Selecting an at-home red light therapy device means understanding factors like wavelength, power output, and safety features. And knowing more about each device's key features and scientific backing gives you the power to make the most informed purchase.
Best 5 red light therapy devices: a shortlist
Red light therapy devices come in all shapes and sizes and claim to do everything from improving fine lines and wrinkles to relieving chronic pain. While there are hundreds of tools on the market, these are among the best in their respective categories.
- Vellgus Red Light Mini – best handheld device
- NUSHAPE NeuroWrap – best for cognitive wellness
- Eco Face LED Mask – best for face
- ATaPa The Apollo – best for travel
- Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand – best multi-use device with excellent reviews
How did we choose the best at-home red light therapy devices?
These criteria are essential for ensuring effective treatment, product longevity, and overall user satisfaction:
|Irradiance||Measures the power output of the device in mW/cm²|
|Wavelength||Wavelengths of the emitted light, usually in nanometers (nm)|
|Coverage area||Size of the area that can be targeted at once|
|Cost||Total device investment|
|Scientific standards||Scientific evidence to support the proposed benefits|
|Customer feedback||User reviews and testimonials|
- Irradiance. This criterion measures the device's power output in milliwatts per square centimeter (mW/cm²). Higher irradiance allows for a greater amount of energy to be delivered to the target area, potentially providing more effective sessions. The right balance of power is essential for both safety and efficacy.
- Wavelength. Typically measured in nanometers (nm), this dictates the device's therapeutic applications. While most product specifications readily include this information, it's crucial for consumers to ensure they're selecting a wavelength that aligns with their specific needs.
- Coverage area. This pertains to the spatial dimensions the device can effectively target. A larger area can expedite the therapy session but may come with a higher cost. The ideal coverage area aligns with your specific needs.
- Cost. High-quality red light therapy is an investment. The overall expense of the device should correlate with its features and capabilities, offering value for money. Budget considerations are paramount in making an informed choice.
- Scientific standards. A device grounded in scientific studies offers greater credibility and reassurance that the device's parameters are associated with therapeutic benefits.
- Customer feedback. Reviews and testimonials from actual users can serve as reliable indicators of the device’s real-world performance, especially if taken from multiple websites.
Best 5 red light therapy devices in 2023: an overview
We analyzed five distinct red light therapy devices that each excel in specialized functions like handheld operation, cognitive wellness, facial skincare, or travel-friendly design. Grounded in the criteria above, our assessment is designed to offer you a comprehensive view of each tool's capabilities and potential shortcomings, as well as the scientific standards that set each device apart.
1. Vellgus Red Light Mini
The Vellgus Red Light Mini, priced at $339 with a 1-year warranty, is a versatile and portable device suitable for a myriad of therapeutic applications. It meets scientific standards by offering dual wavelengths at 660 nm for red light and 850 nm for near-infrared light. These wavelengths have proven efficacy in both skin-level and deeper tissue treatments.
The device's high irradiance level of more than 219 mW/cm² may contribute to a more potent treatment, conforming to our criteria for robust power output. It also boasts user-friendly features like a digital timer, auto cool-down mode, and a smart screen, simplifying red light therapy sessions for the user. However, the device is small (5.9 inches by 3.7 inches by 1.1 inches) and therefore designed for targeted application.
While the device earns 5 stars from nearly 200 reviews on the company website, that is the only source of customer feedback.
2. NUSHAPE NeuroWrap
Priced at $499, the NeuroWrap is uniquely designed to focus on cognitive function and overall brain health. It operates on an 810 nm wavelength, which is emitted through its 144 LEDs. This unique wavelength is noted for its deeper penetration abilities, said to be suitable for neurological applications. While it's true that the red light penetrates the skull and reaches the brain cells, these claims largely rely on ongoing scientific study.
The NeuroWrap also has two different frequency settings: 10Hz and 40Hz. These pulsed-light settings have been researched for their potential for various neurological benefits, such as relaxation and cognitive performance, although individual results can vary.
The device is 25 inches long and designed to wrap around the forehead. It has an auto-shutoff feature that kicks in after a 20-minute session, enhancing user safety and convenience. Its recommended usage instructions are once a day for effective results and at least four times per week.
The device has a 1-year warranty but only has eight reviews on the website, all of which are 5 stars, limiting the scope of verified user feedback.
3. Eco Face Platinum LED Mask
The Eco Face Platinum LED Mask is a solid face mask employs dual LED technology with 630 nm red and 830 nm near-infrared lights to stimulate collagen production and improve blood circulation. It's lightweight at 230g and designed for comfort, featuring a detachable gel pad for adaptability to different facial structures.
Manufactured by South Korean company WIBE Co., Ltd., and developed in consultation with dermatologist Dr. Sukhyeon Bang, the mask aims for deep skin rejuvenation. Suitable for all skin types, it comes with a one-year warranty, offering repairs at a U.S.-based service center for purchases from specific websites. Although the mask is more affordable than some competitors, international customers may face customs duties, and there are warnings regarding hormonal imbalances for specific user categories.
The mask retails for $289.99 but can often be found at a discount of up to $100. While it is more affordable than some competitors, international customers may face customs duties, and there are warnings regarding hormonal imbalances for specific user categories.
4. ATaPa The Apollo
ATaPa's The Apollo offers a medium, travel-friendly size for red light therapy, priced at $750. This FDA-approved device comes with 32 LEDs and two wavelengths: 660 nm for red light and 850 nm for near-infrared. These wavelengths have been shown to improve skin tone and texture, enhance muscle recovery, speed up wound healing, and possibly enhance mood.
Its irradiance level surpasses 100 mW/cm² at distances greater than 6 inches, promising high power. Dual-function control allows you to switch between wavelengths during sessions. The device's beam angle is 30 degrees, and has a lifespan of over 50,000 hours. It includes a full 2-year warranty and is compatible with all worldwide voltages. This medical-grade device comes with steel cable and stand, making for easy installation, and its compact size of 9.8 × 6.9 × 0.8 inches ensures it fits easily in a travel bag or on a desk.
5. Solawave 4-in-1 Radiant Renewal Skincare Wand
The Solawave 4-in-1 Radiant Renewal Skincare Wand promises multiple benefits, from reducing the appearance of fine lines to combating dark circles. This award-winning device integrates four proven technologies: Red Light Therapy, Therapeutic Warmth, Galvanic Current, and Facial Massage. It has a battery life of up to 90 minutes, uses red light wavelength of 630 nm, and has a maximum optical power density of 40 – 45 mW/cm².
The Red Light Therapy feature aims to smooth fine lines and rejuvenate the skin for a glowing appearance. Therapeutic warmth of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is designed to reduce the appearance of tired, under-eye circles and bags. Galvanic current amplifies the absorption of your favorite serums, moisturizers, and creams. The Facial Massage feature is designed to decrease puffiness and boost skin's radiance.
The device recommends usage for three minutes per area of skin and is user-friendly, making it an easy addition to daily skincare routines. Reviews are available on multiple websites and typically above a 4.5. It retails for $169 and can be found on sale throughout the year.
Comparison of the best red light therapy devices
|Brand||Retail price||Irradiance||Wavelength(s)||Coverage area||Special features|
|Vellgus Red Light Mini||$339||Over 219 mW/cm²||660 (Red), 850 (Near-Infrared)||Targeted (small device)||Digital timer and auto cool-down mode|
|NUSHAPE NeuroWrap||$499||Not specified||810||Forehead (cognitive function)||Two different frequency settings (10Hz and 40Hz)|
|Eco Face Platinum LED Mask||$289||Not specified||630 (Red), 830 (Near-Infrared)||Face||Detachable gel pad for facial adaptability|
|ATaPa The Apollo||$750||Over 100 mW/cm²||630 (Red), 830 (Near-Infrared)||General (medium-sized, travel-friendly)||Dual-function control for switching between wavelengths|
|Solawave Skincare wand||$169||Between 40 and 45 mW/cm²||630 (Red)||Targeted (face & under-eye)||Integrated 4-in-1 technology: Red Light, Warmth, Galvanic Current, Facial Massage|
What is red light therapy?
Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of red (typically around 630-660 nm) and near-infrared light (usually between 810-850 nm). Both are part of the photobiomodulation spectrum, meaning they have biological effects when absorbed by cells in the body.
This therapy has many possible therapeutic applications. Red light primarily targets skin layers, making it an effective tool for skin issues and surface healing. Infrared light penetrates deeper, affecting muscle and bone, allowing it to address tissue ailments like muscle recovery and chronic pain.
Types of red light therapy devices
There are many ways to use red light for therapeutic purposes. However, there are five main types of at-home red light therapy devices: red light handheld wands, LED face masks, red light panels, LED wraps, and red light pods.
1. Red light handheld wands
Handheld red light wands are designed for precision treatment, offering targeted therapy right where you need it.
These devices focus on small areas, emitting specialized red and near-infrared wavelengths to stimulate cellular repair. Ideal for facial rejuvenation and localized pain relief, their compact size makes them convenient for travel or quick sessions, all while delivering effective photobiomodulation to the skin or underlying tissues.
2. LED face masks
LED face masks are designed for facial red light therapy sessions. Consisting of multiple LED lights that emit red and sometimes near-infrared wavelengths, these masks aim to:
- Promote collagen production
- Enhance blood circulation
- Reduce the appearance of acne scars, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles
- Reduce inflammation and redness
The contoured design allows for coverage of the entire face, making it a popular choice for skincare enthusiasts. Some advanced models offer customizable settings for targeted application.
3. Red light panels
Red light therapy panels consist of an arrangement of LEDs, configured in a flat layout. Designed to cover larger target areas, these devices emit specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light.
Unlike handheld devices or face masks, panels enable more general application, making them suitable for addressing multiple physical ailments simultaneously. They are especially useful for muscle repair and skin conditions, and their size ranges from portable home units to larger fixtures commonly found in healthcare facilities.
4. LED wraps
LED wraps are flexible, fabric-based devices designed to conform to various body parts like the arms, legs, or torso. They're a popular choice for addressing muscle pain, joint issues, or even neurological conditions, though more research is needed to ascertain some proposed benefits.
With adjustable settings, red light LED wraps offer a user-friendly approach to red light therapy that accommodates a wide range of treatment needs.
5. Red light pods
Red light therapy pods are large, enclosed capsules similar to tanning beds. They are lined with panels that emit red and near-infrared wavelengths for full-body coverage. They aim to address multiple concerns at once, from skin rejuvenation to muscle recovery and mood enhancement. Because of their comprehensive coverage and higher power, these pods are pricey and more commonly found in professional settings.
Is red light therapy effective?
Studies on red light therapy have found that it can stimulate cellular processes like collagen production and ATP synthesis, which are crucial for skin health and tissue repair. Research has shown that it can be effective for treating conditions like acne, wrinkles, and even certain types of hair loss.
In sports medicine, it's been used to accelerate muscle recovery and reduce inflammation. However, many studies have been small, short-term, or lack control groups, leaving room for skepticism and calls for more rigorous research. Additionally, questions still exist about the optimal frequency and duration of treatments for various conditions.
Overall, while promising, the effectiveness of red light therapy is still under study for a full scope of applications.
Benefits of red light therapy
Though still a topic for ongoing research, red light therapy has amassed a body of evidence supporting its beneficial impacts on health and well-being without the need for invasive procedures. Here are some of the key gains you could expect, according to research:
- Dermal rejuvenation. Red light therapy can enhance skin elasticity by stimulating collagen production that may curb the signs of aging.
- Pain relief. For those grappling with chronic pain issues like osteoarthritis, red light therapy has shown promise in alleviating pain by targeting underlying inflammation.
- Wound healing. With its ability to increase cellular metabolism and blood flow, red light therapy can expedite the body's natural healing mechanisms for wound and scar treatment.
- Enhanced athletic recovery. For those engaged in rigorous physical activities, red light therapy has been found to facilitate quicker recuperation by alleviating muscle soreness and inflammation.
- Hair growth. Preliminary research indicates potential for red light therapy in counteracting some types of hair loss by energizing dormant hair follicles. However, this area requires further study.
Is it better to use red light therapy in the morning or at night?
Scientific evidence on the optimal time of day for red light therapy is limited. Most studies focus on the effectiveness of the therapy for specific conditions rather than the timing of the treatment. However, some users and practitioners report anecdotal benefits related to timing.
For example, morning use is often recommended for boosting
energy and mood, although this is largely anecdotal. Similarly, evening use is
sometimes suggested to promote relaxation, but scientific validation for these
claims is currently lacking.
Risks of using red light devices
Red light therapy is generally considered safe and non-invasive, with few reported side effects. However, some risks and considerations do exist.
Overexposure to red light could potentially lead to burns or eye damage, although this is relatively rare when following manufacturer guidelines. Individuals with certain conditions, such as photosensitivity disorders, should consult with a healthcare provider before undergoing red light therapy.
Additionally, not all devices on the market are FDA-approved or undergo rigorous quality control, posing a risk of ineffective or unsafe treatment. Those with active skin infections are also advised to consult medical professionals before beginning treatment.
Who cannot use red light therapy devices?
Individuals with photosensitivity disorders or those taking medications that increase sensitivity to light should exercise caution and consult a healthcare provider before using red light therapy devices. Pregnant women are also advised to seek medical guidance prior to treatment.
If you have active skin conditions or cancer, it's crucial to consult with a medical professional to determine if red light therapy is appropriate and safe for you. Always read the contraindications listed by the device manufacturer.
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How is red light therapy different from sunlight?
Red light therapy uses targeted wavelengths for therapeutic benefits, devoid of harmful UV rays found in sunlight. It stimulates cellular processes in a controlled manner, focusing on specific issues like skin rejuvenation or muscle recovery, without the sun's variable and potentially damaging exposure.
Does red light therapy actually work?
Scientific evidence supports the efficacy of red light therapy for certain conditions like skin rejuvenation and muscle recovery. However, individual results can vary. It's important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized treatment plans as well as set realistic expectations.
How often should I do red light therapy?
The frequency of red light therapy sessions depends on your specific treatment goals and device guidelines. Common recommendations range from 2-5 times per week. In some cases, sessions can last as little as five minutes, and it's important not to expose yourself to too much red light.
Are red light therapy devices worth it?
The perceived value of red light therapy devices varies based on individual needs and treatment goals. For some, the devices offer a convenient, at-home solution for skin issues, muscle recovery, and pain relief, making the investment worthwhile. However, efficacy can vary, so it's essential to do thorough research and consult healthcare providers.
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