Red Light Therapy Versus Infrared Sauna

Red Light Therapy Versus Infrared Sauna

Authored By Benjamin Caleb Williams

With holistic health trends on the rise, more individuals are turning towards natural technology-assisted methods to enhance their well-being. Among these, red light therapy has emerged as a prominent option, along with a related technology, infrared saunas. Each technology offers unique but somewhat different benefits for health-conscious individuals. 

While both therapies use light as a primary medium to promote wellness, their mechanisms and outcomes differ. Understanding these differences is crucial in determining which therapy aligns best with your personal health objectives. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast, seeking pain relief, or looking to improve your skin health, understanding the differences between red light therapy and infrared saunas will help you make the best choices for enhancing your health and well-being.

Understanding Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a non-invasive, natural therapy that uses a combination of low-wavelength red and infrared light to achieve various health effects. This therapy leverages the principle of photobiomodulation, a term used to describe the phenomena where light regulates biological processes, such as cellular activity and regeneration. 

There are many potential applications for red light therapy, and the ways that it is used continue to grow as new research and use cases emerge. Common applications of red light therapy include:

  • Skin health - Red light therapy is used to improve skin health issues, such as wrinkles, scars, and persistent wounds, among others. The key to red light therapy’s effectiveness lies in its ability to penetrate deep into the skin, boosting collagen production and enhancing blood circulation.
  • Inflammation and joint pain - Red light therapy is increasingly being recognized for its effectiveness in reducing inflammation and alleviating joint pain. Its potential to decrease inflammation markers and increase circulation may lead to a reduction in pain and stiffness, particularly benefiting those with arthritis or muscle soreness.
  • Sleep quality and quantity - Using red light therapy can positively impact sleep quality and duration. While still a topic of research, it is believed to influence melatonin production and circadian rhythms, which are critical for healthy sleep patterns. This makes it a valuable tool for those looking to improve their overall sleep quality.
  • Cognitive benefits - Studies suggest that red light therapy may offer cognitive benefits, including improved memory and increased alertness. By stimulating mitochondrial function in brain cells, it potentially enhances brain health and cognitive function, which is especially promising for age-related cognitive decline or brain injury recovery.
  • Hair growth - An emerging application of red light therapy is in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. By stimulating the hair follicles and increasing blood flow to the scalp, it encourages hair growth and may improve hair density and thickness, offering a non-invasive option for those experiencing hair thinning.
  • Muscle performance - Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are turning to red light therapy to enhance muscle performance and accelerate recovery. The therapy can aid in reducing muscle fatigue, improving muscle repair, and increasing blood flow, thereby enhancing overall athletic performance and reducing recovery time after intense physical activity.

Red light therapy’s popularity is largely due to its convenience and ease of use. With the availability of at-home red light therapy devices, individuals can now enjoy the benefits of this therapy in the comfort of their own homes. This accessibility not only saves time but also makes consistent use more feasible to integrate into a daily routine, leading to more sustainable use and potential results.

What is an Infrared Sauna?

Infrared saunas differ from traditional saunas in that they use infrared heaters to emit radiant heat, which is absorbed directly by the body. This method of heating allows infrared saunas to operate at a lower ambient temperature compared to conventional steam saunas, making them more tolerable for many people. The heat generated penetrates more deeply into the skin, promoting relaxation, detoxification, and pain relief.

There are several reasons that people use infrared saunas. They are known to aid in detoxification through deep sweating, help in relaxation, reduce muscle soreness, and even improve cardiovascular health. The deep penetration of the infrared heat helps to stimulate the sweat glands, releasing built-up toxins in the body.

Another advantage of infrared saunas is that they typically offer a private, serene environment to relax and rejuvenate, providing a tranquil escape from the stresses of everyday life. This makes them an excellent choice for those seeking a holistic approach to relaxation and detoxification.

The Science Behind Red Light Therapy Versus Infrared Sauna

There are several fundamental differences between the science that red light therapy and infrared saunas are based on. Foundationally, each uses similar light for different purposes, ultimately leading to differences in the effects that people should anticipate

Red light therapy uses a combination of visible red light and a type of infrared light called near-infrared light. The purpose of this light is to stimulate cells to suppress inflammation and promote rejuvenation. The specific wavelength ranges are critical, as the light targets a specific light-sensitive molecule called cytochrome C oxidase. This molecule is found in the mitochondria, a tiny organ in each cell, and plays a vital role in cellular energy production. Most of the effects of red light therapy are thought to be due to cytochrome C oxidase absorbing specific wavelengths of light.

In contrast, infrared saunas use only the invisible part of the light used in red light therapy, infrared light. Unlike red light therapy, which focuses on providing high-intensity light at the wavelengths believed to be absorbed by cytochrome C oxidase, infrared saunas are designed to heat body tissues. The effects of infrared saunas are primarily due to heating by a wide spectrum of infrared radiation rather than specific wavelengths of light. The infrared light used by infrared saunas is designed to provide a deeper penetration of heat and a more intense sweating process than other saunas, which act by heating the environment outside of your tissues.

Comparing the Benefits of Red Light Therapy Versus Infrared Saunas

Both red light therapy and infrared saunas offer unique potential benefits, and understanding these can help you decide which is more suitable for your needs.

Red light therapy is thought to:

  • Enhance skin health by boosting collagen production, reducing wrinkles, and improving overall skin tone.
  • Aid in pain relief and reduces inflammation, benefiting those with chronic pain or athletes seeking muscle recovery.
  • Improve hair growth and help prevent hair loss, aiding those who are at risk for age-related hair changes.
  • Enhance the quality and duration of sleep, offering more restful and restorative sleep patterns.
  • Improved cognitive function, enhancing memory and neurological function. 

Infrared saunas are believed to:

  • Promote deep sweating for detoxification, helping to eliminate toxins from the body.
  • Assist in relaxation and stress reduction, providing a calming experience that can improve overall well-being.
  • Provide heat deep into tissues, improving muscle circulation and relaxation.

When to Use Red Light Therapy Versus an Infrared Sauna

Choosing between red light therapy and an infrared sauna often depends on your specific health goals and conditions. Red light therapy is particularly beneficial for those focusing on skin health, pain relief, and cellular rejuvenation. Its targeted approach makes it ideal for treating specific areas of the body that have localized health needs.

On the other hand, infrared saunas offer a holistic experience that focuses on the effects of heat instead of providing cell-focused effects. This treatment option is suitable for those seeking overall relaxation, detoxification, and a gentle yet effective way to relieve muscle tension. The sauna experience is also a form of passive cardiovascular exercise, as the heart rate may increase due to the increased heat exposure and circulation.

Consider using red light therapy if you:

  • Seek targeted skin benefits.
  • Require pain relief in specific areas.
  • Prefer a quick and convenient therapy option that can be done at home.
  • Want to manage hair loss or thinning.
  • Want to improve muscle performance and recovery before and after working out.

Consider using an infrared sauna if you:

  • Want to pursue full-body detoxification.
  • Are seeking a purely stress-relieving and relaxing experience.
  • Want to enjoy the warmth and comfort of a sauna.

How to Get Started

Embarking on your wellness journey with red light therapy or an infrared sauna requires different approaches. For red light therapy, you can acquire a home-use red light therapy panel or wearable for a minimal investment and begin using it right away. While there are options to go to a red light therapy spa or dermatology office for therapy, at-home devices are far more economical for those wanting to incorporate red light therapy into their wellness routines.

For those interested in infrared saunas, exploring local spa or wellness centers that offer sauna sessions can be a great start. Once you're accustomed to the experience, you may consider purchasing a home infrared sauna to achieve the convenience of regular sessions in the privacy of your own home. This option does, however, typically require more of an investment than red light therapy.

Mito Red Light

In conclusion, both red light therapy and infrared saunas are two seemingly similar choices for those looking to enhance their holistic health, but they have important differences that are important to be aware of. Infrared saunas are ultimately intended to provide heat to muscles, while red light therapy is designed to modulate energy production in the cells.

At Mito Red Light, we provide a wide variety of red light therapy products that are designed to deliver the specific wavelengths needed for high-quality red light therapy. Many satisfied customers have used our products to improve their holistic health and well-being.

We welcome you to review our selection of high-quality products or to contact one of our helpful representatives at +1 866-861-6486.


DISCLAIMER: Mito Red Light devices are not clinically proven to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical conditions. Mito Red Light devices are Class II general wellness devices aimed at affecting the body through topical heating and supporting cellular function. The scientific studies referenced in this article are for informational purposes only. To see a list of precautionary warnings and contraindications, click here.