Is Red Light Therapy the same as Infrared Sauna?

red light therapy session

Red Light Therapy vs. Infrared Sauna: Understanding the Differences and Benefits

As a proud owner of a red light therapy business, I often get questions about how red light therapy compares to infrared saunas. Both are popular wellness treatments, but they offer distinct benefits and serve different purposes. Here’s a comprehensive comparison to help you understand the key differences and advantages of red light therapy over infrared saunas.

1. Mechanism of Action

Red Light Therapy: Uses specific wavelengths of light (typically in the red and near-infrared spectrum) to penetrate the skin and stimulate cellular processes.

Infrared Sauna: Uses infrared light to heat the body directly, which in turn heats up the air around you. This induces sweating and promotes detoxification through thermal energy.

2. Heat Exposure

Red Light Therapy: Operates at lower temperatures and does not involve significant heat exposure, making it more comfortable for those sensitive to heat.

Infrared Sauna: Can reach temperatures between 120°F to 150°F, which may be uncomfortable for people with heat sensitivity or certain health conditions.

3. Session Duration

Red Light Therapy: Sessions typically last around 10-20 minutes, making it a convenient option for those with busy schedules.

Infrared Sauna: Sessions usually last between 30-45 minutes, which might be less convenient for some individuals.

4. Skin Health and Anti-Aging

Red Light Therapy: Proven to improve skin health by stimulating collagen production, reducing wrinkles, and enhancing overall skin texture.

Infrared Sauna: Indirectly benefits the skin by promoting sweating and detoxification, which can help clear pores and improve skin appearance over time.

5. Muscle Recovery and Pain Relief

Red Light Therapy: Penetrates deep into tissues to promote cellular repair and reduce inflammation, making it highly effective for muscle recovery and pain relief.

Infrared Sauna: Provides muscle relaxation through heat exposure, which can help alleviate soreness and stiffness, though it may not penetrate tissues as deeply as red light therapy.

6. Energy and Mood Enhancement

Red Light Therapy: Enhances cellular energy production (ATP), which can lead to increased energy levels and improved mood.

Infrared Sauna: Promotes relaxation and stress relief, which can indirectly boost mood but does not directly influence cellular energy production.

7. Cardiovascular Health

Red Light Therapy: Improves circulation by stimulating blood flow at a cellular level.

Infrared Sauna: Also enhances circulation through increased heart rate and blood flow due to heat exposure, promoting cardiovascular health.

8. Weight Loss

Red Light Therapy: Can aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism at the cellular level, though it is not primarily a weight loss treatment.

Infrared Sauna: Promotes weight loss by inducing sweating and increasing heart rate, which burns calories.

9. Convenience and Accessibility

Red Light Therapy: Can be administered through portable devices or panels, making it accessible for home use.

Infrared Sauna: Typically requires a dedicated space and larger investment for a sauna unit, making it less convenient for some users.

10. Safety and Comfort

Red Light Therapy: Generally considered safe with minimal side effects, suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

Infrared Sauna: Also safe for most people but may pose risks for those with certain health conditions like cardiovascular issues or heat sensitivity.


Both red light therapy and infrared saunas offer unique benefits, but they serve different purposes. Red light therapy excels in skin health, cellular energy production, and muscle recovery without the need for heat exposure. Infrared saunas are great for detoxification, cardiovascular health, and relaxation through thermal energy. Depending on your wellness goals, you might find one more suitable than the other, or even benefit from incorporating both into your routine.

As always, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new wellness treatment, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Whether you choose red light therapy or an infrared sauna, both can contribute to a healthier, more vibrant you.

About the Author

Jessica is the Co-owner of Red Spectrum Health. She fell in love with Red Light Therapy and had to shout it from the rooftops! When she's not at the office sharing the benefits of red light, she's juggling motherhood, family life, working out, or walking her beloved corgi's.