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What is Red Light Therapy?

May 31, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense

Radiant, youthful-looking skin, no wrinkles, acne, scars, or signs of aging: these are things that everyone wants. But to what extent are we willing to go to achieve this?

There are countless treatments available, from acupuncture to cryotherapy and Ayurvedic therapies to drugstore picks. While you can find a solution to suit your needs at every drug store, spa, or even on the internet, it can be challenging to determine which ones are worth all the hype.

Take a recent wellness trend—red light therapy or RLT—as an example. It’s an alternative therapy becoming an increasingly popular treatment for skincare issues from wrinkles to aging. You may have read about the treatment or about all the celebrities raving about the LED masks that use it. Although scientists and dermatologists are still researching the efficacy, it’s getting more and more attention off-late.

So, what exactly is red light therapy? Read on to find out what we know so far.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Woman using a red light therapy device

Red light therapy is known by many other names—it's been called photobiomodulation therapy or low-level laser therapy, low-level light therapy, and soft laser therapy. It's essentially a type of phototherapy. It’s been a subject of interest ever since people started to investigate sun rays' benefits and possible side effects.

We know that sun exposure is an excellent way to boost vitamin D levels in the body, but ultraviolet radiation from sun rays can also age your skin prematurely and cause sun damage, leading to redness, inflammation, wrinkles, or even skin cancer. To treat these issues, scientists began to research whether different types of light (red, white, and blue light) could benefit your skin and reduce these skin issues.

Red light therapy, specifically, has been used since 1990, when scientists discovered that it might help plants grow faster and promote photosynthesis.

Due to the low-level wavelengths, this technique is often seen as an effective treatment to relieve pain and inflammation and help various skin issues such as acne, acne scars, redness, and even wrinkles.

Red light photons work by increasing cellular production, migration, and adhesion, reducing the activity of sebaceous glands, aiding in blood circulation, stimulating collagen production, killing bacteria, and reducing inflammation.

Red light therapy is said to treat cosmetic issues such as stretch marks, acne scars, and wrinkles, but medical offices or dermatology clinics may also use it to treat wounds or other issues like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.

How Does it Work?

Woman using LightStim red light therapy

After scientists discovered it in the ‘60s, red light therapy became a popular skin treatment. It’s not surprising, given the claims that it did not damage your skin surface and had many benefits that promoted skin health.

But how does it work? Simply put, it penetrates the skin at different levels of depth until it reaches the mitochondria of the targeted cells. The mitochondria is the part of the cell where nutrients get converted into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is an energy-carrying molecule.

The rays of red light therapy produce a biochemical effect in cells that are believed to enhance enzyme activity,  promote or increase ATP production, and increase reactive oxygen species. This promotes cellular proliferation, which may help treat acne, improve skin texture, firmness, and resilience, increase lymphatic system activity, and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and superficial hyperpigmentation.

Light therapies like RLT work by causing a controlled impact on your skin to promote tissue repair, rejuvenate your cells, and stimulate regeneration. Because this sort of light therapy doesn’t penetrate the skin more than five millimeters, it’s believed not to cause any long-term damage.

LLT targets the fibroblast cells and enzymes, which stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein involved in the recovery of damaged skin caused by acne, scarring, or photo-aging. Red light therapy also activates stem cells that work on tissue repair and healing wounds such as burns or deep scars.

Some Potential Benefits of Red Light Therapy

Man getting full body red light therapy
  • Now that we understand how red light therapy works let’s learn more about its potential health and wellness benefits. While there isn’t enough evidence to prove its effect on your health, there’s a lot of buzz about its aging, skin damage, and hair loss prevention properties. Here are some:
  • It may help promote wound healing by repairing damaged tissue by promoting collagen production, in this manner reducing psoriasis and acne lesions.
  • Wounds can also cause inflammation, and red light therapy may be able to reduce this sort of inflammation.
  • Because it stimulates energy production in the cells, red light therapy is also believed to support skin regeneration through the collagen production mentioned above, boosting skin elasticity and preventing wrinkles.
  • It may also be used to reduce cellulite and help with weight loss, but there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that it works. wondering if this is necessary
  • Red light therapy may improve hair growth, especially for people who suffer from alopecia, which causes hair fall.
  • Some studies mention that it can improve symptoms of depression, but unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to show that red light therapy doesn’t have any side effects or is entirely safe to use, so this treatment is not covered by insurance. wondering if this is necessary

Is Red Light Therapy Safe?

Light therapies are usually thought to be safe, especially if they are short-term treatments. As it only penetrates the skin for five millimeters, the risk of burning is very low. However, they may cause vision issues if you don’t properly protect your eyes.

Long exposure can cause cell and tissue damage but is safer when done by a specialist.

You can also purchase an FDA-approved red light home device, but practice caution here. Pick a reputable brand, and consult with a healthcare provider before you start using one since the laser light can damage your skin and eyes.

Five Popular Red Light Therapy Devices

Five popular red light devices: Dennis Gross, Light Stim, SolaWave, Hooga, Trophy

Professional red light therapy services are often the best way to get this treatment, but there are also at-home devices.

Although red light therapy is an FDA-approved treatment, it’s best to get a recommendation from your healthcare provider if you’re considering using an at-home red light therapy device. Still, it’s nice to know what’s out there!

Here are some popular options for different skin types—remember to consult with your doctor or dermatologist to check whether they’re the right option for you before investing in them.

1) Dennis Gross Skincare Spectralite Faceware Pro

This FDA-cleared mask is ideal for all skin types and especially good for acne-prone skin. It also claims to help with redness and wrinkles.

2) LightStim for Wrinkles

This small handheld red light therapy device has a built-in timer and automatic shut-off, and it comes with a cute beauty bag! It promises to smooth fine lines, reduce wrinkles and plump up your skin.

3) SolaWave 4-in-1 Facial Wand

This face-and-neck red light therapy device claims to help with fine lines, dark circles, collagen production, and overall skin health.

4) Hooga Red Light Therapy Device

This is a portable device that claims to be suitable for beginners. It emits red and near-infrared light and also has an in-built cooling fan.

5) Trophy Skin

Called the RejuvaliteMD High-Power Ageless LED Treatment, this device looks like a lamp but functions as a red light therapy device. It also has yellow, amber, and infrared light and claims to target sun damage, fine lines, and other skin conditions.

Learn More About Health and Wellness with NutriSense

Navigating through all the different information out there about health and wellness can be a challenge. Apart from consulting with your doctor, a good way to make the best choices for your health is to listen to your body.

Want to learn more about your specific needs? You’re in charge of what you practice and follow, so it’s essential to understand the data behind how your body responds to different factors to optimize your health. If you need a little help, consider signing up for NutriSense’s CGM Program.

Monitoring your blood glucose levels will help you understand what foods, medicines, therapies, treatments, and activities are best for your body’s unique needs. When you join NutriSense, you will get a CGM sensor and access to an innovative app.

You will also be paired with a credentialed dietitian or nutritionist who will help you interpret and understand the data from your sensor. They can also help guide you to meet your individual health goals.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
What is Red Light Therapy?
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Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes
Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes

On this episode of Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli, Carlee Hayes, Nutrition Manager at NutriSense, discusses the company’s digital platform that aims to help others discover and reach their health potential.

Podcast
40
min
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Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging
Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging

In this episode of Rejuvenaging with Dr. Ron Kaiser, Carlee explains how to cut through the online nutrition industry's noise, why we shouldn't look for a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to nutrition, and how CGMs work.

Story
6
min
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Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why
Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why

Should you be drinking your fruits? Read on to find out more about juicing, whole fruits, and why one may be better for you than the other.

Story
7
min
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Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It
Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It

Do you know what a rambutan is? Learn more about this blood-glucose-friendly tropical fruit and why you should add it to your diet.

Story
13
min
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Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?
Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?

Learn about the health benefits and risk factors of adding organ meats to your meals, and try our favorite recipes using these nutritional treasure troves. 

Story
6
min
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Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years
Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years

Read on to learn more about five of the most promising developments in cancer research.

Story
8
min
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A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 
A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 

Learn more about meditation, how it positively impacts blood sugar, and how you can start incorporating it into your routine.

Story
7
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love

Salads don't have to be boring! Our Nutrition Team recommends nine delicious, nutritious salads to help you find your favorite.

Story
7
min
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Do You Need More Vitamin D?
Do You Need More Vitamin D?

Most people get the vitamin D they need from exposure to sunlight, but if you don't spend enough time outdoors, you may not be getting enough of this vital nutrient. Read our article to learn more.

Story
6
min
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Your Mother's Day Gift Guide
Your Mother's Day Gift Guide

Can't decide on the perfect gift for Mother's Day? Pick from a list of ideas to find a healthy, but still exciting gift this year.

Story
8
min
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Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?
Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?

Some research suggests that eating soy may reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Read on to learn whether that's true and find out more about the other health benefits of soy.

Story
9
min
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease

Did you know that 23.5 million Americans live with autoimmune conditions? Learn more about the symptoms and causes of celiac disease and what you can do about it.

Story
7
min
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Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 
Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 

It's no secret that positive thinking can improve your mood and help you cope with difficult situations. Review our article to see how a positive outlook may also benefit your physical health.

Story
10
min
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

Story
8
min
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9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About
9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About

Though most of us may never encounter these, these health conditions are still fascinating to learn more about. Read our article to find out more about nine of the most fascinating, unusual health conditions.

Story
10
min
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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

Podcast
17
min
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Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years
Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years

In this 20-minute conversation, Dan shares how he’s putting a Rockstar in every seat. And mistakes to avoid along the way.

Podcast
45
min
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Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Kara, registered dietitian, and co-founder of NutriSense, discusses how blood glucose levels are a core marker of metabolic health. She dives into the health consequences of fluctuating blood glucose levels, and what levels to look fasted compared to post-meal.

Podcast
57
min
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Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Today on the podcast, Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC, discusses revolutionizing preventative healthcare. It’s her mission to empower people with the knowledge to effectively monitor, optimize, and sustain their own metabolic health.

Story
10
min
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11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men
11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men

Losing weight is typically easier for men than women, biologically speaking, but it's still challenging! Here are 11 simple yet effective tips for losing weight for men.

Story
9
min
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What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?
What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?

Review our helpful article where we discuss the best times to eat if you are trying to lose weight.

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10
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health

Whether you're looking for weight loss tips or to learn more about metabolism, a little reading material can go a long way. To help you get started, here’s some books on metabolic health, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

Story
9
min
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Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?

NEAT can’t replace the benefits of intense cardio or strength-training workouts but like any physical activity, it has many overall health and fitness benefits. Read on to find out everything you need to know about NEAT.

Podcast
40
min
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NutriSense CGM Program Review
NutriSense CGM Program Review

On this week's episode, Shannon describes the comfort, cost, usability, and education she experienced using the continuous glucose monitor program from NutriSense.

Podcast
25
min
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Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny
Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny

On this episode of the Making Bank podcast, Dan Zavorotny discusses how he started the company “NutriSense” and how it reached a 150 million dollar valuation in 26 months.

Podcast
37
min
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Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?
Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?

Carlee Hayes talks to This Podcast Burns Fat! about the important role blood sugar plays in weight management.