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In-spa red light therapy session.

Have you seen the latest masks beauty enthusiasts are wearing? They’re not the clay, cream, gel, or cloth masks many of us have long used. Instead, those in the know are using red light therapy masks to stimulate collagen production and treat everything from acne to wrinkles to scars.

Red light therapy is delivered through specialty professional spa devices with LED bulbs, or masks often made from medical-grade silicone with the LED bulbs attached to it. The bulbs emit low-wavelength red light onto your face, which deeply penetrates the skin, up to 8 to 10 millimeters, working from the inside-out to enhance mitochondrial function and rejuvenate the skin. This painless and noninvasive in-spa or at-home practice falls under the sphere of biohacking, a do-it-yourself biology for achieving beauty and wellness benefits swiftly through innovative products and actions.

“Red light therapy can be a powerful skincare tool,” says Lauren Berlingeri, a certified holistic nutritionist and health coach who studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and cofounded HigherDOSE, the creator of the HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask. After only one treatment, she adds, “your skin will feel refreshed and lifted and you may notice a decrease in redness.”

With daily at-home use of red light therapy over the course of four to six weeks, Berlingeri says users may notice other physical benefits as well, including plumper skin because of boosted collagen production, a youthful glow because of regenerated cells, reduced fine lines, and a balanced skin tone.

Red light therapy can also help heal the skin from acne, rosacea, and other skin conditions because the wavelengths are working at the cellular level of the skin.

Red light works for these purposes by adding energy to your mitochondria, the tiny cell structures that create energy molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP helps your body use its natural defenses to heal and lower inflammation-causing skin issues. As we age, our mitochondria produces less of these molecules; red light therapy can increase their production. “This therapy is like charging your cells like a battery,” Berlingeri says.

Recent research also shows red and near infrared light energy can enhance cell signaling and growth factor synthesis, as well as lessen oxidative stress. (Though the study authors note that more research on this therapy is needed — “its ubiquity and commercial success have outpaced empirical approaches on which solid clinical evidence is established” — it’s a modality that’s “here to stay.”)

In-Spa Red Light Therapy

Kristen Shoemaker, an elite esthetician at LifeSpa in Bridgewater, N.J., often incorporates red light therapy as an add-on service to her facial treatments. She uses a professional-grade red light therapy dome in her treatments that takes just 16 minutes.

“I love red light therapy for its wide range of benefits, from treating wrinkles and redness to acne and scars,” Shoemaker says. “It’s an inclusive treatment helpful to many skin conditions.”

The professional service is ideal to add on to a Hydrafacial or a customized facial after a deep cleanse, exfoliation, and extractions. “A Hydrafacial with a professional red light therapy treatment is my favorite duo,” says Shoemaker. “I can notice — and clients have commented on it too — an immediate plumping to the skin and a decrease in fine lines and wrinkles.”

Shoemaker also notes how those 16 minutes under the dome can be an extra moment of relaxation for her guests. “While my clients are getting the amazing benefits of red light therapy, I can also give them a scalp massage or an arm and hand massage,” she says.

woman wearing higher DOSE red light face mask

Photo by HigherDOSE

At-Home Red Light Therapy

For the benefits of red light therapy at home, Shoemaker is a fan of the HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask that has a combination of red (630nm) and near infrared (830nm) wavelengths. The red light wavelength helps with reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation, and offering improvement for skin disorders such as hyperpigmentation and rosacea. The near infrared wavelengths are responsible for boosting mood by increasing feel-good endorphins and amplifying the physical benefits of red light. “Together, they are a powerful duo,” Berlingeri says.

“Once my clients experience an in-spa red light therapy session, they are often enticed to continue further use of it in the privacy of their own homes,” Shoemaker says. “With at-home red light therapy treatments, proper home-care products, and monthly skin-care treatments, clients are getting the skin they’ve always wanted.”

To reap the full benefits, Berlingeri recommends using the HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask daily. “We designed our mask to deliver two timed sessions of 10 and 20 minutes,” she explains. “Red light is a micro-stressor, like exercise. Daily sessions can recharge our skin, replenishing the light energy that’s lacking in modern indoor lifestyles — without negative side effects or damaging UV.”

Before using the mask daily, work up to that cadence by first starting for 10 minutes, three to five times a week. “Ten minutes is the minimum length of time needed to see optimal results,” Berlingeri says. “Work up to next doing 20-minute sessions four to five times a week and then go to daily use.” Berlingeri suggests proceeding at the rate that feels best for you. “Just like training in a gym, it’s important to start this type of therapy slow and build a routine with care,” she says.

Berlingeri adds you don’t just look better from red light therapy because you covered something up, as is often the case with other skin solutions. “You’re glowing because you ignited healing from the inside-out,” she says. “A red light therapy device is likely to cost more than your favorite moisturizer, but its effects can last for years to come.”

Jolene Turner
Jolene Turner

Jolene Turner is a beauty writer and social media strategist focusing on the salon, spa, and professional hair care industries. She currently works with the Life Time LifeSpa team on social media marketing and content development. Turner’s background includes working as the senior editor for American Salon, as a head writer for beauty blogs, and as a communications and consumer engagement professional for a global beauty brand. She’s worked with leading beauty brands including Aveda, Hotheads Hair Extensions, HiBar, Wella, and more.

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