Does Red Light Therapy Tan You?

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Red light therapy has been gaining popularity for several years due to the many benefits it offers. Many beauty devices now use red light technology (e.g. the TrophySkin Rejuvalite or the Beauty Angel RVT30) to improve the appearance of the skin. Additionally, there are also some who turn to red light therapy to help their body heal.

With all these benefits of blasting skin with light, the obvious connection is to tanning beds. Does red light therapy tan you? The answer is no, red light therapy doesn’t produce a tan even if it uses light energy. 

In this article, we will further explain why red light therapy cannot tan you and what it is that makes you tan with light exposure. Plus we’ll also discuss what red light therapy does to the body. 

Does Red Light Therapy Tan You? No, It Does Not

Trophyskin RejuvaLite

If you are looking into red light therapy from a light therapy mask or other light therapy device to get that gorgeous bronzed goddess skin, you may be disappointed to know that it doesn’t make you tan, too.

However, that is also great news.

This is because it means that your skin is not getting damaged by UV tanning light bulbs from a tanning bed. As many know, tanning beds can be harmful compared to other tanning methods

Some of you might have heard about “red light tanning”, which is why you could be curious as to how it tans the skin. The truth is, it doesn’t really tan the skin. That term simply means basking under the red light

Different Wavelengths

Do not confuse red light therapy with UV tanning beds. In some cases, the machines may look similar.

But they are completely different and made for different purposes, and use light from different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Here’s an image of the electromagnetic spectrum from Wikipedia.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Red light therapy uses a select wavelength of light at about 633nm while UV light is at about 100-400nm. UV light is only used for tanning while red light is used for its therapeutic effects. 

The spectrum used in light therapy is on the opposite side of the visual spectrum from ultraviolet light. You won’t get a tan from red light therapy.

How Does UV Make You Tan?

Tanning beds use lights that produce UV light to give you that tan skin. The sun produces UVA, UVB, and UVC light. With the UVA light, the melanin that’s already present in the skin is oxidized and that causes the darkening of the skin. 

Additionally, UVB light affects the melanocytes. The melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin, which gives the skin color. With the presence of UVB, the melanocytes are triggered to produce more melanin. 

This can lead to skin cancer, which is the obvious concern. But remember there are benefits to tanning as well, which shouldn’t be ignored.

What Does Red Light Therapy Do?

Pulsaderm Red Light Therapy

Many consider red light therapy (such as the Pulsaderm device we reviewed here) as a treatment procedure. Unlike UV lights that are used only for cosmetic reasons, many use red light therapy not only for cosmetic needs such as spider veins, acne, and wrinkles but also for healing.

This is because of red light’s capability of penetrating deep within the muscles and not just the skin. 

When cells are exposed to red light therapy, whether it is skin cells, cells in the muscles, or any other cells in the body, the mitochondria are affected. The mitochondria become more energized because of it.

Many believe that with energized mitochondria, the cells can better repair and heal themselves. This would also reflect in the healing of the skin and muscle tissue.

This is one of the reasons the Planet Fitness Total Body Enhancement Devices are so popular. 

Red Light Therapy Applications

Improve The Skin 

Pulsaderm Red Light Therapy

People usually get red light therapy to help slow down the process of aging on their skin. There are now many light therapy devices like the Tria Age-Defying Laser that you can use at home.

These devices can help increase the production of collagen to make the skin more elastic. It also helps increase blood circulation so that cells are properly nourished and could effectively do what they are supposed to do. 

It is used to help smoothen the skin and reduce fine wrinkles. They also use it to help with healing the skin that has already been damaged like those that have burns, acne scars, wound healing, uneven texture, or sun damage. 

Reduces Pain

Laser Touch One

Additionally, red light therapy can also be used to help with pain management for certain conditions. Studies about using red light therapy for those who have musculoskeletal disorders were compiled. They show that it was able to reduce the pain that the patients felt. 

Similarly, there are also studies that show that red light therapy can help with the healing after a patient with facial bone defects has been treated. 

Devices like the Tendlite Red Light Device (we reviewed it here) and the Laser Touch One pain-relief device (we reviewed here) are a new frontier in pain relief. With their ability to promote better blood circulation, the muscles and joints are better healed to help prevent prolonged pain. 


Red light therapy can also help the body due to its anti-inflammatory properties. There isn’t an exact explanation as to how it does that but some believe that it could greatly help with various chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes, rosacea, arthritis, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, and many others. 

Of course, this is all pretty speculative, and you should consult with your doctor if you want to try red light therapy to treat these issues.

Hair Growth

HairMax Light Therapy Device

There is also a study that talks about the improvement of the hair density of people with alopecia. Some people believe that this is possible because of red light therapy’s ability to increase blood circulation. That may be enough to help the hair follicles grow hair. Nowadays, there are laser hair caps and laser combs that also use red light therapy for this purpose. 

HairMax and iGrow are two popular devices in this space.


Red light therapy is an innovative technology that uses light energy. People may assume that it makes you tan because it uses light energy and because of the term “red light tanning”. That term simply means exposing your skin to the red light. It really doesn’t make your skin look darker because it doesn’t make use of UV lights. 

Red light therapy only uses light at the infra-red or near infra-red wavelength. It has an effect on the mitochondria of the cells. With energized mitochondria, the cells can better function and heal themselves.

All that said, combining tanning with red light therapy can be a knockout solution!

Written by Kayla Young

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