The Complete Guide to Using Red Light Therapy at Home
Red light therapy is exploding in popularity thanks to growing awareness of its scientifically proven benefits, from clearing up chronic skin conditions to improving sleep. Whatever your reason for turning to red light therapy, you may prefer to purchase equipment and use it in the comfort of your own home—but your search for that equipment has undoubtedly left you feeling confused as well as overwhelmed. To help you make the best decisions, here’s a step-by-step guide to red light therapy and how to apply it at home.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
The human body is highly responsive to light. Different wavelengths, which correspond to different colors, penetrate the skin to varying depths where the light stimulates natural biological processes. Sunlight has long been hailed as a therapy for chronic skin conditions, seasonal depression, and other health problems. But since prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) rays is harmful, natural sunlight is unfortunately not the best solution.Red light therapy is also called photobiomodulation, or low-level laser therapy. It uses light-emitting diode (LED) devices to expose the skin to specific wavelengths of light that are known to have innumerable therapeutic benefits.
The term red light therapy refers to the application of a narrow spectrum of visible light, including red light (630nm to 660nm) and near-infrared light (NIR) (800nm to 850nm). This treatment occurs in what’s called the “therapeutic window,” whereby the desired outcome is achieved without the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. When used as directed, red light is safe and effective. It can be administered not only in a dermatologist’s office, but also in the comfort of your own home.
Red light stimulates the body at the cellular level, providing a host of benefits for a variety of conditions or health concerns.
The primary benefits of red light therapy are due to stimulation of energy production within cells, which has a positive ripple effect on the skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues.
- Reduction of scars and the effects of aging
- Relief from symptoms of psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions
- Restored hair growth
- Accelerated wound healing
- Faster muscle recovery, and muscle growth
- Pain management, including neuropathic pain
- Improved symptoms from depression, anxiety, and insomnia
- Stimulation of the immune system, including the lymphatic system
- Weight loss
New studies about red light therapy’s advantages continue to emerge as more potential uses and benefits are discovered. Often, when people use red light therapy to treat a specific condition, they begin to notice other benefits as well.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
This boost of additional energy allows cells to regenerate successfully, and to build new proteins including collagen and elastin. Energized, optimally functioning cells directly affect the body’s health and proper functioning, since all bodily systems are interrelated and interdependent. In short, increasing cellular energy improves the functionality of the body’s systems, which leads to an improvement in overall healthRed light therapy works on the human body in a way that’s similar to how photosynthesis works in plants. Red and near-infrared light particles (photons) are absorbed by mitochondria, which are the energy centers of cells. There, the photons are converted to energy.
Can I Use Red Light Therapy at Home?
Yes, you can! Because treatment for chronic conditions often takes place over a period of weeks or months, many people choose to purchase devices for home use. For example, treating eczema with red light typically involves three to five visits per week to a dermatologist over a period of several months until symptoms abate.
Following that, an ongoing maintenance program typically involves one to two treatments per week indefinitely. This same protocol, administered at home, is far more convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective. And when used as directed, red light is safe and has no known side effects.
Red light is most convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective when used right at home.
Red light therapy can work well when used at home as long as these criteria are met:
You commit to a regular and consistent treatment program (preferably after consulting a medical professional). Since red light therapy works at a cellular level, many conditions will require several weeks or months of treatment; and some may require maintenance sessions to prevent the condition from flaring up again.
- You use a high-quality, high-output device that irradiates the skin using an optimal combination of red- and near-infrared light. Many devices intended for home use are weak and ineffective. An investment in a high-quality device from a reputable manufacturer will give you many years of beneficial red light therapy in your home.
The following section can serve as a guide to key features you should look for in an LED device.
How Do I Pick the Best Red Light Device?
With the growing availability of red light devices for use in the home, it’s important to know what to look for. Choose only devices that are capable of delivering the intensity of light needed for deep absorption, and be sure those devices deliver the specific red and NIR wavelengths that are recognized for their therapeutic effects.
The Science Behind the Best Devices
Several thousand red light devices are currently available, so choosing the best one for you can be overwhelming. To avoid devices that won’t give you the results you expect, here’s what you need to know:
When comparing LED devices, look for the highest possible total energy output, or irradiance. The light emitted from the device must be strong enough and concentrated enough to actually penetrate the skin. Most hand-held red light therapy devices do not deliver the power output needed for the light photons to be effectively absorbed into the skin.
For instance, imagine the difference if you put your hand under a 60-watt bulb versus a 100-watt bulb. You get a lot less light from a 60-watt bulb than you get from a 100-watt bulb. You need extra power to allow as many photons as possible to penetrate deeper where they have therapeutic value: into the cells of your skin, muscle, bone, and connective tissue.
You can quickly narrow your field of choices by eliminating low-powered devices that don’t deliver the optimal wavelengths within the therapeutic window (630nm, 660nm, 810nm, 830nm, or 850nm). This includes most caps, showerheads, wraps, and wands.
Going back to our example of comparing a 60-watt light bulb versus a 100-watt light bulb, many wands deliver even less light: more like a low-watt appliance bulb! Many wands, masks, and wraps we researched emit only 24 watts to 150 watts of light, compared with the powerful 300-watt to 900-watt output of PlatinumLED BIO and BIOMAX devices. (Output increases with size, but the device also has to use high-output bulbs.)
It’s also important to avoid battery-powered devices. As battery power is discharged during use, the lights will dim even further.
The PlatinumLED Biomax series offers the most powerful LED red light devices on the market. Solar meter testing that measures the irradiance of LED panels shows that PlatinumLED lights emit double the light output of any similarly sized device available today.
According to prolific research that has been conducted on phototherapy, the most therapeutic wavelengths of light range from 620nm to 660nm (red), and 800nm to 850nm (NIR). Only devices that deliver wavelengths of light within this therapeutic window will provide the desired results.
To achieve the best results, choose a device that will give you the optimal therapeutic effects within the red and NIR wavelengths, which is known as the spectral range. PlatinumLED red (R+) array devices emit two red wavelengths simultaneously: 20% 630nm, and 80% 660nm. The NIR+ array devices emit three NIR wavelengths simultaneously: 10% 810nm wavelength, 10% 830nm wavelength, and 80% 850nm wavelength. This ratio is based on exhaustive research, from the many third-party studies on red light, as well as PlatinumLED’s own in-house research.
These studies have also shown that red light wavelengths (630-700 nm) penetrate skin cells and sebaceous (oil-producing) glands. This promotes collagen production and rejuvenates the appearance of the skin, which improves skin health. PlatinumLED lights use two specific red light wavelengths: 630nm and 660nm.
- The 630nm wavelength penetrates into the skin cells and sebaceous glands to rejuvenate the skin. It is used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, treat psoriasis, stimulate hair regrowth, treat non-melanoma skin cancers, and reduce acne-related inflammation and breakouts.
- The 660nm wavelength reaches the entire depth of skin tissue and outer muscle tissue. It is used to delay muscle fatigue and enhance muscle performance, accelerate bone healing, reduce inflammation after injury, reduce neuropathic pain, accelerate wound healing, and reduce scarring.
Near-infrared (NIR) light wavelengths (700-1100 nm) penetrate deeper into the body to stimulate energy production in a greater number of cells. These wavelengths can pass through bone to assist with healing deep wounds, as well as relieving muscle aches, nerve injury, or joint pain. PlatinumLED lights deliver 810nm, 830nm, and 850nm wavelengths.
- The 810nm wavelength has the ability to penetrate the skull, so it has proved to be successful at treating neurological disorders such as recovery from stroke and traumatic brain injuries. It has also been used to successfully treat depression and anxiety. In addition, the 810nm wavelength has far-reaching therapeutic effects for muscular regeneration and performance, pain management, and wound healing.
- The 830nm wavelength penetrates even deeper than 810nm. It has been used to accelerate wound healing, enhance results of plastic surgery, stimulate the release of endorphins, improve bone repair, and accelerate post-injury return to activity.
- The 850nm wavelength amplifies the effects of the shorter wavelengths, as well as delivering its own unique benefits including pain management and increased muscle mass.
A combination of red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths delivers the unique benefits of both, giving you the most versatility to stimulate healing, increase mitochondrial function, improve blood flow and tissue formation, and reduce inflammation.
It is important to note that the wavelengths as the optimal solution for overall well being were not chosen at random. Rather, our recommendations are based on exhaustive studies collected by the PlatinumLED in-house research team on the therapeutic benefits of red and NIR light.
As extensive as research has been on red light’s therapeutic benefits, it should not be considered a cure or a medically endorsement treatment. Rather, red light therapy should be viewed as a general wellness/fitness product. The FDA has approved LED devices for home use. PlatinumLED products are low-risk, general wellness/fitness products that do not require FDA clearance, in accordance with the “General Wellness: Policy on Low-Risk Devices” draft released January 20, 2015 and updated in September 2019.
Nothing is more frustrating than not getting help when you need it. PlatinumLED has a dedicated customer service and sales line, where real people are standing by to answer your questions and guide you in using your panels. No other similar product has a real number to call.
Warranty and Buyer Protection
Since all LED devices have a set lifespan (for example, all PlatinumLED lights are rated for 100,000 hours of use), you’ll want to protect your investment with an ironclad warranty. PlatinumLED offers a three-year warranty as well as a 60-day trial that lets you experience the benefits of red light therapy with no risk.
Don’t take our word for it; read what real users have to say!
Choosing the Right Device
Now that you know what to look for in a red light device, which size should you choose? That depends on how you intend to use it. Here’s some information about the various devices that can help you decide what size you need.
These devices are best for targeted treatment such as wrinkles, hair loss, chronic localized skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea), minimizing the appearance of scars, thyroid health, localized pain (such as joints), and other treatments that only focus on a small area of the body.
Full Body Devices
These devices are ideal for treating widespread skin conditions, overall skin toning, improved circulation, chronic pain in multiple areas, and muscle recovery from injury and training.
PlatinumLED lights provide the highest levels of irradiance with the most advanced spectrum on the market.
The PlatinumLED BIO and BIOMAX series both come in portable and full-body sizes, so you can customize your therapy according to your own unique needs.
- The BIO series lets you choose your configuration to get the results you want: all red (660nm), all NIR (850nm), or a 50/50 combination of 660nm/850nm. For example, you can target skin conditions using red light alone, accelerate muscle healing using NIR light alone, or regrow hair using a combination of red and NIR light.
- The BIOMAX series features cutting edge lights that offer increased power and an advanced light spectrum for enhanced benefits. You can also connect multiple panels to create a custom-sized panel. The BIOMAX panels come in a 50/50 configuration of an exclusive, patent-pending R+ | NIR + spectral output featuring the five wavelengths of 630nm/660nm/810nm/830nm/850nm. This proprietary configuration delivers the right wavelengths in the right ratio for maximum therapeutic benefits.
How Do I Use Red Light Therapy
Start by choosing a convenient place to hang your panels, so that you can be comfortable during the treatment.
The area of your body you are treating must be fully exposed to the light and not covered by any fabric or clothing. If you feel more comfortable, you may cover areas not being treated.
We recommend eye protection if you’re treating facial wrinkles or other skin conditions on the face. If you are treating other areas of the body, protective goggles are not necessary. Be sure you don’t look directly at the lights, though. NIR bulbs may appear dim or unlit because NIR light is at the outer reaches of visible light—but even if your eyes can’t see it, to your body the light is extremely bright.
What Can I Expect During Treatment?
Expect to feel a soothing, gentle warmth during and after your treatment. Some people experience a temporary tightness of the skin, which should disappear shortly after you’ve been treated. If you experience any discomfort or feel you’re getting too much exposure, you can decrease the therapy time or increase your distance from the light.
How Long Should I Use It?
Currently, there are no set rules about how long to use red light therapy, since treatment times vary based on specific conditions being treated and individual sensitivity. Here are some general guidelines, and remember to start slowly with shorter therapy times and gradually work up to the maximum recommended time.
For targeted treatment, such as on the face, start with a 10-minute session and gradually work up to 20 minutes, keeping the area being treated 6 to 12 inches from the device. The skin on the face is particularly sensitive, so be sure not to overdo the duration or try to accelerate results by moving closer than the recommended distance. You won’t get burned by red light or NIR light as you could from exposure to UVA/UVB light, but just remember that more is not necessarily better. Treat a maximum of two or three areas per day. Targeted treatments can be repeated three to five times per week until you experience a noticeable improvement in the condition you’re treating.
Read more about specific targeted treatments by visiting these linked websites:
Full Body Treatment
For treating the large muscle groups, chronic skin conditions that cover large areas, or for overall health improvement, start with a 10-minute session and gradually work up to a 20-minute session, keeping the body 6 to 12 inches from the device. Full body treatments can be repeated three to five times per week until you experience a noticeable improvement in the condition you’re treating.
Read more about full-body treatments here:
When Will I See Results?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some conditions respond very quickly and noticeably to the treatment, such as muscle recovery. Conditions like chronic skin disorders typically require several months of consistent treatment before you experience full relief. Remember that red light works on a cellular level. The body requires time to generate new cells and new capillaries, as well as to generate positive effects in the skin, muscles, and other tissue.
Again, keep in mind that red light therapy is not a cure. You can experience significant relief from chronic skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, but maintenance sessions will be required indefinitely to prevent these conditions from flaring up. Dermatologists recommend one to two sessions per week on an ongoing basis to maintain the desired results.
We recommend you download the PlatinumLED Therapy Companion app, which will guide you through setting up your device for maximum effect.
What’s the Best Time to Do Red Light Therapy?
Consistency is the most important aspect of red light therapy, and when you do it is less important than doing it faithfully. Here are some suggested times that work well for specific conditions:
- Athletes wanting to accelerate muscle recovery, grow muscle mass, and enhance performance can use red light therapy just before exercise to prime the muscles for activity, and again afterward to promote recovery.
- If you are treating a chronic skin condition, use red light therapy prior to your nightly wet-wrap or dry-wrap routine. You can also use red light therapy early in the morning after cleansing the skin and before applying therapeutic creams.
- For chronic pain, experiment with morning sessions to prime achy joints for the day’s activities, or in the evening to fall asleep pain-free.
- For insomnia, try a relaxing session just before bed.
- For wound healing, treat the area prior to reapplying bandages and dressings.
Maintain the optimal therapy distance from the device: 6 to 12 inches (or slightly farther if you experience any discomfort). Do not move closer than 6 inches from the device.
To prevent eye strain, avoid reading or using a computer or hand-held device while treating your body with red light. But many people enjoy a 10- to 20-minute meditation session while bathing the body in the soothing warmth of red light; this way, you can lower your stress to further enhance the cellular rejuvenation of red light. In fact, long-time meditators enjoy a biological age that’s 10 to 12 years younger than their chronological age. Take this time as “me time” for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being.
Are There Any Dangers?
Unlike UVA and UVB light, red light and NIR cannot burn the skin. When used as directed, there are no known side effects to red light therapy, although individuals with sensitive skin may experience temporary redness and tightness.
One commonly asked question is whether these devices generate harmful electromagnetic emissions. All electrical devices generate some type of electromagnetic frequency (EMF); this is a normal byproduct of electrical consumption. However, PlatinumLED devices use shielded components to eliminate EMF emissions. In fact, they have zero detectable EMF emissions as measured at the minimum usage distance (4 to 6 inches). See this testing for yourself here: EMF Blog + Verification Video.
Enjoy Enhanced Wellbeing with Red Light Therapy
With regular use, you can experience the many wonderful benefits of red light therapy at home, at your convenience. Whether you’re looking for high-quality portable red light therapy (popular with professional athletes traveling to competitions), want the best red light therapy for your face, or want to use red light for healing chronic conditions, high-quality home LED devices can give you the relief and results you seek in the comfort of your own home.
Be sure to choose a high-quality, high-output device that delivers the most therapeutic wavelengths of light. A clinical-grade device will give you results and value; and if you have any questions, please contact the experts at PlatinumLED. Start enjoying the far-reaching wellness benefits of red light today.