If you're like me, your genes have it out for you to lose your hair. Sure we can accept it and let fate run its course, but personally I'm not one to give up without a fight. I'm trying everything that I think is safe to try to stop or, at the very least, slow down my hair loss. One thing I've decided to try doing is making a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) helmet.
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
The idea behind Low Level Laser Therapy is that it uses laser diodes that emit red light (at a wavelength between 630-670 nanometers), which effect the body when the specific wavelength of light is absorbed by molecules of the target tissue. When absorbed, biological changes occur, which could stimulate new hair growth. Some products and studies have also used light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to emit red light at the same wavelength in an effort to also stimulate hair growth. For more information, check out this article by the Hair Foundation.
I had read several human subject studies performed with LLLT and saw promising results for hair growth. So I thought to myself, why not try it out? When I looked at the price tag and the claims of many products out there, they screamed scam. I read further into the studies and realized that I could build one that essentially does the same thing, but for a fraction of the price. That's why I thought I'd share my project here.
I don't claim that LLLT works, is safe, or that this project will magically regrow your hair. I just thought it would be cool to share this with people who are suffering from hair loss and are interested in trying LLLT, but not wanting to spend money on a gimmicky product.
I wanted to make a very quick and easy project that didn't take very much time or skill. I did this in the living room of my apartment, with no workshop or many tools available. There are a lot of ways this could be improved or done differently, so ideas and suggestions are more than welcome! :)
I would also like to thank Gamer6460 for his instructable on Laser Hair regrowth that I had read through and used as a reference when writing this!
Step 1: Materials
Some materials you may need for this project are:
- 1 x 2AA Battery Holder with wires and switch
- 1 x Wire Stripper
- 1 x Helmet
- 10 x 3 Volt Laser Diodes
- 1 x Marker
- 1 x Scissors
- 1 x Soldering Iron and Solder
- 5 AA Batteries
- Velcro (R) or adhesive strips
- Drill and various size drill bits
I got the following items from Amazon:
- "2 AA Battery Holder - w/Wires and Switch"
- Sold by Ump Science for $1.56
- "Pro-Grade 6" Wire Stripper Cutter Crimping Tool - Insulated Soft Grip"
- Sold by FixFind for $3.79
- "Hook-Up Wire Kit 3 Colors #WK-103"
- Sold by Eio for $14.98
- "MSA Safety Works 818066 Hard Hat, White"
- Sold by Amazon.com LLC for $8.50
I got the following items from E-bay:
- 4.5 V Battery Operated 30-100 CM LED Strip Light Waterproof Campin /Night Fishing [50 CM, Red]
- Sold by sunrisedevelopment2011 for $8.99
- 10 pcs Mini 650nm 6 mm 3V 5mW Laser Dot Diode Module Head
- Sold by jerrylauu for $3.29
I got the following items from Staples:
- Velcro (R) Industrial Strength Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fastener Strips, 2" x 4", Black - 2 pack
- Velcro (R) 3/4" x 18" Sticky Back Tape Strips, White
The drill, drill bits, soldering iron, solder, AA batteries, and scissors I had laying around.
In total, the project cost me about $50.00 for materials.
Step 2: Drill Time!
1. First, remove the suspension (the straps that go into the helmet to hold the helmet off your head) from the helmet, if there is one in. You don't want to accidentally drill a hole in it! Take the helmet and mark the points along the helmet that you would like to place the laser diodes. I tried the helmet on first, noted where on my head I wanted the diodes to be directed (where hair loss is occurring), and marked the desired locations. I ended up choosing 2 columns of 5 rows as shown above.
2. Before I started drilling, I placed a garbage bag to put under the helmet in order to collect the plastic debris. Then I drilled small holes into the helmet at each marked point. The smaller the drill bit, the easier it will be to drill the initial hole. Once you’ve drilled the initial hole you can go back through with a slightly larger bit and drill the holes again, making them larger. Keep making the holes larger until the size of the holes reach the approximate circumference of the laser diode (where the laser diode can fit snugly in the hole). For my materials, that was about 6 mm holes. I used the drill bits pictured working my way from the 9/64-in bit to the 15/64-in bit. The 15/64-in bit (~5.95 mm) was still a tad bit small, so I just angled the drill a little to make the hole slightly larger.
3. If you do it right, you will be able to fit the laser diodes snugly into the holes with the wires sticking out of the helmet, as shown in the pictures. Don't worry if you make the hole too large where the laser diodes fall through, you can use glue or adhesive to hold the laser diodes in place in the holes. You can also add glue or adhesive to make sure the laser diodes stay in place, even if they fit snugly. Mine fit snugly enough that I didn't feel that I needed to add any glue. Once the laser diodes are placed in the holes, rotate the diodes so that all the positive leads (red wires, if you using the same laser diodes) are facing towards the center of the helmet and all the negative leads (blue wires on my laser diodes) are facing away from the center of the helmet.
Step 3: Solder It Together!
Now comes the fun part...soldering! Since I don't really have a workspace and have a really cheap soldering iron, this was the hardest part of the project.
The battery pack contains 2 x AA batteries, so it outputs 3 V (the recommended operating voltage of each of the laser diodes). As a result, I connected the diodes in parallel resulting in that the same voltage drop (3 V) across each diode. To do this, what you want to do is connect all the positive terminals (red wires) together and all the negative terminals (blue wires) together. You can connect the diodes a lot of different ways depending on where your diodes are located on the helmet. I did the following:
1. Since I had spaced some of the diodes too far apart to solder the leads of one diode to the leads of next closest diode, I chose to solder the leads of the two diodes that were closest together as shown in the pictures. To do this, I stripped part of the leads with the Wire Stripper and twisted/wrapped them together as shown in the picture. I then soldered the leads of each diode pair together.
2. At this point I tested the connection for each pair of diodes. I placed two AA batteries into the battery holder, turned the switch on, and touched the positive lead (red wire) of the battery holder to the positive leads of one of the diodes and did the same with the negative leads. I went through and made sure that both laser diodes turned on for each pair. If you used the same or similar laser diodes, you'll notice that they leak some light out of the back and is typical for cheaper laser diodes. NOTE: Please take care to NOT look into the laser diodes directly, as they can cause permanent damage to your eyes!
3. From there, I went ahead and cut the necessary length of red and black wire (I used red for positive and black for negative just to stick with convention) from the Hook-up Wire Kit, and stripped off the ends to expose the wire. I then soldered the wires to the exposed solder between the two diodes as shown in the pictures.
4. Once that was done, I checked the connections again using the battery holder, in the same way as before. If there were any pairs of diodes that didn't light up, I checked the connection and re-soldered the wires from step 3 that connected that pair of diodes to the other pairs.
5. Finally, when all of the pairs of diodes lit up when testing with the battery holder I cut two new red and black wires to solder from the battery holder to the diodes. I kept the length small (about a few inches) and decided to keep the battery pack attached to the back of the helmet for convenience.
6. After soldering the wires from the battery holder to the diodes, I checked to make sure there was a good connection and all the diodes lit up.
Step 4: Velcro and the LED Strip
1. First, attach both sides of the 18" of Velcro Tape Strip together and cut the strip down to about the same width as the LED strip. Cut the length of the Velcro Tape Strip down, so that it fits inside of the helmet.
2. Wipe down the inside of the helmet, remove the plastic covering from one side of the Velcro, and attach the strip down the middle as shown in the pictures. Apply a good amount of pressure and smooth it out to make sure that it strongly adheres to the helmet.
3. Put 3 x AA batteries into the battery pack of the LED strip and turn it on, just to make sure that it works. :P
4. Once you know the LED strip works, cut the LED strip so that it fits inside the helmet by cutting off about three LEDs from the end of the strip. Cut on the dotted line of the LED strip, as shown in the picture. (The picture shows only two LEDs, but I removed the third later since it was still too long.)
5. From there, remove the plastic covering the other side of the Velcro and the plastic covering the LED strip. Place the LED Strip down onto the Velcro (with LEDs visible, of course) and the battery pack end towards the back of the helmet. Again, smooth it out and apply pressure down on the LED strip so that it sticks to the Velcro strip.
Step 5: Velcro the Battery Packs
Finally, the last step!
1. Stick one of the 2" x 4" Velcro sheets on the back of the helmet.
2. Then, cut out two sections of appropriate sizes from the other half of the Velcro sheet to stick to the two battery packs. Make sure not to cover the screw hole that will be needed to replace the batteries! ;)
3. You can then stick the battery packs on the back of the helmet, put the suspension back in the helmet, and you're good to go!
Step 6: Your Own Person LLLT Helmet for Regrowing Your Hair!
Go ahead and power it on!
Based on what I've read, I've decided to try wearing it for about 20-30 minutes before bed every night. I guess we'll see if this really works! If anything, at least it looks cool!
In the future, I may try adding more laser diodes and setting up a basic circuit so that there is only one battery pack. Right now there are only 10 lasers each emitting an average of 3mW of power, which only totals up to about 30 mW. The 10 lasers also don't cover as much area of the scalp, so more would probably be better.
I hope this helps people who want to try and make one for themselves. Again if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I'd love to hear them! Thanks for reading! :)