Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss and Baldness

Red Light Therapy for Baldness

Androgenic alopecia (baldness) affects millions of people worldwide. There are some medications to reverse or slow down its effects. Few if any, match what red light therapy for hair loss has to offer. Here is a sneak peek into some of the questions we seek to answer in detail:

  • What is red light therapy and how does it help in hair loss? 
  • Is there empirical evidence of its use and success?
  • How does red light therapy compare to other hair growth therapies? 
  • What duration does it take before your hair grows back?

Read on for comprehensive answers to the questions above and more.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy (RLT) is one of the many safe phototherapies for human use. Such uses range from hair regrowth, inflammation reduction, skin toning and accelerated healing. RLT works by simulating the cells to produce more energy. 

There are many uses of this form of therapy, whose uses got known to man at varying instances. In this case it was by mere chance in the 60s, in a study [1]. 

Some mice exposed to chemotherapy radiations showed extensive fur loss. After the introduction of red light radiation, there was impressive fur regrowth.

It is from this noble concept that today’s red light therapy borrows. Powerful LEDs emit light on desired wavelengths. Interestingly, the sun has a wide range of wavelengths, and is good for the body. But it contains some skin damaging wavelengths, unlike RLT. 

The sun has cell stimulating capabilities due to the red light contained in its diverse wavelength spectrum.  Yet, it also contains UVA and UVB wavelengths. These do more harm than good to your skin. 

Luckily, red light therapy is void of the UV radiations and chemicals that could harm your skin. 

How Red Light Therapy Helps In Hair Loss

Red light therapy has great scientific backing for hair loss treatment. 

One may wonder, “How does red light therapy help hair loss?”

Various wavelengths of light from LEDs, such as a 660 nm wavelength which is known to be potent, help in follicle growth. This increased hair follicle metabolism leads to increased hair production [2].

When you lose hair, the follicle remains intact. At the follicle’s base, there is a bulb, consisting of a papilla and matrix. Picture a vase with a round vase, for better understanding. 

What is seen to us as ‘hair’ is a protein called keratin, which makes up the hair shaft. 

Red light therapy activates the cell activity in the bulb. As a result, there is increased energy production leading to higher cell replication. Hair regrowth follows, as a result.  

There are other hair growth enhancements that take place courtesy of this therapy.

1. Increased collagen production

One major cause of hair loss is the high presence of free radicals. Collagen comes in as an antioxidant to mitigate the damages caused by these radicals [3].

Increased collagen production leads to better hair growth [4].

Collagen contains amino acids that your body uses in the production of hair proteins. It also helps strengthen the skin around where your hair grows plus many more benefits [5]. 

In case you are wondering where to get some collagen, worry not. The body naturally produces some. Also, some supplements are specifically rich in collagen and bone broth does the trick as well.

2. Higher production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

ATP is a coenzyme that stimulates activity in cellular structures. In this case, higher presence of ATP means increased activity in the cells of the hair follicles. 

Restoration of cell activity in the hair follicles leads to higher cell replication. Consequently, the papilla makes more keratin resulting in increased hair growth.

As such, Increased production of ATP advances hair growth [6].

ATP has a cell multiplication factor. That means better skin around where your hair grows [7].

3. New capillary creation

More capillaries lead to increased blood and nutrient flow to the hair follicles. It leads to growth of thick, healthy hair. More capillaries also aid in the removal of waste that damages follicles [8].

In the referenced study, researchers added blood-vessel-stimulating-proteins to mice. The results were an astounding hair growth in these mice as compared to wild ones.

You have probably seen your barber massage your scalp after a shave. The idea is to increase blood flow. Soon you get some healthy hair regrowing.

In this case RLT stimulates faster capillary creation making it highly effective.

Studies & Researches About the Use of Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss

75 percent of women above the age of 65 experience hair loss. Meanwhile, 50 percent of males above the age of 40 suffer the same predicament [9].

A 2017 study found that 51percent of women aged 18-60 showed higher hair count. That was after 650nm of red light therapy daily for a period of 17 weeks. In comparison to the control group, the women had their hair grow back considerably. Thus, proving RLT as safe and effective [10].

Another study conducted in 2019 majored on men with androgenic alopecia. It deduced increased function in their dermal papilla cells, after red light therapy [11].

A meta-analysis conducted in 2019 ascertained increased hair growth in RLT patients. Those under placebo treatments failed against this measure [12].

Red Light Therapy For Hair Loss vs Other Hair Growth Therapies

Does red light therapy work for hair growth? How does it fair among other hair growth therapies?

In 2018 a meta-analysis focused on 22 studies. It found RLT effective in comparison to other therapies. Non invasive therapies such as minoxidil, finasteride, plus others performed relatively poor against RLT [13].

Besides being effective, the study indicated that RLT had zero side effects in comparison to drugs and other hair growth therapies.

How Long Will It Take Before Your Hair Grows Back?

One study tested hair growth on 41 males. 22 of them got active RLT and 19 got a placebo [14].

The conclusion was better and faster hair growth for the 22 males. That was after 16 weeks of 25-minute daily sessions. 

Hair loss happens over a prolonged period. It is only fair that one remains patient with the regrowth process.

10-20 minute sessions twice or thrice in a day prove effective. Keep up this routine for 3-5 days in a week for 3-4 months. After that, two daily sessions for a 1-4 weekly routine works fine.

Summary

Many studies affirm that this non-invasive therapy works. This applies for both balding men and women. It is a confidence and looks booster for those suffering from hair loss.

After a few weeks of continued use, you’ll have stronger and better-looking hair. RLT also strengthens weak hair follicles. Hence, you get better looking hair where you struggle to grow some.


References:

  1. Avci P, et al. Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) for Treatment of Hair Loss 2015 February 1-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
  2. Joo HJ et al. Various Wavelengths of Light-Emitting Diode Light Regulate the Proliferation of Human Dermal Papilla Cells and Hair Follicles via Wnt/β-Catenin and the Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase Pathways 2017 Oct 30-https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29200764/
  3. Chi C et al.  Antioxidant and Functional Properties of Collagen Hydrolysates from Spanish Mackerel Skin as Influenced by Average Molecular Weight 2014 July 31-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6271556/
  4. Glynis A. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair 2012 Nov 5-A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair
  5. Streit L. 5 Evidence-Based Ways Collagen May Improve Your Hair 2019 January 23-https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-for-hair?c=548071824377
  6. Li M, et al. Minoxidil-induced hair growth is mediated by adenosine in cultured dermal papilla cells: possible involvement of sulfonylurea receptor 2B as a target of minoxidil 2001 December 11- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11886528/
  7. Holzer AM, Granstein RD. Role of extracellular adenosine triphosphate in human skin 2004 May 3- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15129319/
  8. Massachusetts General Hospital. Blood Vessels Hold Key To Thicker Hair Growth 2001 February 19- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010215074636.htm
  9. Delaney SW, Zhang P. Systematic review of low-level laser therapy for adult androgenic alopecia 2018 August 20- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29286826/
  10. Friedman S, Schnoor P. Novel Approach to Treating Androgenetic Alopecia in Females With Photobiomodulation (Low-Level Laser Therapy) 2017 June 4- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28328705/
  11. Panchaprateep R, et al. Quantitative proteomic analysis of dermal papilla from male androgenetic alopecia comparing before and after treatment with low-level laser therapy 2019 September 5- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30843235/
  12. Liu KH, et al. Comparative effectiveness of low-level laser therapy for adult androgenic alopecia: a system review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 2019 Aug 3- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30706177/
  13. Gupta AK, et al. Efficacy of non-surgical treatments for androgenetic alopecia: a systematic review and network meta-analysis 2018 July 11- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29797431/
  14. Lanzafame RJ, et al. The growth of human scalp hair mediated by visible red light laser and LED sources in males 2013 October 4- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24078483/

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