What You Will Learn in This Article
- What is Collagen?
- Signs Your Skin is Losing Elasticity
- What is Collagen Building?
- How Red Light Therapy Helps Boost Collagen Production
- Other Ways Red Light Therapy Replenishes Skin
- How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device
- What I Recommend
Collagen is the structural protein that makes up our skin, tendons, cartilage, and bone. It’s the “glue” that holds us together. It’s not unique to humans and is also the main component of animal protein. That’s why most collagen supplements are derived from chicken, beef, or fish.
Collagen production goes down as we age, which leads to dry, crepey skin, wrinkles, expression lines, bags under the eyes, sagging skin and jowls, and slowed healing/tissue repair. The decline in collagen is what leads to the change in appearance we associate with aging. This also happens with a prolonged exposure to sun (UV radiation).
To learn more about collagen, whole body deficiency symptoms, the benefits of taking a collagen supplement, and how to get more collagen in your diet, read this article.
Signs Your Skin is Losing Elasticity
Some signs and symptoms of your skin losing its elasticity include the following:
- Premature aging (wrinkles, crepey skin, sagging skin)
- Broken capillaries on the face
- Abnormal pigmentation (including “age spots”)
- Dry, rough, or scaly skin
- Brittle nails
- Thinning hair
- Varicose veins and spider veins
What is Collagen Building?
Collagen building is the deliberate attempt to include foods, supplements, topical applications, therapies, and lifestyle changes that increase the body’s ability to produce its own collagen. These methods can mostly be categorized by whether they work by taking them internally or applying them externally.
Here are some science-backed ways to build collagen:
- Collagen supplement (1, 2)
- Vitamin C supplement (3)
- Zinc supplement (4, 5)
- Hyaluronic acid supplement (6, 7)
- Dietary polyphenols, such as green tea (8), black currant (9), lemon balm (10), and pomegranate (11)
- Vitamin C cream, 5% solution (12)
- Hyaluronic acid – (13, 14)
- Aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis) – stimulates collagen formation and improves the collagen matrix. (15, 16)
- Fisetin (Boosts skin collagen in human cells and in mice)
- Red light therapy (17)
- Jojoba oil (Simmondsia Chinensis) (18)
- Amla (Emblica Officinalis) (19)
- Mango seed butter (Mangifera Indica) (20)
- Cocoa butter (Theobroma Cacao) (21)
- …and there are many, many more.
A couple of lifestyle choices impact collagen production:
- “Beauty Sleep” (Sleep increases human growth hormone, needed for collagen synthesis)
- Lowering stress – According to research, chronic stress weakens the integrity of your skin’s collagen.
- Fasting or the production of ketones (22)
- Quit smoking (23)
So, get your beauty sleep and find ways to lower your stress and practice self care. After all, stress in your life leads to stress on your body… and that can lead to collagen breakdown and premature aging.
Red light therapy might help you get both sleep and beauty…
How Red Light Therapy Helps Boost Collagen Production
Red light therapy, also called photobiomodulation or Low-Level Laser (light) therapy (LLLT), is a pleasant and effective way of building collagen in the skin. In fact, one article published in the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery asks, “Is it Time to Consider Photobiomodulation As a Drug Equivalent?” because it’s so effective for healing.
In a review published in the Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologica (Official publication of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology, 68 studies on low power light therapy (either LASER or LED) were analyzed. There were 48 on LASER light and 14 on LED light and 6 using both. The review determined that light therapy (either LASER or LED) was effective for healing skin through a number of different ways, including an increase in collagen production.
Another randomized controlled study of 136 people was conducted from January through December of 2012 to evaluate red and near infrared light therapy. Characteristics studied included pleasant skin feeling, improved skin appearance, increased collagen, and visible reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. At the end of the study, those in the treatment group had significantly improved skin complexion, skin tone, and texture/feeling. They also experienced reduced fine lines and wrinkles and increased collagen density, according to ultrasound testing.
Other Ways Red Light Therapy Replenishes Skin
In addition to boosting collagen production, there are other key ways red light therapy can help revive the skin.
If left unregulated, chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage and speed up aging. Red light therapy, along with healthy lifestyle choices, can help decrease inflammation and ease its problematic symptoms. A 2011 article published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering summarized the ways in which red light therapy in the form of LLLT worked to heal the body. The three main ways it exerts its effects were determined to be “to reduce inflammation, edema, and chronic joint disorders; to promote healing of wounds, deeper tissues, and nerves; and to treat neurological disorders and pain.”
In a 2006 study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, photobiomodulation in the form of LLLT was used in two controlled animal studies to evaluate its effect on the inflammatory cytokine Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). It was found that red light therapy could indeed reduce inflammation, but results are dose-dependent.
A systematic review study published in the same journal found four animal studies in which LLLT at optimal doses was equally effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Stimulating circulation can help increase blood and oxygen flow to the skin, improving its appearance. A 2005 animal study divided 34 rabbits into two groups: a control group and a group treated with LLLT. Each group had a surgical operation and then the treatment group received the LLLT. The Treatment group had enhanced circulation and microcirculation following the LLLT.
Increases ATP Production (i.e. Energy)
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is considered the “energy currency” of the cell and is produced in the mitochondria of the cells. Dermal levels of ATP decline as we age, which can affect the integrity of the skin and lead to thinning and wrinkle formation. Red light therapy has been shown to increase mitochondrial activity in a dose- and time-dependent manner.
A review of studies from 1923 to 2010 notes:
“By investigating the outcome of LLLT on cell cultures, many articles report that it produces higher rates of ATP, RNA, and DNA synthesis in stem cells and other cell lines.”
A paper published in Photochemistry and Photobiology, explains that photobiomodulation raises mitochondrial membrane potential, which subsequently leads to more ATP production.
Supports Thyroid Health
Low thyroid function interferes with growth hormone production, which is why many women with thyroid disorders often experience symptoms associated with premature aging. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study of 43 patients was conducted in 2013 to see whether LLLT could help chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. The treatment group (23 people) received 10 sessions of LLLT and the placebo group (20 people) received 10 sessions of a sham treatment. The result of the study was that the treatment group needed less medication and antibodies were reduced.
A study published in March 2020 included 350 patients who were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Group 1 (210 people) received red light therapy and dietary supplementation, including vitamin D, iron, and selenium. Group 2 (140 people) received dietary supplements only. At the end of the study, Group 1, which received the red light therapy had an increase in T3 and improved the T3/T4 ratio significantly. TPO antibodies significantly decreased. Group 1 required much less medication following the study.
In fact, the researchers concluded that, LLLT was 70 times more effective in increasing the T3/T4 ratio and 15 times more effective in decreasing the dosage of levothyroxine.
If you’d like to read more on red light therapy and how it can benefit your health and hormones, check out this article.
How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device
When choosing your own red light therapy device, it’s important to look for a few things:
- Wavelengths ranging from 630-680 nanometers on the low end to 810-880 nanometers on the high end to get the healing benefits of red light
- Wavelengths of 800 nanometers to 880 nanometers for optimal healing from near-infrared
Minimal to no EMFs
- Full body size so that you can treat most of your body at one time
- Good power density and penetration, which is calculated based on the light wattage and the treatment area in square centimeters. A good density is at least 30mW/cm2 for longer range (2 to 3 feet) and 100mW/cm2 for closer range (6 inches or so)
- Dense with LEDs, which will help you get more coverage and intensity
- Warranty — at least 2 years
What I Recommend
I’ve spent a long time evaluating various red light companies and settled for Red Rush, which I also use personally now. Their 360 body light is a FDA Class II Registered Medical Device, with two scientifically proven bioavailable light wavelengths.
This ultra-powerful red light therapy medical device features 660 nanometers of red light for skin rejuvenation and surface smoothing. You’ll also get the benefit of 850 nanometers of near infrared light for tissues, joints, and muscles.
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