Are Red Light Devices Worth It? Here's One We Love And One We'd Love To Try

May 10, 2022

Many women discover new allergies around the time they turn thirty. (I have a friend who had to stop eating bananas!) For me, it was more focused on my skin: I’m finding that I’m definitely allergic to the sun and that seemingly “good,” popular and highly-rated products can push my happy skin off a cliff. In the past several months, I had severe allergic reactions to two different products with Vitamin C (as Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid). (Here’s why Vitamin C should be avoided by sensitive skin types.) Now I’m beginning to wonder if most brightening skincare products should be off-limits for me. I’m still resisting the idea of leaving my hyperpigmentation alone, so I’ve become intrigued by red light devices.

So how does red light therapy work? Red is the longest wavelength light—you can think far from ultra-violet, or shortest wavelength light. It penetrates the skin and stimulates your cells to repair themselves. Dermatologists frequently use red light therapy at their clinics, and clinical research for red light therapy shows effectiveness for a whole host of skin and other issues: wound healing, collagen-building and wrinkle reduction, and sun damage repair. Of personal interest is prevention of cold sores from HSV-1, also known as sun blisters, which is particularly troublesome to yours truly—especially combined with my sun allergy! (Do you blame me for wishing for a personal cloud that follows me everywhere?) If red light therapy is even slightly effective at building collagen, reducing hyperpigmentation, and increasing my resilience to cold sores, I am all over it.

At-home red LED light devices are quite an investment. I love getting my friends’ advice before spending a lot on skincare, and Creative Director Mary swears by her Lightstim for Wrinkles, which she’s been using for the past three years. “It provides boosted collagen and increased cell repair in the long run. In the short term, you see increased glow.” She says, adding that it’s become an important part of her wellness routine. “I have a version that plugs into the wall. So you’re forced to sit still, which I think is good for me. Plus, it warms up. Kind of cozy. And I usually do it in the dark so there’s this nice red glow.”

red light deviceI saw this photo and said, “Wee it’s like lighting a candle on your face! Except no burn. Just cozy.” Sorry, a huge candle fan here, raise your hand if you understand!


Lightstim for Wrinkles, $249. Its fans include not just Mary, but also Shani Darden, facialist to stars.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider SolaWave, which somehow combines microcurrent, facial massage (vibration), and red light into one small wand. I am already a daily user (addict, really) of NuFace microcurrent device. It makes me wonder if I need another device that has microcurrent functionality, but the price point and the before/after photos on their website are too good to miss.

SolaWave, $149

I have a lot to think about before I make a purchase, but I’m really, really intrigued. What about you guys?

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Photo: Mary Hood Luttrell; Lightstim; SolaWave

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Peaceful Dumpling is used for articles written by staff writers and freelance contributors who wish to remain unidentified.


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