Hair Loss and Red Light Therapy
Nobody is happy to see hair thinning and the appearance of bald spots. It is an absolutely horrifying experience, especially if you were not expecting it.
Although the experience is quite difficult, mainstream medicine doesn't seem to take it seriously, as most doctors don't view hair loss as a real problem. For those dealing with it, it most certainly IS a problem!
So people looking to stop hair loss or regrow their hair don't get as many reliable resources for information on how to solve the problem. If a doctor suggests any solution at all, it's likely to be minoxidil, finasteride or a hair transplant.
Luckily, there are cheaper, safer, more natural methods to stop hair loss and induce hair regrowth. One of the best ways I know of to stop hair loss and encourage hair growth is red light therapy (or near infrared light therapy- for simplicity's sake, here I am mostly going to refer to both as "red light therapy", although each light type has about the same effects on hair regrowth). Another is to use an all-natural hair regrowth serum. Here, I want to focus on what red infrared light therapy can do for people with hair loss.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work to Stop Hair Loss?
Both red light therapy and near infrared light therapy are known to stop hair loss and to promote regrowth of fuller thicker hair. Sometimes light therapies are called by other names such as laser soft laser low level light therapy, photobiomodulation (or PBM for short). Whatever it's called, red light therapy is a safe light-based treatment becoming popular as a method to stop hair loss, including genetic forms, which are a very common problem for men and women over age 35.
Red light therapy for hair loss typically uses LED lights which emit red light in a specific range of wavelengths (630-670 nm) that have been established effective at causing hair to grow.
Although both red and near infrared light therapy are effective for this problem, the market has been saturated with expensive products with wild product claims by fly-by-night companies. Some of these products do not work, but online you'll find plenty of "product reviews" and "user guides" which are written by affiliate marketing setups that just promote the most expensive products, not products that work the best, since they make more money off the expensive ones.
The truth is, red light therapy doesn't have to be expensive to work.
For men, the most common balding pattern involves a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown of the head, while for women hair loss more often involves diffuse thinning of the hair all over the head. Either way, red light therapy can help.
Here at the facts:
- Low-level light therapy (LLLT) using red or near infrared light is scientifically proven to treat genetic forms of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
- Red light therapy has been shown to cause hair to regrow the crown area and along the hairline, the most common places that men tend to lose their hair.
- Neither red nor infrared light therapy is known to have serious side effects. The treatment is painless, safe and easy to get access to.
- In most cases hair regrowth is reported after 12 to 26 weeks using red light therapy, including loss of less hair each day and a noticeable improvement in the amount of hairs growing on the head
With the addition of certain hair serums, results can be obtained in only a few weeks, especially if paired with red light therapy.
The Hair Growth Cycle
Hair growth occurs in three phases. At any given time the hair follicles on the scalp are in one of these three phases. The first is the growth phase, or anagen phase. The next is the resting phase, or telogen phase. Finally there's the shedding phase, or catagen phase.
In studies, red light therapy was found to increase blood flow to the scalp's hair follicles, stimulating metabolism among hair follicles in catagen or telogen phases. This accelerated their switch to anagen phase. The light stimulated epidermal stem cells in the hair follicle shift into anagen phase.
The Scientific Proof
The claim that red light therapy is hair regrowth has a great deal of scientific backing.
Hair growth was actually found to be one of the first effects discovered from exposure to intense light.
The initial discovery was actually accidental in 1967, a Hungarian scientist was testing whether laser radiation could cause cancer in mice. Discovered that laser treatment did not cause cancer, but it did cause much faster and thicker hair regrowth.
More recently, a meta-analysis published in the Lasers in Surgeries and Medicine Journal in 2013 concluded on the topic of LLLT for hair loss:
“Controlled clinical trials demonstrated that LLLT stimulated hair growth in both men and women. Among various mechanisms, the main mechanism is hypothesized to be stimulation of epidermal stem cells in the hair follicle bulge and shifting the follicles into anagen phase.”
Another study, published in 2016, was a meta-analysis that included a total of 680 patients and said:
"Nine out of 11 studies assessing hair count/hair density found statistically significant improvements in both males and females following LLLT treatment."
In many studies, hair thickness and tensile strength significantly improved after treatment with red light therapy.
While studies conclusions very, optimal wavelength range to regrow hair is generally found to be 630 to 670 nm.
Red Light Therapy Devices Look Expensive. Is There a Cheaper Way?
LLLT hair regrowth need not cost a fortune. Some hair lasers used in medical offices cost thousands of dollars. Many at-home LED or laser devices cost hundreds of dollars. But the good news is you don't need spend that much money to get the benefits of red or near infrared light therapy. The best option is also a relatively low-cost option: a high-quality red and/or near infrared LED light therapy bulb and an adjustable lamp. A powerful LLLT bulb and lamp can be had for a fraction of the cost of other expensive devices.
The amount of time you need to use the bulb depends on strength of the bulb you purchase,. Treatment is simple, all you do is turn the bulb on and point it towards the problem areas on your scalp or 10 to 15 minutes. You can do treatments up to three times per day, as long as you leave a few hours between each treatment. However, most people only do their treatments once a day or once every other day.
What about "Laser Combs"?
Right now, product type that is is cropping up for hair loss is the laser comb. These are LED or laser devices that look similar to a comb or a hairbrush. When you turn them on the LED or laser lights illuminate, and you have to repeatedly move the comb hair through your hair. Some report that these devices work while other people say they got no results. One downside of these are that using one takes more time and effort then a red light therapy bulb. The constant combing could also put more stress on hair that is already fragile.
And "Laser Helmets"?
Although laser or LED helmets can be good quality and effective for regrowing hair, they are fairly expensive devices. With other, cheaper options such as red light therapy bulbs available it may not make sense to shell out the money for a hair regrowth helmet.
What Results Can You Expect from Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss?
Here are the typical results from red light therapy:
- Stopping losing as many hairs each day.
- Increasing the thickness or diameter of existing hairs up to double their previous size.
- Causing the growth of new hair.
- Causing faster hair growth.
Most studies report results after 12 to 26 weeks of use. However, many users notice the beginning of improvement within 3 to 4 weeks.
What are the benefits of LLLT?
- High rate of efficacy
- Available to all, regardless of gender
Are There Any Side Effects?
Everyone is different, and although there are not very many side effects of red for near infrared light therapy it's always possible an individual could experience problems that no one else does. Therefore, when beginning with any type of light therapy one should start out slowly and always do an initial patch test to confirm that no negative reactions will occur.
One should always follow all of the manufacturer's safety recommendations and read all instructions thoroughly.
Some individuals are sensitive to intense light, and some do not know it until trying to use an intense light therapy device. This is extremely rare but it is a possibility.
Those taking any medication that could make them to light exposure should avoid using any type of light therapy.
People who have migraine headaches caused by intense light exposure also avoid any type of light therapy, as should anyone who has seizures triggered by light.
Since it is a relatively low cost, effective, painless, and widely accessible treatment for hair loss, most people looking to grow their hair would benefit from using red or near infrared light therapy. Particularly, the red light therapy bulb would be the best way to try the therapy out. It is the least expensive option with the strongest potential light output. It also requires no contact, so it's more sanitary and keeps your hands free. I would highly recommend red light therapy with a bulb for hair loss.