Red Light Therapy vs Infrared Saunas: 5 Key Distinctions You Should Know

In terms of holistic medicine, two therapies have gained in popularity recently: Red light therapy and infrared saunas.

Although these therapies both offer health benefits (and use light technology), each has its own unique goals and mechanisms for health. For example, red light therapy uses light energy to stimulate cellular activity, while infrared saunas aim to raise internal body temperatures.

Want to learn a little more about these two emerging therapies? This guide highlights five major differences between red light therapy and infrared saunas, shedding light on the question of whether they are the same and when you should consider one over the other.

What Is an Infrared Sauna?

An infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to emit radiant heat. This heat is absorbed by the body, which can trigger a range of therapeutic benefits. Infrared saunas use similar principles to traditional saunas (steam room or dry heat). The goal is to raise internal body temperatures.

However, the big difference is the heating mechanism.

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas aim to raise the air temperature in the room to indirectly raise body temperature. This can be done with high-temperature steam or natural heat.

Infrared Sauna

An infrared sauna, on the other hand, directs infrared light energy at the body, which penetrates the skin and heats the body directly. By using infrared light, temperatures operate at lower temperatures. Therefore, the overall experience may be more comfortable

Health Benefits of Saunas

Ultimately, no matter the type of sauna, the health benefits are similar. Saunas are believed to provide:

  • Improved circulation
  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Detoxification
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Sleep improvements
  • Enhanced skin health (especially with steam saunas)

Is Red Light Therapy the Same as an Infrared Sauna?

On principle, they sound similar. However, red light therapy, which is a form of photobiomodulation light therapy, is not the same as an infrared sauna. Each therapy has a distinct purpose.

People primarily use red light therapy to stimulate cellular activity and promote healing, with a focus on enhancing skin health and relieving pain. There are numerous uses for red light therapy, including improving mental health and reducing sleep disturbances. However, it does not raise body temperature.

In contrast, infrared saunas aim to heat the body directly, induce sweating, and facilitate detoxification.

Can You Use Red Light Therapy Before or After a Sauna?

The choice of using red light therapy before or after an infrared sauna largely depends on your wellness goals.

If you’re looking to target specific skin concerns or alleviate pain, using red light therapy before or after an infrared sauna session can complement your overall wellness routine. However, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider to learn to ensure safety and determine if this is right for you.

Red Light Therapy vs Infrared Saunas: Top 5 Differences

Here’s an in-depth look at the differences between these two types of treatments:

1. Light Technology

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy utilizes specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light, which fall within the range of 620 to 850 nanometers. These wavelengths are carefully chosen to target cellular activity and promote various healing processes within the body. The light penetrates the skin and reaches the cells, where it stimulates and optimizes cellular responses.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas, in contrast, employ longer wavelengths of infrared radiation, which primarily operate in the far-infrared spectrum, ranging from 5.6 to 15 micrometers. These longer wavelengths focus on heating the body directly, rather than targeting cellular activity. The goal is to create a deep, penetrating heat that induces sweating and promotes detoxification by increasing the body’s core temperature.

2. Purpose and Benefits

Red Light Therapy

People mainly use red light therapy to enhance skin health, reduce swelling, alleviate pain, and boost cellular energy. This therapy is well-regarded for its applications in skincare, wound healing, and muscle recovery. The specific wavelengths used in red light therapy are chosen to optimize cellular responses, making it a go-to option for issues that require cellular rejuvenation.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas, on the other hand, aim to create a sauna-like experience with the purpose of inducing sweating and promoting detoxification. People favor them for their potential to improve cardiovascular health, relieve stress, and aid in weight loss. The primary focus is on raising the body’s core temperature to stimulate these benefits.

3. Heat Production

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy does not produce external heat. During a red light therapy session, you will experience no significant increase in room temperature or body heat. The therapy takes place at room temperature, and you won’t sweat during the session.

Infrared Saunas

As the name suggests, infrared saunas provide a sauna-like experience. These saunas create an environment where the room temperature and the body’s core temperature both rise. This increase in temperature induces sweating, a key aspect of the sauna experience, which aids in detoxification.

4. Duration and Session Frequency

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy sessions are typically shorter in duration, usually ranging from just a few minutes to around 20 minutes. Because red light therapy sessions are short, it’s common to use them daily or a few times a week, depending on your specific goals.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared sauna sessions are usually longer, typically lasting from 20 to 45 minutes. These sessions are less frequent and are often recommended only a few times a week or even less, depending on individual goals and tolerance. The extended duration is designed to facilitate the gradual increase in core body temperature.

5. Application and Accessibility

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy devices come in various forms, including handheld devices, panels, and beds. These devices are meant for specific use on the skin or particular body areas, like the face, joints, or muscles. A big plus is that you can easily get these home devices, which makes them convenient for daily use in your own home.

Infrared Saunas

In contrast, infrared saunas are larger and require dedicated space for installation. You can often find these saunas in wellness centers, gyms, or spas. They are less accessible for daily home use due to their size and installation requirements, making them more suitable for occasional visits to such establishments.


In summary, red light therapy and infrared saunas, while both using light technology, have different goals and provide unique advantages.

Red light therapy has numerous benefits, and is ideal for skin health, pain relief, and cellular stimulation, while infrared saunas focus on detoxification, cardiovascular health, and stress relief.

Knowing the main distinctions between these two therapies can assist you in making an educated choice when deciding which one matches your health and wellness objectives.

If you’re ready to explore the possibilities Hue Light USA can offer you, be sure to check us out today!

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