In this article we investigate does red light therapy help with hair loss, hair regrowth, and some of the science around it.
I’ve still got quite a bit of hair on the top of my head, although I’ll admit there is a little less sod on the fairway. When I first heard that red light therapy can help with hair loss, I wasn’t surprised because I know that red light nourishes the mitochondria in our cells and it would make sense that it would help hair follicle health. Then I heard that it can help with actual hair growth and I was like, woah!
Whatever vanity I have left perked up and I thought can it really help with hair growth? Let’s take a closer look at how red light can affect hair loss and regrowth, shall we?
How Does Red Light Help Hair Health?
Red light has been found to be effective as a treatment for hair loss. Specifically light in the 620nm (nanometer) to 660nm wavelengths have shown the best results. By increasing blood flow in the scalp, metabolism in hair follicles is stimulated resulting in increased production of hair.
Red light is capable of penetrating the skin and reaches the base of hair follicles, thus stimulating the cells to produce more energy. This results in improved cellular replication, which can lead to new hair growth.
Controlled clinical trials demonstrated that LLLT stimulated hair growth in both men and women.
The majority of studies covered in this review found an overall improvement in hair regrowth, thickness, and patient satisfaction following LLLT therapy.
Due to the fact that red light therapy stimulates the body’s natural growth processes, the anecdotal evidence we’ve come across indicates that hair only grows back where it normally would if your overall health is good.
Can Red Light Help Grow New Hair?
It works primarily by increasing blood flow in the scalp, which in turn stimulates the energy production in hair follicles and brings about an increase in the production of hair. When hair loss happens, it’s because the follicles, which are little tube-like receptors that hold the hair on our skin, become weak and can no longer hold the hair.
Deeper at the base of a follicle is where the matrix and papilla are found, and this is where hair growth actually begins. Red light stimulates these bases, along with the mitochondria of all the cells in the area, allowing for it to begin performing better.
I was totally unaware of the fact that the FDA cleared the first LLLT device for hair growth (it was a comb style device) way back in 2007. Why haven’t I heard about this! Apparently NASA published a study in 2000 that showed favorable results of LED technology when using red light therapy to treat chemotherapy induced ulcers. This and other work at the time helped usher in the era of commercial development and use of medical grade lights and LEDs for LLLT and light therapy as we know it today.
Mark S. Nestor, MD, PhD is quoted in this article as saying:
The earliest at-home use LLLT hair growth device was cleared by the FDA in 2007 as a comb. Investigators in one study of the HairMax LaserComb (Lexington International), found that patients in the treatment group experienced a greater increase in mean terminal hair density compared with those exposed to a sham device group, and that the therapy was safe and resulted in no serious side effects.
Why Is Red Light The Most Popular Wavelength?
Of all the colors, red light and near infrared light penetrates most deeply into the skin and thus has the most profound healing effects.
Red light in general is an effective wavelength for treating conditions on the outer layers of the skin, which include hair growth, skin irritations, wrinkles, fine lines, swelling of the skin and other surface wounds.
Near-infrared light, on the other hand, penetrates more deeply which allow for healing deeper into the tissues. Some of the benefits of this deeper healing include reduced inflammation, thyroid health, better fat metabolism, lymphatic system and accelerated muscle repair.
The Ideal Wavelengths for Hair Regrowth
What I most commonly cited value I find when researching the best or ideal wavelength for hair regrowth is 655 nanometers (nm). This wavelength apparently has the unique ability to be absorbed by the molecules of hair follicles and is ideal for the cellular processes that grow hair.
This type of hair therapy is being performed in health clinics and salons by trained professionals around the world, and can of course also be performed in the comfort of your own home.
How Long Does It Take to Regrow Hair Using Light Therapy?
A Google search for this will bring about a variety of answers, and of course it depends on the individual, their history and what the desired outcome is. The most common answer I’ve found is one to two sessions per day, three to five times per week (10 minutes each session) for a minimum of four months.
These estimates assume the use of a therapeutic grade and safe light with high power output. Ongoing maintenance is also recommended. I will be asking my doctor about this, which we always recommend you do as well before starting this or any other health regimen.
I didn’t expect that it would happen overnight but that sounds like a reasonable commitment to me. It would be lovely if it could be even faster, but alas, as the old Chinese proverb goes, “the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now.” On that cheery note I bid you safe and happy travels.