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Shining a light on Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) - how it makes your hair grow

By: Our Team


There is so much hype about light therapy and lots of devices available. It warrants a bit more research to see if this works and how best to use it. We took the time to find some clinical trials and research papers to find out more…

It is mesmerizing to see plants respond to sunlight, how they use it to photosynthesize and grow. Well, we humans can harness the use of infra-red and near infra-red light in much the same way, to create ATP in our cells (by stimulating the mitochondria).

Exciting, right? But what exactly does that mean?

The light works on the cells and stimulates cell bio-rejuvenation - photobiomodulation. Essentially, by activating the regeneration process, the cells are healing.

This is not new technology, LLLT has been used for many years in various fields of dermatology, including stimulation of wound healing, reduction of inflammation, pain reduction, skin rejuvenation and hair growth.

Home therapy devices

The LMNT One can be used for skin and scalp. It pulses between 633nm and 830nm to trigger the cell regeneration process that sets the stage for the cr

Why is there such an uptake in LLLT for hair loss?

 The internet is flooded with brushes, massage devices, helmets and bands that use forms of LLLT. The reason is that it is a solution that has few to no side-effects, is easy to use at home and it delivers results. All skin colors are able to use it with no change in melanin/coloring or erythemia. The key seems to be the regularity and length of the treatment sessions at the right NM level. 

How often and what is the magic number?

Ideal for hair is still under investigation but clinical studies are showing that two,  20 minute sessions or three, 10 minute sessions a week. 

Existing hair stimulation is triggered at the 633nm mark while triggering the dormant hair follicle and treating inflammation, is best achieved at 830nm.

So what can we expect from the hair, when using LLLT?:

Fuller hair. The existing hair bulges (think of swollen bulbs) are triggered to sprout when the cells are biorejuvenated by the LLLT. This will result in more hair in the active phase (anagen phase) for an extended time. Normally people use Minoxidil (prescription drug) to achieve this but here is a good non-invasive way to do it.

More hair. Near-infra-red light at the 830nm depth can induce dormant follicles to grow.

Less irritation and shedding. The light triggers anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties within the cells and that reduces irritation. Inflammatory conditions often result in excessive shedding and/or scalp conditions that stifle hair growth.

A healthier scalp. Studies show that LLLT (signaling the Wnt pathway) can help prevent excessive sebum being produced, resulting in healthier hair and scalp conditions.

Less shedding. Most people suffer from androgenic alopecia and that is seen as hair becoming thinner and finally too thin to pierce through the thick scalp. DHT (Dihydrotestoterone) is responsible to a great degree – it attaches to the base of the hair follicles restricting the hair growth. LLLT works to loosen these DHT follicles.

The idea is that by creating a normal physiological state for the scalp and hair follicles, alopecia (hair loss) can be addressed.

So how do I get my scalp under a red light?

LLLT is offered at some providers – like Hair Oh Yeah, or it might be an at home option to start your scalp healing process. If you are already treating your hair concerns with treatments or if you have had a hair transplant, this could be a way to enhance your result and to ensure that your newly attained hair stays healthy and keeps growing.

LLLT is not new

LLLT has been used for many years to treat inflammation, post-workout recovery, wound healing, skin tightening, pain management and hair growth. Image

How to shop, expert tip:

Ask questions. 

How deep does the light go – 630nm? 830nm? 

Is it FDA approved? 

What duration is the treatment – 5 minutes, 30 minutes? 

The number of lights and the frequency differ. 

Is this something that you will use? – does it fit your lifestyle? – some devices can be used for post-work out recovery, or for stimulating the collagen on your face too, or treating inflammation in the body. Some are caps or helmets, some are handhelds, some you hang on a closet door or lie beneath.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.