The Shortcut Guide to Choosing a Light Therapy Device
What color treats wrinkles? Should I get a face mask or a full body panel? If these questions feel familiar, then this is your guide.
Use a tabletop or facemask for acne. For wrinkles, choose a tabletop, face mask, full body or half body panel. For pain relief, use any size panel, or a neoprene wrap. For hair growth, use a hat or helmet.
I included the devices that make sense for each condition you want to treat. I suggest a tabletop or face mask for wrinkles, for instance. A full body panel helps with wrinkles, but it does so much more, it’s not the ideal “wrinkle light.” I suggest you get the device that fulfills as many therapy goals as you can.
The Ultimate Shortcut Guide to Red Light Therapy
Use this table to quickly find the right light for you.
If you’re looking for an acne device, get a device that includes blue, red, and infrared.
If you’re looking to treat pain or reduce wrinkles, get a device with red and infrared.
For hair growth, most of the evidence supports red light, but we know that infrared works too. Get a light with red or infrared, or both.
Which Colors Do You Need for Acne, Wrinkles, Pain and Hair Growth?
|Therapeutic Goal||Get a Red Light Therapy Device with These Colors|
|Acne||Blue AND Red AND Infrared|
|Wrinkles, Pain||Red AND Infrared|
|Hair Growth||Red OR Infrared OR Both|
Use this shortcut table to determine the right device type for your therapeutic goal
Which Colors Do You Need for Acne, Wrinkles, Pain or Hair Growth?
|Therapeutic Goal||Get this Device Type|
|Acne||Tabletop or face mask|
|Wrinkles||Tabletop, face mask, Â half body panel or full body panel|
|Pain||Full body panel, half body panel, tabletop, or wrap|
|Hair Growth||Hat or helmet|
Want the More Comprehensive Guide?
For a complete guide to the pros and cons of different light therapy device types, go to my article The Complete Guide to Choosing a Light Therapy Device.
What’s the Best Red Light Therapy Device?
The perfect device for you will depend on whether you are easily bored, or don’t mind kicking back with your eyes closed for a bit.
It depends on whether you have a good chunk of change to spend or you need the best device for the least money.
That’s why I’m giving you a range of devices for different comforts and budgets.
Pros and Cons of Face Mask Red Light Therapy
The face mask can work if you can stay in one spot during the treatment time.
Corded masks make you stay in one spot. Cordless masks allow you to move around, but you still have to be able to see through the mask’s eye holes.
Do you want to read or look at your phone?
Check the mask’s design to make sure you can entertain yourself during therapy.
Of course, if you just want to kick back with your eyes closed, than any mask will work.
The other issue with masks is material. Masks can be heavy and they can have rough edges.
Personally, I would always go with a medical grade silicone face mask.
Silicone is lightweight, has no edges, and feels nice against the skin.
The Pros and Cons of a Panel Red Light Therapy Device
There are four types of panel lights: handheld, tabletop, half body panel and full body panel.
Tabletops and panels tend to run brightly. If you need to squint then you should wear goggles to protect your eyes. (Learn more about goggles in my article One Test to See if You Need Red Light Therapy Goggles)
Most handhelds are battery powered and require USB recharging. Look at how long it lasts between charges.
You can hold the handheld in your hand, or rest it on a body part. It does not conform to the body so it has to balance where you put it.
A handheld treats body areas the size of a hand, forearm, shoulder, part of a quad or part of a calf.
A tabletop treats one third of the body at a time: face, upper body, or lower body.
A tabletop is larger than a handheld, and smaller than a half body or full body panel.
Tabletops get heavy and clunky if you treat them like handhelds.
This means there’ll be some distance between you and the therapy device.
With every inch of distance, you need to spend more time to get the same dose.
You can put your face right up to a tabletop, or point it at the body part needing attention.
Half body and full body panels sit on the floor, or hang from the door or a dedicated stand.
A door-hung panel doesn’t take up much room. A stand is the most convenient way to use a panel, the downside being that now you need room for the stand and light.
Many people stand in front of their panels. If 5 to 20 minutes of standing feels harder than it’s worth, think about getting a horizontal stand and treat lying down.
The Pros and Cons of a Dome or Fixed Arm Device
A dome is either a dedicated one-piece dome, or a flexible light that sits in a rigid holder. A fixed arm device is a flat panel or set of panels that the articulated arm moves about through space.
All three designs require you stay in place during therapy. You put your face under the device, or pull the articulated arm over you, and stay put during the treatment.
All three are also hands free. However, only the articulated arm gives you freedom to read or watch your phone during therapy. The domes are over your face and obstruct your vision.
A one-piece dome is bulky. It might work on your arm or possibly your leg. It’d be awkward to put it over your back.
A flexible light is a soft rubber that has some shape but is not rigid. This is great for wrapping around your arm or leg. If it’s battery powered, use Velcro to hold it closed and now it’s portable, too.
An articulated arm light is great for any body part. This type of lamp is usually bigger than a tabletop but smaller than a half body panel.
The Pros and Cons of a Neoprene Wrap Device
The wrap does not necessarily have to be a neoprene device, but that is the standard you’ll find out there today.
The lights are embedded in pocket that runs across the inside of the wrap.
Usually there are Velcro straps to hold the wrap on your body.
Wraps are the most convenient type of light, so long as they’re battery operated.
All the wraps I know of will run on dedicated rechargeable batteries or a cell phone battery you supply.
Neoprene quality varies from acceptable to luxurious. People with sensitive skin will want the higher end materials.
The Pros and Cons of a Handheld Torch or Wand
An American would refer to the “torch” red light therapy device as looking like a flashlight.
Torches and wands are handheld, battery operated devices.
They treat very small areas at a time, but they’re convenient to carry around. You can treat any area of the body with these devices.
I have a handheld I use for pain relief that I Velcro to my hip while I work.
The Pros and Cons of Transcranial Device, a Hat or a Helmet Devices
A transcranial red light therapy device has lights on a wire appliance that you place on the head.
You can experience sizing issues if the device is too large or small.
Sizing problems happen with hats and helmets, too.
A transcranial device puts the lights on strategic locations. That means getting the neck or forehead, which other devices might get only if they’re in an awkward position.
Hats and helmets shine light over their entire surface.
The transcranial device and hat designs are usually comfortable.
Helmets can be heavy, so you want to check the weight before buying a helmet for a fragile user.
The Pros and Cons of Intranasal Red Light Therapy Devices
The intranasal light clips onto the nose to shine light up the nose.
The entire apparatus is usually lightweight, so that should not be a concern.
However, some people will find the slip to be a little uncomfortable.
The Type of Best Red Light Therapy for Acne
For acne therapy, the wavelengths (colors) of light are more important than the device design.
Get blue as well as red and infrared for acne sessions.
|Evidence for Improvements||Acne, P. acnes Bacteria, Redness, Pimples, Lesions, Inflammation|
|Best Colors||Blue, Red, and Infrared|
|Face||Face Mask, Face Dome, Handheld Torch, Handheld Wand, Handheld Panel|
|Articles||Acne Articles, Face Mask Article|
The Best Type of Red Light Therapy for Aging Skin
Red light therapy increases collagen and elastin while erasing wrinkles and fine lines.
A medical grade silicone material works well in face masks.
Avoid masks with hard edges or that are heavy.
Smaller handheld devices do take some time but are more affordable.
|Evidence for Improvements||Aging Wrinkles, Fine Lines, Sagging, Rejuvenation, Pigmentation, Collagen, Elastin|
|Best Colors||Red, Infrared|
|Face||Face Mask, Face Dome, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch, Handheld Panel|
|Neck||FaceÂ Mask with Neck Attachment, Pad, Wrap, Handheld Panel, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch|
|Articles||Aging Articles, Face Mask Article|
The Best Type of Red Light Therapy Device for Allergies
I usually tell people to get a brain therapy light for allergies, which is a bit of overkill.
But, the fact is, we all need brain therapy.
Vielight sells some intranasal devices.
The 633 and the 655 are on sale as I write this article in Sep. of 2022. (Use code emfchannel for 10% off).
|Evidence for Improvements||Nasal Patency, Allergic Rhinitis, Nasal Polyposis|
|Best Colors||Red, Infrared|
The Best Type of Red Light Therapy Device for Joint Pain
Multiple studies support using red light therapy to ease arthritis and tendon pain.
A full body panel works locally on the pain point, and energizes the body at the same time.
I use a handheld for spot treatment that I’m not officially recommending here.
That’s only because I treat with multiple devices, and the handheld is just an additional device. I use a neoprene wrap and a tabletop for most of my pain therapy.
Arthritis, Joint Inflammation, Pain
|Evidence for Improvements||Pain, Flexion, Pressure Sensitivity, Circumference, Degeneration, Fatigue, Pain Relief|
|Best Colors||Red, Infrared|
|Joint or Muscle||Tabletop, Half Body Pane, Full Body Panel, Wrap|
Frozen Shoulder Studies
The Best Red Light Therapy Device for Fat Loss
You can melt fat with red light therapy, but getting results requires following a protocol. No food 2 hours before, and use a vibration machine for 10 minutes after therapy.
For myself, I found that I didn’t have the discipline to remember not to eat, or to want to exercise (I don’t have a vibration plate) after therapy.
You have to follow the protocol to get good results.
If you’re still here, you’ve agreed to follow the plan. As opposed to putting the light on after eating, or not moving after therapy.
I suggest the Nushape Lipo Wrap for your fat loss red light therapy.
|Evidence for Improvements||Fat Release, Hip Circumference, Abdomen Circumference, Arm Circumference, Blood Cholesterol|
|Best Colors||Red, Infrared|
|The Affected Area||Pad, Wrap, Belt, Handheld Panel, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch|
The Best Red Light Therapy Device for Cellulite
Cellulite is yet another skin condition that does well with red light therapy.
On top of acne, wrinkles, and scars, the light has good effects upon the cellulite matrices usually found on the backs of the legs.
Use a focused device such as a handheld or wrap to get direct contact with the skin.
A wrap will cover the most area per treatment.
|Evidence for Improvements||Cellulite Reduction|
|Affected Body Part||Wrap, Belt, Handheld Panel, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch|
|Studies||Fat and Cellulite Studies|
The Best Red Light Therapy Device for Dementia and Brain Injury
Helmets and transcranial devices are the most common brain therapy device types.
The intranasal therapy treats the blood vessels with red, and reaches the brain with infrared.
Nushape makes two brain wraps that have excellent specs but no studies to back their use in the real world.
Buy with the 14-day return policy in mind. If you don’t get positive results right away, return it and move to the Vielight. Or just start with the Vielight for maximum scientific support for your choice.
Nushape: Use code EMFCHANNEL for 15% off.
Vielight: Use code EMFCHANNEL for 10% off.
|Evidence for Improvements||Addiction, Alcoholism, Anxiety, Autism Irritability, Cognition, Dementia, Depression, PTSD, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson’s|
|Best Brain Colors||810 nm Infrared, 633 nm Red|
|Scalp||Helmet, Transcranial, Wrap|
|Forehead||Transcranial, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch|
|Skull Base||Transcranial, Handheld Wand, Handheld Torch|
The Best Red Light Therapy Device for Canker Sores or Herpes
The evidence points toward blue and green light for canker sores. The canker research is limited, but we know that red and infrared work well for herpes sores.
Canker Sores or Herpes
|Evidence for Improvements||Canker Lesions|
|Best Canker Color||Green or Red, Infrared|
|Studies||Canker Sore Study|
|Evidence for Improvements||Shingles, Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Herpes|
|Best Herpes Colors||Red, Infrared|