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Justin Strahan

The Definitive Guide to Choosing a Red Light Therapy Device

Light therapyor photobiomodulation (PBM) as it’s technically calledis quickly becoming a popular form of treatment for an incredible number of health and fitness issues. And it's easy to see why; the clinical evidence supporting the benefits of red and near infrared light is extensive.  

Let’s assume you already understand how PBM works and are aware of its many advantages. Maybe you’ve reviewed the clinical studies, seen some before and after photos, or even know someone who has personally experienced the healing and rejuvenating power of PBM.

In other words, you’re a believer—and that’s great! But what’s next?  

Do a quick Google search and you’ll discover the myriad of different light therapy options to choose from. In some states, you can go to tanning salons where the beds have been converted to use red light bulbs. Some spas, physical therapists, and medical doctors offer PBM services as well. Alternatively, you can purchase a device to use in your own home.

With so many options, how do you know which one is right for you? This article was written to simplify the decision-making process and help you answer that question.

Pay Attention to Wavelength and Delivered Energy

To maximize the benefits of light therapy, there are two main factors to consider: the wavelength and intensity of light energy.  

Let’s start with wavelengths. While most devices deliver red light between 630-700 nm, you’ll also see ranges from almost orange (600 nm) all the way to 800-900 nm, which is in the near-infrared range. So, which wavelength is the best?

You can find published studies that show benefits from virtually all of these wavelengths. However, the bulk of clinical literature suggests that light in the mid-600 nm range and low- to mid-800 nm range is extremely effective. [1,2] That’s because these wavelengths have the greatest effect on the cellular respiration process.

Cytochrome C Oxidase (CCO) Activation by Red and NIR light

As you can see in the graph above, at certain wavelengths, there are several peaks in the cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) absorption of photons. [3] The highest of these peaks are in the ranges of 660-670 nm and 830-850 nm. These wavelengths have been proven to produce substantial improvements in cellular function, resulting in a wide range of health benefits. On the other hand, wavelengths such as 700 nm or 720 nm have almost no biological effects. So, it's critical to choose a device that delivers optimal wavelengths of light.

Now let’s talk about intensity, which governs the amount of energy delivered to your cells. NASA-supported research and many other published studies have utilized devices that deliver 4 to 6 Joules/cm2 of energy to the body. For the relief of deeper symptoms, like joint inflammation, up to 40 Joules/cm2 has been shown to be effective. [4,5]

Since we know the amount of energy delivered is critical, it's important to understand how to compare light therapy devices. Unfortunately, many companies don't publish the light output—or irradiance—of their devices, and some even avoid disclosing device wattages as well. It's safe to assume these products should be avoided.  Any legitimate PBM device will disclose the irradiance in mW/cm2, or sometimes the energy delivered in Joules/cm2 per minute. For example, because we use proprietary electrostatic-coated LED lenses, the irradiance from a Joovv is over 100 mW/cm2.  

Presuming this type of information is available, you can calculate the Joules by multiplying the irradiance by time (in seconds) divided by 1000.

For example, let's say a device has an output of 17 mW/cm2. The calculation is as follows:

17 mW/cmx 60 seconds / 1000 = 1.02 Joules/cm2 per minute

For comparison purposes, using approximate irradiance measurements, the per-minute calculation of a Joovv looks like this:

100 mW/cm2 x 60 seconds / 1000 = 6 Joules/cm2 per minute

As mentioned before, for benefits related to skin health, clinical research has demonstrated that a total dosage of 4-6 Joules/cm2 can be effective. But for deep tissue treatment, sometimes dosages in excess of 60 Joules/cm2 can be beneficial.  With an underpowered PBM device, this could take over an hour. But with the Joovv, you can receive an effective amount of energy in just 10 minutes.

In summary, the equation is fairly straightforward. As the power of the device increases, the amount of time you need to use it decreases. And as you can see, the power output of the Joovvs sets them apart from other devices, providing users an effective treatment in a much shorter amount of time.

How Does Red Light Therapy Fit Into Your Life?

Once you understand wavelength and power, you should then consider lifestyle implications. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do I have time to drive to a daily appointment for light therapy sessions?
  • Do I have a budget that allows for ongoing treatment plans at a salon, spa, or medical practice?   
  • Do I have family members to consider as well?  

Many of our customers first experienced the benefits of red light therapy by purchasing sessions at a salon or spa. In fact, two of our cofounders were introduced to red light therapy through a local salon. But we’ve found that most people consider ongoing sessions to be inconvenient and expensive. It’s just too difficult to get to a salon or spa 4-5 times a week on a consistent basis. Plus, over time, the costs really add up.

The majority of people eventually want to experience the convenience of light therapy in the comfort of their own home. Through a one-time investment, this approach allows everyone in their family to utilize light therapy on a consistent basis.

What Areas of Your Body are You Trying to Treat?

Are you intending to treat just your face? Or do you want your entire body to experience the benefits of red and infrared light? Many of our customers started out using PBM to treat wrinkles or stretch marksbut they later realized it can help with muscle recovery, joint pain, and even wound care.

Most PBM devices cover such a small treatment area that it would require 20-30 minutes just to treat your faceand even more time to treat other areas of your body. To better understand this, let's compare an average handheld light therapy device to the Joovv Mini.

All things considered, a decent handled PBM device should have similar output to the Joovv Mini (approx. 4 J in about 4 minutes). However, even the best handheld devices will only treat a surface area of about 5-8 square inches. The Joovv Mini, on the other hand, can treat a surface area of about 250 square inches. At over 20 times the size, that's a major difference!

Therefore, carefully consider the intensity of the light output as well as the size of the area that your device can treat.

Don’t Settle for a Substandard Product

Just because you're after an in-home device doesn’t mean you should settle for light therapy that’s subpar or less powerful. Treatments with a device designed for the clinical setting can cost over $100 per session. And achieving the results you want typically requires several sessions per week. All in, this option is out of financial reach for the majority of people.

If you fall into this group and end up choosing an in-home device, don't sacrifice on its power output. Make sure that it delivers enough intensity at the right wavelength.  

Utilizing the latest LED technology, we’ve modeled the Joovv after devices designed for the professional setting. We wanted a device that we could use at home, yet was powerful enough to see quick results, even for deep tissue healing. Depending on what symptoms you're trying to treat, using any of the Joovv devices, you can experience the rejuvenating power of PBM in just 5-10 minutes per day. In addition, with an industry-leading 2-year warranty and LEDs rated to last over 50,000 hours, the durability of the Joovv is hard to match.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another in-home device that provides that same amount of power over a similar treatment area at a reasonable price.

Summary: Consider These 4 Questions Before Purchasing Your Light Therapy Device

In summary, ask yourself these 4 questions before purchasing a red light therapy device:

  1. How large of a treatment area do I want?
  2. How much time do I have for each treatment session?
  3. How convenient is the device to use (and store)?
  4. How long will the device last?

Admittedly, we're biasedbut we think the Joovv should rank near the top of your list. Unparalleled value, superior power output, and unmatched treatment areathat’s the Joovv difference.

Scientific Sources and Medical References:

[1] Avci P, Gupta A, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Mar 2013;32(1):41-52.

[2] de Almeida P1, Lopes-Martins RA, De Marchi T, et al. Red (660 nm) and infrared (830 nm) low-level laser therapy in skeletal muscle fatigue in humans: what is better? Lasers Med Sci. 2012 Mar;27(2):453-8.

[3] Karu, T. I., Pyatibrat, L. V., Kalendo, G. S. and Esenaliev, R. O. Effects of monochromatic low-intensity light and laser irradiation on adhesion of HeLa cells in vitro. Lasers Surg Med. 1996;18:171–177.

[4] Wunsch A and Matuschka K. 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. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Feb 2014;32(2):93-100.

[5] Baroni BM1, Rodrigues R, Freire BB, et al. Effect of low-level laser therapy on muscle adaptation to knee extensor eccentric training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Mar;115(3):639-47.


The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It's not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.

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