Red Light Therapy Side Effects: What You Need to Be Aware of

Red light therapy has been causing quite a stir in the skincare world. Also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), this treatment is used by many spas and estheticians. Actresses and models have shown themselves getting red light therapy before hitting the red carpet or working on a shoot.

Why? Red light therapy is supposed to have a lot of skincare benefits including reducing wrinkles, increasing the production of collagen, and treating sun damage. This might make it sound like a miracle but what about red light therapy side effects?

Since this skin therapy is being used more frequently, with devices that let you treat yourself with red light at home, it is important to know of the risks they have so that you can try it out safely.

I’ve done my fair share of research and more than willing to share what I’ve found out. And in this article, I’ll be talking about how red light therapy works, what it treats, and the side effects you should know about.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work in Skincare?

Despite all it’s popularity, not all that much is known about the science behind red light therapy. But what we do know is that the treatment involves exposing your skin to specific wavelengths of red light using a lamp or laser device.

The mitochondria in your skin cells (also known as the ‘powerhouse’) absorbs this red light and generates more energy than usual. Scientists and skincare experts think this helps the cells repair themselves. This in turn treats sun damage, acne scars, premature aging, etc.

Why is it used so often, even though little is known about it? Well for starters, the heat intensity of red light is pretty low so most people don’t have to worry about getting burnt. It is also much safer than tanning booths and doesn’t expose your skin to UV rays.

What Kind of Skincare Conditions Does Red Light Therapy Treat?

Another reason why red light therapy is so popular is that it used to treat loads of skin issues and is also included in spa treatments to keep skin healthy. It revives the skin by doing these things:

  • Improves skin elasticity by increasing the production of collagen.
  • Improves the blood circulation of the skin.
  • Stimulates cell growth and repair.
  • Protects skin cells from environmental damage.
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Smoothes skin texture.

Here are just a couple of skin concerns that are generally treated with red light, both at home and by skincare professionals.

  • Reduce acne scars and PIH.
  • Tighten skin and treat wrinkles.
  • Rejuvenate tired and dull skin.
  • Reverses sun damage.
  • Reduces cellulite.
  • Improves overall complexion.
  • Reduces psoriasis lesions and treats recurring cold sores.

Red Light Therapy Side Effects: What to Look Out for

As you’ve noticed, red light therapy does seem to do a lot of good for our skin. It’s painless, non-invasive, doesn’t create a mess, and the treatment takes a very short time. Sounds great, right?

However, it is important to remember that not much research has been carried out in this particular field. As a result, scientists may not know the full extent of the side effects that this therapy can cause.

These are a few things you should be aware of before trying red light therapy for yourself.


Everybody has different skin with individual tolerance levels. Just because a certain actress got great results with it doesn’t mean you will too. Exposing skin to a light source can result in irritation for some people, especially those with sensitive skin.

This also arises from the overzealous use of red light therapy. Sometimes you are tempted to run the treatment for longer because you think it will give you better results. But too much red light therapy can result in redness and irritation and your skin will feel raw and sore instead.

Tissue Damage:

Using this as a skincare treatment for a long time without professional supervision can damage your skin tissue in the long run. Also, there aren’t many specific rules about how much light one should use. But too much of a thing is never good and too much red light will damage your skin.

Burns and Blisters:

Some people have reported getting minor burns and blisters from using their red light therapy devices at home. A few users dozed off while using their units, which resulted in them burning their skin. Others received devices with faulty wiring which burnt or shocked them. Either way, make sure you get an RLT device that is safe and learn how to use it from a professional.

Eye Damage:

While red light therapy is much safer for your eyes than laser therapy, there are still dangers you need to be aware of. Many people skip out on using eye protection when using their devices at home. This can be dangerous, especially if you use the device near or around the eyes.

The red light can damage your eyes and harm your vision. Always use adequate eye protection whenever necessary.

The Bottomline

Red light therapy and LED light therapy, in general, are continuing to grow in popularity. People love the idea of using something as simple as light to fix their skin. But it’s always safer to know both the risks and the benefits before experimenting with skincare products.

Are red light therapy side effects overly dangerous? Not really, but because there isn’t any consensus among skincare experts about how exactly it works, it is best to be a little cautious.

That being said, you can definitely get the benefits of red light therapy without worrying too much about the side effects. Just make sure you use a safe, FDA-approved device, follow all the instructions correctly, and don’t overdo it!

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