Woman under a red light device at a clinic

Red and Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Acne presents a formidable challenge for many people. It can be challenging to manage and, in most cases, recurrent. The pursuit for clearer skin continues as skin specialists and researchers continue their quest to find an effective solution. Red and blue light therapy are two of the most promising contenders for acne treatment.

This article will explore how red and blue light therapy can help with acne and how to use them effectively for the best results.

Understanding Acne

Acne is scientifically known as acne vulgaris. It is characterized by the presence of clogged hair follicles, papules, nodules, cysts, or pustules on the skin’s surface. It can manifest in different sizes, colors, and severity. It usually appears on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.

Acne is a complex skin condition with numerous contributing factors. The most common culprits include the overproduction of sebum, hair follicle blockage, bacterial infection, hormones, and genetics.

It affects individuals of all ages and gender and can have significant social, mental, physical, and emotional impacts. It can cause low self-esteem, social anxiety, isolation, and even depression.


Red Light Therapy for Acne

Red light therapy utilizes specific wavelengths of red light to treat acne and other skin conditions. The red light stimulates various cellular processes to rectify underlying issues that may contribute to acne.

First, it promotes sebum regulation. It regulates gland activity, reducing excessive sebum production that would lead to clogged hair follicles and acne lesions.

Secondly, red light has anti-inflammatory effects. Often, acne has inflammatory characteristics such as redness, swelling, and pain in the affected areas. The anti-inflammatory effects reduce the release of pro-inflammatory molecules and regulate immune cell activity. This reduces redness and inflammation.

Red light therapy also stimulates blood circulation and promotes the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is an essential molecule for cellular energy that facilitates the repair of damaged skin cells and aids in healing acne lesions, minimizing scarring.

Another way that red light therapy improves acne is that it promotes collagen production. It stimulates the fibroblast cells that are responsible for collagen production. Collagen promotes skin elasticity and helps to maintain the structure of the skin. Better elasticity improves skin texture and appearance, reducing the visibility of acne scars and blemishes.

Finally, red light therapy promotes wound healing by accelerating tissue repair. This is particularly beneficial for healing acne lesions.

Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Woman undergoing blue light facial therapy

Blue light therapy is particularly helpful for acne treatment for its antimicrobial properties.  It can target specific molecules and disrupt bacterial activity.

Typically, a wavelength range of 405 to 420 nanometers is used. The light is absorbed by molecules known as porphyrins that are found within the acne-causing bacteria. Porphyrins play a crucial role in supporting the bacteria’s metabolism and survival.

When exposed to blue light, a photochemical reaction causes the porphyrins to release reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS damages various cellular structures within the bacteria, including its cell membrane and DNA. It disrupts the bacteria's cellular and intercellular integrity, inhibiting its ability to function or replicate.

Eventually, the bacteria die, diminishing in number. Consequently, there is decreased inflammation and a significant reduction in the formation of new acne lesions.

Although not as potent as red light, blue light also has anti-inflammatory effects. Its anti-inflammatory effects mainly target inflammation caused by bacteria. Reduced inflammation leads to less swelling, discomfort, and redness.

Notably, blue light at 415 nm is great for killing acne bacteria, and we offer a blue light at those specifications.

Combined Blue and Red Light Therapy for Acne

There has been increased interest in combining blue and red light therapy for a multifaceted approach to managing acne. By combining both, you can leverage the benefits of each to improve the outcomes of acne treatment.

The mechanisms of action for blue and red light complement each other. While blue light targets the acne-causing bacteria, red light therapy focuses on reducing inflammation and promoting the healing of the skin cells and tissues.

Therefore, they provide a comprehensive approach to reduce bacteria growth and the associated inflammatory response when used together. Furthermore, red light therapy helps to modulate sebum production for more balanced and healthy skin. The two types of therapies combine synergistically to optimize the reduction of acne lesions and promote clear and healthy skin.

The multifaceted treatment approach can also be used for long-term skincare and ongoing acne prevention or management. The combination light therapy can be administered at home using home-based devices or professionally in a clinical or spa setting. They can be applied sequentially or concurrently.

Efficacy of Combined Blue and Red Light Therapy for Acne

Several studies show that combined blue-red light therapy is highly effective for treating acne. A randomized controlled trial comparing blue-red light therapy versus sham devices in Korean patients found that blue-red light therapy reduced inflammatory acne by 77% and non-inflammatory acne by 54%. In addition, there was reduced sebum production and the size of the sebaceous gland size.

Safety of Red and Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Both blue and red light therapies are generally safe. They are non-invasive and do not involve the use of chemicals, drugs, or heat. Both are generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects. 

Therapy sessions are relatively short and painless. They do not cause tissue damage or burn, making them suitable for different skin types. Individuals with sensitive skin may experience mild skin irritation or redness, particularly in the initial sessions.

There are recommended safety precautions for red and blue light therapy. First, ensure to wear eye protection during sessions to prevent potential damage to your eyes.

If you use home devices, invest in high-quality, reputable devices. Adhere to the manufacturer's guidelines regarding the device's frequency and duration of use and appropriate angle and distance from the skin.

For professional use, consult a dermatologist or skin care specialist. They will examine your skin and recommend the right blue-red light therapy regimen. They may also recommend integrating other innovative skincare routines to improve efficiency.

If you have pre-existing health or skin conditions or severe acne, it is best to work with a professional. They are well-informed about your condition and light therapies and will provide professional guidance on the best approach to care for your skin and manage acne.


Multiple studies show that blue and red light therapies are effective acne treatments. While each is effective independently, a combined approach has higher efficacy. Combined blue and red light therapy can be highly effective when implemented correctly.

It is non-invasive, painless, and convenient. Aside from preventing or managing acne, incorporating combined blue and red light therapy in your skincare routine can significantly improve your skin's health.

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