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Can I use red light therapy with retinol?

Red light therapy and retinol are two popular skin care treatments that can be used together to reduce visible signs of aging, clear acne, even out skin tone, and stimulate fresh, new cell growth for noticeably younger looking skin. But there are some important factors to consider when combining these modalities. In this short article, everything you need to know about using red light therapy with retinol safely and effectively is covers. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey.

red light therapy retinol

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy, also called photobiomodulation (PBM), uses specific wavelengths of light to positively interact with cells. Red and near-infrared light deeply penetrates skin tissue, stimulating your cells’ mitochondria and boosting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. This unleashes a cascade of anti-aging and restorative skin cell processes.[1]

Some of red light therapy’s benefits include:

Accelerating healing
Increasing collagen and elastin production
Reducing inflammation and skin sensitivity
Improving circulation and oxygenation of skin cells
Supporting healthy cell turnover for smoother, glowing skin

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and is one of the most researched and proven topical ingredients for addressing signs of aging. It works by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production. Retinol helps improve skin texture, fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and unclog pores.[2]

Retinol is available over-the-counter in concentrations of 0.025% up to 1%. Prescription strength retinoids such as tretinoin can go up to 0.1%. Higher concentrations typically yield better results, but can also cause more irritation, redness and peeling. That’s why it’s best to start with a low concentration retinol and build up tolerance over time.

When using retinol, it’s essential to use sun protection during the day as it can make your skin more sensitive to UV damage. Moisturizing well and applying retinol slowly can help minimize irritation. Some temporary side effects when starting retinol include dryness, flaking, redness, and stinging.

Now let’s look at why teaming these two treatments can transform your skin in ways neither can achieve alone.

Benefits of Combining Red Light Therapy and Retinol

When red light therapy and retinol are combined, their powers synergize to deliver remarkable benefits for your skin.Here are some of the top benefits of this duo:

Enhanced Collagen Production
Retinol signals the skin to ramp up collagen synthesis, while red light provides energy to the fibroblasts to increase collagen formation. This power combo addresses wrinkles and sagging skin.

Minimal Retinol Irritation
Red light has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the irritation, dryness and flaking that sometimes occurs with retinol use, especially when first starting. This allows retinol to be better tolerated.

Quicker Cell Turnover
Retinol and red light both speed up cell turnover but in different ways. Their combined action reveals brighter, smoother skin faster.

Decreased Hyperpigmentation
Retinol and red light each help inhibit melanin production and fade dark spots. Using them together provides synergy for improved tone and clarity.

Preventative Aging
Retinol boosts collagen to reverse existing signs of aging. Red light therapy maintains and protects collagen stores to slow the formation of wrinkles and sagging.

Increased Absorption
Red light warms the skin which dilates blood vessels and increases circulation. This may allow for better absorption of topically applied retinol.

Additive Acne Fighting
Red light and retinol attack acne in multiple ways. Retinol exfoliates pore-clogging buildup while red light reduces inflammation and kills p. acnes bacteria.

Benefits of Combining Red Light Therapy and Retinol

Risks of Combining Red Light Therapy with Retinol

While red light therapy and retinol can complement each other nicely, there are some cautions to consider:

Increased Irritation
Used together, these treatments may irritate sensitive skin, especially at first. Introduce them slowly and don’t overdo it. Light therapy can be done before retinol to reduce inflammation.

Retinol makes skin more susceptible to UV damage. Make sure to apply sunscreen diligently when going outside, even on cloudy days. Red light does not cause photosensitivity.

Too much exfoliation from retinol combined with the accelerated cell turnover of red light may be overly harsh for some skin types. Adjust frequency accordingly.

Not for Active Acne
While red light and retinol both treat acne, combining actives during a bad breakout can further irritate skin. Wait for active acne to calm down before using together.

It’s best to introduce retinol and red light therapy slowly and gradually increase frequency to gauge skin tolerance. Follow usage and safety recommendations to minimize potential risks.

How to Safely Use Tretinoin and Red Light Together?

Want to harness the combined power of these two treatments? Here are some best practices to incorporate them into your skincare routine safely and effectively:

Introduce Tretinoin Slowly
It takes time for skin to adjust to tretinoin without irritation. Start by applying a pea-sized amount once or twice a week. Slowly work up to daily application as your skin acclimates. Use a moisturizer to buffer when needed.

Apply Tretinoin At Night
Only apply your tretinoin at night. Washing it off in the morning prevents sun sensitivity. For mornings, stick to gentle cleansers, antioxidants like vitamin C, and broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Use Moisturizers and SPF
Always moisturize after retinol. Proper hydration minimizes dryness and peeling. Use a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen during day to minimize photosensitivity.

Use Red Light Therapy 2-3 Times Per Week
Most medical spas recommend red light therapy 2-3 times per week for optimal results. Spread out sessions every other day for consistent stimulation to your cells’ mitochondria.

Schedule Light Therapy Before Tretinoin
Undergo your professional red light session earlier in the day before applying tretinoin at night. The red light will prep your skin and boost nighttime absorption.

Avoid Tretinoin Before Light Therapy
Don’t apply tretinoin for 24 hours before your scheduled red light therapy session. The tretinoin can make skin temporarily photosensitive. Give it a day to ensure no irritation.

Watch for Side Effects
Adjust your routine if you experience excessive dryness, itching, redness or peeling. Decrease tretinoin use, add moisturizer, and take a break from light therapy until skin calms down.

Be Patient
Like any anti-aging regimen, allow at least 2-3 months to see significant improvements. Commit to the routine and let the magic duo work its synergistic power.

How to Combine Red Light Therapy and Retinol for Best Results?

To achieve the best results, follow these guidelines:

  1. Cleanse your skin thoroughly before the treatment to remove any impurities or makeup.
  2. Apply retinol-based products according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring complete absorption before proceeding.
  3. After red light therapy, moisturize your skin with a nourishing, non-comedogenic moisturizer to lock in hydration and support the skin’s healing process.
  4. Engage in red light therapy sessions as recommended by your device or skincare professional. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as your skin adjusts.

Best Red Light Therapy Devices

After reading this guide, you may be ready to start experiencing the combined benefits of red light therapy and retinol yourself. The RedDot LED is worth considering.

Here’s why you should choose RedDot LED:

Medical-Grade LEDs
RedDot LED devices use medical-grade LEDs that emit powerful therapeutic wavelengths. Using dual wavelengths of near-infrared and red light, the effect is more powerful, and you can also choose to customize the exclusive wavelength according to your situation.

FDA Cleared
RedDot LED devices are FDA cleared for various therapeutic uses. Safety and quality guaranteed.

Super cost-effective, and there is a three-year warranty after purchase.

Trusted brand
The RedDot LED should have more than 10 years of manufacturing experience with a good reputation.

Ready to embark on your journey to radiant skin? Check out our premium selection of red light therapy devices. Click the link below to shop RedDot LED’s highly rated devices today!



[1]Kim B, Mukherjee A, Seo I, Fassih A, Southall M, Parsa R. Low-level Red and Infrared Light Increases Expression of Collagen, Elastin, and Hyaluronic Acid in Skin. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2019;81(4).

[2]Reza Kafi, Heh Shin R Kwak, Wendy E Schumacher, et al. Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol). Arch Dermatol. 2007 May;143(5):606-12.

Published by reddotled.com (Repost Tips)