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How to Prepare Your Skin For Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a groundbreaking treatment with the potential to address various skin concerns, including wrinkles, sun damage, and acne. To maximize the benefits of this targeted light therapy, it's crucial to properly prepare your skin for optimal light absorption. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps for getting your skin ready for red light therapy.

Quick Overview: How Red Light Therapy Works

Red light therapy, or photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), utilizes specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light readily absorbed by the body's cells. Once absorbed, these specialized light wavelengths kickstart the mitochondria—the cell's powerhouse—boosting energy production at a cellular level.

By supporting energy production and cellular regeneration, PBMT can remarkably reduce painful inflammation, stimulate collagen production, and diminish the appearance of scars and other damaged skin tissue. To delve deeper into the science behind photobiomodulation therapy, read on.

Learn more about the science behind photobiomodulation therapy.

Skincare Products & Their Impact on Red Light Therapy

Certain skincare products can influence how effectively red light therapy penetrates the skin and interacts with your cells. Some products enhance the benefits of PBMT, while others can interfere with its effects. Let's explore the key factors to consider:

Makeup & Sunscreen

Products containing sunscreen can block specific light waves. While sunscreen is designed to block ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light, it can also obstruct the red and near-infrared LED lights used in red light therapy. To ensure optimal results, removing makeup and sunscreen before your session is advisable.

Anti-Aging Products

Red light therapy can reduce the appearance of fine lines, particularly around the eyes. Using an anti-aging cream or serum post-PBMT may accelerate results. Look for products containing peptides, retinol, vitamin C, or argan oil for the best outcomes.

Salicylic Acid & BHAs:

These ingredients can penetrate deeply into the skin to clear clogged pores, reduce inflammation, and exfoliate dead skin cells. They complement red light therapy effectively, especially for individuals with sensitive skin who prefer non-chemical treatments for acne.

See how red light therapy  addresses post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by severe acne.


Also known as vitamin A, retinol is a common ingredient in anti-aging products. Applying retinol after a red light therapy session can enhance your skincare routine, promoting cell growth and replacement. However, avoid using retinol before your PBMT treatment, as it can lead to unexpected skin reactions.

Face Massagers & Rollers

Electric and mechanical massagers and rollers stimulate blood circulation and relieve facial muscle tension. These tools can also help deliver moisturizers deep into the skin, reducing wrinkles and enhancing collagen production.

Guide to Preparing Your Skin for Red Light Therapy

Properly preparing your skin for red light therapy is essential to maximize its benefits. Here's a simple guide to follow before your appointment:

  1. Maintain Your Regular Skincare Routine: Continue your usual skincare regimen following your red light therapy session.

  2. Be Gentle: Avoid using aggressive exfoliating products or exposing your skin to excessive sunlight to prevent irritation.

  3. Pre-Treatment Cleansing: Cleanse your skin with a gentle, non-drying cleanser before the session to remove any mineral-based sunscreen or makeup containing zinc.

Post-Treatment Skincare

What you do after your red light therapy session is equally important. This therapy enhances the absorption of creams and serums, making it an ideal time to apply anti-aging products, moisturizers, and cosmetics. Here's a suggested routine:

  1. Start Light: Begin with serums and eye creams, which are lightweight and often contain concentrated active ingredients.

  2. Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen last, even if you don't plan to spend much time outdoors.

Consult with your skincare professional for personalized product recommendations to optimize the benefits of red light therapy. In most cases, you can resume your regular skincare routine immediately after your PBMT session. Your skincare consultant can also help you identify products that align with your aesthetic and health goals while avoiding those that may be counterproductive.

Properly preparing your skin for red light therapy can significantly enhance the results of this cutting-edge treatment, helping you achieve your desired outcomes.


This blog was originally published May 3, 2021, and was last updated October 9, 2023. 

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