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Retinol and Red Light Therapy: Are They Safe Together?

Posted April 11, 2024

Medically Reviewed by | Heidi Wright, BSN, RN, PCCN

Have you ever wondered if the skincare ingredient retinol and the innovative technology of red light therapy can work together in your skincare routine? 

At Mito Red Light, we're all about pushing the boundaries of wellness with cutting-edge solutions. As pioneers in the realm of red light therapy, we constantly explore how our technologies can work in synergy with established skincare favorites like retinol.

What Is Retinol and Why Is It Celebrated in Skincare?

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a common favorite in the skincare world, and it’s a key player in maintaining vibrant, youthful skin. 

Here's why retinol has potential for your skin health:

  • Helps Promote Cell Turnover: It kick-starts your skin's renewal process, sloughing away dead cells to reveal fresher, smoother skin beneath.
  • Supports Collagen Production: Retinol is like a gym workout for your skin’s collagen fibers, helping them stay firm and resilient, which in turn, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Helps Ease Breakouts: By unclogging pores and reducing oil levels, retinol clears up acne and prevents future breakouts, making it a go-to for those battling persistent pimples.
  • Evens the Look of Skin Tone: It tackles the look of dark spots and pigmentation issues head-on, smoothing out the appearance of your skin tone for a more even complexion.
  • Texture Transformer: Regular use can help transform your skin texture, working to smooth out rough patches and leave a soft surface in its wake.
  • Minimize Pores: “Retinol helps shrink the appearance of enlarged pores, giving your skin a smoother, more refined look,” highlights Heidi Wright, Registered Nurse.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a scientifically grounded treatment that's been making waves in the world of wellness and skincare. 

At Mito Red Light, we harness this technology as a core component of holistic health and beauty routines. So, what exactly is red light therapy, and why is it becoming a staple in skincare regimens around the globe?

In short, red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to penetrate the skin at various depths. Unlike the harsh chemicals found in some skincare treatments, red light therapy offers a gentler approach that speaks the language of your cells. 

This method involves shining red light on the skin, where it's absorbed by mitochondria — the power generators of your cells. It's like giving your cells a dose of energy, encouraging them to work harder and more efficiently at repairing and rejuvenating themselves.

How Does It Benefit the Skin?

The beauty of red light therapy lies in its simplicity and its breadth of benefits, backed by an impressive body of research. 

Here’s how RLT stands out in the skincare arena:

  • May Help Support Collagen Production: Just like retinol, red light therapy has the potential to support healthy levels of collagen. It may work to help the skin produce more of this vital protein, which is key to maintaining elasticity and firmness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the process.
  • Supports Even Skin Tone and Texture: By supporting circulation and the proper production of new cells, red light therapy may help even out skin tone and texture, potentially leaving your skin looking brighter and smoother.
  • Supports Proper Skin Healing: Red light therapy may help support the skin's healing process, making it a great choice for supporting overall skin health.
  • Reduces the Look of Signs of Aging: Regular use of red light therapy may help diminish the look of signs of aging, not only by supporting collagen production but also by enhancing the skin’s natural hydration, leading to a youthful, radiant complexion.
  • Fights Irritation: With its potential soothing properties, red light therapy may help ease skin concerns, reducing redness and swelling.

In the realm of skincare, red light therapy emerges not just as a treatment but as a transformation. 

Can You Use Retinol and Red Light Therapy Together?

Yes, retinol and red light therapy can be used together, opening up a world where the benefits of both can be enjoyed simultaneously. This winning combo harnesses retinol's capacity for renewal and red light therapy's deep healing powers, presenting a synergistic approach to skin health that amplifies results.

Here’s the scoop on why this duo works wonders together:

Targeted Action 

Retinol works hard to refine the top layer of your skin, while red light therapy goes deeper, urging your cells to rejuvenate and heal from within.

Collagen Production

Both players in this duo are big on boosting collagen, but they do it in their unique ways. Retinol helps encourage your skin to ramp up its collagen production, fighting the good fight against wrinkles and sagging, while red light therapy steps in to ensure the collagen party doesn’t stop, keeping those skin cells energized and productive.

Healing and Repair

Retinol and red light therapy may work to support the skin healing process, with red light therapy potentially boosting circulation and repair mechanisms while retinol smooths out the look of your skin. Together, they’re like the ultimate repair team.


With retinol working to even out skin tone and fade dark spots and red light therapy enhancing overall radiance, you’re looking at a future where your skin not only feels healthier but also has that highly-coveted glow.

What Are Some Tips for Combining Retinol and Red Light Therapy?

Blending retinol and red light therapy into your skincare routine isn't just about using them together — it's about doing so smartly to get the most out of each session. 

Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of this combination:

  • Patch Test First: Before you dive into combining these two powerhouses, patch test both separately. This step is important to ensure your skin doesn’t react negatively to either treatment.
  • Ease Into It: Start with a lower concentration of retinol and shorter red light therapy sessions. Your skin needs time to adjust to new treatments, and it’s wise to give it that grace period.
  • Mind the Timing: Ideally, use retinol at night and reserve red light therapy for your morning routine. This spacing minimizes potential irritation and makes the most of the cellular renewal process that kicks in while you sleep.
  • Hydration Is Key: Both treatments can dry out your skin, so amp up your hydration game. Look for moisturizers rich in hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and keep your skin supple.
  • Sunscreen, Always: With retinol in your regimen, your skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning to protect your skin, even if red light therapy doesn’t contribute to photosensitivity. “Sunscreen is your best defense against sun damage, but it doesn't last forever! To stay protected throughout the day, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you're sweating or swimming. Remember, even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate your skin, so make reapplication a regular habit for optimal sun protection,” notes Wright.
  • Consistency Counts: For the best results, be consistent with both treatments. However, don’t overdo it. Find a rhythm that works for your skin, and stick to it.
  • Listen to Your Skin: Pay attention to how your skin responds. If you notice any redness, irritation, or discomfort, take a step back and reassess your routine. It might mean alternating days for each treatment or adjusting the products you use.
  • Consider Professional Guidance: If you're unsure about how to integrate these treatments into your routine, or if you have specific skin concerns, consulting a dermatologist can provide personalized advice tailored to your skin’s needs.
  • Invest in Quality: Not all red light therapy devices are created equal. For an at-home option that stands up to the test, look for devices like the MitoPRO Series, known for their optimal wavelength output, ensuring you get the most effective and safe experience possible.
  • Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or take photos to monitor your skin’s response over time. This can be both rewarding and informative, helping you tweak your routine if needed for better results.

Using retinol and red light therapy together can be a game-changer for your skin. With these tips in hand, you’re well on your way to more radiant skin.

The Bottom Line

Using retinol and red light therapy together can help you level up your skincare routine and take a new approach that's informed, innovative, and incredibly effective. 

At Mito Red Light, we're committed to guiding you through this journey, ensuring that every step is backed by science and aligned with your wellness goals. 

DISCLAIMER: Mito Red Light devices are not clinically proven to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical conditions. Mito Red Light devices are Class II general wellness devices aimed at affecting the body through topical heating and supporting cellular function. The scientific studies referenced in this article are for informational purposes only. To see a list of precautionary warnings and contraindications, click here.


Retinol: Cream, Serum, What It Is, Benefits, How To Use | Cleveland Clinic

Mitochondria | National Human Genome Research Institute

Red Light Therapy: Benefits, Side Effects & Uses | Cleveland Clinic

What is red light therapy for skin? Experts explain the anti-aging benefits | CNN

How to test skin care products | AAD



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