Good skin is visually pleasing and protective at any age and gender. Red light therapy (RLT) can boost the integrity of your skin, enhancing its appearance and condition. But how does red light for skin health work, and how long does it take to see results?
Red light therapy works on the inner layer of skin called the dermis, which contains connective tissue. The most prevalent cell in connective tissue is the dermal fibroblasts. RLT stimulates the driving force in skin cells called the mitochondria. That, in turn, optimises the cellular respiration process to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). And ATP influences natural skin moisturisation, skin-soothing, and anti-aging projection .
This article breaks down the science behind red and near-infrared light therapy into everyday language. It explores the safety behind RLT and who benefits from it the most. But first, let’s look at why your skincare routine is so critical.
RTL for Skin Health and Skin Care
To protect your skin is to protect the outer you. It’s your body’s first layer of defence against the hostile external environment. Moreover, nice looking skin is a good indicator of your health more generally. Red light and near-infrared light therapy can help restore and maintain skin integrity. We’ll get onto the details of that soon.
It’s Your Body’s Largest Organ
Skin is your body’s largest organ, and it’s always busy dying, flaking, and reproducing. It works in the background, shedding 20M cells every hour or 480M dead cells in a day. Now you can see why at least 50% of all house dust contains dead skin. A good skincare routine works with natural processes to help protect and maintain your skin .
Low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) can be an effective part of that routine.
How Healthy Skin Protects Your Overall Health
The three layers of human skin are the epidermis (top), dermis (middle), and hypodermis (bottom). The top layer contains Langerhans cells that are part of your immune system. Thus, a healthy epidermis does an excellent job at protecting your body from potential harm. 
Here’s a breakdown of your skin’s critical functions:
- Skin blood flow helps maintain the body’s core internal temperature
- Produces activates and inactivates numerous hormones
- Defends against allergens, toxins, and carcinogenic risks .
- The deeper layers store water, fat, and various metabolic products
- Healthy skin is central to appearance and boosts self-esteem
RLT Penetrates Your Epidermis and Dermis Layers
Your outer skin or epidermis is made of a tough protein called keratin. It’s the same material found in hair and nails. Keratinocytes continually grow outwards to replace the dead outer cells. Indeed, every hour, an adult creates around 20M new skin cells .
The wavelength of red light therapy is long enough to penetrate through your epidermis (top layer) and reach into the middle layer or dermis.
Other Names for Infrared Light
|Soft Laser Therapy||SLT|
|Low Power Laser Therapy||LPLT|
|Low Level Light Therapy||LLLT|
|Cold Laser Therapy||CLT|
Now let’s look at the role of RLT for skincare and maintenance.
6 Ways Red Light Therapy Supports Skin Health
Below are six ways that RTL support skin repair and maintenance. For many people, RLT is a no-brainer. It’s affordable, it doesn’t hurt, and treatments are short. Best of all, RLT is a low-risk replacement for harsher, conventional therapies.
#6 RLT Improves Skin Complexion, Say Scientists
One of the most well-received treatments for RLT is to improve complexion. It works by exposing the target area to low wavelength red light. The cell’s powerhouse or mitochondria absorb the natural light particles as they penetrate the skin. The extra energy boosts your cell’s ability to respond to damage and rejuvenate .
Non-Invasive Light-only Anti-Aging Treatment
Researchers have studied red light’s efficacy for reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and improving texture. In other words, its anti-aging potential. They saw that RLT increases circulation and the protein collagen, responsible for elasticity. One trial found that RLT rejuvenated skin, improved its complexion, and made it smoother to the touch .
#5 Helps to Diminish Unsightly Scars
Visible scarring can cause embarrassment and affect self-esteem in some people. More severe scars can restrict movement and may cause constant pain or irritation. Red light therapy is a gentle, non-invasive way to reduce scar tissue. Whether your marks are surgical or a remnant from teenage acne, RLT is well worth a go.
Scarring is a natural part of your wound healing process, and most are temporary. However, some people end up with permanent marks. Why that happens is down to the degree of damage and various biological processes .
How RLT Works on Scar Tissue
RLT treats scars by penetrating your skin at the cellular level. It does that by using specific wavelengths of red light from 630nm–700nm. Red light is to skin what natural sunlight is to plants, i.e., it provides the energy needed to optimise cell function. That activates your skin’s stem cells, which then repair, regenerate, and produce collagen.
RLT sessions suppress the genes associated with scarring. As a result, it’s effective at reducing and repairing both raised keloid and hypertrophic scars.
#4 RLT Promotes Wound Healing
Many people use red light therapy to help mend slow-healing wounds. RLT stimulates tissue repair by increasing fibroblast (the most common type of cell in connective tissue) proliferation. It also increases collagen production and reduces inflammation. These things combined make RLT ideal for treating slow-healing wounds .
#3 RLT Reduces Lesions Caused by Painful, Unsightly Psoriasis
Psoriasis leaves rough areas of often inflamed skin that can be painful, irritating, and unsightly. These silvery/red scales or plaques can appear anywhere on the body and can crack and bleed. Psoriasis is a chronic (persistent) condition that causes a rapid turnover of the victim’s skin cells. Studies show that red light therapy can help.
A 2011 study administered High doses of RLT under medical supervision. The results saw that red light was effective in treating psoriasis, including erythema .
#2 Helps Repair Damage Caused by Sun Exposure
Sun damage is the result of overexposure to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays. Unprotected skin causes deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) changes at the cellular level. Sun damage includes burning, sun spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and other issues. Red light therapy helps by increasing your body’s production of both elastin and collagen.
RLT also boosts your immune response. That’s significant as it helps to clear dead cells and repair those that are sun-damaged. Thus, the natural healing effects of RLT and collagen protection makes it an excellent, no-risk anti-aging treatment .
#1 RLT for Treating and Preventing Cold Sores
Cold sores or fever blisters are nasty, non-life-threatening viral infections. These tiny fluid-filled blisters can appear directly on or around the lips. Corner cold sores can be painful, especially as you eat, talk, brush your teeth, or laugh. Clinical research found that 30-second red-light treatments vastly accelerated cold sore healing.
The 2009 study also saw an 88% reduction of painful lesions in just two days. Most cold sores disappear on their own in 14–21 days, but they’re unsightly, sore, and bothersome. Thus, it makes perfect sense to speed up recovery using red light .