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Red Light Therapy vs Blue Light Therapy: A Comparison

You’ve likely heard of light therapy referred to as many things: photobiomodulation, LED therapy and red and blue light therapy.

Red light and blue light therapies are the two most widely used forms.

The aim of both therapies (red and blue light) is simple: To improve your health with light. However, their mechanisms are different.

Red light therapy, for example, uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light (600-700 nm) to treat the skin and body. Red light penetrates deeper than blue light. And therefore, it can be used to treat the skin, as well as internal conditions.

Blue light therapy, on the other hand, uses blue wavelengths (405-410 nm), which don’t penetrate as deeply. Therefore, BLT is commonly used to treat surface-layer skin conditions and wounds. When applied to the skin, blue light has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Red Light vs Blue Light Therapy: Which Is Best?

Generally, the best type of light therapy depends on the area of the body you are treating.

To treat skin conditions, especially those triggered by bacterial growth (like acne), blue light therapy may be the best solution. Alternatively, to treat inflammation in the joints, red light therapy offers deeper penetration and would be the better option.

Both therapies offer similar benefits. But the biggest difference is the depth the light energy reaches.

That’s why it’s often recommended to combine red light and blue light. This is called polychromatic light therapy, and it offers a variety of benefits.

Want to take a closer look at red light therapy vs blue light therapy? Read on to learn the key differences, benefits, and the synergistic effects of using both together.

Red Light vs Blue Light: Key Differences

Both of these types of photobiomodulation use different wavelengths of light. Ultimately, light wavelength impacts treatment and application.

Red Light

Red light wavelengths penetrate deeper skin layers. For example, red light can penetrate to the dermis layer, while near-infrared light can penetrate all the way to the subcutaneous layer.

Generally, red light penetrates about 1-2mm, while near-infrared light penetrates up to 5-10mm. Therefore, red light therapy benefits the muscles and joints, and it can stimulate collagen production. This makes red light an ideal choice for:

  • Wound healing – Promotes faster healing of scars, stretch marks, and sun damage.
  • Anti-aging – Reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and improves skin elasticity.
  • Pain relief – Soothes muscle and joint pain, alleviates arthritis symptoms.
  • Skin conditions – Potential benefits for rosacea and psoriasis.

Blue Light

Blue light therapy penetrates less than 1 mm into the outer-most layer of the skin. Therefore, it’s best suited for these conditions:

  • Clearing acne – Acne can cause inflammation and may be caused by bacteria. Blue light therapy provides anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Oil control – Balances sebum production, minimizes pores, and mattifies oily skin.
  • Eczema – May benefit conditions like eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.

Should You Combine Red Light and Blue Light?

Red light and blue light aren’t rivals; they’re teammates!

Although each has its individual strengths, combining red and blue light therapies can be a powerful one-two punch for stubborn skin concerns.

For one, individuals would receive a wider spectrum of light. Using multiple colors of light therapy is known as polychromatic light therapy. Polychromatic light therapy devices provide a wider range of wavelengths, which allows you to customize your treatment based on your needs.

Red Light Therapy vs Blue Light Therapy: A Comparative Analysis.

Comparative Analysis

Studies and Evidence

NASA was one of the first organizations to recognize the benefit of red and blue light. In fact, they had used LED light to grow plants. However, NASA scientists noticed that wounds on their hands healed faster after working under the red and blue light.

Since then, researchers have explored the relationship between red and blue light. A variety of research suggests that combining red and blue light therapy offers benefits, especially for skin conditions. Here are some promising findings:

  • Acne and Anti-Aging: A 2017 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy found that combined red and blue light therapy significantly improved both acne vulgaris and wrinkles in participants compared to monotherapy with either light alone.
  • Anti-Proliferation, Anti-Apoptosis: A 2015 study that red and blue light combined helped regulate cell activity, when used in conjunction with curcumin. Results suggested RLT and BLT, when coupled, may support wound healing or reduce the impact of skin cell disorders like psoriasis.
  • Rosacea and Inflammation: A 2020 case report in the Journal of Medical Case Reports showed that combined therapy significantly improved rosacea symptoms like redness, papules, and pustules compared to monotherapy with either light.

These studies, along with others, provide compelling evidence for the synergistic effects of combining red and blue light therapy.

The combined approach seems to leverage the strengths of each wavelength: red light’s collagen-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties synergize with blue light’s antibacterial and oil-regulating effects. This may help lead to more comprehensive and potentially faster results.

Harnessing the Combined Power: Devices and Advantages

Several devices on the market cater to the growing demand for combined red and blue light therapy.

These devices typically offer various treatment options, allowing you to customize your sessions based on your specific needs. Some potential advantages of using these devices include:

  • Convenience: Combine two treatments in one session, saving time and effort.
  • Targeted Therapy: Choose specific wavelengths or combinations for different areas or concerns.
  • Enhanced Efficacy: Benefit from the synergistic effects of both red and blue light.

Hue Light’s red light therapy bed, for example, includes red, near infrared and green light therapy wavelengths.

Ultimately, if you’re interested in exploring the potential benefits of coupled red and blue light therapy, consult with a dermatologist or licensed esthetician. Professionals can hel you determine the approach that’s right for you.

Choosing a Light Therapy Device

Should you purchase a blue light or red light device?

Today, there’s a dazzling array of light therapy devices on the market. Which one is the best for you? Follow these guidelines:

Spectrum

Not all light is created equal. Look for devices that provide these wavelengths of red and blue light therapy:

  • Red Light (630-660nm)
  • Near Infrared (670-700nm)
  • Blue Light (415-470nm)

Wavelength helps you strike the right target and maximizes effectiveness. You might also look for devices that allow you a full spectrum, including yellow and green light.

Types of Light Therapy Devices

Light therapy devices come in diverse forms, each suited to different needs. Some of the most common include:

  • Panels: Panels bathe larger areas in radiant waves, great for treating your back, chest, or even legs.
  • Beds: Light beds offer full-body RLT and provide light to the entire body.
  • Mats: Red light therapy mats are perfect, ideal for home use, and offer target RLT for the stomach, arms and legs.
  • Masks: Masks offer hands-free, even coverage for your entire face, ideal for tackling widespread concerns.
  • Wands: These nimble tools allow targeted attacks, perfect for spot-treating blemishes or pesky wrinkles.

Ultimately, choose a device that can treat the target area and your health concerns.

Home vs. Clinical Therapy: Weighing Your Options

There’s a variety of at-home blue and red light devices available, as well as clinics and wellness facilities that provide red light therapy. Which one should you choose? Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

  • Home Devices: Affordable, convenient, and private, home devices let you be your own skin-saving hero. However, intensity and treatment time may be lower, requiring longer battles for results.
  • Professional Treatments: Dermatologists and estheticians wield powerful lasers and devices, offering targeted, high-intensity therapy. Yet, the cost can be higher, and access may be limited.

Safety First

Whatever you decide, be sure to use safe devices and be consistent. The frequency and duration of red light therapy treatment depends on a variety of factors.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Potential Side Effects: While generally safe, light therapy can cause temporary redness, irritation, or headaches in some individuals.
  • Contraindications: Pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with epilepsy, or using certain medications should consult a doctor before using light therapy.

Wrapping Up

Blue and red light therapy are relatively new treatments in skincare and wellness. But remember, they’re not the same thing. The color of light therapy decides what areas of the body you can target, and that’s why it’s recommended to consider using multiple colors of light for treatments.

Have questions or interested in purchasing red light therapy devices?

Hue Light USA offers a full line of clinical-grade RLT devices, including our red light therapy bed, our RLT panels, mats and pads. Contact our sales team today to learn more.

FAQs

1. What are red and blue light therapy?

Both are non-invasive treatments using specific wavelengths of light to benefit your skin. Red light penetrates deeper, boosting collagen and reducing wrinkles. Blue light targets the surface, fighting acne-causing bacteria. Red light therapy has been linked to improved sleep quality, a decrease in depression, and more.

2. Do I need red light or blue light therapy?

It depends on what you are treating. Red light tackles wrinkles and sun damage, as well as internal conditions, while blue light is perfect for acne. If you’re unsure, consider combining therapies or using a device offering both types of wavelengths.

3. Are there any side effects?

Generally, no! Both therapies are safe for most people. However, some may experience temporary redness or irritation. Always consult a dermatologist if you have any pre-existing skin conditions or concerns.

4. How often should I use light therapy?

Most recommendations suggest 10-20 minutes daily for 2-3 weeks, then reducing to 2-3 times per week for maintenance. Listen to your skin and adjust accordingly. Ultimately, how often you use red light therapy depends on your condition and health needs.

5. Are home RLT and BLT devices effective?

Yes, but you’ll need higher light intensity devices for faster results. Home devices provide a convenient and cost-effective option for ongoing maintenance. If you go the at-home route, pick a quality device and be aware of the light frequency and power (measured in wattage).

6. Will it replace my entire skincare routine?

No way! Light therapy can be a great addition, but it's not a one-stop solution. Maintain your regular skincare routine for optimal results. Then, start with LT treatments 2-3 times per week or daily, if you prefer.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a direct reference to any products offered by Hue Light USA or any specific brand. We do not claim that our products can achieve the effects or benefits discussed in this content. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice or as an endorsement of any specific product or treatment. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding their health or wellness regimen.

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