Do Infrared Saunas Cause a Tan? (You Might Be Surprised!)

Many believe that exposing the skin to extreme heat is the fastest way to get a tan. There are many options when selecting a heat treatment, from tanning beds to infrared saunas. But, how do we know for sure if an infrared sauna causes a tan?

Infrared saunas do not cause a tan because they do not contain the same UV rays found in sunlight or a tanning bed. Because UV rays can damage the skin over time, using an infrared sauna with its longer wavelength is a safer and cheaper way to help clear and detoxify the skin with heat and sweat.

This article breaks down the key factors that stop the infrared saunas from causing a tan. It also elaborates on the factors of why infrared saunas do not cause a tan, even though they increase the body heat considerably.

Do Infrared Saunas Work Similar to Tanning Beds?

Many people might not quite understand how an infrared sauna works compared to a tanning bed so let’s start with the basics.

Infrared saunas work differently from tanning beds. These saunas use infrared light to generate heat and warm the sauna room, unlike tanning beds that use UV light. This infrared light has a longer wavelength than visible light. The heat it generates feels similar to the sun’s warmth, and can also be absorbed by the body.

A tanning bed, on the other hand, is a machine that is used to produce an artificial tan by mimicking the sun and producing UV radiation for the body to absorb. There are special bulbs and UV lamps available that emit this radiation.

A normal tanning bed contains around a dozen or more such bulbs that work on an electric power of 100-200 watts. Some tanning beds even use quartz filled bulbs that are considered extremely harmful to the skin.

Unlike the tanning bed, the bulbs used in infrared saunas to heat the room are not  harmful.  These bulbs generate infrared radiation that can penetrate deep into the skin. Due to its low energy, there are no harmful effects associated with it. Infrared light is used to detoxify the skin from toxins.

In this video, the hosts discuss what happens to the body in an infrared sauna:

Infrared Saunas Do Not Produce UV Lights

UV lights used in tanning parlors have a shorter wavelength than visible light. The light helps activate skin pigments, which leads to skin tanning.

On the other hand, infrared radiation has a longer wavelength, and the effect on the skin is also very different from UV light. Infrared light produces a warming effect on the body and penetrates up to 1.5 inches (3.81 cms) into the skin to extract toxins and other waste from the skin. Infrared radiation does not produce UV light.

Since UV rays can be quite damaging to the skin over time, this is good news for folks that love using infrared saunas!

The Difference Between Infrared Rays and UV Light

The glaring difference between the two lights is their wavelengths. The length of the waves from one point, such as the crest, to another.

Infrared light has a longer wavelength and visible light than a UV. Infrared light waves are almost a thousand times longer than UV light.

Secondly, infrared light gets absorbed by the body, unlike UV light, which merely activates certain pigments on the skin. Infrared light is used to increase body temperature and penetrate deeper into the body to remove toxins. The light properties of infrared radiation do not cause a tan but help in cleansing the skin.

Do Infrared Rays Produce the Same Results As UV Rays?

Both infrared saunas and tanning beds produce heat, but due to the distinctive nature of these rays, they have vastly different effects on the body.

Let’s dive a little deeper to understand why this is the case, and if there are certain types of infrared rays that are similar to UV light.

Are Either Near and Far Infrared Waves Similar to UV Light?

Infrared radiation is further bifurcated into various wavelengths ranging from near-infrared to far-infrared. Many saunas provide a full spectrum of infrared wavelengths consisting of the near and far infrared lights to provide health benefits. These radiations raise the temperature and humidity in the room to cause sweating. However, it does not activate any pigments on the skin, like UV light, and cannot cause tanning.

You can even get a makeshift far infrared sauna to use in the comfort of your home. This Far Infrared Relax Sauna is easy to set up in your house and helps improve health by reducing pain, detoxifying the skin, and improving circulation.

UV light has two major kinds of light, namely UVA and UVB light. It is important to remember that the one that has a longer wavelength is the least dangerous. UVA, which is approximately 97 to 99 percent of the sunlight that reaches earth, has a longer wavelength than UVB.

However, tanning beds produce more of the UVB light, which can cause skin and tissue damage. In some cases, it may even cause skin cancer due to excess exposure.

Do Infrared Rays Affect the Skin the Same Way As UV Light?

Unlike UV light, infrared radiations are effective in reviving the skin, providing pain relief, improving metabolism, and blood circulation. Infrared is increasingly used in saunas today as a leading source of heat.

Far infrared wavelengths are the preferred choice in many clinics who believe that this particular kind of radiation is more likely to help detoxify the skin, aid in weight loss and stress reduction.

Benefits and Dangers of Infrared Rays and UV Light

There are many benefits in using infrared rays. It helps provide relief to the skin tissues and helps with relaxation by balancing the body’s stress-inducing cortisol hormones. Infrared rays induce heavy sweating, which helps with expelling any harmful toxins from the skin. It has also been known to help reduce body weight due to its ability to cause sweating that helps burn fat.

Infrared light does not lead to sunburns or skin and tissue damage, like UV rays from the sun or a tanning bed, can sometimes do. Though UV rays are useful in producing the tanning effect on the skin, it can also cause premature aging and wrinkles, and in some cases, cataracts and skin cancer. This does not happen with infrared light.

It is recommended to wear protective goggles when exposed to such light or when using tanning beds. Children are strongly discouraged from using tanning beds due to the risks involved.

The Caveat

So, while infrared saunas do not cause a tan because they do not emit UV light, you still need to be cautious when using an infrared sauna. Keep an eye on your body temperature to ensure that you do not overheat.

You would also need to keep yourself adequately hydrated during this process, and always check with your doctor to make sure that you are medically fit to be exposed to the high temperature and humidity of the sauna.


I hope this article gave you a good understanding of the various factors that differentiate an infrared sauna from a tanning bed. Infrared rays are widely used for removing toxins and relaxation. They may increase the body temperature causing it to sweat, but it does not cause a tan.

There are parlors offering tanning services. The tanning beds are designed to give skin exposure to UV light. This cannot be said for the infrared saunas since these saunas only produce infrared radiation of longer wavelengths, unlike the UV light with shorter wavelengths that is necessary to produce a tan.

If you are looking for health benefits, then an infrared sauna will serve you best.