Red Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation: How Does It Work?

Before and after photos of Lisa Kennedy who underwent red light therapy for hyperpigmentation

If you have hyperpigmentation, perhaps you're still searching for an effective way to deal with it. You may have tried such standard treatments as chemical peels and topicals but are looking for something a tad gentler or even more natural this time. Enter red light therapy for hyperpigmentation

In this article, we'll talk about skin discoloration. In addition, we'll address the question, "Is red light therapy good for hyperpigmentation?" We'll also answer the query, "Does red light therapy make hyperpigmentation worse?" Lastly, we'll unpack how the cutting-edge treatment of red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can literally be a powerful solution to a "brighter" life.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a disorder that causes patches of your skin to become darker than their surrounding areas. This is triggered by the skin's excessive production of melanin. 

Melanin is a substance in your body that gives pigmentation to your skin, hair, and eyes. With more melanin, your skin color becomes darker. Although all races can have it, hyperpigmentation seems common in people of color whose darker skin tones already have an abundance of melanin.

Causes of hyperpigmentation

The body does not just process melanin for aesthetic purposes—it also has biological functions. For instance, it is an effective sun shield. This natural skin pigment prevents DNA damage by absorbing and blocking UV radiation and blue light. It also neutralizes ROS or Reactive Oxygen Species, unstable molecules that wreak havoc on DNA strands and proteins and even kill cells.

So, the right amounts of melanin can be beneficial to us. However, when our skin cells get injured or are unhealthy, the body goes into emergency mode and overproduces melanin to protect them. Although race can be a determining factor, hyperpigmentation can also result from the following:

1. Certain medications

  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives)  
  • Light-sensitizing drugs
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antimalarials 
  • Psychotropic drugs (drugs that affect the brain like antidepressants)

2. Health conditions

  • Adrenal disorders (when the body doesn't produce enough cortisol hormone)
  • Hormonal changes (e.g., in puberty or pregnancy)
  • Vitamin deficiency (such as B12 and folic acid)
  • Thyroid disorders

3. Skin injuries or inflammation (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation):

  • Acne
  • Rashes
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Bruising

4. Sun exposure 

  • Melasma (excessive accumulation of melanin on the skin)
  • Solar lentigines (flat, dark lesions from ultraviolet light)

5. Genetics

  • Freckles 
  • Melasma

6. Aging

7. Alcohol

How to deal with hyperpigmentation

As you can see, hyperpigmentation can be caused by a single factor or a combination of several. Thus, it's necessary to be proactive where you can. For instance, you can take vitamin supplements and make specific lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol, wearing sunscreen, and staying out of the sun. In addition, quit picking at scabs and spots to prevent trauma to the skin. You can also use skin-lightening topicals like kojic acid for melasma, alpha hydroxy acids, and vitamin C creams.

However, these may not be enough to address your skin discoloration. Also, your skin may be sensitive to certain ingredients from facial lotions and ointments. You could try laser or chemical peels, but these may be invasive and uncomfortable. There is also the risk of scarring, infections, or swelling from such treatments. And this brings us to red light therapy for hyperpigmentation.

Woman wearing a HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask

What is red light therapy?

So, is red light therapy good for hyperpigmentation? Before we answer that, let's find out what red light therapy for hyperpigmentation is all about. 

Red light therapy for dark spots is a scientifically-recognized treatment that mimics the powerful healing capabilities of the sun without the dangers of UV light exposure. In fact, it was NASA that first experimented with red light therapy and discovered its potential to grow plants and heal wounds in space. Leveraging technological advancements, the therapy uses low-level wavelengths of red or near-infrared light (or both). These are beamed onto the face or body part being treated, which absorb the energy-emitting light waves. As a result, the mitochondria, our cells' "power plants," get all fired up. With the energy boost, they can work optimally to perform such functions as stimulating collagen, growing new cells, and repairing skin.

How does red light therapy for hyperpigmentation work?

1. It penetrates at the cellular level.

The deepest part of the epidermis (or external layer of the skin) is where you can find melanocytes, the highly differentiated cells that produce melanin. When these get overexcited, the production of the pigment goes into high gear. Because the wavelengths used in red light therapy for hyperpigmentation are long, these can penetrate deep down to the tissues. This characteristic enables them to downregulate or reduce the number of hyperactive melanocytes. Thus, red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can address the problem at its core—with the utmost gentleness on the skin!

2. Its sequential pulsing allows shifts in intensity.

Yet another way that red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can "shed light" on the skin disorder is via the treatment's unique sequential pulsing. The pattern, which resembles the Morse code, allows medical practitioners or health care professionals to customize the treatment. This means they can adjust its intensity to effectively make tissues respond, enabling the healing of advanced hyperpigmentation. 

3. It boosts the skin's natural self-defense capability.

Red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can also help set up the skin to increase its resistance to harmful UV rays. This effectively does away with future sun damage, the numero uno factor in melasma.

4. It prevents premature aging.

How about aging, which is another trigger for melanin production? Red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can help in this department too! Studies show that red light therapy for hyperpigmentation can also be effective in skin rejuvenation. It can also boost hydration and plump up the skin, effectively arresting premature aging and its symptoms. 

5. It treats skin injuries and reduces their melanin-triggering effects. 

But what if you have skin disorders or traumas? Does red light therapy make hyperpigmentation worse? As clear as day, the answer is "no." Additional evidence demonstrates that red light therapy for hyperpigmentation is a safe and potent method to treat skin-darkening acne and scars. It also stimulates blood flow to the tissues and reduces redness and swelling. In addition, because of its low frequencies, red light therapy for hyperpigmentation is non-toxic, non-invasive, and, therefore, gentle on the skin.

Woman exercising while wearing a  HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask

Lighten up with HigherDOSE Red Light Therapy

Ready to let the light shine on your skin? Then brighten up with HigherDOSE, the most trusted authority in red light and infrared light therapy. HigherDOSE has captured the healing powers of the natural world in the trendiest at-home wellness tools. Our HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask combines red and near-infrared LED technologies in an innovative design for busy lifestyles. The gentle, non-invasive treatment mimics low-level wavelengths in natural sunlight to target red, uneven skin and enhance your natural glow. 

Take it to the next level of radiance with the HigherDOSE Glow Serum. The red light therapy serum's innovative heat- and light-activated formula is designed to boost the rejuvenating, plumping, and hydrating benefits of the Red Light Face Mask. Used alone, the nourishing blend of bio-nutrients and hyper-clean ingredients gives you powerful on-the-go hydration. So glow up and radiate like never before with HigherDOSE. Shop our breakthrough collection of wellness technologies, topicals, and ingestibles today!

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