Red Light for Hair Growth: Here’s How It Works
Explore how red light therapy for hair loss can promote the growth of healthier, stronger hair.
In recent years, red light therapy has emerged as a promising solution for many skin issues. But besides being an effective skin treatment, it has been proven to be beneficial for a lot more than just that. It can also enhance hair health and promote hair growth.
So, let’s see exactly what can red light for hair growth do.
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How Does Red Light for Hair Growth Work?
Red light therapy hair growth is a non-invasive treatment approach that utilizes specific wavelengths of red or near-infrared light to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair regrowth.
Simply put, the red light penetrates the scalp and is absorbed by the cells of the hair follicles. This absorption of light energy then stimulates cellular activity and promotes several beneficial effects that contribute to hair growth.
By dilating blood vessels and increasing microcirculation, red light improves nutrient and oxygen delivery to the hair follicles, supporting their growth and strengthening the existing hair.
Image source: Instagram @drshirinlakhani
The Benefits of Using Light Therapy for Hair Loss
Red light therapy offers several potential benefits for hair growth, increasing hair density, and reducing further hair loss. Here’s what specific benefits of red light therapy for hair contribute to that:
- Improves blood circulation
- Increases circulation
- Provides oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles
- Reduces inflammation across the scalp
- Increases collagen production
Plus it’s completely painless and suitable for combining with other hair loss treatments or just using it on its own.
Contraindications & Limitations of Red Light for Hair Growth
While red light therapy for hair growth has several hair-stimulating benefits, it also has some contraindications that should be considered. Luckily, the list is short:
- Medication interactions
- Patients subjected to therapies increasing light sensitivity (e.g. Aknenormin, Roaccutane) in the last 6 months
- Chemotherapy. During chemotherapy, the body’s overall sensitivity to light may be increased, and the skin can become more sensitive and prone to reactions.
Consult with a dermatologist before initiating red light therapy for hair loss. They can evaluate individual circumstances, discuss potential limitations, and provide guidance on the most suitable treatment options based on the specific hair loss condition.
As for the limitations of red light therapy for hair, here’s a quick look:
- Results may not be immediate and typically require multiple treatments.
- Maintenance is required to sustain the results (sometimes the benefits may gradually diminish over time, depending on the type of hair loss condition).
- Individual responses to the treatment can vary, and results may take time to become noticeable.
- While red light therapy can be beneficial for certain types of hair loss, it may not be suitable or effective for everyone.
What Conditions Does Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss Help Treat?
RLT can help treat different kinds of hair loss, seeing as various factors contribute to hair loss, such as genetics, hormonal changes, and lifestyle choices.
This treatment is suitable for both men and women experiencing various types of hair loss, so let’s go through each one.
Red Light Therapy for Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s cells attack the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. However, the hair follicle is not destroyed, meaning hair can grow back.
Autoimmune diseases in general result in an environment that is pro-inflammatory, as is the case with hair follicles’ environment when it comes to alopecia areata. And since red light therapy has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the inflammatory response and repair damage.
Red Light Therapy for Androgenetic Alopecia
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss, more commonly known as female or male pattern baldness. This condition is genetic and usually caused by increased androgen activity. Raised labels of certain hormones lead to the shrinking of hair follicles, thinning out the hair.
Red light therapy for male pattern baldness is effective since red light stimulates the cells in the bulge of the hair follicle. One study found a 39% percent hair increase upon using red light therapy for hair loss.
Red Light Therapy and Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia
Red light therapy has been explored as a potential treatment to mitigate chemotherapy-induced hair loss and promote hair regrowth, but you need to consult with a healthcare team (including an oncologist) to discuss the use of red LED light therapy during chemotherapy.
Once the course of chemotherapy is complete, red light therapy can be used to help regrow hair by improving blood flow to the scalp to stimulate hair follicles.
Red Light Therapy for Female Hair Loss
While hormonal changes, especially those that occur during pregnancy or menopause are the most common cause of hair loss in women, any hormonal shifts can trigger changes in hair volume and density.
Also, certain medical conditions like thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, scalp infections, and fungal issues can be the reason behind female hair loss.
This hair loss can be reversed with red light for hair growth, as confirmed by a study from 2017 in which researchers found that women receiving red light therapy experienced a 51% increase in their hair count.
Red Light Therapy for Hair Regrowth
Red light therapy does not induce hair growth in areas where there was no hair before.
It can only stimulate dormant hair follicles that have stopped producing hair (or that are producing weak and thin hairs), encouraging them to regrow thicker and healthier hair. So if anyone is worried about red light therapy causing hair growth in other unwanted places, rest assured, that’s not going to happen.
Image source: Instagram @drmichellehenry
What to Expect During & After Your Light Therapy for Hair Loss Procedure?
The best thing about this treatment is that it’s extremely simple and quite relaxing.
During an LED light therapy treatment, a panel of gentle light is held right above your scalp while you wear a protective cover over your eyes. The device may also be shaped like a helmet, cap, or even be a handheld device, depending on the specific type of light therapy used.
The session typically lasts up to 30 minutes, but the duration can vary. During this time all you should do is relax (or nap) while sitting or lying down comfortably.
You shouldn’t feel any heat or itching, but a bit of a tingling sensation has been reported. Nothing major though.
Once you are done with your session, you can continue to go on about your normal daily routine, without any downtime or special aftercare required.
To make the treatment more effective, you can prep the scalp by washing your hair before the appointment to remove any styling products or oils. This helps ensure better light penetration into the scalp.
How Many Red Light Therapy Hair Growth Sessions Will You Need?
The procedure has to be done regularly to contribute to hair re-growth. The specific number of sessions depends on the desired results as well as your specific condition.
Factors like the severity of the hair loss condition, individual genetics, and overall health all contribute to the success of treatment.
Usually, the recommended amount of sessions is between 6-10. Results are cumulative, so more noticeable improvements are usually achieved with a higher number of sessions.
Can Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss Be Combined With Other Treatments?
You can combine LED therapy with treatments that also focus on promoting hair growth to speed up the regrowing process.
You can look into treatments like microneedling for hair regrowth, which stimulates hair growth by combining the skin’s natural healing mechanism with increased absorption of hair growth products.
You can also look into taking some hair-stimulating medication or topical creams like minoxidil. Talk to your doctor to discuss the best options for your specific hair loss condition.
Image source: Instagram @prp_finder
Is Light Therapy for Hair Growth Safe?
Yes, all LED light therapies are considered safe. They are reportedly well-tolerated by many individuals and don’t seem to cause any pain or discomfort.
In fact, red light therapy for hair is considered to be a non-invasive alternative to treatments like scalp micropigmentation, hair transplant, or medication like Rogaine.
Are There Any Red Light Therapy Hair Growth Side Effects?
While minimal side effects are reported, some people still may experience temporary scalp redness or mild itching, and some mild dryness or flakiness. But these side effects are generally short-lived and subside quickly.
However, if any side effects persist or worsen over time, book a doctor’s appointment for further evaluation.
Red Light for Hair Growth Cost
In general, the cost of red light treatment ranges anywhere from $25 to $200 per session, which is why many people opt to do an at-home version of this treatment.
Usually, most clinics and salons will offer a pack of several sessions for discounted price, since you will need more than one session anyway. There are places that offer 6 sessions for around 100-150$.
Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss at Home
Performing red light therapy for hair loss at home, allows individuals to undergo treatments on their own schedule and in the comfort of their own homes. Plus, once you make an investment you end up saving money in the long run.
Here are some key pointers to keep in mind when using red light therapy for hair loss at home:
- Choose the right kind of RLT device (and make sure it’s FDA-cleared)
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. Pay attention to the recommended treatment duration and the appropriate distance between the device and the scalp.
- You need to use the device consistently and regularly. So, create a schedule and stick to it.
- Ensure that the scalp and hair are clean and free from any styling products or oils since that allows the light to penetrate the scalp more effectively and enhances the treatment’s potential benefits.
Before starting your own red light therapy hair growth journey at home, it’s recommended to consult with a dermatologist, as they can provide guidance, evaluate your specific hair loss condition, and offer personalized recommendations for the most appropriate treatment approach.
Best Light Therapy for Hair Loss Devices
Since red light therapy for hair loss has been rising in popularity, the market is saturated with all kinds of products intended for different clients’ needs. You need to find the right type of device for your needs, to ensure you’ll be using it regularly.
We’ve covered the best red LED devices for the face in the past, so here are some of the best red light therapy for hair growth devices:
Red Light Comb for Hair Growth
A red light comb for hair growth is, very simply put, a device that combines the benefits of red light therapy with the convenience of a comb.
It’s a handheld device that emits specific wavelengths of red or near-infrared light onto the scalp while combing through the hair. The bonus advantage of these kinds of devices is that they’re shining light directly on the scalp, parting the hair with their tines.
One such device is the Hairmax Ultima 9 that only requires 11 minutes, every other day. This device is FDA-cleared and claims to have visible results in as little as 3 to 6 months.
Red Light Hat for Hair Growth
Red light hat for hair growth is essentially a passive treatment, seeing as you get all the benefits of LED therapy while multitasking.
While wearing it, red light will penetrate the scalp and is absorbed by the cells of the hair follicles, stimulating cellular activity and promoting hair regrowth.
One example of an FDA-cleared treatment cap is the iRestore, a non-invasive device that resembles a regular helmet. It requires 25-minute sessions every other day to stimulate the hair follicles effectively.
Red Light for Hair Growth – Main Takeaways
Red light therapy is most effective for hair loss conditions that are related to impaired hair follicle function or dormant hair follicles, but it may be less effective for hair loss caused by other factors, such as scarring or severe hormonal imbalances.
And, although individual results may vary, red light therapy holds the potential to combat hair loss and improve the health and appearance of hair. For those looking for safe, non-invasive hair loss treatments, RLT is a great option.