Red Light Therapy Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Red Light Therapy

Is red light therapy the same as infrared therapy?

No, red light therapy and infrared therapy are not the same. Both therapies use light in specific wavelengths to promote various health benefits, but the biological processes they trigger are very different.

Red light therapy is a marketing term that does not have a clear definition, and thus can cause confusion.

  • Red light therapy (without NIR): Most red light therapy devices for beauty & skin applications use 660nm red light - without the near-infrared light. These devices can only reach the surface of the skin, and thus only have a cosmetic healing effect.

  • Red light therapy (with NIR): Most red light therapy devices that promise pain relief, recovery, or regeneration, including the Cura ProWave Deep Healing Pad, use a combination of both 660nm red light and 850nm near-infrared light to promote various healing effects in the body. The near-infrared light (NIR) can penetrate deeper into the tissues. The mitochondria in our cells can use the energy of this light to produce cellular energy for lasting effects on the cellular level. Scientists refer to light therapy with NIR as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy.

  • Infrared therapy: The most common infrared therapy devices are infrared saunas. These devices use far-infrared light between 3,000 - 100,000nm wavelength to detoxify our bodies and improve heart health. Far-infrared light can penetrate even deeper into our tissues. However, at this wavelength our cells can no longer turn the energy of the light into cellular energy as they start to vibrate and produce thermal energy instead. This is the biological process infrared saunas take advantage of to make us sweat.

For pain relief, we want 3 things

  • For the mitochondria to be able to turn as much of the energy of the light into cellular energy so our body can heal itself from the inside out. The near-infrared light is best for that.

  • For the light source to be as close to our tissues as possible for effective penetration of the tissue.

  • Penetrate the area of pain from all sides, which is why you want a red light therapy belt that can wrap around the area of pain.

How often should you do red light therapy?

There are no known side effects to red light therapy, even if you use it very often. However, the frequency is limited by the amount of energy our mitochondria can absorb and turn into cellular energy. 

This is why we recommend the following:

  • Maximum 2 therapy sessions per day per target area.

  • 6-8 hours break in between sessions. Since the effects of red light therapy are mostly local, you can treat different target areas right after another. You may just let the device cool down if the heat gets uncomfortable.

  • 20 minutes per session (after which the device turns off automatically).

Is red light therapy safe to use even when I'm not in pain, as a preventative?

Yes it is completely safe. That's because the way red light therapy works is that our cells can turn the light energy of these specific wavelengths into cellular energy, which allows our body's natural healing processes to work more effectively. The light also has anti-inflammatory effects and stimulates other biological processes like better blood circulation that help the healing process.

There are no known side effects to red light therapy. Only people with skin or light sensitivities should be careful with the frequency of sessions.

Does red light therapy work through clothes?

Yes, and no! Red light therapy for pain relief is a balancing act. On the one hand, you need deep penetration of your tissues for lasting effects on the cellular level. On the other hand, you want to prevent going further into the infrared wavelengths, as this turns the energy of the light into thermal energy rather than cellular energy.

As such, the healing effects of red light therapy are severely constrained when applied through clothes as the light won’t be able to penetrate the tissues as deeply.

That’s why the Cura ProWave Deep Healing Pad comes equipped with a Detachable Hygiene+ Pad that allows the LEDs to shine right onto the skin while providing a protective layer that you can clean easily.

Is more power better?

Strength is a vital factor in red light therapy, but it's not necessarily true that higher power is always better. Our cells have a limit in their capacity to absorb additional energy. When this limit is surpassed, the therapy loses its effectiveness. A meta-analysis found that "LLLT exhibits a biphasic dose response curve where by lower doses of light are more effective than much higher doses."

The challenge of red light therapy devices lies in providing non-intrusive energy to cells that can be absorbed without heat. Companies whose devices deliver excessive power just to be able to claim they are the "most powerful" are not necessarily best for your well-being.

Can you benefit from red light therapy using a common red light bulb?

No, the red light bulbs need to be designed for therapeutic purposes. This is because common red light bulbs

  • Do not have a standard wavelength of red light. The visible red light spectrum goes from 620nm to 750nm.

  • Can burn your skin, as they are not certified medical lights. Common light bulbs emit a lot of heat. FDA certified red light therapy devices deliver a concentrated and controlled dose of red light at a specific target area.

  • Do not emit near-infrared light. This is the light that penetrates deeper into your tissues for best healing effects.

  • Emit light in all directions, and not targeted in a straight line to skin tissues. 

Is red light therapy scientifically proven?

What are the side effects of red light therapy?

Red light therapy is generally considered safe when used properly.

However, you may experience mild side effects like redness or temporary vision changes if you have sensitive skin or eye sensitivity. These side effects are usually temporary and subside on their own.

Nonetheless, you should follow these safety precautions:

  • Avoid looking directly into the light.

  • Use protective eyewear like sunglasses or tanning glasses during red light therapy sessions on the face to avoid eye strain or damage.

  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations when using red light therapy devices to minimize the risk of side effects. 

  • Discontinue red light therapy and consult with a healthcare professional if you experience any persistent or severe side effects.

Does red light therapy tan you?

No, red light therapy does not tan the skin. UV rays from the sun or tanning beds stimulate melanin production in the skin, leading to a darker pigmentation, or tan. In contrast, red light therapy uses low-level red or near-infrared light to penetrate the skin without causing the skin to produce more melanin

I am 225lb, and I am concerned if the pad is large enough to go around me?

This is no problem, the velcro strap can be stretched a lot and will fit your waist.

The All New Cura ProWave Deep Healing Pad™ Is Now Available!

We've made our bestseller even better. Enjoy ground-breaking features for the most effective home therapy yet.

CuraLights Multi-Wavelength Technology Icon

Multi-Wavelength Technology

Feel your pain melt away with our new multi-wavelength technology incorporating the 2x most bioactive wavelengths for photobiomodulation: 660nm and 850nm.

CuraLights Pulsing+ Technology

Pulsing+ Technology

Recover faster, boost performance, and treat specific symptoms with Pulsing+ Mode.

Woman holding Cura ProWave Deep Healing Pad
CuraLights Triple Chip Medical LED Diode

Triple Chip Medical LED Diode

Supercharge your cellular energy with an extra large treatment area, 120 LEDs and 360 light chips with an irradiance over 120 mW/cm2.

CuraLights Hygiene+ Technology


Enjoy a soothing experience, optimal results, and superior hygiene with a detachable, flexible pad that isolates sweat and oil on the skin.