In this article, we’ll help you answer the question:
Does red light therapy work for wrinkles?
The short answer is it shows great promise and can be an extremely valuable part of a well-rounded anti-aging routine. Though the FDA technically has not approved red light therapy for removing wrinkles, many studies have shown positive results, and many happy red light therapy users report positive results.
Below we’ll review those studies and reviews, explain how red light works on wrinkles, and what role it plays in overall health and skin rejuvenation.
Note: Learn more about PlatinumLED’s line of medical grade red light therapy devices and how they can be used in your everyday life on our BIOMAX product page.
What Causes Wrinkles (And How Can Red Light Therapy Help)?
Have you ever noticed how some people just don’t seem to age? Their skin retains its youthful firmness and elasticity, and their faces remain smooth and wrinkle-free. What gives?
Some are genetically blessed with great skin. But for many of us, it’s not just our calendar years that put wrinkles on our faces – it’s chronic stress.
Most wrinkles come from a combination of stressors. Stress could be physical, such as from too much sun; environmental, such as from toxins and cigarette smoke; dietary (sugar is a huge culprit); and/or emotional.
Any chronic stress negatively affects the organs, and stress is known to accelerate aging.
How exactly does stress affect your skin? Mostly, it comes down to inflammation which interferes with the cells’ ability to function. As you’re about to see, a condition called “mitochondrial dysfunction,” which is reversible, could be the main reason you’re seeking a way to rejuvenate your skin.
How Red Light Therapy Works On Wrinkles
Unfortunately, stress relief and positive lifestyle changes won’t eliminate wrinkles that are already in place. Lifestyle modifications can help as an anti-aging approach in preventing further aging, but they won't reverse the damage.
However, technology has come to the rescue – light therapy for wrinkles shows promise for turning back the clock. It's an anti-aging tool that works from the inside out rather than just temporarily masking the problem.
Why Use Light Therapy to Fight Wrinkles?
Healers have known about the therapeutic benefits of natural sunlight for thousands of years. Today, scientists know the specific benefits of each wavelength of natural sunlight on the body.
For example, ultraviolet (UV) light can be used to treat chronic skin conditions such as severe acne; but too much exposure can damage the skin, and UV wavelengths have been linked to skin cancer.
Red light therapy, which often uses both red and near-infrared (NIR) light, falls into what is known as the “therapeutic window” of wavelengths that naturally, non-invasively, and safely support the body's self-healing mechanisms – with little or no side effects.
Red light therapy is also called photobiomodulation (PBM) and low-level light therapy (LLLT). It uses devices fitted with powerful light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to deliver red wavelengths between 630 and 660 nanometers (nm) and deeper-penetrating NIR light between 810 and 850nm.
Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles: Before and After
Want to see how well it works? Shown here is an example of the differences in fine lines and wrinkles after 30 bi-weekly treatments over 15 weeks.
Source: Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, February 1, 2014.
Reviews of Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles
If you’re curious how non-study participants fare when using red light therapy for wrinkles, you’ll be happy to know that many users report positive findings. For example, here are a few testimonials taken from happy Platinum Therapy Lights Customers:
“I notice a difference with my skin in that it has had an effect on the wrinkles and puffiness under my eyes. I’m just getting started and hopeful that the more pronounced wrinkles around my mouth will keep improving.
I am 71 years old and not a big proponent of facial creams and serums ....they do very little. I am very pleased so far with the Platinum product and have more visible results in 2 weeks than any other product.”
- Beverly Canterbury
“...What a mood elevator it is. And facial deep wrinkles puffing up nicely after 2 weeks!”
- Susan J Holgerson
“...At 63 yrs old my skin is so smooth, some wrinkles erased and others less visible. It's a natural healer of injuries. I need Red light for my best life!
“I purchased this for my lower back pain and to help with fine lines and wrinkles on my face. I've already noticed reduced pain and the skin on my face looks more plump!”
- Vicki Porcelli
“...My skin seems to be firming up and my face has noticeably less wrinkles. I did my homework, watched videos and I truly believe I bought the best product available.”
- Ron V
“My skin tone has improved steadily, with fewer wrinkles, reduced redness from sun damage, and shrinking scars. It also does a great job relaxing my back.”
- David Salz
“...I seem to be getting some good results in a short time with reduced wrinkles and better complexion.”
- Clark Culver
“...my wrinkles are less pronounced.”
- Tatjana Bell
You can read the full reviews and more on our testimonials page. If you’d like to test out the devices mentioned in the reviews above, check out our BIOMAX series of products, which features the most powerful red light therapy panels available.
Below, we’ll dive even deeper into the science behind red light therapy.
How Red Light Therapy Works
When red or NIR light absorbs into your tissues, it sparks a chain reaction of positive biological effects including:
Increased Cellular Energy
We previously mentioned the term, “mitochondrial dysfunction.” This occurs when anything interferes with the ability of your mitochondria (tiny energy-producing organelles inside cells) to convert raw materials into cellular fuel known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
When this happens, your cells struggle for survival and don’t have the energy they need to perform their specialized functions. They die prematurely; and this is what you see as dry, papery, sagging, dull skin ... and wrinkles.
Even as new cells emerge and dead cells slough off, if the emerging cells are damaged from mitochondrial dysfunction (i.e., if they're still low-energy), you will still look older than you could. The health of the emerging cells must be improved for you to experience an anti-aging transformation.
Red light therapy has been shown to reverse mitochondrial dysfunction. This is the primary means by which it is such a powerful anti-aging tool.
When you are exposed to LED panels that deliver red and NIR light photons (light particles) to your skin, these photons interact with light-sensitive chromophores within the mitochondria. This excites the mitochondria to stimulate ATP production.
Giving your cells more energy lets them reverse damage; and as they die and replace themselves, they are replaced by healthy cells, not damaged cells – and this will show in reduced signs of aging.
In 2008, University of California at San Diego researchers Joseph Tafur and Paul Mills stated that mitochondrial photostimulation using red light therapy improves signaling involved in normal cellular functioning (known as cellular homeostasis) and cell proliferation.
That means instead of the visible effects of damaged skin (sagging, wrinkles, and a crepey texture) you see an emergence of healthy skin that is naturally fuller, smoother, softer, and more resilient.
Increased Collagen and Elastin Production
The structural protein known as collagen, along with its cousin elastin, makes up about 80 percent of the skin. These proteins act as a flexible support structure. You can see the deterioration of this structure when collagen and elastin production is low.
Studies on red light therapy treatments have consistently shown an increase in intradermal collagen density after treatment. Higher collagen density means tighter skin that feels firmer and fuller.
Elastin is the protein that allows the skin to stretch. Like collagen, elastin production slows over the years, but this slowdown is accelerated by mitochondrial dysfunction. Luckily, it can be reversed by treating the skin with red light therapy.
In a 2007 study, researchers from South Korea treated participants with a combination of 633nm red light and 830nm NIR light twice a week for four weeks. The result was a dramatic increase in skin elasticity among participants.
The combination of greater collagen density and more elastin within the skin can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, effectively giving you a “facelift” and leaving your skin feeling youthful – without expensive and potentially harmful surgery.
Other Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles
According to a 2017 paper by world-renowned photobiomodulation researcher Michael R. Hamblin, red light therapy treatments also reduce inflammation, which can cause (or be caused by) oxidative stress.
This is of major significance because if inflammation is interfering with mitochondrial functioning, it directly affects emerging cells. No inflammation means better cellular functioning, and therefore an improvement in the health of new skin.
A 2020 study by Italian and Russian researchers concluded that LED light therapy stimulates the growth of endothelial cells, which make up the tiny capillaries within the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.
Increasing both blood and lymphatic system circulation will deliver more oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste and toxins.
LED light therapy treatments (again, specifically red and NIR light) have also been shown to stimulate vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels) for better circulation. This helps with tissue repair whether you're trying to improve skin complexion or healing minor skin wounds.
Do Other Colors of Light Therapy Work for Wrinkles?
You may have seen dozens of LED light therapy devices on the market, including blue and amber wavelengths in addition to red and NIR. Don’t waste your money on these devices, especially if you're looking for anti-aging effects. Here's why.
Amber wavelengths are much shorter than red or NIR wavelengths, which means they cannot penetrate the skin. So, you’re treating only the very outermost layer of the skin and not all of the skin layers, which means that emerging cells won’t necessarily be healthy and energized.
Because of the deeper-penetrating effects of red light, there's no advantage to choosing devices that use amber light as part of your skincare routine.
We recommend avoiding blue light as a skin treatment regimen. While blue wavelengths kill acne-causing bacteria, excessive exposure is proving to be nearly as damaging as UV rays. Negative effects of blue light include disruptions to the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), accelerated skin aging, and macular degeneration.
Most of us are already overexposed to blue light; there are dozens of studies on the health cost of too much screen time, especially after dark. Since it's rare for someone to be treating acne as well as wrinkles, we recommend avoiding blue light exposure.
As well, red light supports the skin in fighting off acne-causing bacteria by bolstering cellular health and vitality.
ONLY red and NIR wavelengths can absorb through to the innermost layers of the skin, where they support a reduction in inflammation, increased collagen and elastin production, and increased microcirculation. And they do so with little to no side effects.
Which Is Better for Wrinkles: Red or NIR Light?
Both red and NIR wavelengths have the skin cell-rejuvenating effect but within different layers of the skin.
- Red wavelengths are shorter than NIR wavelengths, so they are perfect for targeting the outer layers of your skin. Red light will treat sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, skin roughness, and age spots.
- NIR light penetrates deeper into your tissues, where they can support your overall health by reducing inflammation. In fact, you may not even know you are suffering from inflammation (most people are). Within a month or so of using red light therapy, you may feel better, which is a clear sign of reduced systemic inflammation.
You’ll get the best results by combining red and near-infrared light treatment in a high light-power output light therapy device. You can achieve this with PlatinumLED panels:
- The powerful panels in the PlatinumLED BIO series allow you to choose red light (660nm) alone; NIR light (850nm) alone; or a combination of both in a 1:1 ratio.
- The PlatinumLED BIOMAX series offers superior light-power output and a full-spectrum combination of five of the most scientifically validated red and NIR wavelengths in a potent ratio (630nm, 660nm, 810nm, 830nm, and 850nm). BIOMAX panels can be linked and positioned on vertical or horizontal stands for the ultimate in comfort.
You can certainly treat wrinkles using red light alone; but again, the best results will come from a treatment that combines red and NIR wavelengths to treat the underlying causes of wrinkles and aging skin.
How to Use Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles
Thanks to LED technology, you can get great results at eliminating wrinkles at home using a quality LED light therapy device that delivers high-intensity red light via light-emitting diodes.
Handheld devices are low-powered. Weak LED lights – even if they contain the most effective wavelengths – won't give you the benefits you want. Your best bet is an LED red light therapy device with advanced technology that has the power to effectively "drive" light photons into your tissues.
You could start with a daily treatment of around five minutes, or a 10- to 20-minute light therapy treatment three times a week. The duration is less important than consistency, which will yield amazing results in one to four months, depending on the “age” of your skin.
It’s important to understand that red light therapy is not a quick fix, nor is it a temporary solution. This treatment works at the cellular level, addressing the underlying conditions of aging skin.
Your skin did not develop wrinkles overnight and it won’t bounce back overnight. Skin cells take about a month to regenerate and they don’t regenerate at once. Collagen and elastin proteins also need time to form and bolster your skin’s support structure.
So be patient … But when your skin recovers and you get the results you want thanks to LED light therapy, you’ll be glad you stuck with the treatment.
You can amplify the benefits of LED light therapy by supporting your skin through good nutrition, eliminating added sugar, drinking plenty of water, avoiding smoking and alcohol, limiting sun exposure, keeping stress at a minimum, using fewer chemical-laden beauty products, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep.
Once you’ve achieved the results you want, you can safely continue with LED light therapy maintenance sessions two to three times per week to keep your face looking decades younger.
Choose the Right Panel Size
Since there are several LED light device sizes to choose from, you may be wondering which is best for treating wrinkles and improving your skin complexion.
You can use a small LED light device such as the BIOMAX 300 if you only want to target anti-aging, or if you travel frequently.
A larger LED light device such as the BIOMAX 450, BIOMAX 600, and BIOMAX 900 is designed for larger coverage areas. These devices would work well for you to help your muscles recover after a hard workout, treat low back pain, wound healing, soothe arthritis pain in your knees or fingers, treatment of diabetic neuropathy, or treatment of chronic skin disorders.
That’s why we recommend getting the largest red light therapy device you can afford; there are innumerable benefits beyond its anti-aging effects.
BIOMAX panels are designed to link together, so you could start with a smaller panel and then add on for greater coverage.
See the differences between these panels here.
Save Your Money – Don’t Bother With Wrinkle Creams
Does it make sense to combine LED light therapy treatments with wrinkle creams and other products? No – although the $422 billion beauty and personal care industry want you to believe that creams and oils are the best way to reduce wrinkles.
The truth is, the skin is a barrier and is not designed to absorb a product with large molecular structures. Even water can’t penetrate the skin. This is why external collagen products and most topical treatments are a total waste of money.
Most moisturizing products will temporarily give the skin a plumper and smoother appearance and reduce the surface appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
However, a topical product won’t stimulate cellular-level healing or skin cell regeneration that restores youthful skin tone. Only light therapy technology can do that.
Using creams is a never-ending process of applying “fillers” to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to leave your skin feeling better. But it does nothing to eliminate them or prevent them from coming back.
As a result, you're in for a long, unsatisfying process of constant product use that doesn't treat the underlying cause of fine lines and wrinkles.
To be fair, some wrinkle cream ingredients such as retinoic acids, hydroxy acids, or hyaluronic acids do stimulate collagen production and remove dead skin and reduce the appearance of sunspots. However, they take 3 to 6 months to work, can be very irritating to the skin, and will even burn the skin in sensitive individuals.
Another downside to these products is that you can never stop using them. They can add up to thousands of dollars in ongoing expenses over your lifetime – and they don't solve the problem, only mask it.
In stark contrast, LED light therapy doesn’t cause collagen production by damaging the skin. It does so by enhancing skin health from the inside out by stimulating your body with red and NIR wavelengths.
The Fountain of Youth?
It would be misleading to say that red light therapy for wrinkles is a fountain of youth because (A) there is no such thing; and (B) stress management, diet, environmental conditions, and exercise are also vitally important for optimal skin health.
Red light therapy is part of a holistic approach to improving skin complexion. You can treat wrinkles and get superior results without irritating compounds, expensive laser therapy, or invasive and expensive cosmetic surgery.
If you’re ready to make red light a part of your daily skincare routine, check out our line of high-quality LED red light devices.