If you’re interested in health and wellness, you may have seen red light therapy and infrared saunas. Infrared saunas and red light therapy have emerged as popular technologies in the wellness sector. Figures show that light therapy market compound annual growth rates will increase by around 6% between 2023 and 2032 (source).
In this guide, which discusses light therapy vs infrared saunas, we’ll explore what these therapies are, how they work, what benefits they offer, and highlight the main differences.
What is red light therapy?
Red light therapy, also known as RLT, is a therapy that exposes the body to a low dose of red and near-infrared light. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but the body detects it through a powerful sense of heat and warmth.
Red light has similar properties to infrared, but it is visible and doesn’t produce heat. Red light therapy involves using a red light therapy device, such as a lamp or laser, to expose the skin to the light beams. Light therapy devices utilize red spectrum light. This form of treatment is also known as photobiomodulation, low-level laser therapy and low-power laser therapy.
How does red light therapy work?
Red light therapy works by targeting the mitochondria within the cells. The mitochondria are the part of the cell which produces energy. When your skin encounters RLT, the mitochondria absorb the light, causing them to increase energy production.
What is RLT used for, and what are the benefits of red light therapy?
Red light therapy has a wide range of uses and benefits. These include:
- Skincare and anti-aging
RLT is best known as a skin therapy, which boosts collagen production, smoothens the skin, reduces the visibility of lines and wrinkles and tackles acne scarring and sun damage (source).
- Reducing jaw pain
Pain, stiffness, and restricted movement in the jaw are relatively common symptoms. Linked to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, these symptoms can often be challenging to treat and manage without medication and rest. Research shows that red light therapy can help reduce pain and tenderness severity (source).
- Tackling mild joint pain
Studies show that red light therapy can be an effective remedy for individuals who experience medically diagnosed pain in their joints (source).
- Improved circulation
RLT increases cell energy, boosting blood flow to improve circulation, which is beneficial for skin health, wound healing and providing the muscles with energy during exercise.
- Reducing inflammation
Reducing inflammation is critical when recovering from an injury. Red light therapy can help to ease swelling and accelerate wound healing by triggering the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide boosts circulation to deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to damaged, injured tissue faster (source).
What is an infrared sauna?
Most people have either been in or heard of traditional saunas, but infrared saunas are relatively new. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of an infrared sauna, this type of sauna operates at a lower temperature, using infrared lamps or panels to heat your body, unlike a conventional sauna, which heats the air. In a traditional sauna, the temperature can reach up to 180℉.
An infrared sauna has a temperature of around 120℉ to 140℉. The lower temperature makes the environment more tolerable. Infrared Sauna Blankets are gaining popularity as they are portable, private and more hygienic than shared Infrared Box Saunas.
How does an infrared sauna work?
Infrared saunas use specially designed lamps, blankets and panels to emit infrared light to heat the body directly.
What are the benefits of infrared saunas?
The benefits of infrared saunas are similar to traditional saunas, but some studies suggest that FAR infrared wavelengths offer additional advantages. Benefits of using an infrared sauna include:
- Improves skin health and clarity
- Induces calm and relaxation
- Reduces muscle aches and pains
- Boosts circulation and resting heart rate (after the sauna) (source)
- Increases heart rate (when inside the sauna)
- Helps to ease symptoms of tiredness (source)
Tips for using an infrared sauna
Here are some tips for using an infrared sauna for the first time:
- Drink plenty of water before and during your sauna session: sweating can result in dehydration.
- Start with a low temperature: if you haven’t used an infrared sauna before, it’s wise to opt for a lower temperature of around 100-120 degrees. As you get used to the sessions, you can gradually increase the temperature in line with your preferences.
- Start with a short session: it’s a good idea to start with a short session if you’re trying an infrared sauna for the first time. You can set a timer for around 15-20 minutes.
- Cool down: after your session, take a few minutes to cool down and let your body adjust. It’s also beneficial to have a drink.
- Have a shower: after you’ve cooled down, take a shower.
Red light therapy vs infrared saunas: What are the differences?
Red light therapy and infrared saunas are increasingly popular therapies that offer a wide range of health and wellness benefits.
Here are the main differences between infrared saunas and red light therapy:
One of the most noticeable differences between undergoing red light therapy and going to an infrared sauna is the level of heat. RLT does not heat the body significantly. It uses minimal heat in comparison to infrared saunas. Infrared saunas utilize infrared panels, blankets or lamps to warm the body.
You are much more likely to sweat if you go to an infrared sauna blanket. Some people enjoy being hot and sweaty, while others find it uncomfortable. It is important to note that infrared saunas are different from traditional saunas. The temperature is lower in an Infrared Sauna Blanket, and the technology heats the body first before the air. If you find a conventional sauna too hot and sweaty, you may prefer an infrared sauna.
Despite the difference in heat, dry sauna and infrared sauna offer the same wellness benefits, but at a more tolerable temperature with a Sauna Blanket.
Intense heat can be unpleasant for some people, and in some cases, we do not recommend you use a Sauna Blanket if you have underlying health conditions or are pregnant.
An Infrared Sauna Blanket is far more convenient than red light therapy. Red light therapy panels are fantastic for home use, but taking them away from home is more burdensome. The BON CHARGE Infrared Sauna Blanket folds up and comes with its carry bag. You can easily take the Sauna Blanket away from the house, despite its size.
3. Space and storage
If you plan to install a sauna at home, rather than using one at a health club, spa or gym, you will need to check that you have sufficient space available. An infrared sauna takes up much more space than a red light therapy device. The workaround is using a FAR Infrared Sauna Blanket rather than a Box Infrared Sauna. An Infrared Sauna Blanket only takes up a little space and can easily be stored away after use.
4. Wellness benefits
Both red light therapy and using infrared saunas offer incredible wellness benefits. There are many similarities in terms of the benefits for well-being, including clear, bright skin, relaxation and reduced muscle soreness.. Studies also suggest that infrared saunas can help tired individuals. Red light therapy can reduce jaw pain, soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production and reduce mild joint pain.
Which is best? RLT or infrared saunas?
There are many advantages to both red light therapy and infrared saunas. Both treatments offer wellness benefits, and many people also enjoy undergoing light therapy or sitting inside a sauna blanket.
Practical considerations like time, convenience, cost and access may also impact your decision. Everybody is different, and it’s wise to make choices based on your requirements and preferences.
Red light therapy and infrared saunas are increasingly popular technologies that offer wellness benefits. Although these products are often discussed within the same conversations, articles and guides, there are substantial differences.
They work differently, and red light therapy doesn’t generate heat. RLT and infrared saunas offer a range of wellness benefits, but infrared saunas are not suitable for everyone. Deciding which option is best often comes down to personal preferences and requirements.