The wavelength paradox (red)

How to do red light therapy at home

Red lights, though commonly associated with impending doom, make for good skincare. Here’s a look at the science behind red light therapy, and a curated selection of red light therapy lights to add a sense of danger to your interior decor.

Daily exposure to red light in exchange for better skin and blood circulation? It sounds a bit far-fetched but there’s science to back it up.

Darth Vader indulging red light therapy, albeit in inappropriate outerwear

Research studies surrounding red light therapy have found a positive impact on wound healing, muscle recovery, skin health, and inflammation. The side effects have proven largely negligible, limited to mild skin irritation or eye damage (in case of direct exposure).

That being said, the verdict isn’t unanimous just yet. The long-term effects and safety of red light therapy are still being studied, and individuals may have different reactions when exposed to it.

Unfortunately not — the flashing red light on your smoke alarm will not impart the desired therapeutic benefits. Typically, red light therapy lights are LEDs which emit wavelengths within the red (around 620 to 700 nanometers) and near-infrared (around 700 to 1100 nanometers) range.

Red light therapy lights can be classified in two categories.

red light therapy lights
Red light therapy prepares Ethan Hunt to jump out of a cargo plane in Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Directional lights are designed to emit light in a focused manner. This means that the light is concentrated and directed toward a specific area or target. These are often used for targeted therapy, where the goal is to focus the therapeutic light on a particular part of the body, such as a joint or muscle.

Non-direction red light therapy lights emit light in a more diffuse or non-directional manner. These lights scatter light more broadly across an area. Non-directional lights are often used for general exposure, where the goal is to cover a larger surface area, such as the face or a larger muscle group.

Our favourite red light therapy lights

Doing red light therapy at home can be as simple as buying a lamp. However, with a little bit of thought, this could be an investment which improves not only your health but your home decor. Here are some of our favourite red light therapy lights which might do the trick.

Option A: Buying a dedicated red light therapy lamp

As far as aesthetics go, the red light therapy lamps on the market today might not be to everyone’s tastes. They are bold and in-your-face, often resembling a metal grate and bringing to mind thoughts of a dystopian future. That being said, if a metallic and industrial look is what you’re after, these could be an easy choice.

KALA’s red light quad panel which retails for US$4460

Red light therapy lamps can range from small handheld devices to large frames used for full-body treatments. The costs start around the low US$100s and can range to over US$5000.

Option B: Building your own red light therapy lights

If it’s aesthetics first and therapy second, then building your own red light therapy lamp could prove more effective. There are two pieces to this puzzle: a red LED bulb and a lamp to fit it inside.

LED bulbs are easy to find and could cost you anywhere between US$5 to US$50. Some are built for everyday use while others were designed specifically for red light therapy.

While the intensity and focus might not be as precise as specialized devices, using everyday red LEDs could still offer some of the benefits of red light therapy, potentially aiding in circulation, collagen production, and inflammation reduction. For specific therapeutic outcomes, such as targeted skin rejuvenation or addressing specific health concerns, investing in purpose-built red light therapy devices may be more suitable.

General rule of thumb: if it resembles a spider’s eyes, it was probably built for red light therapy. Pictured on the right is VARrwan’s red light therapy light available on Amazon for US$47.99. It is designed to fit into a standard socket and is compatible with those you’d find on most lamps.

This is an ideal starting point to build a multi-purpose lamp which can be used both for interior lighting and red light therapy.

After deciding on the type of bulb you’ll use, it’s time to select a lamp which would best fit your living space. Below are a few examples (courtesy of Midjourney’s AI image generator) to inspire your aesthetic sensibilities.

There’s plenty of room to experiment here, whether you’re out for a small bedside situation, floor lamps, or a wall fitting. Here are our top five IKEA lamp recommendations for your DIY red light therapy set-up.

That’s all for an overview of how to do red light therapy at home. Hopefully, these recommendations will guide you along your way as you convert your home into a sanctuary for red light therapy. These lamps could serve as an easy yet effective way to improve your skin, reduce inflammation, and liven up your interiors.