Red Light Therapy for Beginners: 6 Things to Know

Skin Care
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Red Light Therapy for Beginners | RLT is having a moment and if you're thinking of jumping on the bandwagon, this post is for you. You've probably seen ads for red light face masks, lamps and wands on your FYP, and while the convenience of at home therapy is always a plus, there are things you should know before you buy. In this post, we share the risks and benefits of red light therapy to help you make an informed decision, plus everything you need to know to get started if it's right for you.

Red light therapy is popping up everywhere. From professional skincare treatments to at-home devices, you can’t go on social media without seeing someone talking about red light therapy (usually in a somewhat scary-looking mask). Red light therapy is safe to use everyday, and is bursting with benefits ranging from preventing fine lines and wrinkles, to reducing body pain and inflammation, boosting your mood and energy, and so much more. If you’ve been wanting to try out this treatment here are six things to know about red light therapy for beginners.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a type of photomedicine, which is the use of light to treat skin and other health conditions. It uses low-power red light to activate the cell’s energy generators (mitochondria). Most of the energy made by the mitochondria is housed in a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which helps your body store and use energy. Aging, illness, or lifestyle factors can make the mitochondria produce less ATP. Red light therapy triggers a reaction that helps reverse the decline. It can help repair tissue, as well as relieve pain and inflammation.

Red light therapy is considered a complementary therapy, meaning it’s meant to be used alongside conventional health care or doctor-approved methods. At-home red light therapy treatments are generally safe to use, however, they may use a lower wavelength frequency (meaning they’re less powerful) than devices used by dermatologists or other healthcare professionals.

What Are the Benefits of Red Light Therapy?

    1. Help prevent fine lines and wrinkles
    2. Decrease acne and inflammation on the skin
    3. Counteract facial redness
    4. Treat mild to moderate psoriasis
    5. Improve wound healing and scars
    6. May be helpful in treating hair loss
    7. Reduce body pain and inflammation
    8. Aid in sports performance and injury recovery
    9. Reduce dental pain, inflammation, and ulcers
    10. Benefit mental health and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
    11. Boost mood and energy
    12. Help improve anxiety symptoms
    13. Reduce side effects of cancer chemotherapy treatments
  1. Prevent cold sores from recurring

What Are the Risks of Red Light Therapy?

Although red light therapy appears to be safe and is not associated with any side effects, the long-term safety of red light therapy is not known. If you use red light therapy devices incorrectly or too often, you risk damaging your skin or eyes. However, this type of light therapy is not toxic, non-evasive, and not as harsh as some topical skin treatments. They don’t heat the skin or use ultraviolet (UV) light, so skin cancer isn’t a concern. If you are pregnant, you should avoid red light therapy, and if you’re treating a specific medical condition, check with your doctor to get the okay.

Red Light Therapy for Beginners: 6 Things to Know

1. Where to Get a Red Light Therapy Device
While you can go to a dermatologist or healthcare professional for red light therapy treatments, you can also use a red light therapy device at home. You can find these devices online, including a red light therapy face mask, a red light therapy device for the body, or a red light therapy lamp. Choose the one that’s best for your personal needs. Keep in mind the sweet spot for therapeutic benefits is between mid-600 to 900 nanometers.

2. Starting Red Light Therapy at Home
A red light therapy device is a simple way to get a healthy dose of natural light on a regular basis. Just ten minutes a day is all you need to get the dosage of light that your body requires. For the first week, start with a 10-minute session every other day. During and after treatment, you may feel a slight warmth in your skin. If your skin is sensitive, you may experience temporary redness or tightness. In this case, reduce therapy time or move the device further from your skin. If you don’t experience redness or tightness, you can up your daily therapy time to 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Take Precautions
If you choose to purchase a red light therapy device and do it yourself at home, make sure to take the proper precautions. Shield your eyes for protection- you should not shine a red light device directly in your eyes, just like you never look directly at the sun. Try starting off by using the device in a well-lit room so your eyes can adjust to the light. Also make sure to follow all directions, and take good care of the device for best results.

4. Double-Check Medications
If you’re taking any medication that can make your skin light-sensitive, check with your doctor before you start treatments. Although red light doesn’t include UV light, it’s best to be on the safe side.

5. When and How Often to Use It
You can use your red light therapy device any time of the day, but first thing in the morning or before you go to bed is ideal. Using it first thing in the morning can help boost your energy, while using it before bed can help you wind down after a long day. Fit it into your daily routine as it works for you. Consistent, daily use is key to red light therapy success. Minimum once daily is recommended, however, two to three times a day can be beneficial when using it for multiple goals.

6. Should You Wear Clothes?
The area of your body that you’re treating needs to be directly exposed to the red light. Clothing prevents the red light from reaching your cells, so remove any garments from the part of your body that you’re treating. Any covered areas not exposed directly to the light won’t receive any benefits.

Red light therapy is full of health benefits. If you’re looking to try it yourself at home, use these tips for beginners.

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