How Often Should You Do Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles?

Red light therapy pad wrapped around man's neck and chin up to his nose

Once you get your red light therapy device, how often do you do red light therapy for wrinkles and rejuvenation?

Do red light therapy for wrinkles between three and seven days a week. Why the range? It’s going to depend on your device’s features, and how you respond to the treatment. Rule of thumb is 10 minutes a day, five days a week.

You have to get the dosing right for red light therapy to work. So it’s important that you understand your device’s power, and your own skin’s response to the therapy. It’s not hard to do, but you need to follow these rules to get good results.

Top Wrinkle Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles for 2022

Update!

This is the Mask I’d Buy My Mom or Daughter

Update July 2022: 14 months ago I posted this article about red light therapy face masksOpens in a new tab.. At the time, I added no recommendation for which facial red light therapy mask to buy.

Now I have finally found one I like and recommend.

The HigherDOSE red light therapy mask is a soft silicone design that does not scratch or bite into the face. (Skip my explanation and go directly to the HigherDOSE page here.Opens in a new tab.)

I’ll show you the specifications, and then tell you why I like them.

HigherDOSE Red Light Therapy Facial Mask Specifications

Feature Value
LED Bulbs 62
Red 630 nm
Infrared 830 nm
Session Time 10 or 20 minutes
Frequency 3-5 times per week
Material Medical Grade Silicone
Return Window 14 days
Power Cordless

HigherDOSE silicone face maskIf you’ve read my guides then you might know that I don’t really care about how many bulbs a device has. Manufacturers sometimes brag about “beam angles” and overstate irradiance (amount of photon energy to reach the skin at a specific distance). None of that matters.acne red light therapy face mask

The bottom line is that the distance from the device combined with the time required to get a dose tells us everything we need to know about a red light therapy device.

Wrinkles red light therapy face maskThe HigherDOSE facial mask outputs good healing red and infrared wavelengths that stimulate collagen and elastin, and reduce wrinkles and acne (add blue light for a complete acne therapy).

You need only 10 minutes to get a dose of light from this mask, which translates to “this is a well-powered mask, above average because most masks are too weak to bother using.” More expensive masks take a lot longer, meaning they’re a lot cheaper under the hood.

Best red light tehrapy face maskThe medical grade silicone sealed the deal for me. I will not wear a stiff mask that cuts and bites into the skin. I had cheap Halloween masks as a kid. I’m not interested in pretending to be Bat Man.

If the silicone sealed the deal, then the low price is gravy. I know of so-called high-end masks that I will not buy that cost 3x what this lovely device costs.

Red light therapy for winklesIs this something you’d like to see? Meet the HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask on the HigherDOSE.com website. Enjoy.Opens in a new tab.

Top Pick Coupons
Hydraskincare PhotonsOpens in a new tab.
at AmazonTime per treatment: 15 minutes

Hydraskincare Photons Red Light Therapy
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LightpathLED Pulse TabletopOpens in a new tab.
at LightpathLEDLightpath LED logo
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Red light box with kickstand, its lights are on
LightpathLED Pulse Tabletop Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles
HigherDOSE Red Light MaskOpens in a new tab.
at HigherDOSE.comHigherDOSE
HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask
CelLED iLEDOpens in a new tab.
at LightpathLEDCelLED iLEDOpens in a new tab.
at Lifespan Dyanmics2 minutes per treatmentCircular letter "C" made with red boxes, CelLED
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Man's head on red light therapy pad

Does Red Light Therapy for Wrinkles Really Work?

Eye wrinkles before and afterIn a 2020 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers studied the effects of a home-use red light therapy device on facial skin health. At 6 weeks into therapy, all 24 subjects had tighter skin in proportion to the elastin production increase the light produced. Their skin texture significantly improved by 8 weeks. There were no side effects.

A study on the safety of home red light therapy for skin found that there were no side effects besides temporary redness and hyperpigmentation, which faded after a short period. In that study, researchers tested huge doses up to 64 times the needed for wrinkle reduction.

References

Ng JNC, Wanitphakdeedecha R, Yan C. Efficacy of home-use light-emitting diode device at 637 and 854-nm for facial rejuvenation: A split-face pilot study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Sep;19(9):2288-2294. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13613Opens in a new tab.. Epub 2020 Jul 27. PMID: 32649063.

Jagdeo J, Nguyen JK, Ho D, Wang EB, Austin E, Mamalis A, Kaur R, Kraeva E, Schulman JM, Li CS, Hwang ST, Wun T, Maverakis E, Isseroff RR. Safety of light emitting diode-red light on human skin: Two randomized controlled trials. J Biophotonics. 2020 Mar;13(3):e201960014. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201960014Opens in a new tab.. Epub 2019 Dec 8. PMID: 31483941; PMCID: PMC8887049.

When “Experts” Fail to Look at the Evidence

When I see so-called health experts with a huge reach into the public’s perception call red light therapy an “experiment” with “no evidence,” I want to throw the entire Library of Congress at their heads.

I mean, sure, there’s no evidence, except for the 8,237 papers published in scientific journals.

See my rebuttal of these ignorant comments in my article: Is Red Light Therapy a Gimmick? Answers You Need to Be a Confident Red Light Therapy BuyerOpens in a new tab.

A Hungarian researcher accidentally discovered red light therapy in 1967. There’s over 55 years of science showing it heals the skin, in large part by producing collagen and elastin.

Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery Journal
Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery Journal

Why We Get Wrinkles

Collagen forms the matrix that gives skin a youthful appearance. Elastin is a more flexible version of collagen that prevents age-related sagging.

We lose the ability to make collagen and elastin with age. That’s partly from sun exposure, and partly from our cellular energy factories shutting down from years of use.

These cellular energy factories (called “mitochondria”) make packets of energy that our tissues use to construct collagen and elastin.

So bringing the aging factories back online helps the skin to heal itself.

Wrinkles are optional
Wrinkles are optional

The Anti-Wrinkle Solution that Revives Collagen and Elastin Production

Advertising for other wrinkle reduction methods will often claim a positive effect on collagen and elastin.

But no wrinkle-reduction therapy has the structural power to bring elastin and collagen production back online.

As these proteins are the holy grail of any anti-wrinkle therapy, red light therapy is most certainly superior to short-acting solutions such as wrinkle cream.

Wrinkle cream marketers invest billions in advertising messages the describe collagen and elastin. But do their products really have any effect on these proteins?

Wrinkle creams mostly tighten the skin, but not in any structural way. “If you’re looking for a face-lift in a bottle, you probably won’t find it in OTC wrinkle creams. The benefits of these products are usually only slight,” says the Mayo ClinicOpens in a new tab., one of the nation’s premiere medical facilities.

Retinol and vitamin C do have some bioactive effects, but they fade. These effects do not change the structure of your skin as the cells replicate.

Hydraskincare Photons red light therapy
Hydraskincare Photons red light therapy. Use the device for 15 minutes per session.

Red light therapy, on the other hand, directly and immediately triggers collagen and elastin production. This activity reduces wrinkles. The renewed cellular allows natural repair mechanisms to resume activity.

As they did when you were younger, these proteins renew the skin with fresh, plump, healthy proteins. Red light therapy triggers the cells to make collagen and to make elastin. It’s not creating a temporary fix. It’s changing the protein structure of your skin, in exactly the manner it did when you were younger.

We lose the ability to make elastin and collagen in part because our cellular energy factories wind down after years of use. These factories (mitochondria) happen to be the exact target of red light therapy light packets.

The Red Light Brings Biological Energy Factories Back Online

Red Light Therapy kick starts our biological energy factories back into action
Red Light Therapy kick starts our biological energy factories back into action

Just as we absorb light from the sun in the skin to produce Vitamin D, and melanin that darkens skin in the sun, we absorb the light from red light therapy to produce collagen and elastin.

As we age, our cellular energy factories stop working as well as they did in our youth. Just as we need energy to make a car move, we need energy to make our bodies move. We need energy to make collagen and elastin.

Hydraskincare PDT
Hydraskincare PDT

Red light therapy light packets absorb in the heart of our cellular energy factories. The light “donates” energy to the cellular energy making process. With more biological energy, the normal and healthy skin rejuvenation picks up where it left off.

Red light therapy is nothing like wrinkle creams, which offer short term fixes and nothing structural to show for their work.

Rather than causing a small change that just reverses after a few days, red light therapy makes structural changes. The skin knows how to heal itself. The red light therapy gives it the energy to resume the protein creation.

How to Get the Best Red Light Therapy Wrinkle Reduction Results

To get the best results from your light, you need to prepare correctly, and then use the light for the right amount of time.

Preparing the Face for Wrinkle Reduction

In order for light therapy to have any effect at all, the light must absorb into the skin. Anything that blocks that light from entering the skin is blocking the healthy effects of red light therapy. Step one, then, is to clean the face of oils and makeup, and pat dry with a clean towel.

Young vs old skinSimple Steps to Determine Your Protocol

Red light box with kickstand, its lights are on
The LightpathLED Pulse irradiance is 100 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches. You get 6J in 1 minute of treatment if you are 6 inches from the device.

Use your device’s instructions as the baseline, and then alter the therapy based on your skin’s response to the light exposure. To make this as simple as possible, let’s look at a real device and how to use it.

 

We’ll start with one of my favorite wrinkle red light therapy devices, the LightpathLED Pulse Tabletop (Get the complete story on my post: LightpathLED Pulse Tabletop Red Light Therapy Complete GuideOpens in a new tab.).

If you’re wondering why we’re not using a light marketed specifically for wrinkle repair, then I will tell you, some of these devices are too weak. Will they work? It’s possible they will work, but they will take a lot moreĀ time per session than anyone wants.

Red light therapy has to be “low energy,” but there’s a range that will work, and there is such a thing as energy that’s too low. On the other hand, you don’t want a light with too much energy.

Regular lasers (as opposed to low power lasers) are much too powerful to deliver the light in a gentle way. In fact, light from powerful devices bounces off the skin. Light that does not absorb into the skin does not help the skin heal.

You want your device to be on the high end of the low energy window.

LightpathLED Pulse Tabletop Sample Wrinkle Therapy Protocol

Skin loses elastin and collagen with age
Skin loses elastin and collagen with age

The LightpathLED Pulse is probably my favorite anti-wrinkle red light therapy device. It’s extremely well constructed (it’s literally iron clad). The pulsing feature has 10,000 options, making it a biohacker’s dream. I trust that the device has the power and wavelengths advertised.

Did someone mention biohackers? Whether or not we refer to ourselves as “biohackers,” that’s what we’re doing when we use home healthcare devices such as red light therapy. Speaking for myself, as I age, I want my eyes, joints, heart and brain to keep working. If you feel the same way, you might be interested in these articles here on Best Red Light Therapy:

Older woman with good skinThe Pulse outputs five wavelengths of red and infrared light. The variety increases the changes that the light packets will absorb into the skin. You see, our ability to absorb light changes during the course of therapy. When we resist absorbing one of the wavelengths, we switch to being better able to absorb the others.

Red and Infrared Light Therapy for Wrinkles

Wrinkles respond best to red and infrared combined. So you will set the machine to run red and infrared (marked NIR for near infrared).

We have anecdotal data that the pulsing of the light might help accelerate the results, but not enough to create a protocol around that pulsing.

Use the device on non-pulse, or experiment if you like. You will probably get good results either way. Start with non-pulsed (continuous wave) just to prove that you’re getting results. When you’ve gone out a few months, if you want to experiment, try the pulsation feature to see if that works well for you too.

Balance Time and Distance

Red light therapy protocols are all about the combination of time and distance. If you are very close to a device, you get more of its light, so your treatment time is shorter. If you are at a distance, the light diffuses about the room and not on you, so you need more time to accumulate a dose of light.

Red light therapy pad wrapped around man's neck and chin up to his nose
The closer the light, the less time you need per session.

Find Your Device’s Irradiance

Look for the device’s irradiance, which will look like this: “mW/cm^2” on the manufacturer’s website or the product box. The irradiance is a measure of power. It answers the question, “How much light reaches my skin in a second?

For example on the Pulse Tabletop product page, it says this device outputs 110 mW/cm^2 when at a distance of 6 inches. What do we do with this information?

Man's head on red light therapy pad
The CelLED irradiance is 60 mW/cm^2. It takes less than 2 minutes to get a 5J dose.

Calculate a Target Dose of 5 Joules Using the Device’s Irradiance

It’s easier than it looks because I built a calculator (View the calculator on my EMFChannelOpens in a new tab..com website) to give you the exact treatment time you need for that power.

“Joules” (like “jewels”) is a measure of how much light reaches your skin. We’re going to start with 5 joules. We now have everything we need to figure how long to use the device.

Go to the calculator on my website emfchannel.comOpens in a new tab.. Our irradiance is “110,” so enter that 110 milliwatts in the milliwatts input box.

Our target joules is “5,” so enter 5 in the target joules field.

The calculator will give you the number of seconds to use the light at that distance (of 6 inches).

Calculate Treatment Time for Wrinkle Therapy

Cat looking at clock
Calculate the treatment time

Step 1: what is the “milliwatts per centimeter squared” value from the manufacturer? Answer: 110

Step 2: what is the distance of the light to the target from Step 1? Answer: 6 inches

Step 3: what are the target joules (which I gave you above)? Answer, we’re starting at 5 joules.

Step 4: Go to the treatment time calculatorOpens in a new tab. on my site emfchannel.com (opens in a new window)

Step 5: Enter the milliwatts (110)

Step 6: Enter the target joules (5)

Step 7: Get the calculator answer (45.45 seconds)

Are you surprised? Your treatment time is 45.45 seconds while having your face at a distance of six inches from the Pulse Tabletop device.

Building Your Red Light Therapy Wrinkle Protocol

before and after wrinkle reduction therapy
Reduce wrinkles using red light therapy

We started with a dose of 5 joules. If you see results with this dose, then you’re done. If you go a month without results, then go to a target dose of 10 joules. That’s why I showed you how to use the calculatorOpens in a new tab.. You’ll enter 110 in the milliwatts field, and 10 in the joules field, and you’ll get a 90-second treatment time to get 10 joules.

To figure out the dose for any red light therapy dose, take that mW/cm^2 number, assume a target joules of 5, and boom, you have your treatment time.

How Often to Use Your Red Light for Wrinkles After the Initial Dose

After your month of doing 5 joules a day, look at your results. If you see great changes, stay the course. If not, then do the 10 joules as per the instructions above.

Caroline Bogart

I research the bloody hell out of everything that interests me, then translate it into blog posts to solidify my knowledge and share the information.

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