Red light therapy is one trending treatment that seems very promising when it comes to correcting hair loss. If you're struggling with male/female pattern hair loss or thinning strands from stress, you might be curious whether it works. Take a dive to see whether using these devices is worth the hassle or if it is just one of those trending gadgets that will pass the viral bandwagon soon.
Red light therapy acts by stimulating the energy storehouse of the cell and increasing blood supply.
Research shows that red light therapy can improve hair density with no difference between genders.
At-home red light therapy devices may not work for everyone.
Further research is needed to establish the long-term safety and efficacy of at-home devices available on the market.
What is red light therapy?
Red light therapy helps the mitochondria — the energy storehouse of the cell — produce more energy and decrease inflammation. This in turn makes the cell ready to combat any form of stress it might be subjected to.
The details of the mechanisms and pathways known to be affected by red and near-infrared light could quickly fill a textbook. It is essential to understand that red light acts in multiple ways inside the cell, and each cell reacts differently. However, the overall effects of red light therapy on hair, resulting in growth and regrowth, is due to the dilation of blood vessels of the scalp and triggering the anti-inflammatory pathway.
Red light therapy for hair loss
A randomized controlled trial studied the effectiveness of low-level laser therapy on women with hair loss, specifically those suffering from androgenetic alopecia, which is male/female patterned hair loss. Researchers found that women receiving red light therapy at a wavelength of 650 nm experienced a 51% increase in their hair count.
Studies also suggest that red light therapy positively impacts hair follicles. However, as previously mentioned, different cells react differently, and there have been reports of red light therapy not working as well for some people as they might have hoped. While there is yet to be a clear consensus on this, more research is still needed to determine who is a good candidate for red light therapy.
Red light therapy for hair growth
For red light therapy to be effective in treating and correcting hair concerns, the source of light needs to deliver therapeutic wavelengths to the target tissue — in this case, the hair.
Treatment caps claim to encourage new hair growth by delivering therapeutic light wavelengths to the scalp. They mainly stimulate the mitochondria and improve the blood circulation across the scalp. In addition, red light therapy may also enable the formation of new blood vessels, which in turn help deliver greater blood flow and thus increase delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen for the hair follicle to nourish and thrive.
Interestingly, a systematic review study highlighted that red light therapy devices could improve hair density in both men and women, with no significant difference between the sexes.
It is good to remember that although you can get low-level light devices to help with hair regrowth at home, there is a lot of potential to get even better results by getting professional treatment at your dermatologist's office.
How to choose an at-home device
To date, there are 37 low-level red light therapy devices approved by the FDA for home use. The ones available in the current U.S. market can be divided into four main categories: cap, comb, hairband, and helmet. The cap is the most popular of all and is the most convenient and effective one to use.
The user instructions vary according to the brands and the type of device in question. The most popular ones must be used for 10–20 minutes daily or a few days a week. As with any other form of treatment targeting hair growth, consistency is essential, and it is helpful to use the device for at least 6–9 months before deciding whether it is working for you.
There are no known side effects of at-home red light therapy devices.
However, most trials have been conducted for short durations (<26 weeks), and ideally, the devices should be further evaluated in longer-term studies.
There are many devices available on the market that have not received FDA approval, meaning their safety has not been evaluated. More data on head-to-head studies needs to be collected to see the effectiveness of other treatment options for hair loss.
A red light therapy device at home is a valuable option if you are looking for a convenient way of boosting hair regrowth. It may be an expensive investment if bought from a verified seller, but remember, there are many other affordable options to help keep your hair looking and feeling great. As always, consult a dermatologist or other healthcare professional if you're experiencing significant hair loss within a short period and before starting any new treatment.
- Dermatologic surgery. Approach to Treating Androgenetic Alopecia in Females With Photobiomodulation (Low-Level Laser Therapy).
- The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of United States Food and Drug Administration-Approved, Home-use, Low-Level Light/Laser Therapy Devices for Pattern Hair Loss: Device Design and Technology.
- Annals of dermatology. Hair Growth Promoting Effects of 650 nm Red Light Stimulation on Human Hair Follicles and Study of Its Mechanisms via RNA Sequencing Transcriptome Analysis.