Given the price tag, we’re not convinced it’s the best choice because its use is limited. But, you could consider it if you want a device that wraps around your face but doesn’t touch it.
Why Wands And Other Small, Handheld Devices Aren’t Worth the Investment
To simplify your choices, let’s first eliminate small handheld light therapy devices, which includes wands and showerhead-style devices. We don’t recommend them because they are typically underpowered and are only good for very small targeted applications. Any results you get will require many treatments over a long period of time.
Yes, handheld devices are convenient. But if you’re treating fine lines and wrinkles, for instance, your treatment time would be significantly longer than if you use a larger and more powerful device that could deliver LED light therapy to your entire face at once.
If it’s fast and profound results you’re after, then keep reading.
The Science Behind Our Recommendations: What Makes the PlatinumLED BIOMAX 900 So Effective?
Before you deep dive into light therapy, here’s what makes the BIOMAX 900 stand out.
In order for an LED light therapy device to be effective, light energy has to reach the treatment area and absorb into the tissues. When comparing devices, look for one with high irradiance; as mentioned, this is shown as mW/cm2.
Irradiance is measured at about 6” to 8” from the device, which is a comfortable distance for most people. Some manufacturers will measure irradiance when the device is in contact with the skin, which is not feasible for most applications, and the intensity of the light may be unpleasant at that distance (though not harmful).
If you see something like “124 mW/cm2” as compared with “100 mW/cm2”, the higher number means greater irradiance.
The fact is, no device compares to the irradiance of the BIOMAX 900 panel. And when you take advantage of its modular capabilities and link several panels together, you’ll get this level of irradiance not just on your face but on every inch of your body.
One way to measure quality is the manufacturer’s warranty. Don’t settle for a one-year warranty on the larger devices. The three-year warranty offered by PlatinumLED is an indication of the manufacturer’s commitment to quality.
The Most Beneficial Wavelengths
While each wavelength of light has its own benefits, researchers almost universally agree that red and NIR light offer the most comprehensive benefits, due to the extremely limited effects of shorter wavelengths.
Going even deeper, PlatinumLED has compiled data from hundreds of studies that have isolated the wavelengths with the most widely studied and proven benefits, and integrated them in a proprietary synergistic ratio that will give you the broadest range of benefits.
In the case of light therapy devices, bigger is generally better because of higher light power output for more effective irradiance and a greater treatment area, which is a huge time-saver.
You can treat a small area such as the face using the BIOMAX 900; and at the same time, enjoy peripheral skin-deep benefits in a 108" x 86" (body-sized) treatment area.
Getting help when you need it is important. Avoid resellers that don’t offer any way to contact them. Most manufacturers can be contacted via email; PlatinumLED offers phone support.
FDA Class II Registered Medical Device
This classification states that the device is capable of delivering the intended therapy. PlatinumLED BIOMAX panels are FDA Class II Registered Medical Devices, meaning you get a medical-grade device in the comfort of home.
Red Flags to Know About
Now that you know what to look for in a light therapy device and which wavelengths would make the most sense for you, it’s time to air out the industry’s dirty laundry so that you aren’t spending your money on a slick sales pitch, but on a quality light therapy device.
The low-level light therapy market is extremely competitive, and some retailers don’t always give you the information you need; and unfortunately, some are downright misleading.
Here are some red flags that will help you eliminate junk devices.
Some advertisers promise better results with devices that feature 5-watt LED bulbs. On the surface, this makes sense; higher wattage means more power … generally.
However, due to the fact that 5-watt bulbs generate more heat than 3-watt bulbs, this means that 5-watt bulbs cannot be placed in close proximity to each other. For a 5-watt bulb to be safe for use in a light therapy device, it would have to be quite a bit farther away from its neighbors, causing dark spots between the light generated by individual bulbs, which means uneven coverage.
It’s important to know that 5-watt bulbs generally do not exist on light therapy devices. If a company claims to sell a device with 5-watt bulbs, it’s best to avoid that specific product. For more in-depth information on this topic, check out this article on our blog.
Some companies will promote dual-chip LED bulbs to make you think you’re getting higher light output (irradiance) as well as two wavelengths from each bulb – but it’s a gimmick.
Dual-chip LEDs are capable of delivering two separate wavelengths simultaneously; for example, 660nm red light and 850nm near-infrared light.
However, these bulbs are generally limited in terms of power output to protect the delicate LED hardware. This does not deliver the power needed for light photons to absorb into the skin, so this approach gets you half the effect of each wavelength.
Dual-chip LEDs are also less reliable than single-chip bulbs because there are more wires inside each bulb. As the bulbs heat up during use, this extra circuitry is more prone to burning out. Anytime you introduce more potential points of failure without adding benefits, you end up with a less reliable product.
Some companies claim that using short bursts of light, or pulsed light, makes light therapy more effective. Although the method does have scientific backing with laser therapy, some companies are applying it to LED light therapy – and it’s another gimmick to watch out for.
Pulsed light is effective for lasers because it helps offset dangerous heat buildup, a major drawback of extremely focused light. This is not the case with LEDs.
LEDs safely spread high-powered light over a larger area, which completely negates the need for pulsed light.
In fact, pulsing means the light isn’t consistent, and you’ll need longer treatment sessions with an LED device to see results. Consistent wave application is the steady light you need for the maximum number of light photons to absorb into your tissues.
Shining the Light on Light Therapy
This section will explain why certain wavelengths of light are superior for the purposes of healing.
Light therapy is as old as healing itself. Ancient healers understood that natural sunlight has healing qualities and often prescribed sunshine for psychological and physical health issues.
Today, scientists have isolated the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (light) that make up natural sunlight. Each wavelength has different effects on the human body.
How Light Affects the Body
In the same way that plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis, light-emitting diodes deliver specific wavelengths of light to trigger a natural biostimulatory effect in human tissue. Here are the effects of invisible and visible wavelengths on the human body.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
UV light is beneficial in small amounts but in higher doses it causes skin damage, so UV light treatment is always administered by medical professionals. Ultraviolet rays are the primary wavelengths found in bright light therapy, which is used to treat psychological conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Blue light (440nm–490nm) has antibacterial properties, making it effective at treating acne. However, devices that are intended to emit blue light or even red light inches from the skin are far less effective than panels, because this doesn't allow the wavelengths to mix.
To treat any condition that originates deeper in the skin such as eczema or psoriasis, you’ll need red/NIR light delivered by a powerful medical-grade LED device, not weaker LED masks. A combination of multiple lights in a panel is one way to get the best of both worlds.
Green light (490nm–570nm) hasn’t been widely studied, likely because its wavelengths are very short and can’t absorb into the skin. It is used to treat hyperpigmentation, but because of its short wavelengths, it only affects the outermost layers of skin. Green light is mostly absorbed by the retina, and because it has a calming effect, it can reduce migraine headache pain. It is also known to be soothing: It’s no accident that nature therapy is widely considered to be the best thing for psychological ailments like depression.
Amber (Yellow) Light
Amber, or yellow light (570nm–585nm), effectively reduces redness on the skin, but its wavelengths are too short to absorb into the deeper layers of the dermis. Red and NIR light is far more effective at stimulating collagen synthesis and treating the underlying conditions that lead to poor skin health. Amber light is used to treat skin conditions such as rosacea or spider veins. While effective, its shallow penetration depth limits its scope.
Orange light (585nm–620nm) can be used to reduce redness on the skin, boost cognitive functioning, and improve moods. Orange lasers (administered by a medical professional) have been used to treat port-wine stains, rosacea, melasma, spider veins, and seborrheic keratosis (a common noncancerous skin growth).
At night, exposure to orange light can promote sleep (as opposed to the energizing effects of blue light). Orange light has not been widely studied, however, so few consumer-grade light therapy devices contain orange wavelengths.
Red light (620nm–780nm) absorbs into the skin and underlying tissues where it stimulates the metabolic activity of the body’s cells including skin cells. It also increases microcirculation and promotes collagen and elastin production to improve skin texture. Red light is the go-to for anti-aging LED devices.
Red light is used to treat a variety of skin conditions including aging, sun damage such as dark spots, sagging (crepey) skin, chronic skin disorders, and hair loss. Red light therapy revitalizes the skin and helps “turn back the clock” on signs of aging. The most potent red wavelengths fall in the 620nm–660nm range; for reasons yet unknown, wavelengths in the 670nm–780nm range appear to have fewer benefits.
NIR light (800nm–1200nm) is beneficial for deep tissue healing of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, where its primary benefit is reducing inflammation that may be the cause of chronic skin disorders.
In addition, NIR light boosts metabolism, helps heal wounds, stimulates the immune system, reduces body fat, promotes cellular health, and improves circulation. It is used to treat various conditions including peripheral neuropathy, traumatic brain injury, muscle aches and recovery, joint pain, bone breaks, and the immune system.
Which Wavelengths Are Best for Skin Health?
Thousands of studies have examined the effects of light on human health. While you can find LED masks and larger light therapy devices that emit the colors of the rainbow, it’s important to know that the benefits of green and amber wavelengths are not supported by a wide body of research, since research into these wavelengths is still in its infancy. Because light’s wavelengths are short, it doesn’t absorb very deeply into the skin, so its effects are limited to killing bacteria that cause acne.
Red Light Therapy Gives You the Most Comprehensive Benefits
The vast majority of research has focused on red and NIR wavelengths due to their deeper absorption, which provides healing from inside out. The most effective devices are those that emit red and NIR wavelengths, either alone or in combination. And, according to that research, the best results will come from the use of red/NIR LED therapy.
Here’s why red light therapy works so well:
Red Light Addresses Mitochondrial Dysfunction
You have probably experienced the challenge of doing your best at work the day after you’ve arrived home jet-lagged and exhausted from a vacation. You can try, but you simply cannot perform at your best in this depleted state.
It’s the same inside your body; your cells get tired too. And since your skin is your largest organ, this is where you most notice the effects of tired cells. Here’s the short version of why this happens.
Within your body’s cells are tiny organelles known as mitochondria, which are colloquially referred to as “energy factories.” It’s the mitochondria’s job to convert raw materials into cellular fuel known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – but when they fail to produce ATP, your cells become depleted and don’t function as they should.
This is known as mitochondrial dysfunction, a malady that has been linked to a number of serious, often chronic health conditions.
The good news is, both red and NIR light effectively treat mitochondrial dysfunction by stimulating the production of ATP. This leads to improved cellular functioning, and a positive chain reaction of improved health: the kind of vitality that quickly manifests on your skin, and especially on the face.
How Does Light Stimulate Mitochondria?
The secret lies in the depth to which light photons can absorb into the body’s tissues. The longer a wavelength, the deeper it penetrates the body, where light-sensitive chromophores absorb the light. It's not enough to just treat the outermost layers of skin. You have to go deep to stimulate cellular activity and to address any inflammation that could be causing mitochondrial dysfunction.
Back to red/NIR light…
Overall, the most beneficial wavelengths for light therapy fall in the range of 620nm–660nm and 810nm–850nm. This has been called the “therapeutic window” of beneficial wavelengths with no known side effects.
Because of this “inside out” approach to wellness, your greatest value comes from a high-quality panel that delivers red and NIR light in combination. As discussed, there are benefits of green light and blue light, while red light in most cases remains the most versatile.
The Secret to Success
Consistency is the key to success with LED light therapy. It should not be viewed as a quick fix; rather, it treats conditions at the cellular level. It may take time to see results simply because you have to wait for cells to repair or regenerate, and then wait for the ripple effect of increased collagen production, reduced inflammation, and increased microcirculation.
Typically, you'll notice results within four to six weeks – and then prepare yourself to be amazed. Maintain your results with consistent LED therapy, and remember, at-home LED devices let you treat many other conditions in the convenience of your home.
Although the exact length of each light therapy treatment depends on the condition you’re treating, it’s important to be consistent, on a weekly or even daily basis.
Distance from the device matters, too. The closer you position your skin to the light therapy device, the more light energy will absorb into your tissues.
For general health and wellness, you could start with about 20 minutes of exposure per day. For delicate facial skin, you could start with a 10-minute session a few times per week, and gradually work up to longer sessions. The only side effect you may experience could be a temporary tightness and redness of the skin, which may occur if you exceed 30 minutes of exposure.
What About Safety?
Advances in LED technology mean that medical-grade devices are now available to the public – and you can be assured of their safety. Treatment with LED light therapy devices is non-invasive, painless, pleasant, can be used safely on all skin types, and there is no post-treatment recovery.
Why Trust This Review?
This list isn’t compiled by a marketing company. It’s an honest overview of the best of the best; and yes, we top the list of light therapy panels.
PlatinumLED Therapy Lights is a manufacturer of quality red light therapy devices. We aren’t just resellers; we’ve invested a great deal of money and time into research and development, and we’ve been in the LED grow light and therapy light business for over 10 years. Our aim is to not only deliver results, but also to educate our customers on how to use red light therapy to boost their wellness. You also benefit from cutting out the middleman, for better value.
Effective Red Light Therapy at Home
We hope you’ve learned a lot about the benefits of light therapy, and which LED devices will give you the best results.
While more of an investment upfront, LED light therapy panels will give you the greatest value, especially over time as you discover a variety of unexpected benefits while treating a single condition.
Visit our website to learn more about PlatinumLED BIOMAX series lights – the clear winners in the world of light therapy devices.