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. [1] Red light therapy treatments with a high-quality device can enhance cellular function, and promote 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 immune system. The skin also plays a central role in key bodily processes like blood circulation, hormone production, and temperature control. [1] 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. [2]

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 repair. [3]

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 with exposure to sunlight. [2]

Temperature Regulation: The skin is essential to body temperature regulation, protecting you from heat or cold, and helping to prevent dehydration. [2]

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, which affects self-esteem and mental health every day.

Red Light Therapy and Skin Health

Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or 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. 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. [4] 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. 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 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 & feel softer and more invigorated. [5] That inner balance is ideal for outer beauty. Learn more about the importance of light and balance here.

How Red Light Therapy Supports Skin Health

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 produce more energy (ATP), stimulating the synthesis of pro-collagen, collagen, basic fibroblast growth factors (bFGF), and proliferation of fibroblasts. Red light therapy can also increase microcirculation that improves cellular balance [6]. In summary, balanced skin cells operating at full capacity do all of those jobs better. That can translate to healthier, glowing skin that looks & 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, combined with a healthy lifestyle, has been shown to have a positive impact on inflammation. [6]

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 & inflamed tissues. This can help skin tissue regenerate and heal faster, reducing inflammation and improving bodily balance. [6,7]

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, 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 red and NIR light will have a greater effect on your overall health. The more of your skin you can expose to healthy wavelengths of light, the more energy you can produce, which translates to better overall health.

Balance is about your whole body working together as a system, so you’re going to see better results treating more of your 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

Vibrant skin health is essential for your overall well-being. Healthy skin is vital for immunity, circulation, hormone production, temperature regulation, and self-esteem. It’s important to take care of more than just your face, and getting healthy light, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle is key. Red light therapy can help manage inflammation and support skin health across your entire body.


Sources and References:

[1] A Nguyen and A Soulika. The Dynamics of the Skin’s Immune System. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019 Apr. 

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

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

[4] 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.

[5] R Stout and M Birch-Machin. Mitochondria’s Role in Skin Ageing. Dermatological Sciences. 2019 May.

[6] 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.

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

 

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