If you’ve seen Debby Ryan’s latest skincare video with Vogue, you may have wondered about the little wand she uses on her face. That chic rose gold stick is actually a Solawave red light therapy wand, one of the newest trends in skincare. So what’s the deal; does it really work? Is it another weird skincare trend that will fade in a month or a scientifically-backed way to improve your appearance?
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy (abbreviated as RLT) is a skincare treatment that utilizes low-wavelength red ultraviolet light to improve your skin. RLT works on wrinkles, scars, acne, and reduces skin redness. It’s also purported to tighten skin, reduce pore size, and give you a snatched jawline, but that can differ from person to person.
How RLT works is still a bit of a medical mystery, but researchers have a vague idea about the science behind it. The American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery says that light particles called photons are placed on skin tissue. They supposedly activate molecular features called chromophores, which stimulate cell growth and change. It also stimulates mitochondria production and healthy cell functioning. RLT is often used in photodynamic therapy, a type of treatment that helps skin cancer and psoriasis.
One study using red and blue light therapy showed that inflammation decreased, skin tone brightened, and skin texture improved. Another shows that RLT improved wrinkles. It even has been reported to improve dementia, tooth pain, hair loss, and osteoarthritis. However, researchers are still learning about how RLT works. The Cleveland Clinic says that while current studies are promising, there’s still a lot of work to do. It does great things with minimal side effects; we just don’t quite know how yet.
What the Experts Are Saying
Several interviews with specialists from Prevention.com say that red light therapy is safe and effective. However, you shouldn’t use it if you have an eye disorder, photosensitivity (or an autoimmune disorder that triggers it), or a seizure disorder. Your magic little light machine will work best for those with minor concerns, and it takes consistent practice to see tangible results.
“The treated subjects experienced significantly improved skin complexion and skin feeling, skin roughness, and ultrasonographically measured collagen density,” say researchers Alexander Wunsch and Karsten Matuschka in a study that measured the safety and efficacy of red light therapy. “The blinded clinical evaluation of photographs confirmed significant improvement.”
Red Light Therapy at Home
While going to a salon to get red light therapy is an option, it can be expensive and time-consuming. Thankfully, there are plenty of red light devices on the market for personal use. That being said, do your research before you drop $200 on an RLT tool (the average price of a home device) because they’re not foolproof. At-home devices have significantly lower light intensity than professional devices, so you should be careful about which ones you choose.
Much like Debby Ryan, I’ve been using my Solawave Advanced Skincare Wand for a couple of months now at the recommendation of a friend. As someone with some hefty forehead pores and a few fine lines, I can definitely say that my Solawave gives me a brightened and refreshed look. While it isn’t a really dramatic difference, it’s one I can notice, which is all a skincare lover can ask for.