Want glowing skin, improved scar texture, faster healing and wrinkle reduction? It’s time to look into red light.
Red light therapy, which employs low levels of red light, can treat a slew of skin concerns, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The range is said to span sun damage to cellular function — and some researchers say the modality can even help with muscle recovery.
“People are not just looking at the wellness trends in terms of how it’s making them look, but looking at how they’re making them feel as well,” says Shakaila Forbes-Bell, an in-house fashion psychologist at Afterpay.
Red light has been around for years — but now, it’s hit TikTok, with more than 75 million views on the #RedLightTherapy hashtag, and celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Sydney Sweeney and Chrissy Teigen showcasing their red light routines. Unlike some other popular TikTok beauty conversations, like Botox, red light is entirely noninvasive — something that’s drawn in both regular people and celebrity aestheticians, like Joanna Vargas.
Red light therapy comes in many forms: beds, handheld wands, microcurrent devices, masks, sauna blankets, scalp caps and even a device for postpartum tearing.
There’s the Solawave Radiant Renewal Wand, $169, which offers a tiny, red light wand that can be used on the go. Solawave’s celebrity users include Sweeney, Lil Nas X and Nicole Kidman. The device’s newest iteration includes two times the red light and galvanic current, meant to promote product absorption with heat and vibration.
The brand recommends using for 12 minutes across the entire face, said Solawave chief executive officer Andrew Silberstein. “It’s cumulative and all about the exposure to the skin,” Silberstein said.
Those looking to go hands-free may want to turn to red light in mask format, which is available from several different brands. There’s HigherDose’s Red Light Face Mask, $349, Dr. Dennis Gross’ DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, $455, Gleamy Lab’s Eyemazing patches, $194 and CurrentBody’s Skin LED Eye Perfector, $249.
NuFace is also launching a new red light attachment for its Trinity+ microcurrent device called The Wrinkle Reducer, meant to spot treat areas more prone to fine lines, such as around the eyes or mouth.
“The closer you get to the skin the better,” says Tera Peterson, cofounder and chief creative officer of NuFace. “The fact that you could actually place our red lights right on the skin, the skin is actually absorbing it at a better, faster rate.”
Vargas, whose celebrity clients include Rachel Brosnahan and Mindy Kaling, implements red light into her studios, noting that she feels it speeds up healing and is good for both the face and body. She developed the RevitaLight Bed, which is meant to improve the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles and scarring.
“It addresses inflammation, it addresses collagen stimulation, and it speeds up the healing of the body by 300 percent,” says Vargas. “I could use it after a peel or microneedling or laser… The red light would help heal it faster.”
When using a red light therapy bed, Vargas recommends a weekly 30 minute session for six weeks for best results.
For targeted healing, Mommy Matters has launched a NeoHeat Perineal Healing Device, $179, which employs red and infrared light meant to help repair damage from childbirth by boosting blood flow, reducing inflammation and leading to internal and external tissue healing.
Joovv’s handheld panel device, Go 2.0, $649, can be used to target certain body parts. The brand also offers a full-body panel, the Solo 3.0, $1,699. The HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket, $699, claims its infrared technology boosts metabolism, promotes the appearance of skin, improves sleep and detoxes the body.
The at-home sauna blanket “can be much more seamless,” says HigherDose cofounder and co-CEO Katie Kaps.
While it’s still being studied, dermatologists and hair transplant surgeons are bullish on red light therapy for hair growth, and a study from Annals of Dermatology shows that five to 10 minutes of 650 nanometer red light over time could promote hair growth.
“Red light therapy effectively stimulates the scalp area, causing an increase in blood flow to the hair follicle. This then prompts the cells to divide and grow, increasing the opportunity for protein growth and nutrient delivery to the hair follicles,” said hairstylist, trichologist and founder of Act + Acre Helen Reavey.
For at-home use, New York City-based hair transplant surgeon and owner of Ziering Medical Dr. Craig Ziering offers a baseball-style cap covered in red light called the ZCap (LaserCap) HD+, $3,000.
As with most at-home treatments, compliance is key, and regular use is what will yield results, experts say.
“You need to invest some time in order to see a good result,” said Vargas. “Quality matters, and doing a bit of research before you purchase something is really recommended, but other than that there’s nothing to fear.”