Beauty salons are a $20 billion industry in the United States, and the average American spends even more on hair care products like combs, brushes, hairspray, hair gel, and more. The beauty industry has benefitted from the popularity of light therapy by offering treatments in spas and an array of home-use devices.
But what about light and massage therapy hairbrushes? Could there be any merit to this type of product?
This post will take a look at what light therapy is, how it can help hair growth, and whether light and massage therapy hairbrushes are an effective way to get results.
All About Light Therapy
Light therapy, also called phototherapy or low-level light therapy (LLLT), is a nonsurgical medical treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to trigger beneficial responses in the body. These wavelengths fall within different color ranges of the light spectrum, such as red, blue, green, or full-spectrum light.
Phototherapy can encourage healing, cellular regeneration, and even energy production. It has a wide variety of applications in treating issues like seasonal depression, sleep concerns, and pain and inflammation.
Light Therapy’s Effect on Skin and Hair
Beyond sleep concerns and inflammation, however, light therapy has also been used to treat specific skin and hair concerns.
Light Therapy for Skin
Most light therapy devices intended for skincare use red light, blue light, or a combination of the two.
Blue light wavelengths can effectively kill bacteria on the surface of the skin, making blue light therapy particularly useful in treating acne and preventing future breakouts.
Red light therapy can be used separately or in combination with blue light to decrease inflammation, promote healing, and increase blood flow to damaged tissues.
Light Therapy for Hair Loss
Research shows that red light therapy has many benefits for hair growth, including:
- Creating new capillaries and improving blood flow to the scalp
- Increasing production of collagen, an antioxidant protein that fights the effects of hair-damaging free radicals
- Stimulating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, increasing the hair follicles’ growth rate and activity
How Does Light Therapy Affect the Scalp?
Red and infrared light therapy are known for their ability to increase blood flow to the body part being targeted. For instance, red light therapy applied to the scalp increases blood flow to the scalp. Increased blood flow, along with an increased production of cellular energy in the form of ATP, leads to more follicular activity and hair growth. It also encourages the production of stronger strands of hair.
Light and Massage Therapy Hairbrushes: Sales Gimmick or Legitimately Useful?
There are many products available for scalp care and hair loss treatment that use evidence-based light therapy to stimulate hair regrowth. But light therapy is both dose-dependent and time-dependent, so these effective devices usually require anywhere from several minutes to half an hour of continuous scalp exposure to the light to produce results. That’s quite a bit longer than the time it takes to run a brush through your hair.
Manufacturers of some light therapy products claim that their devices promote the growth of healthier hair or strengthen the hair that’s already present, but we weren’t able to find any studies to support these claims.
Light and Massage Therapy Hairbrush Products
Many light and massage therapy hairbrush products on Google Shopping are out of stock or otherwise no longer available. This could be a sign that sales were low and the products are no longer being manufactured, or it could be due to supply chain issues.
Reviews are mixed, with many people enjoying the massage aspect of the brushes while being unclear whether the light therapy aspect provides benefit.
Here are a few of the products on the market that claim to be effective for hair health, although LightTherapy.org makes no claims as to their effectiveness. We recommend carefully researching any light therapy purchases before spending money on them.
Opatra Lux Brush
The Opatra Lux Brush uses a combination of red and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and massage vibration. Opatra claims that the brush strengthens hair’s natural keratin, increases blood flow to hair follicles, and eliminates scalp bacteria, all resulting in thicker hair.
The product’s instructions recommend using the brush for 10–15 minutes daily on dry hair. But with a small, handheld brush, no one part of the scalp would receive light exposure for very long.
Priced at nearly $1,200, the Opatra Lux Brush may be too expensive for many potential customers to spend on an untested product. However, you can sometimes find the same product under a different name from other retailers or on third-party selling sites for a fraction of the cost. Just be sure to carefully research the seller and product.
Sharper Image Light and Massage Therapy Hair Brush
Sharper Image sells a battery-operated light and massage therapy hair brush that contains 20 red-light LEDs. They make similar claims as Opatra regarding the product’s hair-strengthening and blood flow-increasing capabilities, though Sharper Image dispenses with the blue light therapy option.
The product has positive reviews, but they should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt since they all appear on the company’s website.
Hairmax Ultima 9 Classic LaserComb
The Ultima 9 Classic LaserComb by Hairmax is an FDA-cleared device that contains nine medical-grade lasers. Hairmax recommends 11-minute treatments three times per week.
Because laser technology is more powerful than LED technology, it’s more likely that this device can accomplish its intended goal. And with a price tag of $199, it’s less of a risk than some other options on the market.