How often should you use light therapy?
In this article, we’ll explain how often a person should use light therapy treatments. We’ll break down how often you should use different types of light therapy devices, and discuss how often light therapy should be used for skin, sleep, hair, and other benefits.
Daily Light Therapy Use is Ideal
How many days a week should you use light therapy? For the best results, do your light therapy treatments every day, or at least 5+ times per week. Consistency is crucial for effective light therapy. The more regularly you use light therapy, the better your results will be. One treatment may produce a short term benefit, but regular light therapy is needed to see longer-lasting effects. Because regular use is so important, it’s more effective to use a personal light therapy device than going to a spa or dermatologist for less frequent treatments.
There are numerous types of personal light therapy devices, and the treatment guidelines and best practices differ. If you’re using a targeted device for skin conditions like a Luminance RED, you’ll use light therapy differently than a larger device designed for whole body use, like a Joovv, Celluma, or PlatinumLED Therapy Lights.
How often should you use targeted light therapy treatments for skin conditions?
Targeted light therapy devices like a Luminance RED are ideal for treating skin conditions and managing outbreaks. These smaller, more portable devices are typically used to treat specific problem areas on the skin, like cold sores and genital herpes.
For people treating skin conditions, it’s recommended to do 2-3 short light therapy sessions per day as soon as you feel symptoms emerging. A treatment with a Luminance RED only takes 60 seconds, and it’s recommended to space out treatments at least 4 hours apart. They also recommend treating your skin at least 2-3 times per week when you are not experiencing symptoms, as this can help limit future outbreaks. 
How often should you use light therapy with a full-body device?
Larger light therapy devices like Joovv and PlatinumLED are designed with panels of LEDs. They are designed to treat the whole body with light, for more systemic benefits like sleep, energy, inflammation, and muscle recovery. There are numerous brands that make larger light therapy devices, and most of them have similar treatment guidelines. Most brands (and light therapy researchers) recommend using light therapy panels at least 2-3 times per week. However, frequent, daily use is likely to produce more optimal results.
How long should a light therapy treatment last? Treatment sessions with larger light therapy panels typically last from 5 to 20 minutes at a time. [2,3]
Can you do too much light therapy?
Light therapy treatments have been tested in hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical trials, and found to be safe and well-tolerated. [4,5] But can you overdo light therapy? Excessive light therapy use is unnecessary, but it’s unlikely to be harmful. The cells in the human body can only absorb so much light at one time. If you keep shining a light therapy device on the same area, you won’t see added benefits. This is why most consumer light therapy brands recommend waiting 4-8 hours between light therapy sessions.
Dr. Michael Hamblin of Harvard Medical School is a leading light therapy researcher who’s participated in over 300 phototherapy trials and studies. Though it won’t improve results, Dr. Hamblin believes that excessive light therapy use is generally safe and won’t cause skin damage. 
What time of day should you use light therapy?
What’s the best time to do a light therapy treatment? Whatever works for you! As long as you’re doing light therapy treatments consistently, it won’t make a big difference whether you do them in the morning, mid-day, or evening.
How often should you use light therapy for skin outbreaks?
For skin conditions like cold sores, canker sores, and genital sores, it’s best to use light therapy treatments when you first feel a tingle and suspect that an outbreak is emerging. Then, use light therapy every day while you’re experiencing symptoms. When you’re not experiencing symptoms, it can still be beneficial to use light therapy regularly, to prevent future outbreaks and improve general skin health. [4,5,7,8]
How often should you use light therapy for sleep?
For sleep benefits, people should incorporate light therapy into their daily routine and try to limit exposure to bright blue light. This is especially important in the hours before you go to sleep. With consistent use, light therapy users may see improvements in sleep outcomes, as demonstrated in peer-reviewed clinical trials and reviews. 
How often should you use light therapy for exercise performance and muscle recovery?
For many athletes and people who exercise, light therapy treatments are an essential part of their training and recovery routine. If you’re using light therapy for physical performance and muscle recovery benefits, make sure to do it consistently, and in conjunction with your workouts. Some users report energy and performance benefits when they use light therapy before physical activity. Others find that post-exercise light therapy helps improve pain and recovery.  Either or both can be beneficial, but the key is still consistency. So make sure to use light therapy alongside every workout for the best results! [11,12]
How often should you use light therapy for inflammation and pain?
Light therapy treatments can help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to damaged tissues.  To treat specific problem areas, it may be beneficial to use light therapy multiple times per day, until symptoms improve. For general inflammation and pain management across the body, use light therapy at least 5 times per week.
Conclusion: Consistent, Daily Light Therapy is Optimal
There are many different light therapy products and reasons to use light therapy. But in general, the key to seeing results is to use light therapy as consistently as possible. Ideally every day, or 2-3 times per day for specific problem spots like cold sores or other skin conditions.
Sources and References:
 Luminance RED. What is the recommended treatment for this device?
 Joovv. Treatment guidelines for generation 2.0.
 PlatinumLED Therapy Lights. How often should I use red light therapy?
 Avci P, Gupta A, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Mar 2013.
 Wunsch A and Matuschka K. A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Feb 2014
 Hamblin M. “Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation.” AIMS Biophys. 2017.
 Al-Maweri SA, Kalakonda B, AlAizari NA, Al-Soneidar WA, Ashraf S, Abdulrab S, Al-Mawri ES. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in management of recurrent herpes labialis: a systematic review. Lasers Med Sci. 2018 Sep;33(7):1423-1430.
 de Paula Eduardo C, Aranha AC, Simões A, Bello-Silva MS, Ramalho KM, Esteves-Oliveira M, de Freitas PM, Marotti J, Tunér J. Laser treatment of recurrent herpes labialis: a literature review. Lasers Med Sci. 2014 Jul;29(4):1517-29.
 Morita T., Tokura H. “ Effects of lights of different color temperature on the nocturnal changes in core temperature and melatonin in humans” Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 1996, Sept.
 Vanin AA, et al. What is the best moment to apply phototherapy when associated to a strength training program? A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial : Phototherapy in association to strength training. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 Nov.
 Leal Junior E., Lopes-Martins R., et al. “Effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the development of exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue and changes in biochemical markers related to postexercise recovery”. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010 Aug.
 Douris P., Southard V., Ferrigi R., Grauer J., Katz D., Nascimento C., Podbielski P. “Effect of Phototherapy on delayed onset muscle soreness”. Photomed Laser Surg. 2006 June.