Red light therapy is well known for treating signs and symptoms of aging and improving overall skin complexion.
Are there skincare products like lotions that could enhance the effects?
In this article, we’ll discuss whether it’s necessary or even recommended to use red light treatments and lotion together as part of a body skin care system.
Do You Need A Special Lotion For Red Light Therapy?
Some companies sell lotions along with the claim that they prepare the skin for LED therapy, soothe irritation after the treatment, and enhance the effects of red light therapy.
But the reality is that you actually do not need to use lotion at all, for any of these reasons.
The best red light therapy prep you can do for your skin is to cleanse it thoroughly to remove any dirt, makeup, or oils that would otherwise interfere with light absorption into the skin.
If you feel that your skin is too dry after cleansing or if you have sensitive skin, try rinsing it with clean water to ensure that your skin is fully exposed before an LED treatment. Additionally, staying hydrated will promote the hydration of your skin cells systemically. It’s one of the many ways to speed up skin regeneration.
Most LED treatments are very short (3-20 minutes). You may potentially feel a tightness in the skin and see temporary redness. It is due to increased blood flow to the face, but is not something that would require any form of lotion protection. It’s the same mechanism that results in increased blood circulation, which is good for the body!
After the treatment, you can use a serum or moisturizing lotion that is free from harmful chemicals, as one would in a typical daily skincare regime.
What Does Red Light Therapy Lotion Do?
As a preparatory treatment for red light therapy, lotions actually don’t help at all. Depending on the lotion or cream, they could even block some light photons from reaching the skin. This doesn’t necessarily mean we would discourage individuals from using lotion after red light therapy or at other times. Using a lotion after treatment can help improve your skin texture.
Some companies will try to sell you an array of pre- and post- red light therapy products. Unfortunately, the products intended to be used before LED therapy have questionable application to RLT.
One such claim Included in these is that they protect from blue-violet spectrum rays, essentially operating as sunscreen.
Blue-violet spectrum rays are never present in red light therapy! Even the BIOMAX series devices that contain blue wavelengths use a specific blue light known to be safe and beneficial for human skin.
Pre-treatment products are not necessary before using red light therapy. A clean face is all you need!
Green Tea: the Only Scientifically Validated Pre-Treatment
There is only one compound, green tea extract, which has been shown to enhance the skin rejuvenating benefits of red light therapy.
In one study, cotton balls soaked with green tea were applied to the skin for 20 minutes prior to treatment using a red wavelength. Notable skin rejuvenation was achieved after one month of treatment with this combination, as opposed to after 10 months of LED treatments alone.
So, it may be worth experimenting with applying a green tea mask or green tea-soaked cotton balls to clean skin before an LED treatment session.
Other lotions, serum, sprays, etc. are unnecessary as red light therapy prep. In addition, you want to be careful to avoid anything that could cause allergic reactions.
Should you Use Lotion After Red Light Therapy?
You can use several types of products after an LED session to further support skin health.
Lotions That Soothe Irritated Skin
LED therapy is considered to be free of side effects, other than very temporary tightness or redness from increased blood flow. It does not cause irritation.
If your skin is irritated due to chronic conditions like psoriasis or eczema, you could benefit from lotions that contain soothing agents like calendula or aloe vera based formulations. After an LED treatment session, you could use any product you like that is part of your daily skin care regime.
Lotions That Boost Collagen Production
Lotions containing lychee fruit extracts and hyaluronic acid may help support collagen production. However, you'll also want to know that if the underlying cause of poor collagen production isn't addressed, you won't see optimal results.
Lotions or serums containing hyaluronic acid can boost moisture retention and help protect the skin barrier. If you’re sensitive to hyaluronic acid, you could apply a lightweight oil, such as argan oil or vitamin E oil after an LED session to lock in moisture.
There are plenty of moisturizing lotions and creams on the market. Since everyone’s skin is different, it’s impossible to say which lotions are the best for locking in moisture without applying a heavy, greasy coating. You may need to experiment to find a product that works for you.
The Dangers of Chemical Exfoliants and Brightening Serums
Certain substances found in skin care products, including various chemical exfoliants like benzyl salicylate, will make your skin more photosensitive, which could increase your risk of sunburn when in contact with UV rays. While they do increase collagen production, chemical exfoliants also sometimes irritate the skin (which LED treatments don't do).
If you have sensitive skin, you'll want to avoid these products altogether, but you'll get the same collagen-boosting effects from red light therapy!
The same applies to brightening agents like hydroquinone or vitamin C, which reduce the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is your body’s natural defense against UV rays so again, you’re making your skin even more vulnerable to sun damage by using these products.
You do not need to use these products after red light therapy. In fact, avoid products containing exfoliating or brightening agents if you'll be going outdoors on the same day. If you've used these products in the past, you're getting good results, and haven't had any adverse reactions, you can continue using them after an LED treatment session.
Do People Use Tanning Lotion for Red Light Therapy?
Should you use tanning lotion for red light therapy? No. Using tanning lotion is unnecessary and will not give you optimal results. Let's cut through the marketing hype and clear up confusion around tanning lotion and LED therapy.
Some of this confusion may also come from individuals confusing RLT for tanning beds.
One product found on Amazon claims it ‘prepares the skin for red light therapy’ using ‘multiple accelerators’ that work to speed up the tanning process. This is misleading because red light therapy and tanning are not the same!
Tanning only occurs in the presence of UVA rays. You will never tan because of exposure to blue, red, or near-infrared wavelengths. UVA rays absorb into the lower epidermis, where they trigger melanocytes to produce melanin which is the pigment that darkens the skin. Melanin is the body’s natural sunscreen that protects the skin from burning.
Red and near-infrared wavelengths do not cause any changes to the melanocytes, other than increasing energy production within the cell. No matter how “energized” melanocytes are, they will not cause the skin to darken in the absence of UVA rays.
Red or near-infrared wavelengths do not promote tanning and will not cause burns. Therefore, any “accelerators” that are said to promote tanning will have absolutely no effect on the benefits you get from red or near-infrared treatments.
And besides, tanning is linked to signs of accelerated aging including wrinkles and sun spots so, for some, it may be best to avoid tanning altogether. Although, it remains important to get your share of vitamin D.
Is there anything that can enhance the absorption of red and near-infrared wavelengths into the skin? Aside from cleansing your skin, there's nothing you need to do.
After treatment, it’s important to give your skin time to respond. Skin cells turn over about once a month. This means you’ll start to see the effects of red light therapy in about a month, and the effects will become even more noticeable over time. First, the fine lines will start to disappear. Then, your skin will take on a youthful look and a firmer, brighter complexion.
“Optimizing photobiomodulation sessions relies on direct contact between light particles and natural bare skin. The presence of topical agents like lotions and oils can create a thin barrier layer on the skin, causing light photon scattering and reflection, where the particles bounce off the surface upon contact. This phenomenon leads to decreased overall absorption, compromised photon penetration, and ultimately diminishes the therapeutic efficacy of the treatment."
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Red Light Therapy Treatment with The BIOMAX Series
Of all the LED therapy devices on the market, you’ll want to choose a device that delivers the power and beneficial wavelengths that give you the best results.
Why Choose a BIOMAX Light Therapy Device?
Each device features a proprietary combination of blue (480nm), red (630 and 660nm), and near infrared (810, 830, and 850nm). You’ll get:
- The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits of blue light. This is perfect for treating acne.
- The collagen-boosting, skin rejuvenating benefits of red light.
- Near infrared light reduces inflammation to support the health of all skin cells.
Together, all of these wavelengths together support skin health at the cellular level. They stimulate the mitochondria with each cell to produce more energy. Poor energy production is one of the reasons that fibroblasts, or the cells that produce collagen, slow production, and your skin starts to age!
Energized cells will perform their functions more efficiently. This increases levels of collagen and elastin for a more youthful complexion.Check out the BIOMAX Series for the best in consumer red light therapy treatment.