Red Light Therapy: 5 FAQs + The Answers You Need to Know

woman with youthful skin using red light wand

Written by Founder, Amir Karam MD

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Since I’ve spent the last 20 years in facial rejuvenation, I’ve always found it interesting to watch how trends and treatments evolve or shift over time.

For example, 5-10 years ago, if you wanted to benefit from Red Light Therapy, you had to go into an office for a scheduled treatment. At my office, we had these large red light panels that patients would come in and use for 30 minutes at a time, and that was about the extent of red light therapies that were available. 

Today, with advancements in technology and accessibility, Red Light Therapy has undergone a remarkable transformation, making it more convenient and accessible, and therefore more popular in recent years. 

Not only has red light gained traction everywhere from social media to celebrity endorsement, it is also widely available at gyms, medispas, or health and wellness centers. And now, with the rise of at-home devices, users can experience the therapy's benefits from the comfort of their own homes.

With that, there are now a lot of different devices to choose from. I’ve been asked this question several times since I wrote an article about the science and skin benefits of Red Light Therapy a couple of months ago. So, today I wanted to take some time to write another article to answer some of our community’s most commonly asked question about Red Light Therapy.

A Quick Intro: Red Light vs. Near-Infrared Light 

Red Light Therapy, also referred to as photobiomodulation (or PBM), is a non-invasive treatment, that exposes the skin to low levels of red or near-infrared light. 

This red light and near-infrared light pass the light energy to your cells--essentially giving them their morning cup of coffee, waking them up, stimulating them, and enabling them to perform their functions more efficiently. Red light and near-infrared light both have a wide range of potential benefits in health and rejuvenation, but the two differ in terms of wavelength and how they each interact with the skin and body. 

Red light typically utilizes shorter wavelengths of red light, visible to the human eye. This shorter wavelength primarily interacts with the surface layers of your body, like the skin and hair. This stimulates and strengthens the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) giving the cell more energy to repair and regenerate. Red light has been shown to help enhance wound healing and hair growth, and treat various skin conditions from rashes to rosacea, while also promoting collagen production to help fight signs of aging and improve your overall complexion

Near-infrared light employs longer wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum. Due to its longer wavelength, near-infrared light can penetrate deeper within the body, increasing blood circulation to help the body’s repair process for tissues, muscles, organ functioning, joints, nerves, and even bones. The non-visible light is working on your non-visible cells, and this deeper penetration makes near-infrared light beneficial for reducing inflammationalleviating pain, and accelerating recovery

Red Light Therapy has gained immense popularity in the skincare realm for anti-aging benefits. Studies have shown red light helps to improve skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation, improve skin texture and roughness, and increase collagen density, which is vital for skin structure, elasticity, and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

Answering Your FAQs: What You Need to Know When Starting Red Light Therapy

Given its remarkable array of benefits, it's clear why Red Light Therapy is garnering increasing attention. And, with the added convenience of being able to conduct treatments at home, on your own time, it's now easier than ever to incorporate this healthy habit into your self-care regimen.

However, with the influx of new products on the market, selecting the ideal at-home red light device can be challenging.

Since I've been asked these questions a lot, this week I've compiled a Q&A addressing five common questions I’ve received to help get you started:


“Can you recommend a specific device?”

There are various at-home Red Light Therapy devices available: handheld wands, panels, masks, and even smaller spot treatment devices. Choose one that suits your needs and preferences, considering factors such as size, portability, and intended use. 

Smaller devices, like wands or face masks, are highly portable and lightweight.

If you are primarily focusing on stimulating collagen production for anti-aging and skin health, these smaller devices that emit only red light are sufficient.

If you want to target areas of pain and inflammation as well, you may want to invest in a combination device that uses both red light and near-infrared light. The combination devices have both the longer infrared wavelengths that can penetrate tissues, muscles, and joints, along with the red light for skin health. 

When looking for your device:

  • 660nm is more common for skin benefits
  • 850nm is more for pain management and recovery 


“What do I need to look for in a device?”

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) are a specific kind of light. Red Christmas lights or novelty red light bulbs are not going to work, because they are actually white light being passed through red film, not true red light like what is emitted from an LED.

You need to make sure you are getting something with red LEDs, and not just a red bulb.

From there, you want to look for “irradiance.”

Irradiance is the measurement of the device's intensity.

This intensity can vary based on the light energy output of the device + its distance from your skin. If you don’t have enough irradiance, then you aren’t going to get enough intensity to make changes to your skin. An irradiance around 110 is a good number to look for. The lower this number, the longer you will need to use the device.

Also remember, the more LED lights on the device, the more saturation.

So larger LED lights on red light panels will deliver more light energy to the skin. Similarly, a higher density of lights on a mask, for example, will increase effectiveness and reduce treatment time.


“How often should I do Red Light Therapy to get benefits?”

Like any therapy or treatment, consistency is key.

Establish a regular schedule for red light therapy sessions to maximize your benefits.

I use my red light cap to strengthen the collagen production for my hair growth for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. If you want to check out my Red Light Therapy YouTube video, I wear red light cap and speak more about how Red Light Therapy has also been beneficial for collagen production to stimulate hair growth.

Typically, most red light sessions range between 10 to 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week, depending on the device’s size and intensity, and may go down to 2 to 3 times per week after you have obtained your desired results. Some devices can take as little as 3 minutes every day, depending on the intended purpose of the treatment. 

Of course, each device is different, so pay attention to the recommended duration for each session based on the device's specifications. Starting with shorter sessions and gradually increasing the duration as tolerated can be a good approach, especially if you're new to red light therapy.

Do not use it longer or more often than directed. You don’t have to overdo it, this can be an unnecessary risk. Just be consistent with your treatment schedule for the best results. 


"Are there any risks with Red Light Therapy?”

While Red Light Therapy is generally regarded as a safe treatment option, it's always important to acknowledge potential risks when trying something new. Before incorporating this therapy into your routine, ensure that you are aware of any underlying conditions or concerns that may affect its suitability for you. If you have any questions, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before initiating any form of red light treatment.

Your safety and well-being should always take precedence when exploring new wellness practices.

  • If you have a history of seizures or health conditions that make you sensitive to light, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider before starting red light therapy to ensure there are no potential adverse interactions.
  • Red Light Therapy devices can emit heat, especially those that also utilize infrared light (this is how infrared saunas work), so people who are sensitive to heat or prone to overheating should consider lower-intensity settings or shorter sessions. 
  • Certain medications, skincare products, or medical conditions can increase sensitivity to light, including red light. People with photosensitive conditions, or those taking photosensitizing medications should consult their healthcare professional.
  • While there is limited research on the effects of red light therapy during pregnancy, it's generally recommended to avoid it since there is insufficient evidence to determine its safety for pregnant individuals and developing fetuses.
  • Eye protection is tricky, and is not always a requirement with red light, because the wavelengths are safe for the eyes, but the brightness is not. You should treat red light panels like the sun, if you’re squinting, the light is too bright and you need eye protection. Always avoid looking directly at the light source during treatment, keep your eyes closed, or choose a device that is flush to the face during use, so your eyes are not staring directly into the light. 

I reiterate, follow the directions for the device, and look for FDA-approved products, which means the manufacturer has submitted documentation for review, and their device has been deemed safe for the intended at-home use.


"How do I get the best results from Red Light Therapy?”

Stay Patient and Persistent

Your body takes 28 days to shed and replace your old damaged cells with new strengthened cells; similarly, the collagen in your body undergoes a turnover process approximately every 90 days. So, with consistent red light use, you should notice a difference within 1-3 months, and just like your skincare, the results will continue to improve over time as long as you continue treatment.

Cleanse Skin Before Treatment

Red light does not penetrate through mineral-based sunscreen, make-up (or clothing). Ensure your skin is clean and free of any lotions, creams, or makeup before each session. This allows the light to penetrate the skin more effectively.

Note: If you are using Trifecta, cleanse first with Rinse to remove any sunscreen from the day or remaining products from the night before. With a fresh face, do your red light session, and finish your self-care routine with Qunech and Illuminate

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before and after red light therapy sessions to help support cellular function and enhance the body's response to treatment.

Pair With a Proactive Skincare Routine

Active ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C, and Niacinamide, can complement the benefits of Red Light Therapy by working in tandem to target specific skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and texture, enhancing skin rejuvenation, collagen production, hydration, strengthened barrier function, and improved overall radiance and resilience.

Don’t Forget Sun Protection

Exposure to UV light from the sun can counteract the positive effects of Red Light Therapy and exacerbate skin damage, leading to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Therefore, using sun protection daily is a critical practice to protect the skin, and make sure you don’t undo the benefits of your red light therapy.


Consistency is the key to anything worthwhile. Consistent use of Red Light Therapy is essential to seeing optimal results. Establish a regular schedule–whether it's shorter sessions daily or longer sessions several times per week, stick with it. Consider this a lifelong health habit, just like exercise, eating healthy, and of course, the consistent use of your skincare routine.

Red Light Therapy: A Holistic Approach to Skincare

I hope these FAQs help kickstart your journey into at-home Red Light Therapy. I am a big proponent of using red light; I use it myself and am always happy to share any knowledge I have in regards to helping keep your skin in optimal health. 

Just like the active ingredients in skincare, red light has a remarkable ability to make changes on a cellular level. This means the more consistent you are, and the longer you commit to the process, the more noticeable changes you will see.

With consistent use of red light sessions, you're stimulating collagen production, which in turn leads to improvements in fine lines, wrinkles, skin elasticity, and a more youthful complexion, while also promoting cellular regeneration to increase your body’s overall health, wellness, and vitality. 

By integrating Red Light Therapy into your skincare regimen alongside consistent daily skincare like Trifecta and sun protection, you're prioritizing both the immediate and long-term health of your skin.

This proactive approach not only addresses existing concerns but also helps prevent future damage, ensuring that your skin remains resilient, radiant, and youthful-looking for years to come. 

Amir Karam MD

Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon
Founder / Creator of KaramMD Skin

Dr. Amir Karam is a renowned facial cosmetic surgeon and an authority in his field. With over two decades of experience helping patients achieve a younger, refreshed appearance. In addition to surgical procedures that sculpt a youthfully-defined facial shape, Dr. Karam takes the quality of the skin into account.

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