How to Take Years off your Skin in 3 Minutes a Day. Science Says; You Can!

Is Red Light Therapy the key to reversing aging?

Having worked in beauty since I was 18 years old (44 now), I am no stranger to brands over-promising miracle results from all types of creams and tools. That's, in fact, one of the reasons why I left the industry (well, kind of) and founded The Beauty Doctrine where I offer unbiased opinions on beauty products. I also curate the best products, not for their promises, but efficacy and compatibility with sensitive skin. My primary goal isn't to represent any given brand, but rather guide the consumer to the best beauty choices possible.

Having been on this journey for over a year now, I've gotten to test and experiment with hundreds of products. And there is only one that stood out that I am convinced is well deserving of the expression 'miracle product'. I say that for good reason; my own personal experience. The productI'm referring to is more like a category: LED Red Light Therapy devices.

I posted a video on Tiktok that went viral overnight showing the before and after results that I got, in a short 8 weeks, from using LED Therapy. I didn't set out, from the start to document my use of LED therapy, but after noticing a notable improvement, I reviewed older videos and saw the progression in my skin. Here are photos from recent months:

The Beauty Doctrine Transformation with LED Light Therapy

Viral video: Watch it here on Instagram.


As expected, I got a ton of pushback by many skeptics, so I sat in my office for weeks reading countless studies, trying to understand the how and the why. I had to figure out what exactly got me such unbelievable results, literally.

This article, I hope, is the comprehensive answer to those questions. I tried to summarize what science found, linking some studies as well as devices that have been cleared by the FDA. 

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to share in the comment section, below. I'll be checking :)

So here we go...

What's LED Light Therapy?

Red Light Therapy (RTL) is a modality that's been increasing in popularity in the last few decades. It's known by various names; Low Power Laser Therapy (LPLT), Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), Cold Laser Therapy, Soft Laser Therapy, Photobiomodulation (PBM), Biostimulation and Photonicstimulation.

LED Phototherapy emits light into the skin at specific wavelengths, triggering chemical reactions, energizing the mitochondria and increasing its function, consequently speeding up its repair mechanisms. This results in various benefits, slowing down the overall aging process of our cells.

When was Red Light Therapy discovered?

Red light therapy first came into practice in the medical field, in 1903, when Danish physicist Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for his invention of light therapy for skin tuberculosis.

In the 90's, RTL was used by NASA to grow plants in space. It was found that the LED's (light-emitting diodes) promoted growth and photosynthesis in plant cells. But coincidentally the scientist's skin lesions began to heal faster as.

Embarking on further studies, NASA tested red light therapy on astronauts and discovered its ability to improve cellular function and combat the negative effects of living in space. According to a NASA-led abstract from 2002, “LEDs stimulate the basic energy processes in the mitochondria (energy compartments) of each cell,” and experimentation with an LED device was found to be effective in the prevention of bone and muscle atrophy.

NASA’s findings led scientist to further study Red Light for potential application in medicine. They believed that RTL's could potentially increase energy inside human cells. and started looking at the application of red low-level wavelengths of light to help treat issues such as wound healing for diabetics and to ease chemo effects on cancer patients.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted and lead to promising conclusions that supported the initial theories that LTR can be helpful in treating many medical as well as cosmetic conditions, including psoriasis, rosacea, wrinkles, discoloration and stretch marks. Scientist are now looking at the potential in treating depression and other mental health issues.

How does Red Light Therapy work?

It's believed that red light produces a biochemical effect in cells which strengthens the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the part where cell’s energy is created. 

Increasing the function of the mitochondria, the cell can make more energy, enabling cells to rejuvenate themselves, and repair damage.

Red Light Therapy isn't to be confused with Lasers or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). While the latter causes controlled damage to the epidermis to stimulate skin regeneration, RLT doesn't cause any damage to the skin surface. It goes deeper into the dermis (about 5 millimeters) to stimulate cells' energy, hence improving their function.

What's Red LED Therapy used for?

While additional clinical research is needed to prove the extent to which RTL is effective, there's a growing body of evidence pointing to positive results when treating the following:

  • Speeding up wound healing and tissue repair.
  • Stimulate hair growth for those suffering from androgenic alopecia
  • Reduce Psoriasis lesions
  • Sunburn reduction
  • Increasing skin radiance and glow
  • boosting collagen production and reducing wrinkles
  • Helping with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Prevent recurring cold sores and speed up their healing
  • Improve joint health and reduce inflammation
  • Reduce scarring
  • Treat hyper-pigmentation
  • Help ease some chemo therapy side effects
  • Post laser recovery

There are other conditions where RTL is still in experimental stages, needing further evidence:

  • Weight loss
  • Depression 
  • body detoxification
  • Cancer
  • Immune boosting

Is Red Light Therapy safe?

Red light therapy is non-toxic, non-invasive, and an affordable alternative to prescription drugs and harsh topical treatments. Dozens of studies have found it to be safe with negligible side effects.

LED differs from other types of light therapy treatments in that it doesn't contain ultraviolet (UV) rays, so there is no risk of cancer-causing damage to skin tissue.

What are Red Light Therapy side effects?

Based on current research, RLT is considered safe for most to use, especially for cosmetic purposes. A few incidents were reported involving burns when users fell asleep during the treatment or due to broken wires. So it is important to follow the directions of use and select a device that's FDA cleared.

It is also important to note that Light Therapy treatment isn't yet FDA approved for use for various medical conditions. So while I enjoy using my LED devices for various cosmetic reasons,  I don't recommend self-diagnosing or self-treating when medical issues are present or suspected. If you are on certain medications, it is extremely important to check with your doctor prior to committing to any treatment, including Red Light Therapy.

What's Infrared Light (IL) and how is it used?

Infrared Light is different from LED Red Light in that it uses heat & penetrates the skin between 5 & 10mm (deeper than red light). This makes it effective in treating cellulite scars and wounds.

Are combination treatments of LED and Infrared Light effective?

Studies have shown impressive results when the two technologies are combined. One prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, and split-face clinical study on LED phototherapy showed significant reductions in wrinkles (maximum: 36%) and increases in skin elasticity (maximum: 19%) compared to baseline. The study used wavelengths combination of 830 and 633nm. The therapy was well-tolerated by all patients showing no adverse effects. The scientists concluded that 830 and 633nm LED phototherapy is an effective approach for skin rejuvenation.

A similar study's electron microscopic analysis showed evidence of post-LED treatment of thicker collagen fibers.

A study using Omnilux hand-held device with combination of lED & Infrared light showed 74% of the subjects reported a visible improvement in fine lines and wrinkles at 8 weeks post-treatment.

Who should avoid using LED Red Light Therapy?

  • Women that are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Children 12 years or younger.
  • Those taking medications  such as lithium, melatonin, phenothiazine antipsychotics, and certain antibiotics.
  • Those with diseases involving the retina of the eye.
  • Do not use if you have albinism
  • Do not use if you suffer from photosensitive eczema
  • Do not use if you have lupus erythematosus
  • Additional list of precautions related to medications & light sensitivity.

What are some LED Light Therapy best practices and counter indications?

  • Use on clean skin after removing all make up, sunscreen and oils
  • Use as close to the skin as possible to prevent light scattering
  • Follow the recommended time per device manual
  • Use in the AM to help with UV protection
  • Follow with skincare and sun protection
  • Do not use on broken skin
  • Use goggles to protect your eyes
  •  Do not use when tired or falling asleep (burns have been reported when users fell asleep with the device on)
  • Do not use longer than recommended.
  • Do not use LED light following the application of any ingredients that may cause photosensitivity. Examples:
    • St John's wort
    • Coal tar
    • Deodorants
    • Antibacterial soaps
    • Petroleum products
    • Brightening agents 

Is Light Therapy safe for thyroid conditions?

This is the question I get asked the most. Based on this study, LED or Infrared light are both deemed safe to use for people with hypothyroidism. In fact, some improvement was noted. A similar study concluded that LLLT promoted the improvement of thyroid function in patients that had Chronic Autoimmune Thyroditis.

Another study showed that near infrared light increases the production of T4 improving thyroid function and aiding the body in healing itself from the type of mitochondrial dysfunction caused by EMF's. However, I suggest using a device that has a setting for Red Light separate from a setting for Infrared Light. This provides the option of using red light daily, which uses infrared mostly for the body (inflammation and pain), and for those seeking help with Thyroid function. The reason for this is some recent research I came across indicating potential side effects of infrared light.

Kanjo is the only device I was able to find with those separate settings. But if you need blue light, you may consider Revive Panel, below.

How to choose an LED Light Therapy Device?

 First and foremost, your device needs to be:

  • Medical grade
  • FDA-cleared
  • Use optimal wavelengths:
    • Red: 630 - 660nm
    • Blue: 415 - 465nm 


Reduce acne and post-breakout inflammation with the Solawave Bye Acne, an FDA-cleared, award-winning, 3-minute Light Therapy treatment. Bye Acne uses the power of Red Light Therapy and Blue Light Therapy to target and treat pimples and breakouts for long-term results. Bye Acne is portable, pain-free, and non-invasive. 




The Exesas Innovative Dual-Chip Red Light Therapy Device for Full Body is a multifunctional tool designed to enhance overall wellness. This device aids in achieving beautiful skin, improving performance, better sleep quality, easing aches, enhancing mental acuity, and managing stress and relaxation. Its versatility allows you to use it while working out, watching TV, studying, relaxing, or lying down. With the option to activate RED and IR lights separately or together, you can customize your therapy sessions to suit your needs. 



Relieve pain effortlessly with the Advarays Red Light Therapy Infrared Pad. Packed with targeted wavelengths, it penetrates deeply to soothe aches and promote natural healing. Rediscover well-being joyfully and bid discomfort farewell for a revitalized, pain-free lifestyle.




  • Desired outcome

 If your only concern is collagen production and firmness, then opt for a device that only offers red & infrared light (no blue light). Whereas, if your main concern is acne, then the best option would be a blue light handheld device. And of, course a device that offers both if you have multiple concerns.

  • Convenience and portability
 As long as you select an FDA-cleared device you should expect to have a device that's safe to use and that delivers results. But additional variables to consider are the quality of materials, whether you want to be able to walk around your house wearing the device (chargeable & battery operated), and the length of time required for treatment.
  • Price

Price is a big factor, impacting purchase decisions. So I have included it in my breakdown, below. Often, the price reflects the cost and size of the materials, not the technology alone. Again, all listed devices have been FDA-cleared for safety and efficacy.

  • Potential for hyper-pigmentation

I used to love and recommend wearable silicone red light devices. However, I no longer recommend them due to the close proximity of light to the skin. Even with high-quality products, there is an increased potential for photosensitivity and hyperpigmentation as the energy source is touching the skin. So, I now only use a panel at a distance. Kanjo is my top choice. More on the device here.

What are some FDA-cleared devices?

Getting medical device clearance by the FDA is a time-consuming, expensive, and rigorous process. When medical device manufacturers pursue FDA-clearance, they are demonstrating accountability and commitment to providing safe and effective products. 

FDA-clearance means that the device  has been confirmed efficacious and safe when used as directed. To grant FDA clearance, each component of the device must pass inspection - including each of its sources, suppliers, and manufacturers.  

Understanding the function of each LED Light color?

         Light Therapy Penetration


While there is still some controversy on whether yellow and green lights have any impact on the skin, there are hundreds of studies that concluded that blue, amber, red and infrared lights have documented results in treating various conditions.

Each LED light penetrates the skin at a different level, treating various layers and concerns. Here is a quick guide on the recommended wavelengths and corresponding primary functions:  

  • Blue 415nm: Eliminating acne-causing bacteria, reducing pigmentation & improving skin texture.
  • Amber 605nm: Brightening and treating hyperpigmentation.
  • Red 630nm: Boost collagen and elastin networks, DNA & RNA repair, and inflammation, and increase cellular activity.
  • Deep red 660nmBoost collagen and elastin networks, DNA & RNA repair, and inflammation, and increase cellular activity.
  • Infrared 880nm: Pain management, and inflammation.


Can I use a serum or a moisturizer before Light Therapy treatment?

There is so much conflicting information on the internet regarding this topic, including LED light manufacturers. So I resorted to the conditions under which some successful studies were conducted, as well as opinion of dermatologists that were interviewed on this topic. I am also applying my expertise with ingredients, having been a skincare expert for over two decades.

What everyone agrees on is that sunscreen and minerals of any sort are a definite 'no' before treatment as they would reflect the light back. Another product that comes up often is the application of a masque. There is even an LED brand that promotes their mask to be used before the LED treatment. The general consensus is that this is a bad idea. Ideally, you'd want as few barriers as possible between the light and your skin.

All that being said, the best practice is to conduct the treatment on clean skin with no skincare, even a serum. This will allow the light to get absorbed by the skin as intended, as well as minimize the risk of potential skin discoloration that could result from an interaction with the infrared and certain oils.

What skincare should I use after LED Red Light Therapy Treatment?

If using Red Light Therapy, it's highly likely that you're seeking firmer and more youthful skin. For that, you'd need a serum that combines powerful Peptides, Vitamin A, Antioxidants, and Hyaluronic Acid. My recommendations in this category are Graydon Fullmoon Serum or Earth Harbor Celestine. Both are clean and natural options, that are also suitable for sensitive skin types.

I recommend following this step with an oil-based serum geared toward brightening and moisturizing the skin. Great options are Barrier Repair Serum or Henne Organics Illumine.

Lastly, I suggest using  Blubiome, a great moisturizer that's not only advanced in its anti-aging properties, but is also clean, natural, fragrance-free, and best of all; restores the skin's microbiome, supporting the epidermis. This can easily be incorporated into your AM or PM routine. It's also suitable for all skin types.


Not sure what skincare to get? Book a consultation with Nadia here.

Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!


Additional references:


A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase

Light-emitting Diodes- A Brief Review and Clinical Experience

Augmentation of wound healing using monochromatic infrared energy. Exploration of a new technology for wound management

A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, and split-face clinical study on LED phototherapy for skin rejuvenation: clinical, profilometric, histologic, ultrastructural, and biochemical evaluations and comparison of three different treatment settings

A study to determine the efficacy of a novel handheld light-emitting diode device in the treatment of photoaged skin

Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss

Clinical trial of a novel non-thermal LED array for reversal of photoaging: clinical, histologic, and surface profilometric results

As a blogger, my content may include affiliate links from advertisers. I may earn a small commission from actions readers take on these links such as a purchase, or subscribe. All my recommendations are based on my own research and personal trust in the products that I share. I am not a doctor or nutritionist. Please consult with your practitioner prior to using any products recommended.
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Esthetician Vancouver

Amazing article! I am looking for the procedure of LED Therapy and this article clears my all doubts. I live in Canada and thinking of getting this treatment at EM’s Esthetics in Vancouver. Thank you for sharing informative content.

Esthetician Vancouver 03/03/2022

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