Does sad light therapy work

Treatment - Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

A number of treatments are available for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), antidepressants and light therapy.

A GP will recommend the most suitable treatment option for you, based on the nature and severity of your symptoms. This may involve using a combination of treatments to get the best results.

NICE recommendations

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression.

This includes using talking treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or medicine such as antidepressants.

Light therapy is also a popular treatment for SAD, although NICE says it's not clear whether it's effective.

See the NICE guidance, depression in adults: treatment and management.

Things you can try yourself

There are a number of things you can do to help improve your symptoms:

  • try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when you're indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight – read more about exercise for depression
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress

It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter. This can help them to support you more effectively.

Psychosocial treatments

Psychosocial treatments focus on both psychological aspects (how your brain functions) and social aspects (how you interact with others).

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that the way we think and behave affects the way we feel. Changing the way you think about situations and what you do about them can help you feel better.

If you have CBT, you'll have a number of sessions with a specially trained therapist, usually over several weeks or months. Your programme could be:

  • an individual programme of self-help
  • a programme designed for you and your partner (if your depression is affecting your relationship)
  • a group programme that you complete with other people in a similar situation
  • a computer-based CBT programme tailored to your needs and supported by a trained therapist

Read more about CBT

Counselling and psychodynamic psychotherapy

Counselling is another type of talking therapy that involves talking to a trained counsellor about your worries and problems.

During psychodynamic psychotherapy you discuss how you feel about yourself and others and talk about experiences in your past. The aim of the sessions is to find out whether anything in your past is affecting how you feel today.

It's not clear exactly how effective these 2 therapies are in treating depression.

Read more about psychotherapy


Antidepressants are often prescribed to treat depression and are also sometimes used to treat severe cases of SAD, although the evidence to suggest they're effective in treating SAD is limited.

Antidepressants are thought to be most effective if taken at the start of winter before symptoms appear, and continued until spring.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the preferred type of antidepressant for treating SAD. They increase the level of the hormone serotonin in your brain, which can help lift your mood.

If you're prescribed antidepressants, you should be aware that:

  • it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks for the medicine to take full effect
  • you should take the medicine as prescribed and continue taking it until advised to gradually stop by your doctor
  • some antidepressants have side effects and may interact with other types of medicine you're taking

Common side effects of SSRIs include feeling agitated, shaky or anxious, an upset stomach and diarrhoea or constipation. These symptoms should improve after a few weeks. Check the information leaflet that comes with your medicine for a full list of possible side effects.

Read more about antidepressants

Light therapy

Some people with SAD find that light therapy can help improve their mood considerably. This involves sitting by a special lamp called a light box, usually for around 30 minutes to an hour each morning.

Light boxes come in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures. They produce a very bright light. The intensity of the light is measured in lux – the higher lux, the brighter the light.

The light produced by the light box simulates the sunlight that's missing during the darker winter months.

It's thought the light may improve SAD by encouraging your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood).

Sunrise alarm clocks, which gradually light up your bedroom as you wake up, may also be useful for some people.

Who can use light therapy?

Most people can use light therapy safely. The recommended light boxes have filters that remove harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, so there's no risk of skin or eye damage for most people.

However, exposure to very bright light may not be suitable if you:

  • have an eye condition or eye damage that makes your eyes particularly sensitive to light
  • are taking medication that increases your sensitivity to light, such as certain antibiotics and antipsychotics, or the herbal supplement St John's Wort

Speak to a GP if you're unsure about the suitability of a particular product.

Trying light therapy

Light boxes are not usually available on the NHS, so you'll need to buy one yourself if you want to try light therapy.

Before using a light box, you should check the manufacturer's information and instructions regarding:

  • whether the product is suitable for treating SAD
  • the light intensity you should be using
  • the recommended length of time you need to use the light

Make sure that you choose a light box that is medically approved for the treatment of SAD and produced by a fully certified manufacturer.

Does light therapy work?

There's mixed evidence regarding the overall effectiveness of light therapy, but some studies have concluded it's effective, particularly if used first thing in the morning. 

It's thought that light therapy is best for producing short-term results. This means it may help relieve your symptoms when they occur, but you might still be affected by SAD next winter.

When light therapy has been found to help, most people noticed an improvement in their symptoms within a week or so.

Side effects of light therapy

It's rare for people using light therapy to have side effects. However, some people may experience:

  • agitation or irritability
  • headaches or eye strain
  • sleeping problems (avoiding light therapy during the evening may help prevent this)
  • tiredness
  • changes to your sight, including blurred vision

These side effects are usually mild and short-lived, but you should visit a GP if you experience any particularly troublesome side effects while using light therapy.

Pricing, Benefits, and How to Use

Share on PinterestShould you invest in a SAD lamp? Here’s what you should know.

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

  • Best adjustable SAD lamp: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp
  • Best UV-free SAD lamp: Northern Light Technologies Boxelite
  • Best portable SAD lamp: Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp
  • Best SAD lamp for leisure: Flamingo Floor Lamp
  • Best affordable SAD lamp: TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), now known clinically as major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, is a condition that causes sadness or depression when the seasons change.

It most typically occurs during the fall and winter, when days become short and exposure to sunlight decreases. It’s most common in women and young adults.

Counseling, therapy, and medication may all be effective for this condition. Light boxes — also referred to as SAD lamps or light therapy lamps — are another option that can reduce symptoms and provide relief. They work by replicating natural daylight.

Symptoms of SAD

There are two types of SAD: wintertime and summertime. SAD affects people differently, but the symptoms may vary based on the type of SAD.

Symptoms of wintertime SAD include:

  • daytime fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • increased irritability
  • lack of interest in social activities
  • lethargy
  • reduced sexual interest
  • unhappiness
  • weight gain

Symptoms of summertime SAD include:

  • agitation
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased restlessness
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss

In severe cases, people with SAD may experience thoughts of suicide.

Treatment options for SAD

Counseling and therapy are treatment options for both forms of SAD. Some people may also benefit from medications such as antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and bupropion (Wellbutrin). People experiencing SAD should speak to their doctor about which medication is the best course of treatment.

Light therapy can also be used as a treatment for wintertime SAD. This involves using a specialized light box or visor for at least 30 minutes each day to mimic natural light. Light therapy should only be used under a doctor’s supervision and on approved devices. Other light-emitting sources like tanning beds, are not safe for use.

Another type of treatment is a dawn simulator which uses a time-activated light to mimic the sunrise as a way to help stimulate the body’s clock.

Adopting some healthy lifestyle habits can also help minimize SAD symptoms. This can include:

  • a balanced diet with lean protein, fruits, and vegetables
  • exercise
  • regular sleep

A SAD lamp uses light therapy to replicate sunlight and trick the body into thinking it is the warmer months and trigger the body to release serotonin.

The light produced by a SAD lamp is measured in lux. A lux is a measurement of light intensity combined with area. A SAD lamp should offer a brightness of 10,000 lux. The viewing angle of a lamp should allow it to be positioned above the eyes and at a slight downward angle to minimize glare.

Typically, SAD lamps or lights should be used for 30 minutes to an hour. They can be used at any time of the day although they are usually used first thing in the morning.

SAD lamps are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some research shows that light therapy can help improve seasonal depression, even with as little as 20 minutes of exposure. Although the FDA doesn’t regulate SAD lamps, Healthline’s medical affairs team still every pick and brand, diving into medical credibility, the company’s reputation, and its business practices.

We chose the options on this list based on the following criteria:

  • Intensity: All the picks on this list have at least 10,000 lux, the standard intensity for effectiveness.
  • Reputation: Each SAD lamp we feature comes from a reputable brand that doesn’t make egregious health claims.
  • Price: We were mindful of different budgets by including options from various price points.
  • User reviews: We chose only highly rated options that current users love and don’t have any major complaints about.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = over $200

Best adjustable SAD lamp

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $$
  • Features: flexible stand, 2 light settings, glare-free for eye comfort
  • Size of light panel: 15.5 x 13.5 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a customizable lamp that can work well in any space, at any angle
  • Lux: 10,000

This lamp has a large surface area of 15. 5 by 13.5 inches. It generates 10,000 lux and projects light in a downward motion — this helps keep it glare-free no matter how it’s positioned.

The lampstand is adjustable, so chances are it will be comfortable to use no matter your height or chair type. Users say the lampstand doesn’t wobble and that the lamp reaches full lumens quickly for maximum benefit.


  • large surface area
  • glare-free
  • adjustable


  • pricey

Shop now at Amazon

Best UV-free SAD lamp

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

  • Price: $$
  • Features: full-spectrum UV-free light, 5 different height levels, adjustable
  • Size of light panel: 12.25 x 17 inches
  • Who it’s best for: those who like to sit further away from the light source (it’s effective at 14 inches)
  • Lux: 10,000

In addition to features such as 10,000 lux and a large surface screen, this SAD lamp is designed to last. Many users rave about it 7 or more years after purchase.

The lamp includes long lasting fluorescent bulbs and is UV-free. It also features five different height levels and is easily adjustable. Note that it weighs 11 pounds and is heavier than many other lamps.


  • UV-free
  • long lasting


  • heavier than other options on our list

Shop now at Amazon

Best portable SAD lamp

Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $
  • Features: 3 brightness levels, fixed position, one-touch operation
  • Size of light panel: 6 x 15.75 inches
  • Who it’s best for: those who want their light to blend in a little better with their decor
  • Lux: 10,000

If you love the look of modern decor, this lamp may be right for you. It features 10,000 lux of LED, UV-free, full-spectrum white light. It also boasts three brightness levels, so you can uptick or downtick the amount of light you receive.

Many users prefer LED to fluorescent light because it lasts longer. This lamp has a small surface area and a fixed position, which doesn’t allow for adjustment. Even so, it may be great for small spaces or as a lamp for travel.


  • stylish look
  • UV-free
  • 3 brightness levels


  • much larger than other options
  • may not be everyone’s taste

Shop now at Amazon

Best SAD lamp for leisure

Flamingo Floor Lamp

  • Price: $$
  • Features: adjustable, rotating head, taller than most
  • Size of light panel: 7 x 13 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone who’s looking for a little more versatility in where they can get their light therapy
  • Lux: 10,000

This 46-inch-tall lamp is a great option for those who want to position their SAD lamp near a treadmill or glider. It also fits neatly into corners for use while reading or watching TV.

This floor lamp provides 10,000 lux of full-spectrum, UV-free, LED light. It’s also glare-free and adjustable. Users love the sturdy design and long lasting light bulbs, which typically last for about 5 years. Assembly is required.


  • UV-free
  • full-spectrum LED light
  • glare-free
  • comes with long lasting light bulbs


  • assembly required

Shop now at Amazon

Best affordable SAD lamp

TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp

  • Price: $
  • Features: timer, 4 brightness levels, memory function
  • Size of light panel: 5.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a compact option and doesn’t mind sitting closer to the panel
  • Lux: 10,000

While this portable option has a smaller screen size than recommended, it still delivers a good value for its size and cost.

Designed for on-the-go use, this lamp provides 10,000 lux and one-touch controls.


  • portable
  • one-touch controls


  • might be too small for some users

Shop now at TaoTronics

PriceWho it’s best forConsiderations
Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp$$ anyone looking for a customizable lamp that can work well in any space, at any angleadjustable, but always faces in a downward position to reduce glare
Northern Light Technologies Boxelite$$ those who like to sit further away from the light source (it’s effective at 14 inches)adjustable and has a larger light panel so you can sit further away
Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp$ those who want their light to blend in a little better with their decorblends well with decor but has a fixed position and doesn’t adjust
Flamingo Floor Lamp$$ anyone looking for a little more versatility in where they can get their light therapylight angle is adjustable but not the height
TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp$anyone looking for a compact option and doesn’t mind sitting closer to the panelcompact, but you have to sit closer to the light panel since it’s smaller than others on the list

SAD lamps simulate sunlight, which helps trigger the brain to release serotonin, often called the feel-good hormone.

Studies show that using light therapy during periods when daylight hours are short can help adjust your circadian rhythm, the body’s process for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. This is beneficial for improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression.

Light therapy has become an accepted practice for alleviating SAD and other conditions such as:

  • jet lag
  • dementia
  • circadian rhythm sleep disorders

There are many lamps and light boxes marketed as SAD or light therapy lamps. Not all of these products are effective or appropriate for this use.

The FDA doesn’t regulate SAD lamps, so it’s important to buy one that provides enough light and is designed to treat SAD.

Here are some features to look for:


  • Don’t get a light box that’s designed to treat skin conditions. These devices aren’t meant to treat mood disorders and they won’t be effective.
  • Make sure the lamp filters out ultraviolet (UV) light and is labeled UV-free. UV light can damage your eyes and skin.


  • The lamp should generate 10,000 lux of cool-white, fluorescent light. An output of 10,000 lux is approximately 20 times greater than the light output generated by most indoor lighting. Lamps with less lux may need to be used more often than brighter ones.
  • Opt for a glare-free lamp or a lamp that can be positioned at a downward angle that reduces or eliminates eye glare.


  • Look for a lamp with a light surface area of around 12 by 15 inches. The larger the surface area, the higher the lux. Larger lamps also provide you with the option of moving around more, so you can be farther away from the lamp without compromising its effectiveness.
  • Smaller lamps aren’t as effective and may need to be used more often for longer sessions. That said, you may wish to purchase a second, smaller lamp if you travel a lot. Your doctor can provide individualized lamp use guidelines.

Personal style and needs

  • Think about what activity you would like to do while using the lamp and purchase one that will accommodate that purpose. For example, light boxes have been shown to help with jet lag. So, if you travel frequently, you may want to choose a small, portable option.
  • Lamp styles vary. You may be better off getting an attractive lamp that matches your décor so it can stay in position for use. For maximum benefit, you’ll want to use the lamp at least once daily, so having it out and easily accessible can be a plus.
  • Don’t start using a SAD lamp without your doctor’s approval: This is especially important if you have a diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, glaucoma, or lupus.
  • Always get the green light from your doctor if you’re taking prescription medications of any kind, including antipsychotics and antidepressants: Remember that some prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements can make your skin photosensitive, requiring an adjustment to your use of the lamp. These medications include lithium, some acne drugs, and St. John’s wort.
  • Use the lamp daily: You can use it until daylight hours increase.
  • Experiment with time frame: Many people benefit from as little as 20 minutes of use. Others require 60 minutes, which is typically considered the highest exposure you should get.
  • Consider when to use it: Many experts recommend using a SAD lamp first thing in the morning. Your doctor might also recommend that you use it during the day. Keep in mind that more isn’t always better. Overuse of a SAD lamp can produce insomnia or other side effects.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations for the position: Your lamp should come with recommendations for how close you should position yourself to it. This is very important, as your distance from it will affect the lamp’s lux capacity.
  • Position the lamp so that it’s providing you with downward light: This will ensure that it doesn’t shine directly into your eyes.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to best stop using the lamp: It may be most appropriate for you to wean yourself off slowly. Spending time outdoors, especially in the mornings, can help this process.

Although light therapy is helpful for people who bipolar disorder, you should consult with a doctor before introducing it daily. A medical professional who is familiar with your physical and mental health history will be able to help you figure out if light therapy is a good option for you.

Some studies show that SAD lamps can help boost mood and alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression, but they’re not a substitute for proper mental health care. If you feel that your depression is severe or you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to speak with a healthcare professional. You should check in with a doctor or mental health professional if:

  • You feel sad and hopeless nearly every day.
  • You no longer experience pleasure in hobbies or activities you used to enjoy.
  • You can’t sleep or are spending too much time sleeping.
  • You’re feeling irritated and annoyed nearly every day.
  • Symptoms are interfering with your quality of life.
  • You’re gaining or losing weight unexpectedly.

Keep in mind

If you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Can SAD lamps damage your skin or eyes?

UV light should be filtered out of SAD lamps, so they shouldn’t damage your eyes or skin. However, light boxes used to treat certain skin conditions do emit UV light, so you should be sure that your light box is designed to treat SAD.

Can SAD lamps increase vitamin D levels?

While some people have found that SAD lamps can increase vitamin D levels over time, there’s not enough research to confirm this.

A 2007 study investigated whether patients with cystic fibrosis and short bowel syndrome were able to absorb vitamin D through commercial portable ultraviolet lamps. The study found that the lamp increased or maintained circulating vitamin D levels in the winter months.

However, other studies have shown that for light therapy to be used effectively to increase vitamin D levels, it needs to produce UV light, which most SAD lamps do not.

According to the FDA, UV lights can cause damage to the skin and should be used with caution. Long-term exposure to UV rays can also cause premature aging and skin cancer. If you’re using UV lights on your skin, you should speak with your doctor first.

How bright are SAD lamps?

The recommended brightness for SAD lamps is typically 10,000 lux.

How long does it take a SAD lamp to start working?

The University of British Columbia found that people can start to respond to light therapy within a few days and you should see improvements within 2 weeks. Be sure to speak to your doctor if your body does not respond to a SAD lamp after 2 weeks.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t use a SAD lamp?

You should avoid using a SAD lamp if you have an increased sensitivity to light. This may be due to:

  • macular degeneration
  • a connective tissue disorder
  • lupus

Interested in other resources for mental health?

We’re here to help. Explore our evidence-driven reviews of top providers, products, and more to support your physical and emotional well-being.

Seasonal affective disorder can often be alleviated with proactive lifestyle changes. These include:

  • going to bed early and waking up at or near dawn
  • going outside for extended periods of time, especially first thing in the morning
  • avoiding substances that can adversely affect your ability to sleep, such as alcohol
  • eating whole, nutrient-rich foods
  • exercising

Seeing a mental health professional and taking antidepressant medications, as advised, can also be beneficial.

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, previously known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a condition caused by lowered exposure to sunlight or a change of seasons. Women and young adults are most affected by this condition.

Using a SAD lamp, also known as a light box, can help alleviate symptoms, boosting your mood.

SAD lamps can be effective when used as a solo treatment or combined with other forms of treatment. Either way, always use these lamps under a doctor’s supervision.

Top 5 Sunlight Lamps for Winter Depression and Light Therapy

According to the US National Library of Medicine:

“Some people experience severe mood changes during the winter months when there is less sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms.”

This once neglected issue is finally being recognized as a real problem. In the USA from 1.4 to 9.7% of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder – and the farther north you live, the more likely you are to experience it.

Symptoms may resemble mental exhaustion:

  • Sad, anxious or "empty" feelings.
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or pessimism.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Tiredness, oversleeping or trouble sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions.
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

There is a big difference between seasonal depression and clinical depression .

If your depression occurs only during certain months of the year, then it is most likely seasonal, in which case it can be treated with light therapy and sunlight lamps. If your depression is more than just a season, seek help from one of these online resources to learn about depression.

How does light therapy work?

Typically, animals experience a period of reduced activity during the winter months. People may also experience slowdowns during the winter because sunlight regulates our body clock, and reduced sunlight availability leads to hormonal changes that affect sleep and mood. However, the exact cause of seasonal depression is still unknown.

Light Therapy works on the "reduced sunlight" hypothesis and tries to solve the problem with artificial sunlight (or at least something that mimics sunlight). The theory is that you can "reset" your biological clock during the winter by making up for the loss of sunlight, which should prevent seasonal internal changes.

Light therapy is the first line treatment for seasonal depression - if you are diagnosed with winter affective disorder, then light therapy should be one of your first treatment attempts. If it works, great! If not, other treatments should be considered.

Only certain types of light should be used in light therapy. Avoid all forms of full spectrum light, UV light, tanning lamps and heat lamps! When in doubt, always consult your doctor, especially if your case of seasonal affective disorder is self-diagnosed.

How to choose a solar light therapy lamp

Sunlight lamps go by many names: "light therapy lamps", "light therapy devices", "phototherapy boxes" and even "lightboxes". These devices tend to do the same thing - they emit a bright light that mimics sunlight, but not all sunlight lamps are equally effective.

Some solar lamps are not designed for seasonal depression. Light therapy is actually used to treat a number of other problems, including some skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. These types of light therapy lamps emit ultraviolet light, which can be dangerous. Stick to sunlight lamps that are explicitly labeled for seasonal depression.

Whiter and brighter is usually better. The brightness of a lamp is measured in lux, and the higher the lux rating, the more light it emits. Brighter lamps require less exposure time per day, but can be inconvenient to use. Your distance from the lamp also matters - the farther away you plan to sit, the brighter the light should be. For best results, stay between 2500 and 10000 lux.

You may also find that some solar lamps emit "blue" light while others emit "white" light. There is no conclusive evidence that one is more effective than the other, but white light is generally cheaper and generally considered safer.

LEDs are the most energy efficient. Sunlight lamps are available in incandescent, fluorescent and LED options. The brightness of the light is more important than the type of bulb, but if you can, use an LED sunlight bulb, which will use much less power than an incandescent or fluorescent bulb.

Recommended Sunlight Lamps for Light Therapy

1. Alaska Northern Lights NorthStar

If you're looking for a solar lamp that's effective, clinically tested, doctor-recommended, and built to last for years, it's worth a lot of money. It may hurt to shell out a few hundred dollars for a solar lamp, but this one is worth it.

Alaska's NorthStar Northern Lights is a sunlight lamp specially designed to combat seasonal depression. At 24 inches and 10,000 lux, you'll get a lot of light from this thing - enough that you can sit up to 2 feet apart (instead of the more common 1 foot).

This lamp has a 60 day money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. It uses fluorescent lamps, emits no harmful UV rays, and has been on the market for over two decades. Do you want something proven and true? This is the one.

2. Carex Day-Light Sky

For an option that's more affordable than NorthStar but still built with quality and efficiency, consider this Adjustable Sunlight Bulb from Carex Health Brands.

The Carex daylight sky is similar to what you'll find in a doctor's office, but don't let that scare you. It produces bright fluorescent light with two settings - 7,000 lux or 10,000 lux - and emits virtually no UV light.

The lamp is 24 inches tall, but the lightbox itself is only 12 inches. Both the lightbox and the extension arm can be rotated to a noticeable degree, which is very handy when you need to move the lamp for any reason.

3. NatureBright SunTouch Plus

If you're on a budget, we recommend saving until you can afford one of the two lamps above. But if you really need it right now without spending too much, here's the next best thing for you: NatureBright SunTouch Plus.

This thing comes with a plastic case so it won't be as reliable as the alternatives above (both have metal exteriors), but the light itself shines at 10,000 lux so it's still effective for light therapy against seasonal depression.

The light emitting area is about 12 inches, which is large enough for home use, but doesn't have any hinges or hinges to adjust, so it might be a little awkward to adjust comfortably.

4. Lightforia Gadget Sphere

Large sunlight lamps are good if you sit at your computer all day, but if you work in an environment where you are constantly moving from place to place, a stationary lamp will not do you much good.

That's why you might need a portable solar lamp. And for that matter, nothing beats the value of Sphere Gadget Lightphoria. The device is about 6 inches long but puts out an impressive 10,000 lux of light (you can turn it down if it's too bright for you).

The main thing is that it has LED lamps, so it does not consume much energy at all, and also has timer functions for 15, 30 and 45 minutes. No wonder this item is a bestseller in Amazon's Light Therapy product category.

5. Verilux HappyLight Liberty

If you can't get Lightphoria for whatever reason (maybe it's too expensive) or if you don't like it (maybe it's too small), then consider another portable solar lamp. light: Verilux HappyLight Liberty .

At 7 inches it is slightly larger than the Lightphoria, but only produces light at a maximum output of 5000 lux. It is still effective for light therapy, but you will need to expose it for longer periods of time and place it closer to you - about 8 inches apart.

It's not perfect, but incredibly cheap. You will not find another light therapy lamp at this price with the same level of efficiency.

Light therapy doesn't always work

Although light therapy is a first line treatment, it is not perfect. If you happen to buy a solar light bulb and it doesn't help you, then you should see a doctor and get a professional diagnosis.

Seasonal depression may not even be your problem. You may be suffering from too much stress as a result of working too hard (i.e., workaholism). Maybe you need to start exercising more. Perhaps your computer habits are preventing you from sleeping.

If light therapy is not an option for you, consider these alternatives, especially those related to sleep health. Check out our article on devices to help you sleep better. that will help you fall asleep, fall asleep that will help you sleep better.

Image Credit: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock

Light (LED) skin therapy.

Light therapy (or LED therapy, or photodynamic therapy) is not a new thing in itself, and it is used in various branches of medicine: from the treatment of seasonal apathy to acne. During light therapy, the skin is treated for some time with red or blue light (or both at once, or some other color). When light hits the skin, the cells in the skin react to the light in different ways, depending on which wavelength of light hits the skin.

At the beginning of the 20th century, heliotherapy was very popular (lying under the sun, to put it simply), they tried to treat everything with it. But then it turned out that this leads to skin cancer, and somehow people stopped loving everything connected with light. But in recent years, such therapy has become popular because it has become clear that certain areas of the light spectrum are safe and can help with some skin conditions. Well, I personally explain the popularity by the fact that many companies have released home gadgets, and many salons have begun to do this procedure, because it gives a cool result and does not require medical education for the specialist conducting it. Well, that is, it can be carried out by anyone, anywhere.

The most common applications of light therapy in dermatology are:

Light therapy for acne

For acne, mostly blue light is used, or a combination of blue and red.

In short, it works and is effective, but only for mild to moderate acne. In severe degrees, doing it is not only pointless, but also dangerous. It can cause mild inflammation of the skin, which is very, very painful for people with serious stages.

It is important to understand why pimples appear. I wrote about this in detail here, but I will briefly repeat: the main cause of inflammation (not a tendency to it, this is important) is propionibacterium acnes bacteria. These bacteria live in the pores, but they do not multiply in the presence of oxygen. If the pore is clogged with a mixture of sebum and dead cells, oxygen stops getting into it. And here the bacteria begin to multiply actively and provoke inflammation.

Blue light works against bacteria. To put it simply, blue light with a certain wavelength excites certain proteins in bacteria, which causes them to produce oxygen. And in the presence of oxygen, bacteria do not multiply and die. Red works in much the same way, but plus it has an anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce the activity of the sebaceous glands.

Research has been going on for a couple of decades, and most of it shows very good results. It is believed that a noticeable result appears after 6 weeks, but many reviews write that the effect is visible even after the first application.

It is clear that this therapy is most often done in salons and clinics, but it is so simple and safe that it is quite possible to do it at home, observing all the necessary precautions. And it will give a result close to the salon. Here is an example of a study on this. Problems arose only in a person with a severe stage of acne, but I have already written about this.

Of course, light therapy alone will not cure anything, and it is used rather in addition to general therapy. But it's a cool safe thing.

Light therapy for psoriasis

Blue light is also used to treat psoriasis. I wrote more about this disease here. There are several studies on the effects of blue light on psoriasis, and the American Dermatological Association says it's safe and generally beneficial to use blue light for psoriasis, but it's still worth talking to your doctor before buying. Blue light therapy is even part of official treatment protocols.

The effect of blue light in psoriasis is explained by the fact that blue light, on the one hand, inhibits the growth of skin cells (and this is the main reason for the formation of plaques on the skin) and suppresses inflammation.

Light therapy for skin repair

Red light is used to restore and rejuvenate the skin. LED (Light-emitting diode) therapy causes mild stress in the skin, which activates protective mechanisms in cells. This process is called photobiomodulation, and it accelerates skin renewal, increases the production of collagen, elastin, growth factors, anti-inflammatory substances, antioxidants, and so on. Red light, to put it simply, makes the mitochondria in cells produce energy more efficiently, and at the same time they perform their functions more efficiently.

It is also believed that red light accelerates skin renewal (not exfoliation, but renewal), and therefore, under its influence, the effect of the active ingredients of cosmetics appears faster and stronger. Well, that is, it is useful to combine with active ingredients such as retinol, acids, peptides, and so on.

But besides this, red light itself can improve the quality of the skin (elasticity, density). Korean dermatologists, for example, conducted a very good (in terms of methodology) study in 2007, according to which combined red and infrared radiation therapy gives very good results for rejuvenation. The skin becomes smoother, the depth of wrinkles decreases and the skin as a whole becomes more elastic. From such therapy, the production of collagen and elastin in the skin increases. But at the same time, infrared light does not work against pigmentation, but red light does.

And to complete the picture, a study on a significant reduction in wrinkles around the eyes after 12 weeks of red light therapy.

I did not find any data on any serious negative effects or contraindications, but I do not exclude that dermatologists have them.

The good thing about light therapy is that it is completely painless and has no downtime. On the other hand, you need to apply it in courses of 8-12 weeks, which not everyone is ready for.


Cosmetologists treat the skin with light, called photodynamic therapy or LED therapy. Not so long ago I wrote about phototherapy, which also uses light, but this is still different, it uses completely different radiation powers, and this applies more to lasers. It's just a light here. Usually, therapy is done as a course, like everything in cosmetology, but even after one application, the result will be noticeable (if there is something to get a result about).

It is not usually used as the main treatment tool, but is often done in addition to any salon treatments and basic therapy. I have never done LED therapy myself, but I want to, I think this is a cool thing. But, of course, if you do not have the problems that it solves, you will not see any result. Which is completely logical.

Home devices

In addition to the cosmetic procedure, there are, of course, home LED gadgets, and most likely because of them you came here. This is one of the very few categories of home gadgets that I think are worth your attention and money. Of course, they are not as efficient as professional ones, because they have much less radiation power, which is understandable and correct, because professional devices must be controlled by professionals.

In addition to blue and red light, there are others, but these are some kind of fantasies, in my opinion, because they do not have any serious evidence base. Stop at red and blue.

Now there are many home devices with different types of light. There are spotlights, there are like masks.

I think it only makes sense to buy spot gadgets if you are going to use them on occasional single pimples or use them on some small area. Well, or you don’t need some strong effect, you just want to relieve inflammation a little and soothe the skin.

More or less accessible examples: Foreo UFO (there is also an Espada stick, it is no longer sold in Russia due to some power restrictions, but you can buy it in any foreign store), Tria, Dr. Dennis Gross SpotLite, Luma, Neutrogena. NuFace has a red light tip

I have a Foreo Espada and I love how it works on single pimples. I usually leave it on for a few minutes, then wipe the pimple with something with salicylic acid. I do this for three days and everything goes away. But I got it as a gift and I'm not sure that I would have spent so much money myself on a gadget with such narrow functionality.

For a serious and noticeable effect, it is better to choose such gadgets, in which a large surface emits light. That is, masks and large lamps. They are usually quite expensive, but they are a good investment if you are into gadgets. I haven't thought about buying one yet, but I want to.

There are some restrictions on such gadgets in Russia, but nothing prevents you from ordering them from foreign stores or from Amazon. For example, there are such: mask Deesse, Project E, Luma. Separately for the area around the eyes, if this is your topic, there is a Dr. Dennis Gross.

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