Red Light Therapy Wands: Gimmick or Game-Changer?

Red Light Therapy Wands: Gimmick or Game-Changer? featured image

In the ever-evolving beauty tools and devices category, red light therapy wands—alongside other red light-emitting devices—are exploding in popularity, cropping up at our favorite beauty retailers and making cameos in countless celebrity get-ready-with-me routines. But do red light therapy wands live up to the hype when it comes to delivering results for your skin? Or are they just another passing fad?

We spoke with two board-certified dermatologists for answers to your biggest questions about red light therapy wands. Keep reading to discover what red light therapy is, its potential benefits for your skin, and product picks straight from the pros.

What is red light therapy?

Red light therapy is a type of LED light therapy that involves exposing your skin to red or near-infrared light wavelengths via a red light therapy wand, mask, or panel. It’s also known as low-level light therapy and “falls in the range of 620 to 750 nanometers on the electromagnetic spectrum,” explains Dallas, TX dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. This range is low in energy yet effective for skin rejuvenation. Dr. Marcus notes that red light in the mid-600 range “is the most widely tested and scientifically verified for purposes of skin rejuvenation.”

Benefits of red light therapy

New York dermatologist Teresa Song, MD, explains that red light research has demonstrated an improvement in mitochondrial function and ATP production, which energizes cellular activities. In other words, it helps stimulate processes such as increased collagen production, which supports skin structure and firmness and, thus, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Its benefits also include reduced inflammation and improved skin tone, among others, she explains.

Risks of red light therapy

Both dermatologists interviewed for this piece agree that the risks of red light therapy are minimal. “If a device is used incorrectly,—for too long or if the device is damaged—it could result in burns or blisters on the skin,” explains Dr. Marcus. “Goggles should be worn using a red light panel or a device that whines light over the eyes. When using a red light wand, avoid using the light directly over the eyes, as indicated in the device’s user manual.”

Dr. Song adds that choosing a regulated device is “important since red light therapy lacks standardization, and different companies may produce devices with varying energy emissions.” One way to stay safe is to choose a device that’s FDA-cleared. (If it has obtained FDA clearance, the brand will typically explicitly state this.) It’s important to note that not all products lacking FDA clearance are necessarily unsafe; the brand may simply choose to avoid the costly and labor-intensive FDA clearance process. In such cases, Dr. Marcus recommends going with a device from a reputable source or company.

How much do red light therapy devices cost?

There are red light therapy devices for every budget. Dr. Marcus notes that they cost anywhere from “around $100 to well over $2,000.” Devices range from handheld red light therapy wands to bigger options such as hands-free masks or panels you can sit in front of.

Red light therapy devices to try

1 / 6

Skin Gym Revilit Red Light Therapy Wand ($80)

This red light therapy wand is ideal for those eager to experiment with red light therapy without overspending. Its red light emits a wavelength of approximately 625 nanometers, hitting the sweet spot for skin rejuvenation, as recommended by Dr. Marcus.

BUY NOW – $80

2 / 6

Solawave Radiant Renewal Wand ($169)

Dr. Marcus recommends this social media–famous red light therapy wand for “those who travel, have limited storage space, or may want to treat a more targeted area of their skin.” Beyond emitting red light, she also likes that it offers a galvanic current to help enhance the absorption of skin-care products and therapeutic warmth and massage to help depuff the skin.

BUY NOW – $169

3 / 6

Lightstim for Wrinkles ($249)

This FDA-cleared wand is perfect for targeting specific areas of your face. It features four different wavelengths—amber light, light red, dark red, and infrared lights—for a comprehensive treatment.

BUY NOW – $249

4 / 6

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro ($455)

Go hands-free with this celeb-loved face mask that treats your whole face. Choose between red or blue light therapy or reap both benefits simultaneously. It automatically shuts off after a three-minute session, making the whole experience effortless.

BUY NOW – $455

5 / 6

MMsphere 2.0 ($795)

“My preferred LED therapy device is the MMsphere, an FDA-cleared, dermatologist-approved device with clinical trial data supporting its use,” says Dr. Song. “MMsphere features five colors and nine settings to address various skin concerns, including acne, collagen stimulation, dullness, and sleep. Unlike many LED devices requiring direct placement on the face, MMsphere is hands-free and can be positioned on a desk at a distance, allowing multitasking during treatments.”

BUY NOW – $795

6 / 6

The Celluma PRO ($1,795)

“The Celluma PRO is best for those who prefer a more passive treatment in which the entire area is treated at once,” says Dr. Marcus. It’s a large red light panel that’s FDA-cleared for treating acne, aging, and pain. “Because of its size, it is easy to treat the entire face simultaneously and can also be used on other areas of the body as needed,” she adds. “The Celluma PRO is a professional-grade medical device and comes with protective eye goggles, which should be worn during every treatment.”

BUY NOW – $1,795

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