How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Red light therapy is a therapeutic practice that employs the use of red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths from the light spectrum. The wavelengths range from 630 nanometers (nm) to 660nm, while the NIR wavelengths are in the range of 800nm to 1100nm. The term “red light therapy” refers to both red and NIR wavelengths, but is also used as an umbrella term to describe many different kinds of light therapy.

While most red light devices emit a pure, deep red color, you will notice that our machine, ARC 360, emits a pinkish-purple hue. This is because our photodynamic machine uses a unique combination of both blue light, red light, and NIR (which is not visible to the naked eye). This combination of wavelengths provides an even wider range of benefits than a standard red light device.

What’s remarkable about the use of red light therapy is that it has the ability to initiate healing at a cellular level. Lights at this wavelength can penetrate the skin to varying depths; red light reaches up to 10mm while NIR light can go as deep as 2-7 centimeters, which is deep enough to reach tissue and bone.

Once the light penetrates, it activates the mitochondria, which are tiny cellular components responsible for converting nutrients into ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the primary energy source for cells and is necessary for their proper functioning. This promotes regeneration and recovery and can have a positive impact on our health in a variety of ways.

An increase in ATP production results in a range of physiological benefits—both superficially and systemically. This has been demonstrated by thousands of studies and scientific reviews.


  • Helps clear acne
  • Improves collagen production
  • Decreases the appearance of stretch marks
  • Treats sun damage
  • Reduces risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancers
  • Helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles
  • Stimulates hair growth
  • Reduces inflammation of joints and tissue
  • Improves bone healing
  • Reduces swelling following injury
  • Reduces neuropathic pain
  • Improves mood and helps with seasonal depression
  • Improves anxiety symptoms
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Aids in weight loss

Studies have revealed that the most effective wavelengths for healing fall within the range of 620-660nm and 810-850nm, which is referred to as the “therapeutic window.” Our machine, ARC 360, uses photodynamic light from 450nm-940nm, making it one of the most versatile, effective and powerful forms of red light therapy in the Metro Detroit area!


Red light therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of acne and improving skin tone and texture in some individuals. Red light therapy helps to:

• Reduce inflammation in the skin, which is a contributing factor in the development of acne

• Kill propionibacterium, the bacterium involved in the development of acne

• Regulate the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, the oily substance that contributes to the development of acne

Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Collagen:

As we age, the collagen and elastin fibers responsible for keeping our skin tight and toned begins to break down, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. The surge of ATP from red light therapy has been shown successful in increasing collagen production and help diminish signs of aging skin.

A 2009 study by researchers from Quebec, Canada found that consistent sessions of red light therapy reduced the severity and depth of lines and wrinkles in 94% of participants.


Red light therapy is successful in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Due to increased production of ATP, it also improves circulation and boosts cellular function. In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, it has also been shown to improve sleep, mood, and cognitive function, which can be affected in individuals with fibromyalgia.

Hair Growth:

Red light therapy has been shown to have potential benefits for promoting hair growth. The underlying mechanism for this effect is thought to be related to the stimulation of cellular metabolism and the promotion of blood circulation to the scalp.

Studies have shown that red light therapy can increase the size of hair follicles, increase the thickness and diameter of hair strands, and prolong the anagen (growing) phase of the hair cycle.

Weight Loss:

Studies have suggested that red light therapy may have potential benefits for promoting weight loss by increasing metabolism and reducing body fat. The increased ATP can lead to the activation of cellular processes involved in metabolism, including the break down of fat cells.

In some studies, red light therapy has been shown to increase the release of adiponectin, a hormone involved in regulating metabolism and glucose levels, and to reduce inflammation in adipose (fat) tissue.


Red light therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on sleep. It can help regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. In addition, it has been shown to improve circulation, boost energy levels, and reduce inflammation, all of which can contribute to better sleep.

In some studies, individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia reported improved sleep after using red light therapy. The therapy seems to have a calming effect and can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, leading to better quality and duration of sleep.

Muscle Recovery:

Intense physical activity can result in tiny tears in the muscles, which are then repaired by the body to make them stronger. However, if inflammation occurs during this healing process, it can cause ongoing muscle and joint pain, such as in conditions like bursitis or iliotibial band syndrome. Red light therapy helps to stop this inflammation in its tracks.

A study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery in 2008 found that red light therapy can help ease muscle pain and enhance muscle recovery and blood circulation in athletes. The study focused on the effects of red light therapy on skeletal muscle fatigue during repeated bicep contractions.

The results showed that athletes who received red light therapy after undergoing bicep contractions were able to perform more repetitions after an eight-day trial period compared to a placebo group. This led researchers to conclude that red light therapy can help to delay the onset of muscle fatigue and exhaustion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Red light therapy is generally considered safe for most people, but there are some individuals who should not use it. Some of these individuals include:

• Individuals who are pregnant
• Individuals with cardiac pacemakers
• Individuals with malignant tumors
• Individuals with high fever, active tuberculosis, or vasculitis obliterans
• Individuals with open wounds or recent burns
• Individuals with eye diseases such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration
• Individuals with photophobia (an intolerance to light)
• Individuals with a history of epilepsy or who are prone to seizures

Individuals who are taking photosensitizing medications, such as some antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs should use with caution.

Protective eyewear is mandatory when using our red light therapy device and must be worn throughout the entire duration of each session to prevent eye damage. Near-infrared (NIR) light, while not visible to the naked eye, can severely damage eyesight.

Goggles designed for UV tanning, sunglasses, transition lenses, and facial coverings are not sufficient for protection of the eyes.

Based on the light wavelength and intensity of our lights, our device, ARC 360, provides a 10-minute session.

Unlike a tanning bed, you do not have to slowly work your way up to reach the full 10 minutes. However, for first-time users (especially if you are sensitive to light, or are taking certain medications) we recommend no more than 5 minutes for your first session to see how you tolerate this treatment.

We recommend between 3 and 5 sessions per week depending on how your body tolerates this treatment. While there is no added risk to more frequent sessions, the scientific evidence points to diminishing returns and more does not always equal better.

The benefits of red light therapy can vary from person to person and depend on several factors, such as the type of condition being treated and the individual’s skin type and health status. Some people may experience benefits after just one session, while others may need multiple sessions over a period of time to see results. In general, it is recommended to use red light therapy consistently over a period of time to achieve the best results.

There is no preparation required for red light therapy. However, there are a few things you can do to optimize your session:

  • Remove makeup, lotions and oils. It is important to have clean skin for the best results from your red light therapy session. There are optional red light therapy lotions available at our salon that contain specific light-absorbing compounds that enhance the penetration of red and near-infrared light into the skin, allowing for greater therapeutic benefits. Always consult with an employee before using any type of lotion, as certain products may contain ingredients that damage our equipment.
  • Exfoliating the skin a few hours prior to treatment will help your skin absorb more light.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water before and after your session can help support your body’s natural healing processes and maximize the benefits of red light therapy.

Yes, you can receive both red light therapy and tanning in the same day. In fact, experts recommend getting red light therapy before tanning as it increases blood flow to the surface of the skin, resulting in a more vibrant tan.

Tanning beds and red light therapy beds both use light to benefit the skin, but there are some important differences between the two.

Tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) light and are primarily used to darken the skin and produce a tan. It can also be used to increase vitamin D production, kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo.

Red light therapy uses light in the red and near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum. The wavelengths in light therapy can stimulate the body’s natural processes, leading to benefits such as improved skin health, reduced pain, enhanced muscle recovery and hair growth. This type of light does not produce a tan.

Red light therapy beds, saunas, and gyms all use red and near-infrared (NIR) light to deliver therapeutic benefits, but the delivery methods differ.

Red light therapy beds are typically larger, designed for lying down, and have multiple light panels to cover the entire body. They are commonly found in professional clinics, salons, and spas and are the most effective delivery mechanisms of red light therapy.

Red light saunas are similar to traditional saunas, but with the addition of red and NIR lights. They are designed for a person to sit or stand inside, with lights positioned around the interior to deliver light therapy.

No. We offer walk-ins only on a first-come, first-served basis.