What’s the right amount of red light?

I’m a big believer in finding ways to gently stimulate and support our skin without putting it through its paces too much and potentially doing more harm than good.

And when it comes to anti-aging skincare and clinical or at-home treatments that can be a delicate balance.

One of the gentlest yet most effective skin treatments around in my view is red light.

In short, red light therapy typically uses low-level wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to treat skin issues including wrinkles and scarring.

The difference between red and near-infrared light is simply the wavelength, with red light falling into the visible part of the light spectrum and near infrared falling into the invisible part.

Most of the top-selling red lights masks use LED (Light Emitting Diode) which means they emit varying wavelengths of light to treat different skin concerns, but for anti-aging we want to focus on the red light.

It’s thought to work by strengthening the mitochondria in our cells which play a vital role in supporting and boosting a cell’s energy, working in tandem with the energy-carrying molecule found in all cells called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

In a Korean study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, seventy six patients with visible facial wrinkles were treated with LED on the right half of their faces twice a week for four weeks and followed up after three months, including a group that were given a ‘sham treatment’.

In the results there was a significant reduction of wrinkles and an increase in skin elasticity and a marked increase in the amount of collagen in those treated with LED compared with the untreated group.

So far so good.

But what we also know about red light is that too much of it is not necessarily a good thing and that it’s possible we can overdo it and tip those initially positive effects into negative.

Scientist and founder of Maysama skincare, Bev May Sanderson, believes the benefits of a red light mask or panel can be experienced in just six minutes a day at home to keep our cells energised and to support the production of collagen which contributes to our skin looking bouncy and youthful.

She points to studies suggesting red light emits a burst of free radicals (unstable molecules) that are initially helpful to the skin – but only up to a point.

Bev explains: “The free radicals can accumulate beyond a certain level where they’re not beneficial and it then starts to undo the good work of your red light.

“Those free radicals then inhibit the fibroblasts’ proliferation [fibroblasts play an important role in collagen production], and that’s not great for anti-ageing. So for anti-ageing, we want to keep the free radicals below a certain level.

“That means it’s not about how frequently you use your red light device, it’s how long you do it within a single session that is important.”

That view is supported by a study on the effects of red light therapy to treat myopia (short sightedness) in children.

The children were treated with 3 minute sessions twice daily and followed up over a 12 month period, during which no adverse effects were found and, happily, it had a positive impact in controlling the myopia.

This suggests frequent, shorter bursts of red light therapy is a safe and effective way to use it.


If you’re investing in a red light LED mask then the CurrentBody device is generally seen as one of the lower-cost yet effective options on the market.

It incorporates both red and near-infrared light and the makers suggest you use it for up to 10mins at a time, five days a week for best results.

The CurrentBody mask uses the combined proven treatment wavelengths from the Korean study of 830nm and 633nm. The study also found benefit from using 830nm alone and 633nm alone.

CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Face Mask. Use code CLARECB for 15% off. https://go.shopmy.us/p-573882

I recently started using their red light eye mask and absolutely love it. I use it for 3 minutes in the morning while I do my exercise and then I use a mask for 6 minutes most evenings.

CurrentBody LED Eye Mask Eye Perfector https://go.shopmy.us/p-1614940