Infrared vs Red Light Therapy

woman with led light therapy facial beauty mask photon therapy
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There are a wide variety of health and wellness treatments that use heat or light therapy, with two of the most sought-after options being infrared therapy and red light therapy.

But what is the difference between them? Are there any similarities?

And which one is better for what? Here, we will take a look Infrared vs Red Light Therapy to help shed some light (pun intended) on the matter. Let’s get right to it.


Light, Light, Everywhere

We are surrounded by light energy every single day, sometimes it can be seen, sometimes not. For many centuries, great minds have hypothesized and theorized about what light energy is, how it affects us and the planet, and how it travels.

While many ancient philosophers and researchers had theories and concepts about light, it wasn’t until the 1860s that Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell proposed the theory of electromagnetism. His conclusion was that, because light moves in waves without needing a traveling medium, light is made of magnetic and electric fields.

But here’s the thing, our eyes can only see light wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers, but our bodies can feel wavelengths that can’t be seen, including infrared heat.

Infrared vs Red Light Therapy

Infrared light is lower on the spectrum than red (visible) light, though they are next to each other.

Most infrared light devices like infrared saunas, infrared foot massagers, and infrared heating pads use heat and contact sensations to rejuvenate and restore. No (visible) light involved.

Red light therapy, on the other hand, uses actual visible red light to treat wounds, improve skin, etc.

Both have their advantages, and they are sometimes combined on a single device.

We’ll now take a closer look at infrared and red light therapy.

About Light Therapy

To maintain proper health, human beings need to get regular exposure to light. The best light is from the sun, which provides us with Vitamin D, Nitric Oxide, etc, etc.

The sun’s rays contain ultraviolet (UV) light, but more than half of sunlight is actually infrared. When considering visible light, red light provides the least energy and violet light produces the most.

As shown in the graphic below, the higher on the scale, the more energy required.

Light Spectrum Source: Wikipedia

As we said above, light is measured on a spectrum in energy by nanometers based on the effect it has on the human body. A nanometer is equivalent to one billionth of a meter, and this is used to measure light wavelength. 

As we are looking at infrared vs red light, we need to know where they are on the light spectrum. 

Red light can be seen by the human eye and has wavelengths between 630 – 700nm. Infrared light can’t be seen by the human eye, but can penetrate human skin and reach about 1.5 inches below the surface.

It is next to red light on the spectrum and has wavelengths between 800 – 1000nm.

Infrared light is a longer wavelength than red light. This allows infrared light to penetrate the skin and muscles more deeply.

Because of this, infrared provides similar benefits to red light therapy, but it does have some significant differences, which we will look at below.

Advantages of Infrared Heat Therapy

While infrared is light energy, we can’t see it. But we can feel it as a warm sensations. For example, infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the skin directly without glowing light. Infrared light gets translated as heat sensations.

As humans, we produce our own infrared, making this therapy natural, safe, and highly absorbed by our tissues. After treatments, you will notice increased blood flow and circulation, detoxification, pain relief, relaxation, skin rejuvenation, weight loss, better sleep, and so much more.

While infrared is light energy, we can’t see it. But we can feel it as a warm sensations. For example, infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the skin directly without glowing light.

For many years, people around the world have used light therapy to boost their metabolism, improve heart function, lower diabetes side effects, reduce allergy symptoms, and improve their general quality of life.

So how does infrared heat therapy do all these things? When entering the body, it breaks up the toxins and fats which are stored in the water molecules, sweating them out during the infrared heart session. This makes it one of the best options to detox your body naturally.

If you have bad circulation or tissue that has been injured, infrared heat therapy can aid in healing and regeneration of the skin.

It also promotes cell growth, protein, and DNA synthesis for tissue repair, and helps improve the connective tissue.

The increased blood flow, oxygenation, and circulation also offer pain relief for those with chronic pain.

Advantages of Red Light Therapy

Red light resides right next door to infrared light on the light spectrum, but red light can be seen (obviously, on account of it being red). Many red light therapy devices like use some amount of infrared with the red LEDs. 

As we said, infrared can penetrate deep below the skin’s surface, whereas red light therapy devices treat the skin’s surface and produce a variety of beneficial effects.

Light energy penetrates the surface and rejuvenates the skin, smoothes the tone, builds collagen, repairs UV and sun damage, and reduces wrinkles.

Red light therapy can also help activate the body’s lymphatic system to fade stretch marks, tattoos, and scars, decrease inflammation and pain, assist in hair loss prevention and stimulate hair growth.

This is because red light stimulates the skin’s cellular processes to regenerate skin tissue, keratinocytes, and fibroblasts.

Because red light therapy assists in collagen production, people suffering from arthritis may benefit greatly from this treatment too.

Red light therapy body and facial treatments are very popular in spas, salons, gyms, and wellness centers, and are well-known for relieving pain, stimulating feelings of calm and positivity, increasing immunity, and beautifying the skin.

Does Infrared and Red Light Therapy Work Together?

You may have noticed that there are a few similarities between these treatments. They are both effortless, non-invasive, safe, chemical and drug-free, natural, and there have never been reports of side effects or adverse reactions.

In fact, most users report that they have amazing results. But, while both options are beneficial, the choice between them will depend on what outcome you want.

If you have a skin condition like scarring or eczema that you want to treat, red light therapy is likely to be most effective. If the skin condition you have is caused by high toxicity levels in your body, you may prefer using infrared for toxin removal.

Infrared is more holistic as it has great skin rejuvenation benefits, while helping release toxins, burn calories, ease pain, and relax the muscles and mind.

You can use both therapies together if you suffer from toxicity and skin conditions, as they are both natural and completely safe.


As you can see above, both infrared and red light therapy have excellent benefits, providing electromagnetic energy and wavelengths that can promote healing, reduce toxicity, and improve many other ailments.

If you are considering trying one of these therapies, it all comes down to what your specific needs are.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).