Infrared Sauna vs. Red Light Therapy: Uncovering the Key Differences

Infrared Sauna or Red Light Therapy? Exploring the Distinctions Between These Wellness Treatments


Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and users should always consult a medical professional if complications arise from prolonged use.

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In the realm of health and wellness, the power of light plays a crucial role in sustaining organic life. Far-infrared sauna therapy and full-spectrum infrared saunas use the infrared light spectrum to provide heat therapy. Although chromotherapy (colour light therapy) and red light therapy (red light and near-infrared light) also use light wavelengths, their therapeutic applications are different from those of infrared saunas.

In this blog, we will explain the differences between infrared saunas and red light therapy by exploring their unique effects on the body. We will also guide you on how to use their potential for improved health and well-being, but first, we need to understand some basics about light.

EM spectrum

Light Spectrum Basics

Despite its apparent simplicity, light is a complex and enigmatic subject from a physics standpoint. Scientists have been conducting research on light for centuries, and though it has led to numerous scientific advancements, the investigations continue to this day. The light spectrum, which is a component of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, is how physicists comprehend light.

The picture above highlights three things for you to focus on:

  • Ultraviolet light (UV): UV light is capable of causing sunburns and aiding in the production of vitamin D in the skin. This spectrum of light is invisible to the human eye, and it should be noted that neither the infrared sauna nor the red light therapy uses this spectrum.
  • The visible spectrum: Visible light is the range of colours that can be seen by the human eye and includes all the colours of the rainbow. What many people don't know is that different colours can have specific health benefits. For example, green light can help with wound healing, blue light can increase alertness, and yellow light can improve skin appearance, in addition to red light which is also part of the visible light spectrum. It's worth noting that red light therapy uses this part of the spectrum, but infrared saunas do not.
  • Infrared light (IR): Infrared light is categorised into three types: near-infrared, mid-infrared, and far-infrared. All three wavelengths are invisible to the human eye and offer distinct benefits. In red light therapy, only near-infrared light is used, whereas in infrared saunas, far-infrared light is used, and in full spectrum saunas all three wavelengths; near, mid, and far-infrared are used.

Red Light Therapy also known as Low Level Light Therapy

We're currently witnessing a "red light therapy revolution," thanks to significant advancements in technology. Over the last few decades, the cost of LED light bulbs has decreased dramatically, making it possible to create panels that emit light using multiple LEDs. Prior to 2010, red light therapy primarily relied on lasers, which posed potential dangers and could be misused, making them unsuitable for at-home use. In contrast, LEDs have made red light therapy safer and more accessible for everyone. Let's explore the various applications of red light therapy:

  1. The red part of the visible light spectrum and;
  2. A small part of the near-infrared light spectrum that is non-heating

LED technology has made it possible to harness the power of specific red and near-infrared light wavelengths, which are known for their proven benefits. For instance, red light at 660 nanometers offers more advantages than red light at 680 nanometers. LED technology enables us to emit light very precisely at a specific wavelength, such as 660 nanometers while minimising output at other wavelengths like 650 or 670 nanometres.

By incorporating 50, 100, or even 500 LEDs on a panel, a substantial amount of light can be emitted to impact the human body. Light is not just a neutral force that illuminates a room; it also influences our biology. Similarly to how ultraviolet light affects our bodies, red light and various parts of the infrared light spectrum play a crucial role in our overall health and well-being.

Various types of red and near-infrared light can penetrate the human body up to several inches deep. This penetration allows light to influence a wide range of physiological processes within our bodies.

Scientific Review of Red Light Therapy Benefits

To date, nearly 6,000 individual studies have been published on the effects of red light therapy, highlighting its numerous benefits. Here's a concise list of red light therapy health benefits:

  • Normalising inflammation by reducing excess inflammation
  • Enhancing sleep quality and promoting wakefulness in the morning
  • Countering pain, such as joint pain or chronic a-specific pain
  • Boosting athletic performance and speeding up recovery after a session
  • Increasing your energy levels at the cellular level
  • Supporting eye, hair, and dental health
  • Bettering your energy levels, circulation, and blood sugar management
  • Lowering the risk for several diseases, such as heart and blood vessel conditions, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune conditions like Parkinson’s.

The benefits of red light therapy are numerous. Now that you have a good understanding of it, let us shift our focus to infrared saunas.

Infrared Saunas

As you know by now, infrared saunas use far infrared as their basis. And if the infrared sauna uses full-spectrum infrared, middle and near-infrared light are added to the mix.

Clearlight Saunas use True Wave® infrared heaters to achieve an extremely well-balanced combination of all three types of infrared light in our saunas. The end result is that 33% of light is emitted in the near-infrared range, 33% in the middle, and 33% in the far infrared light range.

Similar to red light therapy, infrared light penetrates your body and has various biological effects. Below is a brief list of the many infrared sauna health benefits.

  • Quicker athletic recovery
  • Countering chronic pain
  • Better blood circulation
  • Speeding up detoxification
  • Boosting fat loss
  • Enhanced skin health
  • Reducing stress and fatigue
  • Slowing down ageing.

Let's take a closer look at the differences between red light therapy and using an infrared sauna. Whereas red light therapy does not increase body temperature, using an infrared sauna does, leading to excessive sweating and providing many health benefits.


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Red Light Therapy vs Infrared Saunas: Which is Better?

The ultimate question is about choosing between an infrared sauna and red light therapy. I won't tell you which one to choose, but I'll point out the key differences between the two options.

Heat And Sweating:

The primary distinction between red light therapy and infrared saunas lies in their heat exposure. Red light therapy utilises minimal heat, resulting in no sweating – with only slight warming experienced when standing close to the panel.

On the other hand, infrared saunas are designed to maximise sweating, safely raising your body's internal temperature.

If your goal is detoxification through sweating, an infrared sauna would be the ideal choice. Both options offer excellent health benefits; however, these benefits vary, as outlined in the previously mentioned lists of advantages.

Accessibility and Ease Of Use:

Both infrared saunas and red light therapy are user-friendly, but when it comes to ease of use, red light therapy takes the lead.

With red light therapy, simply press a button to begin your session. Since there's no sweating involved, there's no need for cleanup afterwards. In contrast, after using an infrared sauna, it's recommended to shower to remove sweat and toxins from your skin.

Moreover, infrared saunas require pre-heating, which can take up to 15 minutes. Red light therapy panels, on the other hand, can be activated instantly, making them an ideal option for those with busy lifestyles. Many people even have red light therapy panels in their offices and use them during lunch breaks – something that would be challenging with an infrared sauna.

Floor Space and Storage:

Let's compare the space requirements for both options:

  • A 1-person Clearlight Sauna measures approximately 100cm x 120cm x 200cm (height). Naturally, 2-person or even 5-person saunas will be larger than the 1-person model, but this gives you an idea of the smallest unit available.
  • In contrast, the Red Light Therapy Device has dimensions of roughly 22cm x 2.5cm (thickness) x 70cm (height). This slim, vertical unit is akin to a floor lamp in terms of space consumption, making red light therapy highly space-efficient.

If needed, you can easily store an RLT device under your bed or in a small storage area. This option is particularly advantageous if you live in a compact condo or studio apartment without enough room for a 1-person sauna.

Power Consumption & Electricity Cost:

The energy consumption of red light therapy panels and infrared saunas differs significantly. For instance, the 1-Person Clearlight Infrared Sanctuary Full-Spectrum Sauna uses 1,750 Watts (W), the 3-Person Clearlight Premier Far-Infrared Sauna requires 1,850W, and the 5-Person Outdoor Full-Spectrum Infrared Sauna needs 3,800W.

In comparison, a red light therapy unit like the ARL Plus+ consumes only 350W. Additionally, the maximum session time for red light therapy is 20 minutes, while the amount of time you should spend in an infrared sauna can be up to 40 minutes.

When comparing energy consumption per session, infrared saunas use about 10 times more energy, however, the running costs of an infrared sauna are still very cheap.

Price Of The Product:

Red light therapy devices are generally more budget-friendly than 1-person infrared saunas, even when considering lower-priced alternatives with different wood types. While saunas often include a lifetime warranty for residential use, red light therapy might not offer the same benefit.

Lastly, we'll discuss the difference in light wavelengths, bringing us full circle to where our discussion began:

Is Infrared heat the same as Red Light Therapy?

No, infrared heat is different to red light therapy, even though both infrared heat and red light therapy contain aspects of the same near-infrared wavelength.

Light exists in various wavelengths, with visible light ranging from 400 to 750 nanometers (nm). For example, blue light has a wavelength of 460nm, while red light is at 660nm. Infrared light spans from 750nm to 1,000,000nm, making up a considerable portion of the light spectrum.

Red light therapy emits light at specific wavelengths, such as 660nm and 850nm, with the majority of light output concentrated around these values. In contrast, infrared saunas emit a wide range of infrared light wavelengths, from 1,000nm to 1,000,000nm, encompassing near, middle, and far-infrared light in full-spectrum saunas.

The key takeaway is that red light therapy utilises select wavelengths, while infrared saunas employ a broader infrared spectrum. Wavelengths above 1,000nm generate heat, which explains why red light therapy produces minimal heat and infrared saunas' primary application is the production of heat.

Is Red Light Therapy a Sauna?

No, red light therapy is different to a sauna. Comparing red light therapy and infrared saunas is akin to comparing fruits and vegetables. Both options offer excellent benefits, along with their unique pros and cons.

Despite these differences, both options provide significant advantages. Ideally, you would incorporate both fruits and vegetables into your diet, just as you would enjoy the benefits of both red light therapy and infrared saunas for holistic well-being.

What is Chromotherapy?

Chromotherapy involves exposing the human body to various wavelengths of visible light, while infrared sauna therapy specifically uses the warm, healing properties of infrared light. These two types of therapy are not the same. In alternative medicine, chromotherapy has been employed to address conditions such as depression, anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and sleep deprivation.

What is Near-infrared Light?

Near-infrared light therapy utilises light just past the visible spectrum that has a wavelength between 760-1500nm; it gets its name from being just 10nm away from the visible spectrum of light. It’s a form of infrared energy that has been proven to penetrate the skin and energise the mitochondria, otherwise known as the power generation of our cells. With added energy, the mitochondria are able to get to work at a higher rate, helping us metabolise fats, detoxify our cells, reduce inflamed tissues and help our skin.

Can you use Red light and Infrared Light at the same time?

Yes, you can use both red light and infrared light at the same time. Specifically, a near-infrared light treatment that also utilises low-level laser therapy is a red light therapy device.

More-so, you can utilise a red light therapy session while having a Clearlight Sauna with the Red Light Therapy Tower. This LED red light therapy device can withstand the infrared saunas heat and continue to produce the optimal red light wavelengths and near-infrared wavelengths.

Unlike traditional saunas, low-level light therapy can be used at the same time as a Clearlight Sauna.

What are the benefits of Red Light Therapy in an Infrared Sauna?

The main benefit of incorporating low-level laser therapy (RLT) and infrared sauna is improved skin complexion, hair growth, skin rejuvenation, collagen production and skin tissue repair, all at the same time.

At the end of the day, red light therapy and infrared saunas are both incredibly powerful tools with their own unique benefits. Red light offers immediate relief without having to feel the heat, while infrared saunas allow one to enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating full-body experience. Though both bring healthful advantages, they are still very different therapies.

However, combining both therapies can create a one-two punch that can be truly powerful in your wellness journey. If you find yourself needing more out of your infrared sauna sessions, consider adding a red light component! Take a look at our Red Light Therapy Tower—the ultimate sauna accessory for the perfect synergy between the two combined therapies.

Far Infrared Sauna Vs Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna

What's the difference?

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