Best Red Light Therapy Tools Of 2023: Fight Fine Lines, Acne & More
Whether your social media feed is chock-full of beauty influencers or not, you may have come across people on social media using skin care devices that look practically space-age. Though there are many at-home skin care devices on the market, LED light therapy tools seem to be the most captivating.
Before, these LED light therapy tools were typically kept in dermatologists' or estheticians' offices during treatments or facials. Now, just like everything else it seems, they're hitting the mainstream market for at-home use.
But just because you can get your hands on professional-grade light therapy tools doesn't mean every item for sale is actually up to par. In fact, experts warn that there are many less-than-quality options that have flooded the web, so it's important to make sure you're purchasing one that comes recommended. Now, a fair warning that these come with a pretty price tag—but given these are technically professional devices, a higher cost just comes with the territory.
- Best multitasker: SolaWave Advanced Skincare Wand with Red Light Therapy
- Best attachment: NuFace Trinity Wrinkle Reducer
- Best handheld: LUMEBOX
- Best red & blue light: Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro
- Best splurge: MZSkin LightMAX Supercharged LED Mask 2.0
- Best budget-friendly: Skin Gym Revilit LED
- Best for acne: dpl IIa Professional Acne Treatment Light Therapy
- Best healthy aging: LightStim
- Best smart device: Foreo UFO 2
Benefits of red light therapy
Though there are still some questions1 about the ins and outs of how LED therapy works, these low-level lights have been shown to heal scars, improve the appearance of breakouts, and stimulate collagen production. (For a full rundown, we wrote a whole guide on the benefits of LED light therapy.) Here, what you can expect from LED light therapy:
- Enhances topicals: Possibly LED's most impressive quality, though, is its ability to work in tandem with other products. That's why LED therapy is typically a part of a facial, working alongside the other treatments and products used during the treatment. This is because the wavelengths of the LED light technology help ingredients penetrate deeper into the dermis for a more effective regimen and results.
- Red light, in particular, can stimulate collagen: There are a variety of LED lights from blue to yellow to green. The one we're highlighting today is red light therapy, which exposes bodily tissues to red and near-infrared light between the wavelengths of 660 nm and 890 nm with either low-level lasers or red LED lights to stimulate collagen to improve fine lines and wrinkles and help heal scars and wounds.
- Helps improve complexion: This results in a smoother, clearer, younger complexion. In fact, one study found that patients receiving red light therapy twice a week for 30 total sessions experienced improved skin tone2, skin smoothness, and collagen density.
All LED therapy is best done by professionals thanks to their professional-grade tools and extensive training. Not to mention, there are lots of questionable at-home red light therapy tools looking to take advantage of the buzz around red LED light therapy. With that being said, there are also some really great at-home options available for those looking for a more consistent and more affordable routine.
If you are looking to partake in LED light therapy at home, we recommend buying from only reputable skin care brands and companies. But to help you sort through all the noise, we rounded up eight of our favorite red light tools.
How we picked:
There are many knock-off products on the web, so we only selected tools that come from brands that are known for creating high-quality skin care tools.
We vetted each tool's claims to make sure they were backed by research; some of the tools have clinicals.
These tools have been tested by editors, experts, and people trusted by the mindbodygreen beauty team.
Quality LED tools are inherently expensive—so we tried to include options that had added value (such as multiple benefits, technologies, etc.) to account for the price tag.
Our picks for the best red light therapy devices of 2023:
Best multitasker: SolaWave Advanced Skincare Wand with Red Light Therapy
- Massage tool
- Covers small surface area
If you're looking for a device that won't take up too much space in your small bathroom or is easier to pack in a carry-on, this handheld device is the tool for you. Not only is it portable, rechargeable, and pretty darn cute, but it also works effectively to minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, and dark spots. Along with red light therapy, it uses microcurrent technology and facial massaging techniques to stimulate the muscles and deeper layers of the skin for an overall refreshed complexion. Want more info? Check out our full review of the Solawave here.
What our tester says:
"I firmly believe the Solawave is worth the hype. I personally was shocked by the results the first morning after using my new device, and it's only gotten more impressive with time. Each use brightens up my dark under-eye circles and eases tension in my face, revealing a less puffy, more sculpted appearance. Over time, I noticed an improvement in fine lines and a more even skin tone overall."— Carleigh Ferrante, commerce editor
Best attachment: NuFace Trinity Wrinkle Reducer
- Need NuFace device
For those who are already a part of the NuFace family, this LED attachment is a must. It will take your anti-aging skin care routine another step further for seriously notable results. It's great for those who travel and are looking for something smaller than the masks that they can take on the go.
Best handheld: LUMEBOX
- Red light & far infrared
- Travel case included
- Not wearable
This handheld device emits both red and near infrared light simultaneously, aiming to lower inflammation, boost collagen production, and improve appearance of wrinkles, scars, skin texture, and elasticity. It comes with a travel case making it a great portable option, but has a larger surface area than other handheld red light therapy tools. Reviewers love this option for its skin benefits and the relief it gives them from back and joint pain. One testimonial on the brand’s site says, “I had been experiencing significant back pain in the last year. Acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and cryotherapy had me at a point of desperation, and then found significant relief after RLT, and that's why it's a MUST item on my nightstand.”
Best red & blue light: Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro
- Comfortable to wear
- Not portable
Beloved by professionals, celebrities, and all consumers alike, this high-tech face mask targets everything from wrinkles to acne. One hundred red lights and 62 blue lights work together to improve skin density, boost collagen production, smooth out wrinkles, fight discoloration, and clear breakouts. It may look intimidating, but it's actually really easy to use, with a rechargeable battery and adjustable strap. And possibly the most surprising: It's pretty comfortable to wear!
What mbg's tester says:
This Instagram-famous mask is a favorite among celebrities, influencers, and media folk. I’ve used this option and can account for its efficacy. Another mbg staffer says this: “I have absolutely been loving using this. After a month or so of regular use, I’ve noticed a slight change in the fine lines in my skin, especially the ones on my forehead, above my brow line and around my eyes! It’s been easy to add to my daily skincare routine and it allows me to do both my mask + a quick 3 minute meditation simultaneously.”
Best splurge: MZSkin LightMAX Supercharged LED Mask 2.0
- Clinically tested
Listen, we know $800 is a lot to spend on a face mask, but we promise you this one is totally worth the splurge if you can afford it. It uses LED red and blue light therapy to diminish wrinkles and breakouts while simultaneously calming inflammation, firming up muscles and boosting skin's natural radiance. As if that weren't enough, the silicone structure molds the face for optimal results and serious comfort. Essentially, it's the next best thing to an in-office red light therapy treatment.
Best budget-friendly: Skin Gym Revilit LED
- 3 LED colors
- Large for a handheld
OK, so $80 isn't necessarily budget-friendly, but Skin Gym's tool is the most effective one we recommend at the lowest price point. After all, you don't want to go too budget when it comes to LED tools. Let me reiterate: These are technically professional tools, thus they come with a professional price. This one also features green and blue light therapy alongside the red light, meaning it's also a multitasker. All you have to do is glide the handheld device around the face to absorb all the LED benefits.
Best for acne: dpl IIa Professional Acne Treatment Light Therapy
- Not hands-free
Less concerned about aging and more concerned about acne? Meet the LED red light tool for you. While the blue light targets skin bacteria that can cause acne breakouts, the red light supports skin's natural healing abilities for a combination that tackles acne every step of the way.
Best healthy aging: LightStim for Wrinkles
- Comes with a serum & goggles
- Reduced surface area
Make this tool a part of your regular healthy aging skin care regimen and you'll see even more impressive results. Think brighter, smoother, wrinkle-reduced complexion. After you wash your face and apply your serum, this LED light therapy device will stimulate collagen production and help your products work their magic at an even deeper level.
Best smart device: Foreo UFO 2
- Fewer LED bulbs
Talk about convenience! You can pair this tool to your phone through an app to guide you through finding a regimen that best suits your and your skin's needs. Alongside the LED lights, this palm-size tool features thermotherapy, cryotherapy, T-Sonic pulsations alongside LED lights to further aid your skin care products' efficacy. It may be small, but boy is it mighty!
Cautions & side effects
LED therapy is generally considered safe for most people (in fact, some research papers have stated3 that there is "an almost complete absence of side effects" associated with red light therapy treatment). Additionally, the American Academy of Dermatology deems LED treatment safe.
Of course, there are things to keep in mind when using the tools.
First and foremost, you should find a quality product (more on that below). Because as experts have explained to us, less-than-stellar options have flooded the market, resulting in a lot of poorly made options in the hands of users. "Unless the LED light is the correct wavelength, it's not going to do anything; you might as well be using Christmas lights," says esthetician Natalie Aguilar.
Anecdotal accounts reveal that some people find red light therapy to be irritating or bothersome to the eyes, but this can be remedied by wearing goggles.
Finally, always follow the instructions from the brand. Esthetician Aneta Zuraw, co-founder of Atelier Beauté, generally advises placing the device panel within 1 inch of the face, but certain manufacturers may have different protocols. "All programs, distance, and time vary per skin condition and device used," she says.
LED red light therapy can be a beneficial addition to your regular skin care routine. Not only will it help your products penetrate deeper into the dermis, but it can also stimulate collagen production and heal acne and scarring for an enviable complexion that's youthful and smooth. For more tips on collagen production, check out our guide to improving your natural collagen levels naturally.
What we've updated since publishing
3/30/23: We updated our product recommendations to include the Lumebox red light therapy device as the best handheld option.