According to statistics, approximately 21 million women and 35 million men suffer from hair loss due to various circumstances. It is normal to lose a few strands of hair every day, and it's just part of your hair growth cycle. However, some people suffer from extreme hair loss due to factors like illnesses, stress medications, hairstyles, and aging. Here we discuss the potential use of Red Light Therapy for Hair Growth.
"After using the red light therapy cap for about a month, I'm thrilled to share my experience. I've already started noticing positive changes in my hair count in certain areas and even noticed my hair growing faster than before. The convenience of using the cap is a major plus, and it's become a welcomed part of my routine. I'm genuinely excited to continue using it for the long term and eagerly look forward to witnessing further improvements. Thank you for creating a product that's making a real difference in my hair health!" - VitaliZEN Customer
|VitaliZEN GlowPro Cap||VitaliZEN Apollo (600 Watt)||VitaliZEN Max (1200 Watt)|
So, how do you grow your healthy or lengthy hair back? There are several methods listed on the internet, including medications, herbal ointments, protein treatments, and red light therapy. In this article, we will be focusing on Red Light Therapy for hair growth.
Does red light therapy actually work for hair growth? There have been several studies and trials conducted in which their results prove that red light laser therapy helps in improving the growth of human scalp hair. Keep reading for more details on how red light therapy works for hair growth and other treatments you can use for hair loss.
A Brief Overview of Hair
The hair is one of the most defining characteristics of humans. It is a protein filament that grows out of the hair follicle, which is a tunnel-shaped organ embedded in the skin. Hair is usually embedded in the epidermis layer of the skin, and it extends to the dermis layer. The epidermis is the top layer of the skin, which we can see and feel. Dermis is the middle layer, which has a pinkish color and is visible when you sustain an injury or deep cut.
Healthy men and women have an average of about 100,000-150,000 terminal hairs on their scalp. However, the human scalp sheds about 100 hairs daily and can shed more due to certain hair practices, including shampooing. Here is an in-depth overview of the hair structure and growth so you can understand better how to care for your hair. The human hair and follicle is made of various parts including;
Hair shaft:The hair shaft is the visible part of your hair that sticks out of your skin, and you can feel and touch it.
Sebaceous gland:These are microscopic glands attached to your hair follicle. The sebaceous glands secrete sebum, which is a fatty and oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin and prevents them from drying out.
Hair follicle:The hair follicle itself is a tunnel or tube-like structure that encloses the strands and roots of a hair. There are about 100,000 or more hair follicles on your scalp.
Derma papilla:It refers to specialized cells at the base of a hair follicle. This base plays a central role in the formation, growth, and recycling of your hair.
Bulge:This is the reservoir that contains the epithelial stem cells that can be located halfway up the shaft of the hair follicle
Arrector pill muscle:Is a tiny muscle beneath the skin that a hair follicle is attached to. These muscles are the ones responsible for goosebumps. It can make your hair stand up and allow the release of sebum and heat.
Hair bulb:This is the base of the hair follicle, and it consists of the following components;
Matrix:Matrix is a part that contains the constantly growing cells that make up the internal root sheath and hair.
Internal epithelial root sheath:This is the layer of keratinized cells, which are actually dead cells that shred periodically. The keratinized cells protect the hair, and it disintegrates where the hair shaft and sebaceous glands meet.
External epithelial root sheath:It is the tubular epidermal extension that surrounds an entire hair follicle.
How Does Hair Grow?
A healthy hair usually grows at the rate of 0.35 millimeters per day, which is approximately 0.5 inches in a month and 6 inches in 1 year. However, everyone's hair grows at different rates due to factors like
- Hormonal changes
- Climate and more
A regular hair growth cycle occurs in three main phases:
The anagen phase is the growth phase. During this phase hair starts to grow from the root of the follicle and out of the surface of your skin. As long as healthy and new hair cells continue to grow in the hair bulb, which is the base of the follicle, the hair will continue to grow longer. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90% of your total amount of hair is in its growth phase . The anagen phase of a hair usually lasts for about three to seven years, depending on where on the body it is growing. However, the growth phase of hair on the scalp can last several years and grow over a meter in length.
This is the transitional phase. During the catagen phase, the hair growth will slow to an end, the hair root will separate from the papilla, and the hair follicle will shrink. This phase usually lasts for about two to four weeks.
This phase is also known as the resting phase. During this phase, the hair is slowly pushed out of the skin, and it ends up falling out. The telogen phase lasts for several months, but certain changes in the body can speed up its process. After the telogen phase, new hair cells will start to multiply in the base of the now-empty hair follicle to form new hair. Then, the growth cycle will start all over.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Due to the fact that our hair continues to enter the telogen phase and fall out, we are constantly losing hair. However, we are also always growing new hairs to replace the fallen ones, so this natural hair loss is not noticeable. The only time this natural loss becomes noticeable is
- When a lot of hair goes into the telogen phase at the same time
- If the hair roots sustain trauma or significant damage during the growth phase, also called the anagen phase.
Whenever new hairs do not replace the fallen hair, that area of the skin becomes bald, and this is commonly called alopecia. Here is an overview of the most common types of hair loss men and women experience
Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA)
It is a type of hereditary hair loss and is called female or male pattern hair loss. This is a very common type of hair loss, and it affects about 50% of women and 80% of men . AGA causes the frontal hairline to recede in men and diffuse hair thinning across the entire scalp in women. Androgenetic alopecia involves the androgen sex hormone. Androgen hormone is responsible for sexual development in men, but it also has several functions, including regulating hair growth.
It is believed that AGA is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and 5 alpha-reductase, and oxidative stress effects on androgen-sensitive hair follicles. Elevated levels of dihydrotestosterone can cause premature shrinking of the hair follicles on your scalp. When the hair follicles are shrunken, they are unable to produce robust and healthy hair. They can only produce thin and short live hairs called vellus hair.
Alopecia Areata (AA)
It is a type of hair loss caused by an autoimmune disorder. Alopecia areata occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. This has different levels of severity; in all cases, hair typically falls out in round and small patches. This type of hair loss affects about 6.8 million people in the US, and it affects all genders and ages.
For alopecia areata, the hair follicle is not destroyed, so with the right hair treatment, your hair can grow back. The course of AA progresses differently in each individual. Some have only one episode, while others experience hair loss in several episodes throughout their lives. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people with the following are at risk of developing alopecia areata ;
- Atopic dermatitis
- Thyroid disease
- Hay fever
- A close blood relative that has experienced this type of hair loss
Chemotherapy-induced Alopecia (CIA)
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that is used to kill rapidly multiplying cells. It is a commonly effective treatment for cancer patients but has its side effects. While chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it can also damage the rapidly dividing healthy keratinocytes in the hair follicle. This is because the cells in a hair follicle matrix have the fastest mitosis rate, making them a target for chemotherapy.
There is no way for the chemotherapy to differentiate between the rapidly multiplying cancer cells and hair cells, hence why hair loss is a common side effect. About 65% of patients undergoing chemo treatments suffer from CIA . Most patients will witness an improvement and significant hair growth within 3 to 6 months after chemotherapy. In rare cases, some may have permanent hair loss.
Telogen Effluvium (TE)
Telogen effluvium (TE) is the excessive shedding of telogen hair, which is the hair at its final stage of growth. In an average healthy person's scalp, about 15% are telogen hair, while 85% are anagen hair. Telogen effluvium is another common cause of alopecia, and it is triggered by stress, drugs, or shock from a traumatic event.
This type of hair loss can be mild or severe, and it usually occurs at the top of the scalp. Severe TE lasts longer than six months and can affect the entire scalp. Mild or acute Telogen effluvium may only last for less than six months and most times resolves itself without treatment. Individuals with this condition do not lose all their hair, but the hair becomes very thin and hard to style.
Treatments for Hair Loss
Currently, there are several effective treatments for some types of hair loss. With these treatment methods, you might be able to slow down hair loss or reverse it. Available medication and treatments for hair loss include
This is a surgical procedure that involves removing a strip of hair or individual hair from a section of the scalp. After careful removal, the hair will be transplanted into another section. For instance, an individual suffering from a receding hairline can get a hair transplant. They can have individual hairs removed from the nape of their neck and transplanted to their frontal hairline. Hair transplantation has been considered one of the most effective treatments for androgenetic alopecia.
At times, it can also be used to treat chemotherapy-induced alopecia and localized alopecia areata. In the 1950s, hair transplantation surgery became a popular treatment for hair loss. Originally, the surgical procedure involved the use of large plugs of hair, which resulted in unnatural and unsatisfactory results. In this century, about 90% of hair transplant surgeons use follicular unit transplantation.
This follicular transplantation technique involves the surgeon removing a narrow strip of the scalp and dividing it into several tiny grafts. Each of these grafts contains just a few hairs and will be planted into a slit on the scalp in the area with no hair. The hair will grow naturally this way and appear more natural. While this is an effective method, and the results are permanent, it is also the most invasive and expensive, costing about $ 4,000 to $20,000.
This is an over-the-counter drug that was originally introduced as a treatment for individuals with high blood pressure. However, people with high blood pressure who used this medication noticed hair growth in areas where they had become bald or lost hair. Several research studies were conducted and confirmed that minoxidil applied on the scalp could stimulate hair growth. A randomized controlled trial conducted by Duvic et al. showed that applying 1 mL 2% Minoxidil to the entire scalp twice daily reduced alopecia in patients . Due to the positive study results, the FDA approved the 2% over-the-counter minoxidil to treat women's hair loss.
Minoxidil is a topical treatment, and it comes in various forms, including lotion, shampoo, and foam. This drug has been considered effective for Androgenetic alopecia, but there is not enough data backing its effectiveness in treating AA and CIA. While minoxidil can help with the growth of new hair, it can not restore the density of your lost air. If you choose to use minoxidil, you may not see results until after two months of applying the solution to your scalp.
This is one of the most common treatments used for alopecia areata. In most cases of alopecia areata, the hair falls out in clumps but sometimes resolves itself. General practitioners use corticosteroid injections, drops, or steroid shots to speed up AA recovery. They apply the corticosteroid directly to the area of hair loss.
So how does it work? Corticosteroids work by suppressing the immune system, which reduces the inflammation around the hair follicle and encourages hair growth. This treatment can sometimes hurt and cause the skin on the corticosteroid-injected sites to thin. Corticosteroid injections are given every 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the patient's needs. Above 80% of individuals with alopecia areata who received treatment experienced about half of their hair regrowing between 12 weeks.
Finasteride is an active ingredient in an oral prescription treatment for men's hair loss called Propecia. Originally, Propecia used to be prescribed in high doses to treat prostate problems. It is now being used to treat AGA male pattern hair loss. Finasteride works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone DHT, which causes premature shrinking of hair follicles.
Some men who take finasteride experience new hair growth, while others are able to slow down the process of hair loss. To be able to retain finasteride (Propecia) benefits, you may need to keep taking it. However, you should note that Propecia is generally only used for androgenetic alopecia.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work for Hair Growth?
Red light therapy works for hair loss by stimulating cellular activity and blood flow. RLT or Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy, involves exposing the skin to harmless red and near-infrared light (NIR). It is a non-invasive treatment that uses the red light wavelength to reduce inflammation and stimulate the hair follicles.
Red light therapy wavelengths exist between 620 and 750 nanometers. Certain wavelengths of red light affect the cells and how they function. When the scalp absorbs the red light, it stimulates the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Within the mitochondria, RLT causes a biochemical reaction, which aids it in using oxygen more effectively to create ATP.
At the cellular level, adenosine triphosphate is the body's source of energy for use and storage, and it is also known as the body's energy currency. The body needs ATP for all cellular processes, including hair growth. An increase in ATP production stimulates the hair follicles to enter the anagen phase, which is the growth phase. Dr. Michael Hamblin, in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigative Dermatology, wrote an article in 2019 on how red light therapy(photobiomodulation) helps in treating three major types of alopecia . Here are our main takeaways from the article:
Red Light Therapy and Alopecia Areata
RLT has been proven to be effective in treating alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder caused by the body's T-cells (the immune system) attacking the hair follicles. Individuals that have Alopecia Areata experience hair loss in small round patches.
Pro-inflammation occurs when cytokines, which are the proteins that help regulate inflammation, starts encouraging inflammation. Inflammation is actually good; it is how your body fights infection and promotes healing. However, chronic inflammation can be bad, as in some cases, it causes white blood cells that are meant to fend off infections start attacking your healthy cells. Chronic inflammation is a major risk factor of autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, and others.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Red Light Therapy:
Red light therapy has anti-inflammatory effects. The RLT's wavelength stimulates cell regeneration and reduces the inflammation of the hair follicles caused by the T-cells. When red light waves hit the affected patches with loss of hair, it increases blood flow to the area and stimulates the keratinized cells. This initiates the growth phase of the hair cycle. A 2003 study found that individuals with AA who started red light therapy hair regrew 1.6 months earlier in the irradiated areas .
Red Light Therapy and Androgenetic Alopecia
Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) is the most common type of hair loss, and it affects millions of people worldwide. Hair follicles in AGA spend less time in the anagen phase leading to abnormally thin and short hair shafts. Red light therapy works for AGA as it seems to increase the time a hair spends in the anagen phase, which is the growth stage. This could be due to the red and NIR's ability to stimulate the mitochondria in the cells located in the bulge of the hair follicle.
One major thing that destroys cells is oxidative damage. Stem cells have a long life span compared to other cells, hence why they need to be extra resistant to oxidative damage. Due to this, stem cells have anaerobic metabolisms, which is the process of generating energy when there is limited or unavailable oxygen. This is distinguished, among other things, by less mitochondrial activity.
How does Red Light Therapy Work at the Cellular Level?
Red light therapy also seems to help stimulate the mitochondria found in the hair follicle stem cells. It increases their mitochondrial activity and triggers the creation of new mitochondria in the stem cells. With this increase in metabolic activity comes an immediate hunger for oxygen. It’s important to note that the stem cells are clustered in a niche, which is a microenvironment that regulates and interacts with the stem cells.
Due to the fact that the hair follicle stem cells niche is hypoxic (low oxygen), they need to migrate to search for oxygen. The cells migrate to more oxygen-rich environments, which increases ATP synthesis and activity in the hair growth phase (anagen phase).
RLT works for AGA by increasing the blood flow to the base of the hair bulb, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles. This significantly increases the hair thickness and prolongs the hair growth and transitional phase. This way, RLT effectively reduces hair thinning caused by AGA in women and slows down the receding frontal hairline for men.
Red light therapy and chemotherapy-induced alopecia
The use of specific red light wavelengths helps reduce the hair loss side effects of chemotherapy. When individuals undergo chemotherapy treatment, the drugs induce a process called apoptosis. The apoptosis process is a natural cell death process in which the cells are broken up, and the body gets rid of them.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy cannot tell the difference between multiplying cancer cells and proliferating hair cells, so healthy hair cells also get killed. The reduction in apoptosis may be caused by an increase in the amount of anti-apoptotic proteins in the mitochondria of the stem cells.
After an individual finishes chemotherapy, they can use red light therapy to regrow their hair. RLT causes a biochemical reaction within the mitochondria, which is the powerhouse cell. This helps reduce apoptosis and protect the healthy hair cells. It also improves blood flow to the scalp, stimulating the hair follicles and lengthening the anagen phase.
Risks of Red Light Therapy
Several studies and research have described red light therapy as a safe and non-invasive hair loss treatment. RLT is considered safe for daily use and does not have a major risk or side effect. However, if you use RLT devices wrong, you may experience eye sensitivity and sensitivity of the irradiated areas. You can mitigate the side effects of eye sensitivity by wearing protective eyewear when using a red light therapy device at home.
Other Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy, also referred to as photobiomodulation, is an emerging treatment that's showing a lot of promise. The treatment uses various wavelengths to treat health conditions, and several trials are being conducted to back them up. Some of the benefits of red light therapy for health include
- Hair growth
- Muscle growth and recovery
- Skin rejuvenation
- Heal scars
- Reduces stretch marks, wrinkles, and fine lines.
- Reduces inflammation
- Weight loss
- Boost immune health
VitaliZEN: Get Red Light Therapy in the Comfort of Your Home
VitaliZen offers a range of affordable red light therapy devices designed to enhance hair growth in the comfort of your home. Discover the transformative effects of our cutting-edge products, including the VitaliZen GlowPro Red Light Cap, VitaliZen Apollo 600-Watt, and VitaliZen Max 1200-Watt. These devices are specially crafted to stimulate hair follicles, boost blood flow, and promote overall scalp and hair health.
The VitaliZen Red Light Cap offers three different wavelengths, starting from 660nm, 860nm, and 940nm. These allow you to harness the power of red light therapy and improve your scalp and hair health. The cap is made of flexible fabrics, so it easily fits the shape of your head. Studies have proven that 650nm red light wavelength and above is the most effective for stimulating hair growth .
- Convenient, wearable design for on-the-go use, and with an optional extra battery pack (bought separately), you can use it throughout the day.
- Utilizes three different wavelengths (660nm, 860nm, and 940nm) for effective red light therapy.
- Flexible fabric construction ensures a comfortable fit on your head.
- Ideal for targeting specific areas like the scalp and frontal hairline, promoting hair regrowth with consistent use.
- Place the Apollo 600-Watt at a designated location and sit in front of the light for effective therapy.
- Consider wearing eye protection for added safety.
- Lay in front of the light to allow it to reach your head, optimizing the benefits for your hair and scalp.
- Position the Max 1200-Watt at your preferred spot and sit in front of the light.
- Use eye protection for safety during your sessions.
- Lying in front of the light can help ensure the light effectively reaches your head and enhances hair growth.
By investing in an affordable but effective red light therapy home device, you can target specific areas like the scalp or frontal hairline. Consistency is key to seeing desired hair growth results from using red light therapy at home. Get one of our redlight cap kits if you wish to improve your scalp and regrow your luscious and beautiful hair without noninvasive methods.
Ready to embark on your journey to healthier, more vibrant hair? Explore our extensive catalog of VitaliZen's innovative red light therapy products by clicking this link. Dive deeper into the world of red light therapy and its additional benefits by perusing our informative blogs. Discover the science, success stories, and expert insights that can guide you on your path to radiant, beautiful hair.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is the structure of hair and how does it grow? 2019 Aug 29.
- Piraccini, B. M., & Alessandrini, A. (2014). Androgenetic alopecia. Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia : organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia, 149(1), 15–24
- Hair loss types: Alopecia areata causes. Aad.org. Published 2022.
- Rossi, A., Fortuna, M. C., Caro, G., Pranteda, G., Garelli, V., Pompili, U., & Carlesimo, M. (2017). Chemotherapy-induced alopecia management: Clinical experience and practical advice. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 16(4), 537–541.
- Duvic, M., Lemak, N. A., Valero, V., Hymes, S. R., Farmer, K. L., Hortobagyi, G. N., Trancik, R. J., Bandstra, B. A., & Compton, L. D. (1996). A randomized trial of minoxidil in chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 35(1), 74–78.
- Hamblin M. R. (2019). Photobiomodulation for the management of alopecia: mechanisms of action, patient selection and perspectives. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 12, 669–678.
- Yamazaki, M., Miura, Y., Tsuboi, R., & Ogawa, H. (2003). Linear polarized infrared irradiation using Super Lizer is an effective treatment for multiple-type alopecia areata. International journal of dermatology, 42(9), 738–740.
- Yang, K., Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Liu, Q., Huang, Y., Zhang, Y., Shi, X., Zhang, L., Zhang, Y., Wang, J., Zhu, Y., Liu, W., Tan, Y., Lin, J., & Wu, W. (2021). Hair Growth Promoting Effects of 650 nm Red Light Stimulation on Human Hair Follicles and Study of Its Mechanisms via RNA Sequencing Transcriptome Analysis. Annals of dermatology, 33(6), 553–561.