10 Mistakes You Might Be Making Using Red Light Therapy At Home

Until recently, red light therapy was only available in spas and clinics. Now, personal red light therapy devices are making the treatment both more affordable and convenient for consumers. Unlike many other health treatments, red light therapy is safe to use every day, is non-invasive, and has virtually zero risks and side effects. This means that you don’t need a trained professional to administer the treatment - you are completely in charge. That said, there are a few mistakes you may be making when using red light therapy at home. 

Given that the treatment is basically idiot-proof, these errors are generally not harmful or damaging (except potentially #9). However, they may keep you from fully optimizing your treatment and thus from getting the full benefits. Here are 10 things you might be doing wrong when using red light therapy at home, and how to easily fix them.

1. Being inconsistent with your treatment

The biggest advantage of using red light therapy at home is the ability to use it daily without incurring the extra costs that professional treatment would entail. However, if you’re not using your device the recommended 3-5 times a week, you’re essentially squandering your investment - and the potential benefits.

2. Wearing clothes or sunscreen

Just as clothes block UV light from penetrating your skin, it will block red and near-infrared light as well. As for sunscreen, it’s designed to block UV light, but it will also work as a barrier to some red and NIR light, preventing it from penetrating as deeply. And for those who wear makeup, take note that many foundations contain SPF. If yours does, you might consider using red light therapy in the morning before applying makeup, or after washing your face before bed. 

3. Sitting too close or too far from your device

The guidelines for how far to place yourself from your device are not yet perfectly honed, so it might take a bit of guesswork and trial and error on your part. Generally, for skin issues, it’s recommended to sit between 12-36 inches from your device, and for issues involving deeper tissues, 6-12 inches is advised.

4. Making your sessions too short or too long

The general rule is to have your sessions range anywhere from 10-20 minutes, but you can play around with this too. Every body is different, after all, and reacts to treatment in its own way. You’re likely not going to see results if you keep all your sessions to 5 minutes. However, if every once in a while that’s all you have, by all means, 5 minutes is better than none. 

As for longer sessions, you might be tempted to try to cram more minutes into a session or to pack a week’s worth of sessions into one. While this isn’t necessarily harmful, red light therapy simply doesn’t work that way. Hour-long sessions won’t be more effective than 20-minute sessions, and will actually reduce the effectiveness of the treatment if it means you’re skipping sessions.

5. Using the wrong red light or Near-infrared light setting

Red light and near-infrared (NIR) light have different functions. Red light is effective for skin issues, hair growth, and wound healing. NIR, on the other hand, penetrates deeper and is mainly used for conditions such as pain relief, muscle healing and recovery, and cognitive health, to name a few. 

Your Rouge Red Light Therapy device has three settings: red light, NIR light, and dual. You can toggle from one to the other using the ‘mode’ button. Make sure you have it set to the right mode before starting your treatment. As a failsafe, there’s no harm in using the dual light mode, as using both doesn’t diminish the strength of each type of light. In fact, not only is there no harm, you might even see improvements in areas you didn’t even know needed improving. 

*Note: you might be wondering why it looks like half the lights on your device aren’t working. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Those are the NIR lights. Near-infrared light is not part of the visible light spectrum, so it’s invisible to the naked eye. 

6. Not staying hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day is good advice regardless, but there is new evidence that it may help with the effectiveness of red light therapy. Researchers propose that red light therapy may prefer hydrated cells, as they tend to have more energy stored. While more research is needed to determine with certainty whether this affects treatment IRL, it’s never a bad idea to reach for that glass of water. 

7. Using the wrong size device

Rouge offers red light therapy panels in various sizes to accommodate a range of needs and budgets. We’ll be honest, we think everyone should have a Rouge Ultimate in their home as it can tackle the big issues and the smaller complaints at the same time. However, we know that’s not a possibility for everyone, and is not essential if your main goal is alleviating arthritis pain in your hands, for instance, or improving your facial complexion. Keep in mind, though, that for full-body issues such as fibromyalgia or conditions involving large body parts like chronic back pain, a larger panel will provide more efficient treatment, allowing you to see results quicker, and to spend less time in front of your device.

8. Not tracking your progress

Given that it’s a process that can take time, red light therapy results can sneak up on you. Let’s say you’re using red light therapy to improve your skin’s appearance. Given that you see your face in the mirror every day, it might take someone pointing out how radiant you look or asking if you’ve had work done for you to take notice of your progress. The same goes for chronic pain. You may not even realize your pain is decreasing until one day you’re able to climb stairs without using the handrail or lift a box without flinching. 

For cosmetic issues, you might consider taking progress pics. For invisible issues such as pain or immune health, a journal might help you keep track of improvements. Not only will this help motivate you to keep up your treatment, it might also be useful for adjusting the frequency and duration of your sessions to find the regimen that works best for you.

9. Not discussing your red light therapy treatment with your doctor or health care professional

While red light therapy is known for being completely safe, painless, and non-invasive, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor, physiotherapist, or other health care provider before starting any sort of treatment plan.

This is particularly important if you’re pregnant, or if you’re undergoing certain treatments already. Some medication, for instance, can increase your photosensitivity, which can lead to temporary redness and tightness in the skin after using red light therapy. 

Your doctor or healthcare professional is your ally when it comes to your health, and they should be kept aware of any and all aspects of your life that might affect your wellbeing. The more they know, the better they can do their job.

10. Expecting immediate results or a cure

While red light therapy might be the most promising treatment to date for a whole host of issues, it’s important to manage your expectations. First, it’s not a miracle cure. In fact, one of the reasons consistent and frequent use is so important is that once treatment stops, the issue is likely to return after a time. 

Second, red light therapy is a process. Like so many things that are worthwhile, it takes patience and dedication. If you feel like you’re not seeing results after a month, don’t freak out. While there might already be a lot of action happening behind the scenes at the cellular level, it can take a while to build collagen, heal damaged tissue, and stimulate stem cells

If you’re interested in learning how red light therapy improves the functioning of your cells to boost your body’s own ability to heal itself, check out this article

The Bottom Line

There are no grave mistakes with red light therapy. However, small missteps or oversights can potentially alter the effectiveness of your treatment. The key is recognizing them and making the necessary adjustments.

And sometimes it’s just a matter of listening to your body and fine-tuning your sessions to optimize your body’s own unique healing potential. With red light therapy, you’re in control of your device, and your health. 

Wondering how red light therapy might benefit you? Check out our blog for info as well as more tips and tricks for getting the most out of your device. 

Have questions? Our friendly staff is happy to answer your queries or troubleshoot any issues. Just reach out via the chat button on the bottom right of your screen on our website

And finally, ready to get started? Check out Rouge’s family of red light therapy devices here, and take your health and wellbeing into your own hands today.


  • Does the light help chronic back pain from failed spine surgery and sciatic pain?
    Rouge replied:
    Hi James, Sorry to hear that you are dealing with these issues. That is not entirely predictable, as back pain that is caused by direct pressure on the nerve can be very difficult to treat. In some cases the anti-inflammatory benefits of red light may have a noticeable effect, but if the structural problem is too significant, then while red light therapy can certainly help – it may not be enough to make a difference.
    Rouge replied:
    Hello, and thank you for your inquiry. While we cannot make medical claims in regards to our products; we can certainly encourage research on the topic; if you google photobiomodulation and/or Red Light Therapy in combination with the condition you are interested in searching about, you may find that red light therapy is indeed a good fit for what you are seeking.

    James Cardle
  • I have had cataract surgery on both my eyes. Will infrared light therapy harm the lens in my eyes?
    Rouge replied:
    Hi Patricia, thank you for your comment. There is no record of any lens damage due to red light therapy. In terms of cataracts, there is a very vague possibility of cataracts which was never proven and that would be over more exposure time then anyone would get using the light for treatment. There is no causal link between the two, but a heightened incidence of cataracts was observed in furnace workers who were exposed to decades of NIR light for 8 hours a day, but it was never determined that the NIR wavelengths or the high heat, or what exactly caused it, and it was only after extreme lengths of exposure, certainly nothing that would be obtained by a few minutes of use per day. It is said that red light is more beneficial for eye health vs NIR. Hope this helps! Diana

    Patricia Harris
  • I would like to buy one of your red light machines, for home use for weight lose. Would you please advise which one would be best. Thank you.
    Rouge replied:
    Hi Carol, Thank you for your comment. Most of our lights would be compatible with what you are looking for. It would depend if you are looking to lose weight in specific areas or have a full body treatment, or even half body. The Rouge Pro is our most popular panel and irradiated just over half the body. This may be a good place to start. To learn more about weight loss, you can check our other blog post titled, 5 Ways to Boost Your Red Light Therapy Weight Loss Results. Hope this helps!

    Carol Stow
  • Hello, I noticed when I direct the redlight to my knees and legs the light only covers up to my belly. So, i have been doing 10 minutes on the bottom (legs and knees) and 10 for my upper (neck and face) Next day I do same approach with my back side 10 minutes back and neck and 10 more on back of my legs. I would like to know if that is sufficient and correct. I have osteoporosis and arthritis, face, neck and hair treatment is mostly for skin rejuvenation. Thanks

    Rouge replied:
    Hi Maria, we are happy to answer your questions. It sounds like you are
    aiming for targeted treatments, which is ideal for such conditions you
    mentioned. Additionally, It sounds like you are on the right track to see
    what works best for you. The ideal treatment time is approximately 15-20
    minutes. While everyone’s treatment times may vary a little, I like to
    treat the front of my body and then the back, for about 7-10 minutes
    totalling not more than 20 minutes at a time. With some trial and error,
    you will notice a sweet spot to be in that works best for you. You can try
    adjusting the distance a little and seeing what gives you the best results
    as well the distance to light- (we don’t recommend being closer than four
    inches away). I highly recommend Ari Whitten’s book The Ultimate Guide to
    Red Light Therapy which is available on Amazon in different formats. I
    would experiment a little on the times and distances, as red light therapy
    is not like a prescription drug that your doctor might give you, the dosage
    and distances are in ranges, not exact quantities, to give everyone a
    chance to tweak their times for the optimal dosing that their body responds
    to. I hope this was helpful, we wish you the best of luck :)

  • I have a some cataract on my right eye and having read that Near infrared light application could be helpful, I would like to buy one of these lights from you. What’s your recommendation. Thanks
    Rouge replied:
    Hi Raymond, Thank you for your comment. Our blog post
    eye health may be beneficial to you. Our smaller panels for targeted
    treatments are good for eye health. Please do keep in mind that Red light
    can be very bright for some and we normally do suggest not looking directly
    into the light.

    Raymond Kwong

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