The Healing Power of Infrared Heat

Whether in a sauna or massage-table mat, this form of light-produced warmth has impressive body (and beauty!) benefits.

A woman's face glows in a red light.

Light is something we can’t live without, but it’s important to know which sources are friends and which are foes — especially when it comes to our health and well-being. The ultraviolet rays that beam from the sun are a form of ultraviolet radiation that can be damaging to your skin. But infrared light can do just the opposite— it heals by enhancing cell regeneration. 

In fact, infrared light is so beneficial, it’s being used for everything from cancer treatments to pain management to detoxification.

What is Infrared Light?

Infrared light falls just after red on the spectrum, making it an invisible light. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t doing anything. For one, you can feel the heat it generates. In fact, almost half of the heat our own body generates is in the form of infrared, making it a safe source of light for a wide range of therapies.

How is Infrared Light Used

In addition to it’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, infrared light can be a beauty booster. According to Newsweek, clinical studies have shown the benefits of infrared to the skin by stimulating the production of collagen. Devices such as the Omnilux Face Contour mask (a favorite of THE WELL spa expert and head of development Vivian Garcia-Tunon) uses red and near-infrared light to increase blood circulation and repair cells for plumper, firmer skin.

Infrared saunas “use infrared panels instead of conventional heat to easily penetrate human tissue, heating up your body before heating up the air,” according to physical therapist Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP who spoke to Healthline. Fans of these saunas say the benefit of the lower temp heat is that you can stay in the sauna longer and experience more detoxification benefits. 

RELATED: The Perfect Facial For Your Skin Goals

Massage table in one of THE WELL's treatment rooms.
Treatment bonus: The tables have built-in infrared.

Another genius use: Infrared mats for treatment tables, though the ones used for every massage and facial given at THE WELL actually have infrared units built into the tables themselves. Heat and electromagnetic radiation penetrates the body, promoting detoxification and cell recovery — plus, lying on a warm table is relaxing.

“In the treatment room, we only have a short time to create an impactful physiological change in the musculoskeletal system. Infrared light is my favorite bio-hacking tool due to its deeply penetrating heat," says Garcia-Tunon. "The combination of manual tissue manipulation and infrared therapy offers integrated and efficient results that can last hours and days after the massage.” And thanks to their anti-inflammatory powers and ability to increase oxygen to tissues via vasodilation, infrared mats and tables can ameliorate stiffness and fatigue

More energy, less pain and healthier skin — what more could you ask for? How about better sleep? Yep, infrared mats help promote more restorative slumber too, essentially by reducing stress and increasing blood circulation and relaxation.

RELATED: How to Start a Clean Beauty Routine

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