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.
Update - We added two bonus mistakes...keep reading to find out what they are!
From a Rouge customer: I use it every second day and after just two weeks I began to see the difference, my skin is tighter with more radiance! The only thing I regret is not getting it earlier! Absolutely love it!
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.
11. Not pairing red light strategically with other therapies or efforts
As mentioned earlier, you always want to check with your healthcare doctor or team of doctors when implementing red light therapy into your routine, especially in combination with medications or other therapies. For example, if you are using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, it might make a lot of sense to do red light therapy before using the chamber in order to decouple the mitochondria from the Nitrous Oxide and allow for optimal oxygen uptake. Or perhaps if you are wanting to target cellulite, it is best to warm the area first, and then engage in light cardio or use a vibration plate right afterwards. It is also important to avoid triggering a heightened release of insulin at that point by limiting carbohydrates around the time of treatment. These small strategies may help your efforts, therapies and red light treatments work in synergy with each other.
12. Using red light therapy at the wrong time of the day
Some aspects of using RLT fall under best practices, and one of these may be in relation to our circadian rhythm. Several red light experts mention the possiblity of exposing the eyes to the very bright lights of panels may cause unwanted stimulation. Therefore, if you are using red light therapy close to your bedtime, it may be a good idea to avoid any exposure to your face, so that you don't risk startling your system into an unwanted state of wakefullness. Others mention using red light therapy no less than two hours before bed time. There are also theories that mimicking the time of the rising and setting sun are the best times of day to use red ligth therapy, as these best mimic the natural cycles of the sun. Needless to say, everyone is different, and these are not hard and fast rules, simply variables to keep in mind and try tweaking while you enjoy your red light sessions.
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.