Color light therapy (or Chromotherapy) is a method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum (colors) of electromagnetic radiation to cure diseases.
It is a centuries-old concept used successfully over the years to cure or relieve various diseases of the body and mind.
Don’t worry, this is not just a new-age fad.
There is growing evidence that light therapy colors can play a crucial role in treating chronic pain, skin conditions and skin aging, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, and even hair loss and fat reduction.
In this guide you’ll find all the colors used for light therapy, how they differ, their best uses, and how to use them at home.
|Blue||450 – 495 nm||Acne||Hand-held wands
LED face masks
|Cyan||470 - 500 nm||Gentle acne treatment|
Skin inflammation reduction
|Multi-color LED face masks|
|Purple||380 - 450 nm||Acne|
LED face masks
|Green||515 - 570 nm||Hyperpigmentation|
LED face masks
|Red||610 – 700 nm||Skin rejuvenation|
|LED Face masks
Red light therapy wraps
Laser hair growth caps
|Yellow||570 - 620 nm||Red blood cells production|
Acne & rosacea
|LED face masks
|Near Infrared||0.75 - 1.4 micrometers (µm)||Deep-pentrating|
Fat cells reduction
|Near infrared lamps
Red light therapy wraps
Near infrared saunas
|White||10,000 LUX intensity||Seasonal depression disorder|
|Light therapy boxes & lamps
- Light Therapy Colors: The Complete Guide
- Blue Light Therapy for Acne
- Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging, Wound Healing, and Pain Relief
- Green Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation and Sleep Problems
- Yellow (Amber) Light Therapy for Redness, Inflammation, and Mental Health
- Purple light therapy – Combines the Benefits of Blue and Red light therapy
- Cyan Light Therapy for Reducing Swelling and Inflammation
- Near-Infrared Light Therapy for Deep Penetrating Healing and Pain Relief
- White Light Therapy
- How Does LED Light Therapy Work?
- Beyond Color: How Strong Does the Light Have to Be?
- Safety Precautions for Light Therapy
Light Therapy Colors: The Complete Guide
Light therapy, usually emitted through LED bulbs, uses various wavelengths that correspond to different visible colors.
Each color penetrates the skin at different depths and affects the body tissues differently.
The most common colors of LED light therapy are red and blue, but there are quite a few more that also have great benefits (medical and cosmetic), backed by scientific research for decades.
The other colors include yellow, green, purple, cyan, white, and near-infrared.
Different light colors will penetrate the skin to different depths, so the color you need is most dependent on the condition or problem that you are trying to treat.
Using a combination of lights can give you more benefits and is better from a holistic approach.
Blue Light Therapy for Acne
- Wavelength – 450 – 495 nanometers
Blue light therapy is safe and effective in reducing acne lesions.
It is proven to kill the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P acnes, which can cause inflammation and appear as the dreaded pimples.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy showed that daily self-treatment using a blue light device for mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne reduced the number of acne lesions significantly.
Through my research and personal experience, it is best to combine it with red light therapy, to promote faster skin healing and prevent acne scars.
Blue Light Therapy Devices
To use blue light therapy for acne destruction and prevention, you can either choose a handheld device, or a tabletop panel (for larger coverage, such as back acne).
The best handheld device is the FDA-cleared Lightstim for Acne, which offers a professional strength treatment for home use and has
clinically proven results with no negative side effects.
For more severe cases of acne, I recommend a larger and more powerful device, such as the dpl IIa by Revive Light therapy, which has a blue & red setting for acne, and 2 more chromotherapy lights for skin anti-aging.
Plus, you just have to effortlessly sit in front of it, compared with handheld devices that require manual work.
👉 See our full dpl IIa review
Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging, Wound Healing, and Pain Relief
- Wavelength – 610 – 700 nanometers
RED low-level wavelengths of light can treat skin issues such as wrinkles, scars, and persistent wounds.
Red light therapy is best for skin rejuvenation and wound healing because it stimulates collagen production, increases fibroblast production, increases blood circulation to the tissue, and reduces inflammation in cells.
👉 See exactly how to use red light therapy for wounds
It is thought to work by acting on the mitochondria in the cells, which generate energy in the cells.
With more energy, other cells can do their work more efficiently, such as repairing skin, boosting new cell growth, and promoting skin rejuvenation.
A 2018 review examined a number of controlled trials on red light and wound healing.
The researchers determined that red light therapy significantly increased tensile strength and wound contraction, for faster, more effective healing results across the body.
Though less effective than infrared light therapy, red light therapy is also widely used for pain relief, especially in tissues closer to the skin.
It is also used to treat hair loss and thinning, with proven results. 👉 See how to use red light therapy for hair loss!
Red Light Therapy Devices
To treat skin conditions such as wrinkles, scars, and eczema, you can use a red LED wand, a red light therapy panel, and an LED face mask.
For wound healing the best devices are a red light therapy torch (for spot healing) or a small red light therapy panel.
For pain relief, the best devices are red light therapy wraps and large LED light therapy panels.
👉 We’ve compared the best red LED light therapy devices, some of them tried and tested by us – to help you choose.
Green Light Therapy for Hyperpigmentation and Sleep Problems
- Wavelength – 515 to 570 nanometers
Green light therapy has been found to be effective in treating several conditions, including pain, migraines, and hyperpigmentation.
It can reduce melanin production in the skin, which is responsible for hyperpigmentation, and improves skin tone.
Dr. Muller, a renowned manufacturer of innovative devices for the professional beauty market, has found an 80% improvement in pigmentation among patients using green light therapy.
Green Light Therapy Devices
You can find the green wavelength in multi-color LED light therapy masks (such as the Project E Beauty LED mask), and some green light therapy lamps (such as the highly related Hooga Green Light Therapy Lamp)
Yellow (Amber) Light Therapy for Redness, Inflammation, and Mental Health
- Wavelength – 570 to 620 nanometers
Yellow light is best known for skin cell rejuvenation and its soothing anti-inflammatory benefits, and it boosts lymphatic flow, which removes toxins and waste.
It stimulates the production of red blood cells, which play a vital role in skin healing and skin cell rejuvenation, and it is also known to have a positive effect on mental health, helping people to be positive, stable, active, and focused.
Scientific studies have shown that yellow LED light therapy can improve outcomes in skin conditions such as acne vulgaris, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and rosacea.
Yellow Light Therapy Devices
Purple light therapy – Combines the Benefits of Blue and Red light therapy
- Wavelength – 380 to 450 nanometers
Purple light therapy, the shortest wave in the color spectrum, is best for treating acne, redness, and scars.
The purple light eliminates acne-causing bacteria while stimulating the production of elastin and collagen.
This is because purple light combines the benefits of red and blue light, which are effective in treating these conditions.
Blue light is effective in treating acne, while red light is effective in treating redness and scars.
Purple Light Therapy Devices
Cyan Light Therapy for Reducing Swelling and Inflammation
- Wavelength – 470 to 500 nanometers
Cyan light therapy (also known as blue-green light therapy) is used as a gentle acne treatment to control oil production in the skin as well as reduce inflammation.
While there are limited specific studies on cyan light therapy, you can expect the combined benefits of blue and green light therapy mentioned above.
Cyan Light Therapy Devices
You can sometimes find the cyan wavelength inside multi-color LED light therapy masks, such as the Aduro LED Mask (use my coupon code MEITAL20 at the official site)
Near-Infrared Light Therapy for Deep Penetrating Healing and Pain Relief
- Wavelength – 0.75 to 1.4 micrometers (µm)
Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy is a type of treatment that uses light in the red to near-infrared wavelengths (invisible to the human eye) to promote healing and reduce inflammation in the body.
It penetrates up to 5 cm into the skin and body tissues and is able to reach deep muscles, joints, nerves, and bones.
NIR light therapy (also known as low-level laser therapy) stimulates the mitochondria in cells, which are responsible for producing energy.
This increased energy production can help cells repair themselves and become healthier.
It can also increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, which can help promote healing.
NIR light therapy is safe, non-invasive, and painless with no known side effects.
Near Infrared Light Therapy Devices
Near and far infrared devices are in high demand and widely used, and you can find many types of devices you can use at home.
👉 See how to build your own near infrared sauna – for less than $100!
White Light Therapy
- Ideal LUX Intensity – 10,000
White light therapy, also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy, is a treatment that mimics natural outdoor light and is proven to improve mental health and regulate sleep.
White light is basically a combination of all visible light wavelengths, ranging from approximately 380 to 800 nanometers.
Bright light therapy devices are measured by LUX – the light intensity or illuminance: it indicates how bright a light source is.
The higher the Lux value, the brighter the lamp.
It is a first-line treatment for SAD (Seasonal Depression Disorder) that helps uplift mood and regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.
White Light Therapy Devices
Our top recommendation goes to the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus for its effectiveness in treating various conditions, including SAD and depression.
It is often used in clinical trials to study the effectiveness of light therapy.
It is a larger, high-intensity lamp that provides 10,000 lux of light and has a broad surface area for optimal light exposure.
How Does LED Light Therapy Work?
LED light therapy works by emitting specific wavelengths of light that are absorbed by cells in the body.
The exact mechanism is thought to involve the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – the main energy source for cells in your body.
When cells absorb light, they produce ATP, which can then be used for different cellular processes.
This increased ATP production has been shown to promote repair, healing, skin rejuvenation, pain reduction, improvements in mood, brain health, and even immune system functioning.
The skin-rejuvenating effects of LED light therapy are produced by a mechanism known as photobiomodulation, which is a non-thermal process that involves exciting cells and tissues.
It can be used to treat various skin conditions, such as acne, fine lines, eczema, psoriasis, and chronic wounds.
Dr. Michael Hamblin, PhD, associate professor at Harvard Medical School has conducted dozens of studies on the health benefits of infrared light therapy, including brain disorders, sports injuries, chemotherapy side effects, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more.
Beyond Color: How Strong Does the Light Have to Be?
To this day, there is no agreement about the parameters and protocols for medical and cosmetic applications.
In 2018, Dr. Hamblin tried to resolve all the contradicting results of studies – some of them recommending a power density of less than 100 mW/cm2 and an energy density of 4 to 10 J/cm2, and others recommending as much as 50 J/cm2.
Interestingly, he found that cells/tissues with high numbers of mitochondria tended to respond to lower doses of light than those with a lower number of mitochondria.
Overdosing did not improve results and sometimes interfered with optimal results.
Mitochondria generates most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions.
It is highest in muscle, liver, skin, and brain cells, and lower in red blood cells and Epithelial cells.
This means that a power density of 100 mW/cm2 and an energy density of 4 to 10 J/cm2 is optimal for treating skin conditions and muscle/nerve injuries.
Safety Precautions for Light Therapy
Most at-home color light therapy treatments are safe for everyone and cause no long-term side effects – if you use the devices properly.
The first rule is to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific device.
Next, it’s better to choose a device that is FDA-cleared.
Eye protection (such as goggles) is recommended for most color light therapy treatments.
Lastly, do not use color light therapy if you are taking medication that increases your sensitivity to light (such as isotretinoin and lithium).
To your health and happiness,