Wellness > Beauty

According to a Dermatologist, How LED Light Therapy Can Transform Your Skin

While there are many skincare gadgets readily available on the market, including jade rollers, dermaplaning tools, and microdermabrasion kits, dermatologists now recommend red light therapy for skin.

RedlightTherapyDigest Staff By RLTD Staff Updated March 28, 2024
Medically reviewed Medically reviewed by: Nina Desai
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How Does Red Light Therapy Work to Improve Skin?

Red light therapy or low-level laser therapy is a skin treatment method that uses light of specific wavelengths for therapeutic purposes. “Red light penetrates deeply into the skin layers, where it is absorbed by the skin cells and converted into energy,” says Nina Desai, a board-certified dermatologist in Manhattan California. The energy in the skin cells helps improve cellular functions, enhances the repair of damaged skin cells, reduces signs of aging, and promotes the regeneration of new skin cells.

According to research published in the BMJ Open Journal, light-emitting diodes are effective in facial treatments including reversing signs of skin aging and minimizing wrinkles. Influencers and celebrities on TikTok and Instagram have flaunted the skin-enhancing benefits of red light therapy treatments on their skin. Most of these celebs advertise at-home therapy devices so that they enjoy their benefits at the comfort of their homes. While there are many devices being hyped online, you may not know what works and which ones are frauds.

Diane Madfes (FAAD, MD) an Assistant professor of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a board-certified dermatologist says that red light therapy can decrease skin inflammation, increase circulation; treat skin conditions like hyperpigmentation, acne, and psoriasis. She further explains that LEDs help boost collagen production rejuvenate the skin, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

If you have visited the dermatologist’s office or have seen it in advertisements, red light therapy may take the form of a light panel, facemask, or wand with the use of light of low wavelengths. The devices are placed on your face, but at a distance for about 15-20 minutes to help address various skin conditions. These skin concerns may include rosacea, acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, scars, and age spots.


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Experts Take on Red Light Therapy for Skin Treatment

Jared Jagdeo, MD and founding director of the center of Photomedicine in New York says, “Red light waves stimulate the mitochondria, which is the energy center within each cell. We believe that sets off a cascade of changes within the cell that allows for the different benefits that we’re able to see, such as the upregulation of collagen production and the reduction of inflammation, pigmentation, and redness in the skin.” He further explains that through his research, he has found that red light therapy has helped stimulate cellular repair, boost collagen production, support a vibrant complexion, and promote healthy-looking skin.

Red light therapy may be used to treat actinic keratosis. Angela Lamb, MD an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai explains that red light therapy may be used together with photodynamic therapy. This is where the skin is applied with a photosensitizer before treatment. Topical application of photosensitizers, including lotions and creams, allows better absorption of red light therapy into the skin. it allows red light to have a better effect on the skin without any harmful effects.

The benefits you get from using light therapy are endless, including reduced wrinkles, age spots, scars, and improved skin radiance. The tools available on the market are many and they may help with treating your face or the entire body.

Red light therapy has demonstrated efficacy in addressing a range of skin concerns, including acne, collagen production, anti-aging, rosacea, and eczema. Dr Laura Geigaite, MD, Cosmetic Dermatologist sopke with us, She explains by stimulating collagen synthesis and promoting cellular regeneration, it helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in firmer, more youthful-looking skin. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in reducing acne lesions and calming redness associated with rosacea. While it may not completely eliminate these conditions, incorporating red light therapy into your skincare routine can significantly improve their appearance and manage symptoms over time.

If you are ready to get started, check out what products provide optimal benefits.

Skin conditions red light therapy has been tried

Healthcare professionals are on record as being among the first people to announce the ability of light therapy to stimulate cell metabolism and cell regeneration, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and eliminate other signs of aging. They use red and near-infrared light therapy for these treatments. Blue light may also be used in combination with red light because its antibacterial properties are effective in the treatment of acne breakouts. LED Light therapy machines may be applied in different forms to treat various skin conditions. According to the Journal of Biophotonics published in 2019, light emitting diodes red light therapy is safe and effective in the treatment of acne vulgaris, wounds, hair growth, skin cancers, and skin lesions, and promotes skin rejuvenation.

We spoke with Anna Peterson, a Beauty & Wellness Professional, she claims red light therapy stands as a versatile ally against common skin concerns. Its efficacy extends to mitigating acne by reducing inflammation, stimulating collagen to combat signs of aging, soothing rosacea flare-ups, and providing relief for conditions like eczema. It’s a holistic approach that fortifies the skin from within, paving the way for a healthier complexion.

Research studies support that red and blue infrared light therapy is efficient in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Blue light has antibacterial properties, which help kill acne-causing bacteria under the skin. Red light helps prevent scaring, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation to promote healing. If you are looking for red light therapy at home, there are also devices available at affordable prices.

Red light therapy for eczema works great and unlike other skin conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. According to the journal of Lasers in Medical Sciences, phototherapy has been known to treat psoriatic lesions from moderate to severe psoriasis. A publication in the National Library of Medicine, atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that can be treated with phototherapy together with other topical treatment methods.

“When used with a photosensitizer, the therapeutic effects of red light—whether it’s the anti-inflammatory effects for acne or the destructive and anti-oxidative-stress effect on pre-cancerous cells—have been proven,” says Dr. Baron.

Red light therapy is also effective in the treatment of other skin conditions like sun-damaged skin, rosacea, scars, wounds, stretch marks, age spots, wrinkles, fine lines, and rough skin.

Potential Benefits of Red Light for Skin

Reduce Inflammation:

Dr. Nazanin Saedi MD, a clinical associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University and board-certified dermatologist says that the biggest benefit one can get from using red light therapy is reduced inflammation. “Red light is effective at reducing inflammation because it triggers the formation of blood vessels and increases the production of collagen and fibroblasts, all of which cause inflammation to go down,” says Dr. Engelman. Additionally, Dr. Cheung says that red light increases antioxidant production, which helps reduce inflammation.

Improves Acne Scars:

Red light therapy enhances tissue healing as it deeply penetrates the skin, and this may help reduce the visibility of acne scars. As it penetrates the tissues, the light helps repair damaged tissue and promote regeneration. A publication in the National Library of Medicine reveals that infrared light wavelengths are effective in the treatment of acne and acne scarring. We also covered a skincare technology article called Wrinkare 3 in 1 which also shared the same benefits as it also helps in reducing acne scars, skin elasticity, and skin tone.

Increased Collagen and Elastin Production:

Red light therapy in the skin improves fibroblast production, which is the building block for collagen. Collagen helps build skin tissues. Adequate collagen production in the skin improves skin firmness and elasticity, strength, and improve skin appearance. We consulted with Dermatologist Anna Chacon, and she mentioned that red light therapy works by emitting low-level red or near-infrared light wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin. This light stimulates cellular activity, including increased production of collagen and elastin, which are essential proteins for maintaining skin health.

The therapy also promotes wound healing and tissue repair, reduces inflammation, and increases circulation, all of which contribute to healthier skin. According to the Journal of Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, red and infrared therapy treatment has helped patients by boosting collagen production and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

Benefits of Red Light for skinBenefits of Red Light for skin

Decrease Signs of Aging:

As we grow older, the amount of collagen in the body starts to decrease. Since collagen is the fountain of youth, its low levels combined with the effects of sun damage may contribute to saggy skin before its time. Red light therapy stimulates collagen production, which helps fight signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. This gives the skin a youthful appearance.

Smooth’s Fine Lines and Wrinkles:

“By stimulating collagen and elastin production, red light therapy helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, giving skin a more youthful appearance,” says Dr. Engelman. An article in the Photomedicine and Laser Surgery journal explains the efficiency of red light therapy in the reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and the improvement of the skin.

Prevents Breakouts by Killing the Acne-Causing Bacteria:

Research studies support that red and blue infrared light therapy are efficient in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Blue light has antibacterial properties, which help kill acne-causing bacteria under the skin. According to the Indian Dermatology online journal, light-based therapy work to reduce inflammatory acne and acne scarring. The study explains that light absorption stimulates the release of oxygen to the skin and this reactivates free radicals, which have antibacterial effects on acne.

We covered an article called dpl light therapy reviews which helps in reducing acne scars and breakouts and also smoothes wrinkles and fine lines.

Promotes Circulation:

One of the many benefits of red light therapy is that it increases blood circulation after several treatment sessions. This is an indication that the tissues in the body are getting enough supply of oxygen. Light helps the circulatory system and promotes the healing of tissues in the body. According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, light therapy stimulates the dilation of blood vessels to improve blood circulation.

Stimulates Collagen Production:

The combination of low-level red light and near-infrared light therapy may stimulate elastin and collagen production, which are associated with skin aging. Collagen helps improve skin firmness and elasticity gives skin structure, and improves skin strength. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology supports that light-emitting diodes have many cosmetic uses including collagen production.

You can read more about collagen and how red light therapy helps boost collagen.

Brightens Skin and Improves Complexion:

Red light therapy is a painless and non-invasive skin treatment that helps improve skin complexion and brighten its appearance after several sessions. The fact that LED helps eliminate acne and scars, reduce wrinkles, and fade discolorations shows that in the long term, the skin’s appearance will improve.



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LED Light Therapy for Skin vs. Micro-needling

LED Light Therapy for Skin

Light-emitting diode light therapy is a painless and non-invasive skin treatment that deeply penetrates skin layers to improve skin health. Estheticians and dermatologists recommend the use of light therapy for the treatment of skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, acne vulgaris, wrinkles and fine lines, scars, and age spots. Skin experts’ advice on the combination of light therapy with other skin treatment methods for best results.

The good news is that LED light therapy includes at-home devices that you can purchase and use in the comfort of your home. However, office devices such as those found in spas and clinics are more powerful than the devices used at home, which makes them more efficient. LED masks will not allow you to see dramatic results, you have to be patient.

light therapy for skin Vs micro needling

Micro Needling

Micro-needling on the other hand is an invasive cosmetic procedure that involves treating the skin by pricking it with sterilized needles. The tiny wounds caused by prickling help stimulate collagen production, which promotes the regeneration of new tissues. We spoke with Dr. Soma Mandal, Physician, she explains microneedling uses tiny needles to create micro-injuries on the skin, which stimulates the body’s wound healing process and boosts collagen and elastin production. This procedure is often used for reducing scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks. Unlike red light therapy, microneedling is invasive and can cause temporary discomfort, redness, and swelling.

A research published in the National Library of Medicine claims that micro-needling is a new treatment method in dermatology that helps improve skin appearance. Over the years, micro-needling has gained popularity due to its amazing benefits. It claims to plump and rejuvenate the skin without causing discomfort and you may adjust it according to your needs.

It is crucial to understand that, red light therapy differs from other skincare treatments such as laser therapy and microneedling in terms of its mechanism of action and intensity says Laura Geigaite, MD, Cosmetic Dermatologist, as we consulted her. She further added, Unlike laser therapy, which utilizes concentrated beams of light to target specific skin concerns, red light therapy employs low-level wavelengths that penetrate deeper into the skin without causing damage. Similarly, while microneedling involves creating controlled micro-injuries to stimulate collagen production, red light therapy achieves similar results non-invasively through light energy. Additionally, red light therapy is less aggressive than both laser therapy and microneedling, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive skin or those seeking a gentler approach to skincare.

What is Red Light Facial Treatment?

Red light therapy is a new facial technology that shows positive effects in the treatment of redness, wrinkles, acne, fine lines, scars, and other signs of aging. Most researchers claim that red light needs more research to establish that it is effective in the treatment of skin conditions. If you are considering red light therapy talk to your dermatologist to guide you if it is appropriate for your skin condition. Our resource on red light facial solutions here goes to great depth in helping you understand how low wavelengths and led face masks may deeply penetrate the skin to improve its appearance.

Until now, there is still research that is ongoing, publications of clinical trials, and online discussions to determine the effectiveness of red-light therapy on many health uses. Based on most research studies, it is evident that red light therapy is a good treatment for most skin problems. There are many names that describe red light therapy, including low-level laser light therapy, non-thermal LED light, soft laser therapy, Photobiomodulation, photonic stimulation, and phototherapy.

The Take Away:

While LED light therapy is quite expensive, micro-needling is considered a cheaper option, and it does work for most people. Laser treatments also involve using heat on your skin, which may damage the skin’s pigmentation. People with darker complexion usually go for micro-needling and not laser therapy because of pigmentation and other safety concern. The cost of micro needling will depend on the extent of the area you are treating. According to estimates on Dermapen, facial treatments may cost you about $300 per session. On average, you may spend between $100 – $700 per treatment session, and you may need about 4 to 6 sessions.

People often prefer using micro-needling technology on the face. Other than facial treatment, some people use this technology to eliminate stretch marks on the body. The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery discusses the effectiveness of micro-needling in treating stretch marks. Both micro-needling and Red light therapy work by stimulating collagen production, which helps improve skin firmness and elasticity, eliminate wrinkles and fine lines, and improve skin appearance.

Like common cosmetic procedures, both red light therapy and micro-needling may cause skin redness as a minor side effect. This usually goes away on its own. However, should you experience adverse side effects like peeling, bruising, bleeding, or infection, you should consult a dermatologist.

The experiments on red light therapy were started by NASA on the growth of plants in space, and then on wound healing in astronauts. Many people across the world have begun to adopt the use of red light therapy in photodynamic therapy. In photodynamic therapy, red LED therapy helps activate a photosensitizer drug. Red light therapy is used to treat conditions like psoriasis, skin cancer, warts, acne, and other skin conditions.

According to the journal of Biomedical Optics Express, photo dynamics has gained popularity in the dermatology and cosmetic field because of its benefits in skincare. In a clinical trial human fibroblasts were treated with low-level laser therapy and the results showed an increase in collagen production and improved skin appearance in people with aging skin. To help understand more and exactly how in-house and at office red light treatment improves the skin, check our ultimate guide content here.

As we discussed in our review of another red light therapy called a higher dose face mask, there is research that it boosts collagen and skin elasticity.


Q: How frequent can you use red light therapy on your skin?

Q: What does red light do for the skin?

Q: How long does it take to see results from red light therapy on the face?

Q: Should you put red light therapy directly on the skin?

Q: What happens if you use red light therapy every day?

Q: Are at-home devices safe?

Q: Is red light therapy safe for all skin types?

Q: Can red light therapy be used for skin cancer?

Q: Is red light therapy effective for skin tightening?

Q: Can red light therapy cause skin rash or irritation?

Q: Is red light therapy beneficial for reducing redness in the skin?


While there are many skincare gadgets readily available on the market, including jade rollers, dermaplaning tools, and best microdermabrasion at home, dermatologists now recommend red light therapy.

Research supports that Red light color in skin therapy helps stimulate collagen production, increase blood circulation, and reduce skin inflammation. Red light therapy can decrease skin inflammation, increase circulation; treat skin conditions like hyperpigmentation, acne, and psoriasis. Red LED light may be used in combination with green, blue, and yellow light to increase its effectiveness in skin treatment.

You may decide to visit a doctor’s office or buy the at-home device for your skin. Both options are safe and effective on the skin. you need to follow the directions given to you while using the device to avoid negative side effects.

You can check out the Best Tanning Lamps, which are designed for natural tan removal and boost vitamin D production, leaving your skin radiant and glowing.

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.

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