Red Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation: Brighten Your Day

Red Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation: Brighten Your Day


Many patients have hyperpigmentation but don’t want to use harsh chemical peels. 

Read on to learn more about using red light therapy as an alternative. It is a no-contact, painless, drug-free, and effective natural solution. 

In the following sections, we’ll address some of the causes of skin discoloration, how red light therapy works, and how it can be used to treat hyperpigmentation to brighten your skin.


What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a disorder that causes some areas of the skin to appear darker than others. It often results in uneven skin coloration. 

It is caused by excessive production of a hormone called melanin, which is also responsible for giving the skin, eyes, and hair their color. Melanin production is a genetic trait.

People with darker skin produce more melanin. But you don’t have to be fair-skinned to have a hyperpigmentation disorder. In fact, darker-skinned individuals are more prone to hyperpigmentation than fair-skinned individuals.

There are three types of hyperpigmentation:

Age spots are brown, tan, or black spots that develop on the skin due to sun overexposure. These are technically called solar lentigines. These usually appear on the face, arms, chest, and upper back or any part of the body that has been regularly exposed to the sun.

Melasma occurs due to hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. The term melasma means ‘mask of pregnancy.’ Melasmas are often much larger than age spots and are typically found on the face (especially the forehead) and belly. It may also be a side effect of birth control. 

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may result in areas of darkened skin that appear in response to an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or acne. They can appear anywhere on the body.


What Causes Hyperpigmentation? 

Melanin doesn’t just give your skin its color. It also serves as a natural sunscreen, offering photoprotection to skin cells by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Melanin may also have immune-related functions such as antibacterial properties and immunomodulatory functions.


How Pigmentation Works

Pigmentation results from accumulated melanin-containing melanosomes, which are tiny organelles that have one function: to store melanin pigments. There are two types of melanin. These include eumelanin, which produces a brown/black pigment and pheomelanin, which produces a yellow/red pigment. 

Eumelanin is more UV-absorbent and has antioxidant properties that help protect skin cells. 

Pheomelanin, on the other hand, is characterized by light skin. It produces free radicals in response to UV light which can, over time, lead to skin damage and skin cancer. 

However, since Vitamin D production depends on UV light exposure, people with more pheomelanin often have higher levels of Vitamin D than those with more eumelanin.


Causes of Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation often has more than one cause. For example, an individual who spends a lot of time outdoors without sunscreen may be at increased risk of developing hyperpigmentation. This also has to do with whether the individual’s melanocytes continue to produce melanin, which is protective. 

Hyperpigmentation can occur in response to sun exposure that triggers solar lentigines. These are UV-induced flat, dark lesions more commonly known as age spots or ‘liver spots.’

Internal problems can also cause hyperpigmentation of the skin, including adrenal disorder, which is when the body produces abnorally low amounts of cortisol. This may also be caused by vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, and hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.

Chronic inflammation may also interfere with melanocytes’ ability to produce melanin.

Aging, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption are known triggers of skin disorders. Cuts, bruises, burns, and rashes can also cause hyperpigmentation.

Other causes can include medications including birth control pills, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, photosensitizing drugs, and some antidepressants.


How to Treat Hyperpigmentation

Although we recomment red light therapy, hyperpigmentation is often treated with topical applications to lighten the skin. These include retinoids, corticosteroids, vitamin C, soy, cysteamine, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, arbutin, mequinol, niacinamide, kojic acid, N-acetyl glucosamine. 

Chemical or laser peels may also be used, but these can be uncomfortable and invasive, and come with potential complications like scarring, swelling, and infections. The challenge with these approaches is that they may irritate sensitive skin, and there’s a chance of allergic reactions.

An internal approach may also help. Vitamin supplementation may help correct vitamin deficiencies or imbalances. Wearing sunscreen is a must for anyone who is particularly susceptible to hyperpigmentation.


Red Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation 

Red light therapy may be a viable alternative approach to treating hyperpigmentation

This natural treatment is based on the ancient practice of sun therapy with one key difference. Instead of using all of the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that we see as light, it only uses red and near-infrared light. 

Red and infrared wavelengths are well known for their therapeutic properties. In fact, there are several ways that the treatment can support your body in correcting hyperpigmentation.

Skin cells turn over about once a month. If the emerging cells in the epidermis can be supported so that they function optimally - including melanocytes - then they are much more likely to self-regulate to produce the appropriate amounts of melanin based on the individual’s genetic makeup and sun habits.

Treating Depleted Cells

How can you support melanocytes? The secret may lie in increasing their metabolism. 

Many factors can cause cells to become depleted. Depleted cells are sluggish and perform poorly. They are more vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress and premature death. If cells can be stimulated into producing more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is their primary fuel, then they can thrive.

Increasing blood flow to the area is another way to support all kinds of skin cells. Red light therapy promotes the growth of capillaries. This brings nutrients and oxygen to the cells.

It is also known to reduce inflammation that could be interfering with cellular performance.

An increase in collagen production is one of the hallmarks of red light therapy, and the main reason it’s such a popular anti-aging treatment.

Therapeutic Wavelengths

Near-infrared light may also ‘precondition’ the skin. It is now known that exposure to early-morning near-infrared wavelengths prepares the skin for sun exposure and protects it against harmful UV radiation. 

Red and near-infrared wavelengths absorb through all of the layers of the skin to boost cellular performance and promote healing. And this has been demonstrated in thousands of peer-reviewed studies.

Short treatments of no more than 20 minutes daily can “feed” the skin its daily dose of beneficial wavelengths. It’s more important to be consistent with RLT treatment, to support your cells throughout their entire life cycle. 

The melanocytes are being supported to perform at their best with red light therapy, as are the rest of the skin cells: keratinocytes, Langerhans' cells, and Merkel's cells. 

Results with Red Light Therapy

Within a few weeks or months depending on the severity of the hyperpigmentation, you may start to see the beginnings of a more even skin tone.

And as your skin tone begins to even out, you may also notice a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, better skin texture, and smoother-feeling skin. Aging is one of the causes of hyperpigmentation, and red light therapy helps turn back the clock.

If you have any skin wounds or chronic skin conditions that could be contributing to hyperpigmentation, red light therapy may speed up that healing.


Hyperpigmentation Treatment with the BIOMAX Series

Remember, one of the benefits of regular red light therapy treatment is that it preconditions the skin, especially if you take the treatment first thing in the morning. This can help prevent future hyperpigmentation.

Check out the Learning Center and learn about the many ways that red light therapy can benefit not just your skin but your entire body including chronic skin disorders like acne pain, joint pain, hair loss, and much more.

Are you wondering which red light therapy device is the best for treating hyperpigmentation? Look no further than the BIOMAX series. These devices feature red and near-infrared wavelengths as well as trace amounts of blue light to kill bacteria on the skin’s surface, and infrared light to penetrate deep into the body to treat joints, muscles, and organs.


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