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Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss: Is It a Miracle Cure?

Hair loss is an issue that affects millions globally and can be an incredibly distressing experience for some people. Fashion, film, and advertising are awash with models and celebrities flaunting thick shiny locks, so it’s understandable that many of us search for hair loss solutions when we notice any receding or thinning. Red light therapy for hair growth is one potential solution that’s gaining traction as a treatment for hair loss.

What is red light therapy for hair loss?

Red light therapy is a treatment for hair loss that has picked up steam in recent years as a safe, non-invasive, and convenient way to improve your tresses.

The technique uses low-level exposure to red or near-infrared light directed toward the scalp from specialist devices such as caps, helmets, combs, or lamps. The light source used in these devices includes light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, or a combination of both. Thankfully, it’s a pain-free experience designed to impact hair growth by gently stimulating hair follicles. This stimulation promotes new hair growth on a cellular level and may help restore your healthy locks.

Of the four main avenues to explore when trying to combat thinning or receding hair, red light therapy is emerging as a firm favorite due to its safety, convenience, and reported efficacy. The others, which include medication, hair transplantation, and microneedling all come with a host of issues and risks that aren’t present with red light therapy for hair growth.

Type of treatmentPotential risks/issue
MedicationPotential adverse side effects including those of a serious nature such as chest pain, allergic reaction, and rapid heartbeat
Hair transplantsCan be extremely expensive and inaccessible

Potential for infections and scarring
MicroneedlingExpensive

Can be painful

Highly dependent on the technique and experience of the clinician

Potential for scarring if incorrectly administered

As with any hair loss treatment, it’s important to remember that individual results will vary in success. The underlying reasons for hair thinning, including genetics and other health conditions, are factors that influence the efficacy of treatment.

Does red light therapy work for hair loss?

According to a review and meta-analysis of recent studies presented in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the use of FDA-cleared at-home red light therapy devices for pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) has shown promising results. Improvements in hair growth and density were significant in those using the devices compared with the control group that did not.

Another study using transplanted hair follicles explored the effect of red light therapy on the growth cycle of hair. They found that low-level red light stimulation plays a role in promoting hair growth. While these results are extremely promising, it’s important to note that they were obtained in a clinical setting and much more research is needed before firm conclusions can be established.

Because this technology is still fairly new, we’ll have to wait for follow-up studies to see if red light therapy is indeed a long-term hair loss solution. Losing your hair can be incredibly distressing, so it’s understandable that anyone suffering will be looking for an effective and reliable remedy that lasts longer than a few months.

Benefits of red light therapy for hair loss

Red light therapy is promoted as one of the safest and most convenient ways of stimulating hair growth. Let’s explore some of the main benefits of this hair loss solution so you can decide if it might be an option for you.

1. Increases hair strength and thickness

According to both research and customer reports, using red light therapy for hair growth can improve the thickness and strength of the hair from the follicle to the tip. In general, it’s not a quick fix and can take between 6 and 12 months to start seeing results.

2. Stimulates new hair growth

This technology uses red light to penetrate the cells of the hair follicle itself, stimulating the physiological processes involved in hair growth. The stimulation may promote the proliferation of stem cells within the hair follicle which is crucial for hair growth and may shift the follicles into the growth phase.

3. Safe to use for both men and women

One of the key attractions of red light therapy for hair growth is that it’s generally regarded as safe for both men and women. Moreover, according to a recent systematic review, low-level light/laser therapy may improve hair density in individuals with either male or female pattern hair loss, with no significant differences observed between genders.

Downsides of red light therapy for hair loss

Although it can be tempting to look at red light therapy as a complete solution for hair loss, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks that come with this relatively new technology.

1. Limited research

In order to establish a clear relationship between red light therapy and hair growth, we need longitudinal, real-world studies to test the long-term effects. While so far, several studies have shown promising results for addressing androgenetic alopecia, there is huge variability in the study protocols, devices used, and their parameters. More research is needed to determine the optimal treatment duration and frequency, compare the efficacy of LED devices versus lasers, and establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of red light therapy for hair loss.

2. Time commitment

Red light therapy for hair loss is not a magic wand, nor is it a quick fix by any means. Most clinics offering the therapy advise that it will be at least 3–6 months before you see results. Many people aren’t able to commit to such a long process, which is one of the barriers to red light therapy.

3. Varying results

As with any type of hair loss treatment, the results vary from person to person. What works wonders for one individual may not yield the same success in another. If you decide to follow up with red light therapy as a hair loss solution, you have to be prepared that it might not solve your issues completely.

4. Cost

Both at-home devices and clinical treatments can be expensive, and cost is often a barrier to accessing red-led light therapy. You can expect to pay anywhere from $249 to almost $3,000 for a device such as a comb or helmet that you plug in at home. The cost of clinic treatments varies depending on the experience of the clinician, the device they use, and the location of the clinic itself.

Integrating red light therapy into your haircare routine

The key to getting into the habit of doing red light therapy is to introduce it to your haircare routine gradually, ideally after having discussed the suitability of this therapy with your healthcare provider. You should always adhere to the recommended usage guidelines that are specific to the product being used. To reduce the risk of side effects, you should not exceed the recommended treatment duration and frequency.

If you are already into scalp massage, it’s the perfect upgrade to your routine. Simply run your red light device over your scalp or through your hair (depending on what type of device you have) once you’ve massaged for a few minutes. The extra stimulation could give your hair follicles an extra boost.

It’s best to do red led light therapy on clean hair, and make sure it’s nice and dry before you use an at-home device or visit the clinic.

Final thoughts on red light therapy for hair growth

As far as hair loss solutions go, red light therapy is definitely up there among the best. The non-invasive, pain-free technique is incredibly appealing to those who want to treat receding and thinning hair without negative side effects.

If you decide to go down the red light road, make sure you are prepared for a long journey as this therapy isn’t an overnight fix. With consistency and dedication, you might see an improvement in tresses in a little over six months.

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