How Often Should We Be Doing Red Light Therapy?
The beauty and wellness sphere is teeming with a plethora of facial treatments, each promising temporary instant gratification. From peels to threadlifts and fillers, the choices can be dizzying. As a seasoned skincare professional, it’s important to educate clients on how different skincare treatments and products interact with the skin differently. Some of them give immediate visible results while others take a while to work. Nevertheless, the key to long-term skin health isn’t about quick fixes but rather about consistent, regular care.
The term “Cinderella Effect” is often used in the beauty industry to describe the immediate, transformative results of certain beauty treatments, much like Cinderella’s transformation for the ball. However, in some cases this Cinderella effect lasts only a few hours or days.
The Importance of Consistency
The key to real, long-lasting results is consistency and adherence to routines. Like any good health routine, it’s all about consistency – the magic of unlocking long-lasting, radiant skin health lies in maintaining a regular schedule.
In this vein, LED light therapy isn’t a one-and-done type of treatment. Its effects from cumulative dosing build up over time, resulting in accumulation of therapeutic effects across separate treatments, particularly when doses are administered multiple times in a day or on consecutive days. This cumulative effect can enhance the overall benefits of the therapy, although careful management is needed to avoid the risk of overexposure (leading to a phenomenon known as biphasic dose response where the therapeutic effects of light therapy follows a U-shaped curve: at low dosages, light therapy can stimulate cellular activity and promote healing, but at high dosages, it can potentially cause cellular damage and inhibit healing.) A qualified practitioner should always be consulted prior to using light therapy products.
Why is Cumulative Dose Important?
Regular light therapy and cumulative dosing extends the benefits of red light therapy beyond the duration of the treatment session. Evidence shows that the therapeutic effects of light therapy continue to work in our cells long after the treatment session has ended. This understanding should change the way we approach and plan light therapy treatments. It’s not just about the duration of the therapy session; it is also about how these sessions are spaced and how their effects accumulate over time.
Consistent Application for Maximum Therapeutic Effects
“While selection of the correct wavelength and power density (W/cm2) is important, consistent application of the necessary dose (energy density or fluence: in joules per cm2 [J/cm2]) is required if the best therapeutic effects are to be achieved.” 
One of the keys to achieving the best therapeutic effects from red light therapy is consistent application. This doesn’t necessarily mean daily treatment; instead, it refers to the regular application of therapy over time, taking into account the cumulative dose. Consistent application ensures that the therapeutic effects are sustained and built upon, enhancing the overall benefits of the therapy.
Systemic Cellular Changes
It is a common misconception that we are only reaping the benefits of red light therapy during the treatment. In fact, studies show that ATP production increases to a peak around 6 hours after an LED light therapy session. The ongoing therapeutic effects of photobiomodulation (enhanced cellular energy, improved cellular function etc) which last up to 48 hours after treatment can lead to a variety of benefits, including improved skin health, enhanced muscle recovery, reduced inflammation, and even boosted cognitive function. The scope of these benefits is wide, but they all have one thing in common – studies have shown that these benefits are optimised by the continued and cumulative effects of red light therapy.
Skin health is a journey, not a destination. The optimal and long-lasting benefits of treatments like red light therapy are derived from routine usage. Achieving and maintaining great clinical results requires time, patience, and most importantly, consistency. By educating our clients on the benefits of regular facial treatments, we empower them to invest in their skin’s future, paving the way for healthier, more radiant skin for years to come.
Remember, good things come to those who wait, and in the case of skin health, good things come to those who commit to consistent, long-term care! So, if you’re considering a beauty treatment, don’t just think about the immediate results – consider the long-term benefits to your clients as well.
 Hawkins D, Abrahamse H. Effect of multiple exposures of low-level laser therapy on the cellular responses of wounded human skin fibroblasts. Photomed Laser Surg. 2006 Dec;24(6):705-14. doi: 10.1089/pho.2006.24.705. PMID: 17199470.