Wellness > Beauty

How To Prepare Your Skin For Safe and Effective Red Light Therapy Treatment

Transform your skincare routine with red light therapy. Discover its benefits, from promoting collagen production to reducing inflammation. Explore top-rated devices for at-home use and unlock a radiant complexion. Elevate your skincare with expert recommendations.

RedlightTherapyDigest StaffBy RLTD Staff Updated December 1, 2023
Medically reviewedMedically reviewed by: Nina Desai
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Red light therapy uses wavelengths of LED laser light to penetrate the body, providing great health benefits for the skin including tightening, improving elasticity, smoothing wrinkles and lines, decreasing inflammation, boosting cell renewal, and healing acne and wounds.

Whether you use red light therapy at home or in a clinic, it’s very important to know how to prepare your skin for the treatment and how to follow up afterwards. In this article, we’ll explain how to get your skin ready for LED light therapy, and what to do afterwards to enhance and preserve the effects.

Is Red Light Therapy Safe For the Skin?

There’s a wealth of research that shows the safety of red light therapy for skin, indicating that it has minimal risks or side effects. Keep in mind you buy a device with FDA clearance as we have mentioned in the solawave blue light wand article that is FDA-approved and has very low or zero EMF levels.

You should cover your eyes with protective goggles during treatment, and follow the instructions for treatment time and distance from the device that come with each individual product you purchase.

We have listed more in-depth information about red light benefits, what does red led lights mean along with red light therapy before and after pictures in our article benefits of red light therapy.


solawave radiant

*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Preparing Your skin for Red Light Therapy

You should follow your regular skin care routine twice daily before your treatment to keep your complexion in optimal condition. Avoid overdoing it with powerful exfoliants that may irritate the skin, and make sure you use sunscreen when you go outside to prevent sun damage.

Prior to your treatment with LED red light therapy, cleanse your face with a gentle product to remove any excess dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen.

While your face should be clean and free of facial hair by using the best home hair removal device when beginning the procedure, you can use a light serum with Vitamin C before red light therapy to boost the effects. During your treatment, make sure you wear protective eye goggles to prevent any possible damage. We covered one article about hooga red light which helps in skin rejuvenation, healing wounds, and many more.

Care to be taken after Red Light Therapy

Following red light therapy is a great time to apply rich serums or creams which will help enhance the benefits of the treatment. After using your device, your complexion will better absorb the ingredients.

cresm absorption by skin

Begin with gentle exfoliants to remove dry skin and then apply a generous amount of eye cream and serums so that it reaches deep into the skin. Finish up with sunscreen, especially if you are planning to spend time outside.

Which Products and Ingredients Compliment Red Light Therapy?

The best way to experience red light therapy is with freshly cleansed, clear skin with no added products prior to treatment, except perhaps a Vitamin C serum. In particular, you should carry out your treatments free of sunscreen and makeup, which can block the positive effects of the LED light.

However, if you’re wondering how to maximize red light therapy, there are some ingredients and products that can enhance the benefits of the procedure if you use them afterwards or add them to your daily skincare regimen.

There are even some skincare products designed especially for use with red light therapy, so speak to your dermatologist for additional recommendations. We also documented mito red article which helps in reducing signs of aging.


While you should never use an exfoliant before your treatment, following up with a powerful product which removes dead skin cells and unclogs the pores is an excellent booster for after your LED therapy. Look for some of these ingredients:


Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is an excellent product to include in your routine to boost the effects of LED light therapy. It exfoliates, removing dead skin cells and dirt to unclog the pores and prevent breakouts.

It also promotes cell regeneration, boosts collagen levels for tighter skin, and smooths wrinkles and fine lines. An article by Malwina Zasada and Elżbieta Budzisz published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology discussed the benefits of retinoids in cosmetic and dermatological treatments [1].

While you should include it in your skincare regimen, do not ever use retinol prior to red light therapy treatment. It’s a powerful ingredient and the combination could lead to skin irritation. You can use an anti-aging serum with this ingredient after your treatment.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is another powerful exfoliant which removes the top layer of cells to eliminate dirt and oils and cleanse the pores, get rid of dead cells, and refresh the complexion. In addition, it decreases inflammation and can prevent and reduce acne.

A comprehensive review by Tasleem Arif published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology explored the benefits of salicylic acid as a peeling agent [2].

A powerful formula, you should not use it before LED light therapy treatment, but look for products that include it for enhanced skin health properties after your treatment.

As we reviewed Trophy Skin Brighten MD, the red light therapy for acne treatment prevents acne and acne breakouts with no side effects and less risk.


solawave radiant

*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Anti-Aging Cream or Serum

After treatment, you can also apply a rich anti-ageing cream or serum to provide added benefits. An effective serum to use with LED light therapy should deeply hydrate, eliminate dry skin, and soothe to prevent irritation. The best serum to use with LED light therapy should also include ingredients which elevate the collagen-boosting effects of the treatment for additional anti-aging benefits.

You can use a Vitamin C serum both before and after treatment, as it will enhance the effects of the red light therapy, and it’s gentle enough to combine with the LED lights.

An article by Pumori Saokar Telang published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal discussed the potent skin properties of Vitamin C [3].


Your skincare routine should include a rich moisturizer twice daily to boost the hydration benefits of red light therapy, eliminate dryness, and plump the complexion to help smooth wrinkles and fine lines.

Consider applying a rich moisturizer or antiaging cream following red light therapy treatment to elevate its effects. A review in Clinical Medicine and Research by Schandra Purnamawati, et al explained the role of moisturizers in healing various types of dermatitis [4].


Q: Can You Use Retinol After LED Light?

A: After your LED red light therapy treatment is an excellent time to apply retinol or products that include it, as this ingredients boosts collagen levels. This elevates the collagen enhancing benefits of the light therapy, for tighter, smoother skin with less visible wrinkles and lines.

Q: When Should You Not Use Light Therapy?

A: LED light therapy is not suitable for people with open sores, lesions, or tumors on the skin. If you have any of these issues or a serious skin disease, avoid the treatment or get 100% approval from a dermatologist before you try.

In addition, avoid using red light therapy directly after your skin care routine. Immediately before the treatment make sure you gently cleanse your skin and towel dry.

Q: Should You Do LED Light Therapy Before Or After Skincare?

A: You should only do LED light therapy before applying any skincare products to your face, except a cleanser and perhaps a Vitamin C serum. After treatment, you may use serums, creams, or moisturizers to enhance its effects.

Q: Can I Use Makeup After LED Light Therapy?

A: Yes, you may apply makeup after treatment with skincare products following red light therapy with no adverse effects. However, prior to treatment your skin should be free of any and all makeup.

Q: Can You Do Microdermabrasion and LED Light Therapy?

A: Although you should avoid treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels directly before or after light therapy, generally speaking you can use these treatments together to boost the effects to your skin and experience powerful results.


If you want to powerfully enhance your skin health and decrease acne, wrinkles, fine lines, flaky skin, and dryness, red light therapy is an excellent treatment option which is widely available for both home and clinic use. However, for the most powerful and safest results, it’s important to understand the best before and after procedure.

Prior to treatment, cleanse your face and make sure it is free of any skincare products or cosmetics except a Vitamin C serum. The best time to apply serums, anti-aging creams, and moisturizers is after your procedure, in order to boost the effects and product more powerful results.

When choosing a home-based LED light device, make sure it’s FDA cleared, and the manufacturer follows strict safety standards in production. Have a look at some important recommendations and product suggestions in our article on professional led light therapy equipment, or read about the led light therapy mask for superior skin health benefits.

By Nina Desai

Dr. Nina Desai is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist. She received both her undergraduate degree and medical degree from Brown University.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

Disclosure of Material connection: Some of the links in the post above are "associate sales links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services which we use personally and/or believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials."

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