Do you experience aches and pains? Do you have an old injury still causing you ongoing trouble?
Red light therapy is an easy way to help promote healing in muscles and connective tissue, whether an injury has taken place or just everyday wear and tear.
All you need to do is relax while the light shines on your body wherever you direct it, and different devices cover different surface area sizes.
In this post, we’ll look at what exactly red light therapy is, how it works and how you can benefit from it.
Then, we’ll share our take on the 10 best red light therapy devices that are on the market today.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy, often called phototherapy in medical fields, uses red light produced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for healing and sometimes cosmetic purposes.
This spectrum of light is known to help plants miraculously photosynthesize without the sun.
In fact, red light was used by astronauts in the 90s to grow plants in outer space.
Are you curious about what happens when you shine red LED light on your body?
Researchers have tested the effects and reported on numerous benefits.
As a result, red light therapy devices have been developed for people to gain the health benefits of red light therapy at home.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Just like red light helps plant cells photosynthesize energy for growth, it also helps the cells in your body increase their energy production.
This boosts cellular metabolism, helping to flush out toxic waste and make the processes in your cells more efficient.
This goes a long way in helping with wound healing, skin tissue repair, anti-ageing, improving cognitive function and much more.
Whenever you’re “touched” by the red light, your cells benefit from a better supply of energy.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the molecule that carries this energy from the mitochondria (the energy generator within the cell) to other parts of cells where it’s needed.
By causing an increase in ATP synthesis, red light therapy improves mitochondrial function—and, in turn, supplies more energy to the cell and boosts overall cellular function.
In this way, red light supports and accelerates the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
When they have a more abundant energy supply, your cells can rejuvenate themselves, repairing the damage that leads to aches and pains, as well as other problems .
The Benefits of Red Light Therapy
What does this mean for your body and mind?
Here’s a list of the proven effects of red light therapy:
Red light causes muscle tissue to relax, helping you release tension in your body .
Given the mind-body connection, red light therapy could potentially help you ease mental stress simply by releasing physical tension you hold unwittingly in muscle tissue.
Red light therapy boosts blood flow wherever it shines on your body .
Better blood circulation helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your brain, muscles and organs, so using it in specific places can offer specific benefits.
In a dermatology study, researchers found that red light reduced inflammation in the skin in cases of acne .
Various medical studies have found that red light effectively lowers inflammation in the brain, as well as in wounds, the lungs and the spinal cord .
Helps Improve Cognition
By improving energy production for the cells in your brain, red light therapy helps to improve cognitive function.
This could potentially be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s or for healthy individuals who sometimes experience brain fog or forgetfulness .
Red light helps your skin retain its elasticity by boosting the production of collagen, which keeps skin structured and firm.
Helps Heal Wounds
By boosting collagen production, red light helps your skin regenerate faster.
This translates to faster healing for scratches, scrapes, cuts and other wounds.
Gives You a Non-Surgical Facelift
The electric currents, or microcurrents, in red light tone and lift muscles.
Giving yourself a red light facial regularly can help tighten loose face muscles that are contributing to ageing.
Increases Collagen Synthesis
Red light stimulates increased production of collagen in the skin and in tissues beneath its surface that require collagen, such as joint cartilage.
Collagen is a structural protein responsible for elasticity and firmness in skin and connective tissue.
By increasing collagen production, red light can help these tissues repair after everyday wear and tear, or from more heavy-duty damage, in which tissue regeneration is needed.
Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
Red light therapy boosts muscle mass gains after strength training by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress .
Helps with Healing from Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy triggers cell death not just in cancer cells, but in healthy ones, too.
Red light therapy can help protect your healthy cells against the damage caused by chemotherapy treatment by increasing cellular energy and stimulating faster healing.
Types of Red Light Therapy Devices
Just like the lamps we use for indoor lighting come in different types and sizes geared toward different uses, so do red light therapy products.
Here are the major different kinds:
Torch Red Light Therapy Devices
This makes it portable and easy to direct on an isolated area of pain, but impossible to use on larger areas of the body—and therefore less time-efficient if you have multiple areas to target, like your shoulders and neck.
Red Light Therapy Bulbs
Exactly as they sound, red light therapy bulbs are lightbulbs that emit red LED light.
They can make it easy to target larger areas, as well as to target your scalp and other upper body areas since the light shines down on you.
Red light panels are entire panels that come in various sizes, filled with red LED lights.
They’re ideal for mounting on your wall, placing against the headboard of your bed or using it behind you on a chair or couch.
It lets you be hands-free and makes good use of space.
All you need to do is switch on the panel, and you don’t need to worry about charging a portable device.
Pads are soft, flexible and wearable, and they’re filled with red LED lights.
Some let you wrap them around a joint or limb and then open it up to use on larger areas like your back.
How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device
If it’s your first time buying a red light therapy product, you’ll want to know what separates a mediocre device from a top-tier device.
Here are the features that make a difference when it comes to these devices:
Red lights require power, so if you can get an energy-efficient device, you’ll save more on your electric bill.
Ease of Use
Is the device easy to hold? Is it comfortable to use, and easy to charge or plug in?
A good red light therapy product won’t inconvenience you when you need to get pain relief.
Surface Area Treated
The size of the surface area on your body your red light therapy device can treat is something to consider.
What body parts do you need it for?
If it’s for a wide generalized area like your lower back, you’ll need a device that emits light throughout the entire area, so you don’t have to treat parts at a time.
The longevity of your device depends on the durability it was built to provide.
When higher quality materials are used, you can have a more durable device, whereas some devices are more flimsy.
Red Light Strength (Wattage)
The wattage the device provides determines the strength of the therapeutic effects it delivers.
With a higher wattage, like 60 watts, you only need to expose yourself to the light for 1 to 2 minutes to reap the benefits of red light therapy.
Devices with lower wattage, such as 12 watts, requires you to use the device for a lot longer time.
The Best Red Light Therapy Devices Worth Trying
There can be a lot to unpack when it comes to the features of different red light therapy products, so we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ones and weighed their pros and cons.
Hopefully, this gives you a better sense for the brands that make red light devices, and the features and quality levels that are available in different models.
The TENDLITE is a torch-type red light device you can use to shine red LED light on highly targeted, specific areas of pain.
It’s easy and lightweight to grip in your hand, and it’s extremely portable.
Holding it in one hand, you can reach virtually any part of your body with the device.
It’s ideal if you’re looking to use red light on a specific trouble spot, like a forearm affected by tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, or for a shoulder with a rotator cuff injury.
However, if you have multiple points in the same area to target, it will take you a long time to shine the light on each small area, and you’re probably better off with a device that shines red light on a larger surface area.
- Comes with dark glasses for preventing eye strain
- Includes 2 rechargeable batteries you can interchange between to avoid waiting on charging
- Lightweight and easy to hold for quickly targeting an area of pain
- Perfect for healing scarred skin tissue
- FDA cleared
- Only covers a small isolated area at a time so you can’t use it to target larger areas like your entire shoulder or a larger muscle like your quad or calf
- Expensive especially considering it covers a small area at a time
The LOVTRAVEL wrap contains 120 red LED lights spaced out on a pad you can strap around you to target muscles and joints throughout your body.
Unlike the LED torch, you don’t need to spend time holding your device over an area when you use this red light therapy device.
You simply wrap it around your knee, forearm or other joint or body part to get the benefits of red light therapy.
It comes with a USB cable and wall plug adaptor so you can use it either at your computer desk while you’re working, or anywhere next to a wall outlet.
While many customers did find significant pain relief in their knees, feet and other areas where they had chronic pain, several others reported in their reviews of the product that it wasn’t effective against pain.
This product comes with a 60-day refund policy so if you are unsatisfied with the product you can return it.
- Hands-free operation by wrapping it around you
- Provides deep tissue penetration of red light by sitting against your skin as you use it
- Target a larger area at a time such as a large muscle group, your lumbar back or around your neck
- Users seem to get mixed results regarding pain relief
- Quite expensive
Like the Flex Pad from DPL, the Wolezek Red Light Bulb gives you the benefit of hands-free operation, as a red light therapy bulb.
It covers a wide area of your body at a time, such as your entire upper back or your lower back.
You can also use it on your face, neck and chest at the same time, so it’s able to give you the benefits of red light therapy in more areas within less time.
The bulb is made for optimal energy efficiency as well as safety.
You can apply the light right up against your skin for it to penetrate inside your body, or use it at a distance of about 12 inches to hit the surface of your skin.
The majority of customers who reviewed the product reported that it brought them pain relief.
The only major complaints from customers pertain to malfunctions with their units, which can probably be expected at this low price range.
That said if you’re not ready to invest a whole lot of money on trying red light therapy and you want to reap the benefits of larger, more generalized areas of your body without the cost of mounting a red light panel on your wall.
- Great value considering how much surface area on your body it covers for the price
- Convenient hands-free operation
- Can be used for full-body (apart from eyes)
- Comes with 12 months warranty and 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee
- Not necessarily made with high-quality construction guaranteed last you through the years
- It is just a bulb so you will need your own lamp
The Beurer infrared light heat lamp uses not just red light therapy, but also heat, to boost circulation, reduce stiffness and promote healing in your body.
The warmth helps open up your blood vessels so that more oxygen and nutrients can enter and fuel the natural healing and repair process.
The Beurer lamp size is 11.8 by 15.7 inches, so you can use it on larger body parts, like your back or your abdomen.
The Beurer has easy-to-grip handles on either side of the light you can use to accurately target specific body parts.
Or, you can place it on its stand where it sits on any flat surface like a computer monitor.
Adjust the tilt between 0 and 50 degrees, to control where the light hits when you stand or sit in front of the device.
You have to be careful with the Beurer lamp because the front glass surface gets extremely hot and can burn you or an object it touches.
- Large size for use on larger areas
- Includes infrared heat for added benefits of heat therapy
- Easy to hold or put down on a table
- It can burn you or be a fire hazard
- You can’t tilt the lamp down when it’s sitting on a table – it can only tilt upward
- Not ideal for cosmetic use on your face because of the heat
- Not suitable for full body use
Like the RedTonic Light Device, the red light therapy device from Quantum Rejuvenation is a handheld device shaped like a flashlight.
It’s made with stainless steel, making it durable and lightweight.
It’s cord-free and powered by a lithium-ion battery, which is included.
According to customer feedback, the device is both easy to use and effective in relieving pain.
Most customers seem to use it to get relief from joint pain, according to the reviews.
What makes this device different besides being cordless is also that it performs at a higher treatment strength by outputting more red light waves.
For this reason, you only need to use the device for 1 to 3 minutes on each spot to start feeling relief.
Buyer complaints about this device have mainly concerned broken parts and the device spontaneously breaking.
At least, it comes with a 1-year warranty, so if your purchase breaks, you can have it replaced within that time.
- Cordless, portable and lightweight
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- 1-year warranty
- Medical-grade strength, which saves you time getting pain relief with red light therapy
- Device quality is questionable because the unit or parts of it are known to break on their own
- Only covers a small area of your body at a time
This device is a red light panel measuring 12.2 by 12.2 inches. While this is a smaller panel, it still covers a lot of area, width-wise.
If you want to use red light therapy for your face, neck, shoulders or upper back, you could mount it to your wall at the correct height and stand in front of it.
With the 45W LED lights, you need to expose a part of your body for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, so it may not be ideal to put this panel on the wall if you don’t want to stand that long.
The major shortfall with this unit, again, comes down to quality.
According to customer reviews, it’s thin and breakable, which means it’s better for wall use rather than sitting on a couch with it behind you because it might crack.
If you want to mount it on a wall but don’t want to stand for 10 or more minutes on your feet, you can put it close to the floor and sit in front of it on a cushion to help with back pain.
Despite these minor flaws, a lot of users have gotten positive results from using this device daily and it does come with a 100% money back or replacement guarantee.
- Money-back guarantee
- So you can return it risk-free if it doesn’t help with your pain
- Covers a wide area at a time
- Highly rated for pain relief effectiveness
- Not firm and sturdy enough
This infrared light pad is versatile for use on different body parts, as you can lay on it or wrap it around your waist to target your back.
It’s a flexible pad containing red LED lights, designed for hands-free use up against your skin.
This way, the therapeutic light waves penetrate well past your skin and into your tissues.
If you want to try red light therapy for back pain relief, this is probably one of your best options.
You can lay on it, or lay on your stomach and lay it on top of your back.
Plus, you can use it against your back when you’re sitting upright in a chair.
However, it does need to be plugged in to operate, so you need to sit near an outlet.
Besides its versatility, what makes this unit special is that it combines infrared light with red light, compounding the therapeutic benefits you get.
Infrared light has a heating effect that increases blood flow.
- Pad format makes it great for back pain
- Wraps around your leg
- Arm or back
- Easy to use
- Includes both infrared light and red light
- Must be plugged in for use
- Not suitable for full body use
The Proaller handheld red light therapy device emits a mere 15 watts of red light from one laser, making it one of the less powerful devices on the market.
While the intensity level is lower, customers who reviewed the product said it worked to reduce their pain when used consistently.
You need to hold it over a spot longer to get results, and since it’s a handheld device, it’s a little inconvenient.
Unfortunately, several customers have reported in their reviews of the unit that it did not work for pain relief.
It seems to help in some cases within a day or two and not at all in others, even with weeks of use.
- Lightweight and easy to hold and use to reach any area
- Doesn’t work for everyone
- Not very powerful
The powerfully bright LightDoctor 10 is a medical-grade red light therapy device like a pad, but it has a hard back to it, so it doesn’t wrap around you.
However, it is made for use up against your skin, so you can relieve pain in your joints.
In fact, you can do so very quickly, with the potential for pain relief after just a minute of use.
Use it in one area for just 1 to 3 minutes at a time to get the benefits there, and then quickly move on to another area.
However, the device itself does cover a generous amount of surface area, so you can target large areas on your back.
According to customers who compared this device to other ones said the LightDoctor 6 is brighter and more effective in relieving pain.
Many customers have used this device to help them rehabilitate from serious injuries and had great results.
- Powerful medical-grade red light delivers benefits within 1 to 3 minutes of use
- Comes with a carrying case
- Money-back guarantee and 1-year warranty
- Lightweight and easy to pack
- Needs to be plugged in, expensive
The Trophy Skin from RejuvaliteMD is for people looking for cosmetic value from a red light therapy device, as it’s designed for reversing sun damage, age spots and other signs of ageing in skin.
It’s a lamp that shines a panel of red LED lights downward onto your face when you lay your head beneath it.
Doing so for 5 minutes at least 5 times per week is all you need to get results, according to the company.
The Trophy Skin provides both infrared and red light therapy and comes with protective goggles to protect your eyes.
The only downside to this unit is that the panel doesn’t cover a very large area, or just enough to cover your face.
If you wanted to use it for skin throughout your body, you’d need a larger device, like a wall panel.
- Effectively improves the look of your skin according to most customer feedback
- Easy to store as an aesthetically-pleasing table lamp
- Comes with protective eye goggles
- Only need 5 minutes of use at a time
- Includes infrared light therapy
- Only covers a small area of skin such as your face so not suitable for full body use and larger areas like your back or stomach
- Not designed for pain relief
The Best Red Light Therapy Device: Recommendations
The best red light therapy device on our list for getting pain relief is the LightDoctor 10 because of its strength.
It’s 100% safe and FDA-cleared, but it delivers highly intense, therapeutic-grade treatments in short periods.
That means you can get faster relief and save time. Since you only need to hold it on an area for 1 minute, it’s easy to treat problem spots regularly and see results.
Besides being so bright and strong, it’s also decent in size, as it can cover the small of your back, your whole knee joint and potentially your whole foot, depending on its size.
The device comes with a protective carrying case, and while it’s pricey, it’s durable and should be all you need. Plus, there’s a 1-year warranty.
Another plus to this device is that it can be used for your facial skin too when you wear protective goggles and hold it about 6 inches from your face.
If you are looking for cosmetic purposes, such as anti-aging and reduction in fine lines, the Trophy Skin device is worth a look.
Red Light Therapy Tips and Best Practices
Red light therapy is safe, but devices that emit infrared heat can potentially cause burning and blistering.
Be careful to use a red light device only as directed, and avoid falling asleep with it.
There’s a risk of eye damage when using red light therapy on your face, so you should use goggles that protect against laser and LED when doing so .
Whether you’re brand new to red light therapy or you’ve tried it in a salon or elsewhere, anyone can get started by buying a red light therapy device for home use.
There are so many different products out there designed to provide the benefits of red light and infrared light, but hopefully, this guide has helped you get more familiar with what types of devices are available.
Like most home therapy devices, red light devices provide the most benefit when they’re used consistently and regularly over the long-term.
However, if you get a powerful device, you should be able to use it for near-immediate pain relief.