Answering your burning question: The difference between a Red-Light Therapy device and an Infrared sauna

Many people think red-light therapy devices and Infrared saunas are very similar. Both are two clinically-proven treatments that offer a range of natural health benefits. Both rely on different biological mechanisms of action to produce those health benefits. In this blog, we’ll tell you why different wavelengths and benefits matter and attempt to help you figure out which of the two is right for you.

What is an infrared sauna?

Infrared light ranges from 700 nm to 1 mm and divides into

  • near-infrared
  • mid-infrared and
  • far-infrared wavelengths.

    Infrared saunas work differently using heat – thermal energy – and not light – photonic energy. The objects inside the saunas (including you!) are heated up using a 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

What are the benefits associated with the IR sauna?

Most of the benefits have to do with increased cardiovascular function caused by the heat. They include:

  • Relief from insomnia
  • Relaxation
  • Detox
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced muscle pain and soreness
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Relief from chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lower blood pressure

What is red-light therapy?

Red light therapy uses light in the red and near-infrared spectrum. More precisely, the wavelengths fall between 600-900 nanometers (nm). This light penetrates the skin and can reach into our cells. It boosts collagen production, making it an excellent healing option for skin conditions, boosting metabolism, and stimulating mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells). The main difference is that it doesn’t transfer heat to your body. 1

What are the benefits of RLT?

Red light therapy also has many health benefits. Studies show faster wound-healing after exposure to LLLT. 2 Research also sees promising results in the anti-aging field, showing improved skin complexion and collagen density after treatment with LLLT. 3 Additionally benefits name circulation, energy, skin health, workout recovery and performance, inflammation, brain vitality, and much more 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

What’s the difference between IR saunas and RLT?

The significant difference between red light therapy devices and saunas is their working mechanism. Saunas produce heat, whereas red light therapy devices produce almost no heat at all. Also, both technologies use different wavelengths.

What to choose

It boils down to what benefit you’re looking for, how much money you’re willing to spend, and how you want to enjoy your sessions. We will now list a few things to keep in mind when deciding between an RLT device and an IR sauna:

RLT devices need less space

Red light therapy devices don’t take up much of your living space. If you’re living in a small apartment or would instead use your space for other things: A RLT device can be placed against any wall, hung on a doorframe in any room of your living space. If even that should take up more of your space than you’d like, you can easily store or transport them.

With RLT, you get more for the same/less price.

In most cases, an Infrared sauna will start at the cost of $1.000. Add shipping and quality materials, and you’ll have four times that price quickly. A red-light therapy device comes in different sizes, and most full-body units would be at $1.000. With LEDs built to last a lifetime, you’re also much less likely to ever come to the need of exchanging or renewing your set-up ever. An infrared sauna will most likely be a much more significant financial investment.

Ease of use

To use an infrared sauna, it needs to heat up first. Using a red-light therapy device, you plug it in, press start, and go. Since you’ll sweat in the sauna, you’ll also need to clean and sanitize it afterward. With an RLT device, you occasionally wipe off some dust.

RLT wavelengths are more therapeutic

Red and near-infrared light at 660 and 850 nanometers offer the benefit of penetrating very deep into your tissues. 14,15,16 Since you can’t get as close to the panels inside the IR sauna, you will get less proper intensity. The closer you get to an RLT device, the deeper penetration you will get, thus bringing to a maximum extent.

Check out our full dosing guide here and get your mitochondria glowing.

RLT allows for targeted treatments

As we’ve mentioned, a red-light therapy device is much more portable and flexible. This device can reach certain areas of the body without you having to expose your entire body and put more effort into your treatments. Given that most infrared saunas are big, you won’t achieve targeted results with them.

RLT is cold

Some people want and need to stay away from the heat. Here a red-light therapy device comes in especially handy. You should not use an infrared sauna if:

  • You are pregnant.
  • You have very high or low blood pressure.
  • You are under the influence of alcohol.
  • You have blood circulation issues.
  • You have a heart condition.
  • You have hemophilia.
  • You do not tolerate extreme temperatures well.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have suffered a stroke.
  • You have multiple sclerosis.
IR sauna gives you full-spectrum exposure and sweating.

Red light therapy doesn’t give you any of the mid or far-infrared benefits. And sweating does have benefits! 17, 18 You will temporarily stress your body to build up heat tolerance and get additional detox benefits.

IR saunas can be time-consuming.

First, you need to go to the gym or other place that offers a sauna, take the time to prepare, spend around 30 minutes inside, have a shower afterward. With a RLT device, all you have to do is plug the device into the power outlet, take off your clothes in the comfort of your own home, press start, absorb the light through your eyes and skin. A session takes around 10mins and even multitask while doing your sessions (reading, brushing your teeth, meditating).


Red light and sauna therapy are both low-risk options for healthy individuals to help relax, reduce stress, and promote overall wellness. Determining which treatment is the best option for you will depend on your health history and tolerance to heat or light.

Even though IR saunas might be pricier, they can be an excellent option for some; as they offer specific benefits a red-light therapy device cannot (sweat, socializing, exposure to mid and far-infrared wavelengths). Both technologies can be used in conjunction but cannot replace each other. We would recommend you looking into what benefits you’re looking for, what wavelength you want to absorb, and thinking about other factors that affect the treatment (time, ease of use).

If you want to start simple: Go withred-light therapy! Get your Luminousred now


1 Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating,healing, restoring. Mar 2013
2 The impact of wavelengths of LED light-therapy on endothelial cells. Sep 2017
3 A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment. 2014
4 The effect of LED on blood microcirculation during chronic wound healing in diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Mar 2017
5 Effect of the transdermal low-level laser therapy on endothelial function. Jun 2016
6 Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) on muscle tissue: performance, fatigue and repair benefited by the power of light. Nov 2012
7 Tuning the mitochondrial rotary motor with light. Dec 2015
8 Effects of radiofrequency, electroacupuncture, and low. Feb 2017
9 Effect of Low Power Laser on Incisional Wound Healing. 2006
10 Melatonin as a principal component of red light therapy. 2007
11 Effect of low-level laser therapy on the expression of inflammatory mediators and on neutrophils and macrophages in acute joint inflammation. Sep 2013
12 The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain. Jun 2015
13 Transcranial infrared laser stimulation produces beneficial cognitive and emotional effects in humans. Nov 2012
14 An investigation into the depth of penetration of low level laser therapy through the equine tendon in vivo. May 2007
15 Depth of penetration of an 850nm wavelength low level laser in human skin. 2007
16 Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Aug 2014
17 Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Apr 2018
18 Mild heat stress induces hormetic effects in protecting the primary culture of mouse prefrontal cerebrocortical neurons from neuropathological alterations. Dec 2018

This blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, illness or health issue.

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