Do Infrared Saunas and LED Light Treatments Have Skincare Benefits?

May 23, 2023
Jordan Julian
By: Jordan Julian | by L'Oréal
A person lying on their back in a white spa robe having an LED light mask placed on their face

With seemingly everyone sharing their skincare secrets on TikTok and Instagram these days, it can be hard to weed out the methods and products that actually work from the passing fads with no real benefits. Infrared saunas are one example of a wellness trend that has gained major popularity on social media in recent years for supposed skincare benefits — but what do they actually do for your skin and overall health? To find out if infrared saunas actually have skincare benefits, we turned to board-certified dermatologists and an integrative aesthetics specialist.  

Do Infrared Saunas Have Skincare Benefits?

First things first, you may be wondering how infrared saunas differ from regular saunas. “Infrared saunas, also known as FIRS (far-infrared saunas), are a type of sauna that uses infrared radiation to heat the body directly, rather than heating the air around you like traditional saunas,” says Dr. Rahi Sarbaziha, a board-certified integrative aesthetics specialist and the medical director of the Dr. Rahi Clinic. “The infrared heat is produced by special infrared elements that emit wavelengths.” 

Infrared saunas operate at a lower temperature than regular saunas, since the infrared heat penetrates deeper into the body and can cause a more intense sweat at a lower temperature. The main skincare benefits of an infrared sauna reportedly come from the vigorous sweating. “The sweating induced by infrared saunas can help cleanse the pores and remove toxins from the skin,” explains Dr. Rahi. She also notes that the heat exposure increases circulation and blood flow to the skin, which, according to The Cleveland Clinic, contributes to a healthy-looking complexion.

Adds board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell Dr. Marisa Garshick, “It is thought that the infrared heat may help to improve the overall appearance of the skin by helping to reduce puffiness and swelling, while simultaneously boosting circulation which can help to give the skin an overall glow.”

Infrared saunas also include LED light therapy and/or red light therapy, which comes with its own skincare benefits. Keep reading to learn more about the  effects of LED light therapy on the skin.

What Is LED Light Therapy?

“LED light therapy, also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT), is a physical approach used in the medical and medical aesthetic fields to address pain, inflammation and support tissue regeneration,” says Dr. Rahi. “It involves the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to deliver specific wavelengths of light to the skin that promote skin health and facilitate various regenerative processes on the skin.” 

A non-invasive procedure, there’s no direct skin contact with LED light treatments, and they don’t cause burns or skin damage the way UV light can. Reflecting on why LED light therapy has become such a popular skincare trend, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman notes that “[the treatment] is virtually painless and, for some, the colors are very relaxing.”

LED light therapy can be performed in-office by a dermatologist or a licensed esthetician, as well as at home using a face mask or special device like the Silk’n Titan AllWays Cordless Wrinkle Reduction & Skin Tightening Device. Keep in mind that at-home LED devices use lower energy levels (so they’re safe for DIY use) and this means you may not see the exact same results as with an in-office treatment. 

What Are the Skincare Benefits of LED Light Therapy?

According to Dr. Garshick, the skincare benefits of LED therapy vary depending on the color of light emitted. For example, “LED lights can be used to help reduce breakouts as blue light can help reduce inflammation and fight acne-causing bacteria,” she says. Blue-light therapy is a popular way to help address pimples, but when using this method to reduce the appearance of acne, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) emphasizes that it’s important to manage expectations. While LED light is an FDA-approved way to treat pimples, “Infrared light cannot treat blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, or nodules.” Additionally, the AAD notes that results vary from person to person, and often require a series of in-office appointments.

Red light therapy, meanwhile, “may help to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time as well as improve the overall texture of the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), found that red-light therapy could have potential for skin rejuvenation by helping to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and rough texture, but more research is needed to fully determine the efficacy.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

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