We all lose a few strands of hair in the shower or while brushing our hair each morning, but it’s nothing to cause concern.
True hair loss is defined by hair thinning and falling out so much that it influences your appearance, confidence, and sense of self. Your hair is a part of your identity and personality, so when it changes drastically, you can be left feeling insecure.
The good news is that hair loss doesn’t have to permanently define your quality of life or self-esteem. Thanks to advances in non-surgical therapeutic treatments such as light therapy, you can nurture hair regeneration naturally to fight hair loss and restore a full, healthy head of hair.
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy is a type of non-surgical treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to encourage healing and regeneration within the body. This type of phototherapy offers a variety of applications, including promoting healthy skin, accelerating healing, reducing inflammation and even reversing depression.
Now, research suggests that one specific form of light therapy known as red light therapy can be used for another exciting yet unexpected purpose: battling hair loss.
Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), uses light that is part of the visible light spectrum to elicit a response from your body. High-powered lights saturate your body — or in this case, your scalp — with wavelengths of bioactive, therapeutic red light. As the body absorbs and uses red light, deep healing can occur.
Understanding Hair Loss
Hair loss occurs in many different ways, and for many different reasons, but it all comes down to the same result: thinning, receding hair, and gradual baldness. This phenomenon is known as alopecia, a disorder that occurs when the body’s natural cycle of hair production is interrupted. It’s possible to lose hair anywhere on the body, but hair loss from the scalp is the most common — and frustrating.
A healthy scalp contains roughly 100,000 hairs that cycle through phases of growing, resting and falling out. During the growth phase, also known as the anagen phase, hair actively grows for months or years. It stops growing and separates from its follicle during the catagen phase, which lasts about 10 days. After a few months of rest, the hair falls out and the next anagen phase begins.
Not all hairs go through each phase together, so a portion of your hair may be in the anagen phase while others are in the catagen or telogen phase. It’s normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day as part of the hair’s natural cycle, but it’s not normal to lose extra hair at an accelerated rate. When hair falls out faster than it can be regenerated, hair loss begins to occur.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most prevalent type of hair loss that affects both men and women. You probably know this condition as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss, or male pattern baldness, is mainly a hereditary condition related to hormones called androgens. These hormones play a critical role in normal male sexual development, but increased levels of androgens can lead to shorter hair growth cycles and difficulty replacing lost hair with new strands.
The symptoms of androgenetic alopecia are easy to identify because this condition causes signature hair loss patterns: hair recedes above both temples and develops a characteristic “M” shape. It also thins at the crown and eventually progresses into partial or complete baldness.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Nearly one-third of women experience alopecia, but this figure is even higher for post-menopausal women who develop symptoms of female pattern hair loss. Unlike men, who may start to experience hair loss in their twenties, thirties, or forties, most women don’t suffer the effects of androgenetic alopecia until they hit menopause.
Female pattern hair loss causes thinning of hair across the entire head, not in one concentrated location. Initially, women can hide thinning hair with clever styling techniques, but over time, the hair thins until the scalp becomes visible.
How Does Light Therapy Help Reverse Hair Loss?
Red light therapy for hair loss uses specific wavelengths of red light to increase blood flow to the scalp. Visible red light falls between 620 nanometers (nm) and 660 nm wavelength, while near-infrared (NIR) light occurs in 810 nm, 830 nm and 850 nm. The human body responds to this powerful red light the same way that plants respond to sunlight: by creating more cellular energy for growth and regeneration.
Blood delivers the oxygen and nutrients that are critical to growth and regeneration, so light treatment serves to stimulate the metabolism of hair follicles. Over time, this encourages hair follicles to shift from the “resting” phase and into the “growth” phase.
Several studies indicate that this gentle therapy offers a promising alternative treatment for men and women coping with hair loss. In fact, research shows that red light delivers the following benefits:
- Stimulates the production of ATP, a coenzyme that helps hair follicles increase their activity and growth rate.
- Increases the production of collagen, a protein that acts as an antioxidant to fight free radical damage in hair follicles.
- Creation of new capillaries, which improve blood flow to the scalp.
Clinical Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss
Most laser centers, spas and wellness centers now offer clinical red light therapy treatments using low-level lasers to spur hair growth. This type of treatment is widely accepted as a safe, well-tolerated and minimally invasive alternative to hair transplant surgery and other complex solutions to hair loss.
This in-office treatment takes anywhere from five to 30 minutes, and you can expect to receive up to ten treatments over three weeks, followed by maintenance treatments every few months. Since results are cumulative, it’s important to continue your light therapy treatments for as long as recommended.
Though hair doesn’t grow back instantly, the results do become visible over time. First, you’ll notice less hair falling out each day when you brush or shower. As the weeks progress, your hair will appear thicker, fuller and longer as well.
At-Home Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss
If you’re looking to cut costs or avoid a dozen trips to the nearest laser clinic, consider at-home red light therapy for hair loss instead.
A number of products are quickly gaining popularity as they help men and women correct the most unpleasant symptoms of hair loss, including receding hairlines, thinning hair, and male and female pattern baldness.
The iRestore Hair Growth System, for example, takes its mission very seriously with this red light helmet design. Expertly calibrated to emit 650 nanometers of red light directly to the scalp, the iRestore is FDA-cleared to address male- and female-pattern baldness, hair thinning, shedding, and receding hairlines. Use this device regularly for three to six months to enjoy visible results. In clinical studies, a full 100% of active male and female users achieved an average of 43% increase in hair count.
If you have eight minutes to spare every other day, then the HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb can also fit easily into your daily routine. This device uses 12 medical-grade lasers and specialized hair-parting teeth to reactive hibernating hair follicles. With regular use, the HairMax can stimulate hair regrowth to replace thinning patches with thicker, stronger, fuller hair strands.