How to Prepare Your Skin For Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy can do amazing things for the human body. This light therapy treatment promotes wound healing and tissue repair, for example, and it can reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and treat a wide variety of skin conditions. Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation, uses the power of light energy that penetrates the skin to reach cells deep within body tissues. To get the most out of red light therapy, though, you need to prepare your skin properly prior to undergoing the procedure.

Photobiomodulation (PBMT) uses a specific wavelength of red light that cells can readily absorb. Once inside the cells, the light strengthens the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cells. Strengthening the mitochondria increases energy production within the cells, which helps the cells heal and function.

Red light therapy boosts cell regeneration, which triggers the growth of new skin and tissue. The new cells replace dead skin cells and fill in the gaps that cause wrinkles. Red light therapy treats dark spots associated with inflammation, a condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. PBMT also treats acne and helps repair sun-damaged skin.

Optimizing mitochondrial function and treating skin conditions through PBMT requires that the wavelengths of light reach the intended cells intact, but some everyday products can interfere with the way red light waves penetrate and interact with the skin. Some products change the light absorption properties of the skin, for example, while others can affect the skin’s sensitivity to light. Using products in the correct order with red light therapy is also important, as some products can cause problems before PBMT, but be beneficial after treatment.


Skincare Products & Red Light Therapy

Certain products can affect the way red light therapy penetrates skin or change the way it works inside the cells. Some products enhance the beneficial effects of PBMT, while others interfere with the action of red light therapy.

Makeup & Sunscreen

Any product that contains sunscreen will block some of the light waves. While manufacturers design sunscreen to block ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light, it can also block the red and near-infrared LED lights used to deliver red light therapy.

Red light therapy can reduce the appearance of fine lines that can develop in the delicate skin around your eyes over time. Using an anti-aging cream or serum following your PBMT session may speed up results. For best results, choose products that contain peptides, retinol, vitamin C, or argon oil.

Salicylic Acid & BHAs

Salicylic acids and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) penetrate deep into skin to clear clogged pores, reduce inflammation, and loosen and exfoliate dead skin cells. Treatments containing salicylic acid and BHAs work well with red light therapy, but many people opt for red light therapy to treat signs of acne because their skin is too sensitive for chemical treatments.


Retinol, also known as vitamin A, is a common ingredient in moisturizers, serums, and other anti-aging products. Using retinol before bedtime is a great way to encourage cell growth and replacement while you sleep. Applying retinol product after red light therapy can give your skincare routine a boost. However, you should never apply retinol before a PBMT treatment, as the combination can cause unexpected skin reactions and irritation.

Face Massagers & Rollers

Electric massagers and rollers stimulate blood circulation to the treatment area. These handy tools also relieve muscle tension in the face. Massagers and rollers can also help deliver moisturizers deep into the skin to reduce wrinkles and enhance the production of collagen.


Guide to Preparing Your Skin for Red Light Therapy

Preparing your skin for red light therapy helps you get the most out of your PBMT treatment. Before your appointment:

  • Perform your skincare routine as usual in the days leading up to your appointment
  • Treat your skin nicely—avoid irritating your skin with aggressive exfoliant products or sun exposure
  • Clean your skin with a gentle, non-drying cleanser prior to treatment to remove any mineral-based sunscreen or makeup containing zinc

What you do after your red light therapy session is also important. Red light therapy helps your skin absorb creams and serums, which makes post-PBMT the right time to apply anti-aging products, moisturizers, and other cosmetic products. Start with serums and eye creams, which are lightweight and often contain concentrated doses of active ingredients, before applying heavier moisturizers. Apply sunscreen last, even if you do not plan to spend much time outdoors.

Ask your skincare professional for suggestions on the best products to use after red light therapy. In most cases, you can return to your normal skincare routine immediately after your PBMT session, but your skincare consultant may be able to recommend products to optimize the beneficial effects of red light therapy. Your dermatology professional can also help you identify and avoid any products that are not helping you reach your aesthetic or health goals.


Preparing your skin for red light therapy can help you optimize and enhance the results you receive from this state-of-the-art treatment.

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