Red light therapy has been making waves in health and wellness as a natural treatment for a variety of skin conditions.
This includes the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
Likewise, blue light is increasingly popular as a treatment for acne vulgaris.
But are there benefits to using both red and blue light therapy together?
In this article, we’ll discuss the therapeutic combination of red and blue light therapy and the optimal results that come from this.
The Benefits of Combining Red and Blue Light Therapy
Blue light and red light have different positive effects on the human body. When combined, they have synergistic benefits.
Harnessing the cell-stimulating and anti-inflammatory effects of red, blue, and NIR wavelengths together, along with the collagen-boosting effects of red/NIR light therapy can lead to incredible results.
More Cellular Energy
Blue light therapy activates light-sensitive proteins which stimulate the mitochondria. This produces more adenosine triphosphate, which improves cellular energy and function.
Red and NIR wavelengths do the same, and they have the ability to reach deeper into the body.
Using blue and red/NIR wavelengths together can ensure that multiple layers of skin, as well as subcutaneous tissue, are given this boost.
Blue, red, and NIR light reduce chronic inflammation, which is at the root of major diseases and skin disorders.
Treating chronic and acute pain and inflammation associated with injuries using PlatinumLEDs therapy lights has proven to be the most effective treatment modality in my clinical practice. I firmly believe that every physical therapy clinic should be implementing photobiomodulation into their clinical practice to achieve optimal rehabilitation results.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical TherapyDr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Blue light therapy stimulates nitrous oxide (NO) production. NO is a vasodilator, which temporarily expands blood vessels to encourage more blood flow to the area being treated.
Red and NIR wavelengths do the same.
In addition, red light therapy promotes the growth of endothelial cells which make up the walls of blood and lymph vessels. This in turn stimulates angiogenesis (the formation of vessels from existing vessels).
Increased Collagen and Elastin Production
Red light therapy affects the cells that produce collagen and elastin.
Increased collagen and elastin synthesis are critical for overall skin health, including the healing of acne scars and stretch marks. It is also for restoring normal skin texture as skin disorders clear up.
Collagen is also present deeper in the body, in the joints, muscles, and other connective tissue.
This is why red light therapy (especially using NIR wavelengths) is so valuable as a treatment for osteoarthritis pain, low back pain, joint disorders, and muscle recovery.
How is Blue Light Therapy Different from Red and Near Infrared Light?
Blue light, from 420-480 nm, refers to wavelengths that are lower in amplitude but which have faster oscillations than red or near-infrared light.
Although these short wavelengths cannot be absorbed into the skin deeper than 0.07–1 mm, they do have therapeutic effects on the skin’s surface.
Meanwhile, higher wavelengths penetrate deeper into the skin. Included in these are 630-660nm (near-infrared) and 810-850nm (NIR wavelengths).
Red and blue lights may be used together or separately depending on the device used. The new BIOMAX series panels combine both red and blue light wavelengths.
Red wavelengths absorb much deeper into the body than blue wavelengths do. Red light absorbs into all layers of the skin, while NIR light can penetrate into muscles, bones, and connective tissue.
NIR is technically part of the infrared light spectrum, but it's on the lower end of the spectrum. This is where the wavelengths, although invisible to the human eye, still behave more like light. They don't generate heat like far infrared light therapy does, which is also used for infrared saunas.
Let’s explore the specific benefits of blue and red light, and then go into how using them together can lead to superior results.
The Benefits of Blue Light Therapy
Blue wavelengths may not absorb deep into the skin, but they do benefit the skin in a number of ways, especially when used along with red and near-infrared light therapy.
Blue Light Therapy for Acne Vulgaris
Blue light therapy is best known as a potent antibacterial that destroys acne-causing bacteria, which are highly photosensitive and vulnerable to damage from blue wavelengths. Killing P. acnes can significantly reduce the appearance of acne breakouts.
The following are a number of studies that show that blue light therapy can effectively reduce acne lesions.
In one case, 30 people self-applied a blue light therapy device twice a day until signs of acne disappeared. The treatment group experienced signs of improvement after just two treatments.
In another study, 8 out of 10 people with facial and back acne experienced a significant reduction in acne after using blue light therapy once or twice weekly. This study does not state the length of the trial, but no side effects were reported.
21 people self-applied a blue light therapy device twice a week for five weeks, with a 64% reduction in acne lesions.
In a similar study, 28 people self-applied a blue light therapy device twice a week for four weeks, with a nearly 65% reduction in acne lesions.
In another case, 33 people with acne used a blue light therapy device along with specific skin care products twice daily for eight weeks. After the trial, 90% of study participants experienced improved skin appearance including smoothness. 82% reported satisfaction with the treatment, and 86% said that blue light therapy was gentler than treatments they had taken previously.
Optimal results come from using a high light energy output panel such as the BIOMAX 300 as opposed to low-intensity handheld devices.
Blue light therapy for acne could be a great option in cases where acne isn’t responding well to other treatments or if topical remedies are not well tolerated by the skin.
Blue Light Therapy for Inflammatory and Hyperproliferative Skin Disorders
Blue light has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the growth of keratinocytes, which make up about 90% of the cells in the epidermis. This supports blue light therapy as an effective treatment for psoriasis and other inflammatory and hyperproliferative skin disorders.
Blue wavelengths generate nitric oxide (NO), which reduces skin cell proliferation. Thus, it also controls skin growth in hyperproliferative skin conditions such as psoriasis and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Blue light therapy is also effective at treating atopic dermatitis. 36 study participants with chronic severe atopic dermatitis resistant to corticosteroid therapy were given several blue light treatment cycles consisting of five consecutive treatments per cycle. Most of the participants reported significant improvements after 2-3 treatment cycles with no side effects.
In another study, 21 people with eczema experienced statistically significant reductions in eczema symptoms after blue light treatments were applied three times a week for four weeks.
Blue Light Therapy for Skin Wound Healing
Due to its antimicrobial effect, blue light therapy can help prevent wound infection, as one among other studies found that blue light inactivates Pseudomonas Aeruginosa bacteria in burn infections.
In another animal study, blue light therapy decreased wound size 7 days after injury and sped up the healing process.
The antibacterial properties of blue light therapy are well-documented. Some bacteria contain light-sensitive molecules called porphyrins and flavins. When blue wavelengths interact with these molecules, it produces oxidative stress that damages or kills the bacteria.
Blue light therapy is well-known for killing acne-causing bacteria as well as bacteria that inhibit skin wound healing. It also kills certain types of oral bacteria that may interfere with mouth wound healing.
The Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy has more far-reaching effects on skin health than blue light, largely because of the deeper absorption of red and NIR light into the skin and underlying tissue.
Red light ranging from 630-660 nm and NIR light from 810-850 nm fall into what’s known as the ‘therapeutic window.’ These wavelengths deliver substantial benefits without side effects. This is unlike UV rays, for example, which can be used to treat chronic skin conditions but have also been linked to skin damage.
Here are some of the main applications for red light therapy.
Anti Aging and Skin Rejuvenation
Anti-aging may be the main reason people first discovered red light therapy and it remains the most popular application.
Red light therapy stimulates collagen and elastin production and circulation while reducing inflammation. This can turn back the clock on skin with sun damage such as sun spots. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, tighten sagging skin, smooth out the complexion and give the skin a youthful glow.
Chronic Skin Disorders
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects along with its ability to increase circulation, synthesize collagen and boost cellular energy, red light therapy is effective at treating psoriasis, rosacea, and other chronic skin diseases.
Skin Wound Healing
Red light therapy accelerates skin wound healing. The collagen-stimulating properties of red light therapy are important for faster healing. When used immediately after injury or surgery, red light therapy can reduce scarring.
Other Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Here’s a quick summary of some of the other benefits of Red Light Therapy:
- Muscle recovery and athletic performance
- Treating arthritis pain
- General pain management
- Neuropathic pain and restoration of nerve function
- Weight loss
Check out the PlatinumLED Therapy Lights Learning Center for details on these conditions as well as more ways that LED light therapy supports health and well-being.
BIOMAX panels with red and blue light wavelengths are available now.
Examples of the Therapeutic Effect of Combined Red and Blue Light Therapy
There are numerous benefits to using blue and red light therapy simultaneously.
The antimicrobial properties of blue light and the collagen-stimulating properties of red light work well together, as do the combined anti-inflammatory and pro-circulatory properties of both wavelengths.
It’s for this reason that the new BIOMAX panels feature combined red and blue light treatment.
Below are some additional studies that support the combined use of red and blue wavelengths.
In one study, 35 people with acne used a device that combined red and blue light therapy twice a day for four weeks. The blue/red treatment group experienced a 77% improvement in inflammatory acne lesions as well as a 54% improvement in noninflammatory lesions.
In a two-patient case study, a 22-year-old female and a 68-year-old male were treated with a combination of red and blue light to help resolve rosacea symptoms. Both patients experienced a reduction of erythema and itching, as well as a reduction of papules after five treatments.
In a pilot study, blue light was used for the first time to treat androgenetic alopecia, or male/female pattern hair loss. Patients received blue light therapy twice a week for ten weeks.
90% of patients reported an increase in hair density as well as hair shaft width. The only side effect was hair darkening.
Red/NIR light has the same effect of stimulating hair follicles to remain in the hair growth stages longer as well. Since red/NIR wavelengths absorb deeper, they can help reduce any inflammation that could be interfering with the normal function of hair follicles.
Light Therapy Treatment Options
If you’re interested in a combination of red and blue light therapy, currently there are few options other than at-home treatments.
Some skin care clinics offer combination red and blue light therapies, including those that use BIOMAX panels for clinical treatment.
However, since most skin conditions require ongoing light therapy treatments and daily treatment is recommended, ‘in-clinic’ treatment is far more expensive.
Light Therapy at Home
Home treatment devices are affordable and effective, but not all devices are equal.
It is often best to avoid wands, wraps, masks, and other small LED therapy devices. Optimal treatment takes place during full-body exposure.
The BIOMAX panels deliver the intensity of light needed to ensure maximum absorption of light photons.
Red and Blue Light Therapy Solutions
Optimal results will come from the following:
- The highest possible light energy output (irradiation). The BIOMAX series from PlatinumLED feature the highest irradiation in their power class.
- A combination of red, NIR, and blue wavelengths. Only the BIOMAX panels feature a proprietary array of five red/NIR wavelengths plus one blue wavelength. Check out the light treatment wavelengths (scroll down to see the absorption depth of each wavelength). You can benefit from all wavelengths simultaneosuly.
- A larger LED light therapy panel size. While smaller panels are convenient for travel and for targeted treatments, you’ll get the most value with a larger panel that features more light energy output as well as a larger treatment area. With a large panel, you’ll be able to quickly treat widespread skin conditions like psoriasis, as well as enjoy deep muscle relief and pain management in one session.
- A medical-grade LED light therapy device. This means that the device has higher efficiency and thus effectiveness than consumer-grade light therapy devices. All PlatinumLED light therapy devices are classified as FDA-approved and medical grade.
Harnessing the Power of Combined Blue and Red Light Therapy
In other articles, we’ve discussed the value of combining red and NIR light therapy. When you add blue light to the mix, the effects are more comprehensive.
And now, you can use powerful LED Light therapy devices in the comfort of your home.
The combination of blue and red light therapy together in one panel is a significant achievement for dermatological treatment and for improvements in human health in general.Discover the full potential of light therapy in the most advanced consumer devices on the market with the BIOMAX series.