Skin Health and Red Light Therapy

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Taking care of your skin is vital for your overall health, not just the way you look (although that’s important too). Skin plays a huge role in everything from immunity, to body temperature, to hormone regulation. Red light therapy treatments with a high-quality device can enhance cellular function, and support healthier skin across your entire body. In this article, we explain why skin health is so important, and give an overview of how red light therapy can have a positive effect on the skin.

Why is Skin Important for Overall Health?

Skin is our largest organ, and it’s the first line of defense for our bodies and immune system. The skin also plays a central role in key body processes like blood circulation, hormone production, and temperature control. Here’s a look at some of the most important functions of the skin:

Protection and Immunity: The skin is our barrier to the dangers of the world. It protects us from the dirt and debris we can see, and from invisible invaders like germs and diseases. Skin is an essential component of a healthy immune system, fighting off risks from allergens, toxins, and carcinogens at the surface. [1]

Circulation and Repair: Skin is also central to our circulatory system, and good blood circulation is needed for healthy skin. Blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients to the skin, and removes carbon dioxide and waste products. When skin is injured, circulating blood delivers proteins and cells needed for skin repair and restores peripheral blood circulation. [2]

Storage and Hormone Production: The deeper layers of our skin are also vital storerooms for water, fat, and metabolic products. Our skin also produces key hormones such as Vitamin D, which is made when the skin is exposed to sunlight. [1]

Temperature Regulation: The skin is essential to body temperature regulation, protecting you from heat or cold, and helping to prevent dehydration. [1]

Beauty: Your skin plays a much larger role than just appearance, but that doesn’t mean appearance isn’t important too. Skin is central to how we perceive ourselves, and how others view us. That affects self-esteem and mental health every day.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or t low level laser therapy (LLLT), is a simple, non-invasive treatment that delivers wavelengths of red and near infrared (NIR) light to the skin and cells. The term “red light therapy” here refers to treatments from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that deliver specific wavelengths of red and NIR light to the skin and cells. You can learn more about red light therapy here.

Red light therapy works by enhancing cellular function. Wavelengths of red and NIR light have been shown to stimulate the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, and can optimize the cellular respiration process that makes ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy. [3] Red light therapy treatments are quick and easy, at about 10 minutes per session, allowing a person to supplement the sunlight they get from their environment with specific wavelengths of red and NIR light that are needed for healthy skin and cells. Want to dive deeper into how red light therapy works at the cellular level? Check out this article.

Taking in light is crucial for skin health, and overall health and wellness. Our bodies work better and even look better when our cells are in a state of balance, or homeostasis. Red and NIR light promotes balance across the body and skin by enhancing the cellular environment, making energy production more efficient, with less inflammation and oxidative stress. When your cells are in greater balance, your skin will look and feel softer and more invigorated. That inner balance is ideal for outer beauty. Learn more about the importance of light and balance here.

Supporting Skin Health with Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy can help support skin health across the entire body. The skin functions mentioned above all rely on millions of cells performing and communicating with one another. When the mitochondria in those skin cells absorb healthy red and NIR light, they can achieve greater production of energy (ATP) and stimulates synthesis of pro-collagen, collagen, basic fibroblast growth factors (bFGF) and proliferation of fibroblasts. Red light therapy can also increase microcirculation and vascular microcirculation that improves cellular balance [5]. Balanced skin cells operating at full capacity do all of those jobs better. That can translate to healthier, glowing skin that looks and feels smoother and softer.

Red light therapy and inflammation: Inflammation can wreak havoc on skin health and appearance. In addition to supporting cellular health, red light therapy can also have an anti-inflammatory effect [5]. In addition to supporting cellular health, red light therapy combined with a healthy lifestyle has been shown to be positive towards inflammation

Dr. Michael Hamblin of Harvard Medical School is a leading light therapy researcher. Dr. Hamblin has written about how red light therapy has the potential to reduce oxidative stress, and increase blood flow to damaged and inflamed tissues. This can help skin cells and tissues regenerate and heal faster, reducing inflammation and improving bodily balance. [4,5]

Want to learn more about how inflammation works and why it matters for your skin health? Check out this article about light and inflammation.

Why Use Red Light Therapy for Full-Body Skin Health?

A decade ago, red light therapy was mostly used in high-end salons and spas for skin treatments. Thanks to innovations in LED technology and greater awareness of the benefits of light, red light therapy is now accessible to just about anyone. The skincare community has taken notice; many of the world’s leading skin experts trust red light therapy as an integral part of their skincare routine.

Full-Body Skin Health: Your face gets the most attention, but skin health doesn’t end at the neck. Exposing more of your skin and cells to healthy light will have a greater effect on your overall health. The more of your skin and cells you can expose to red and NIR light, the more energy you can produce. More healthy light helps your body stay more balanced and efficient, and that translates to better overall skin health.

Balance is about your whole body working together as a system, so you’re going to see better results treating more skin with red and NIR light. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving the skin on your legs and back the light they need can have just as much effect on how your face looks and feels as doing targeted facial treatments. True health and beauty is a full-body phenomenon.

Conclusion: Support Skin Health with Red Light Therapy

Skin health is essential for your overall health. Skin is vital for immunity, circulation, hormone production, temperature regulation, and of course how you look and feel about yourself. It’s important to take care of more than just your facial skin, and getting healthy light and maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle is key. Red light therapy can help support skin health across the entire body, and help manage inflammation.

Sources and References:

[1] “How does skin work?” Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Sept 2009, updated 2019.

[2] "Circulation & Skin Integrity: Importance, Risk Factors & Examples." Feb 2017.

[3] Karu T, Pratibrat L, et al. “Effects of Monochromatic Low-Intensity Light and Laser Irradiation on Adhesion of HeLa Cells in Vitro” Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 1996.

[4] Hamblin M. “Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation.” AIMS Biophys. 2017.

[5] Avci P, Gupta A, Sadasivam M, Vecchio D, Pam Z, Pam N, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013 Mar.