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August 06, 2019

Wellness: Then & Now


Sunlighten was founded in 1999, and we are truly grateful for the opportunity to help our customers with a quality product that promotes natural healing. In this fast-paced world, wellness trends can come and go quickly. The world of wellness has transformed since our inception in 1999. Sunlighten began with the mission to perpetuate a shift from disease treatment to disease prevention. More than twenty years later, we are humbled to see that our efforts and the efforts of other like-minded brands and consumers have truly made a difference. 

According to the Global Wellness Institute, it wasn’t until the 21st century when “wellness” reached a tipping point. With a chronic disease and obesity crisis leading to unsustainable healthcare costs, the traditional medical establishment began to shift the focus to prevention and wellness.1 As technology prevailed and this information became more accessible to society, we evolved from fad miracle diets to more well-rounded concepts in self-care that encompass natural, whole foods, fitness and mindfulness.  

As we reflect over the last two decades, we are reminded that Sunlighten exists because of personal healing experience with infrared therapy – a wellness trend that has stood the test of time. We thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to see what other wellness trends emerged during that time period and see which ones have lasted the test of time. While Brittney and Christina duked it out on the pop charts, and Friends invaded every living room, you might have explored some of these top health crazes.

Wellness In the ‘90s
1990 – Fat-Free Everything
Alphabet soup 'FAT FREE'

If you turned on the television in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you would see FAT-FREE boasting from nearly every food commercial. Food manufacturers removed fat from seemingly every product they could think of in order to capitalize on the craze. In order to remove fat without removing the flavor, brands added a whole lot of sugar. This did not help our health or our waistlines. A large study in JAMA found that following a low-fat diet didn’t lower the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in postmenopausal women.2

FAD: A nutritious diet should include a healthy balance of fats, carbs and protein. Most importantly, clean, natural foods (vs. processed fat-free products) is essential for health and longevity. 

1991 – Tighten & Tone with the Thighmaster

The Thighmaster became a household name following a 1991 infomercial featuring Suzanne Somers. After the commercial aired, the company sold 6 million of the devices in just over a year.3

FAD: While the Thighmaster might have been great to tone the inner thighs, what about the outer thighs, or the calves, or any other part of the body?  Not to mention that focusing on one part of the body is not going to burn fat. Resistance bands provide a better solution for strengthening and toning various muscle groups, including the thighs. 

1992 – Tae Bo Makes a Mark on Fitness
Cardio class

‘90s fitness guru, Billy Blanks trained his celebrity clientele by combining martial arts with dance for high-impact cardio that burns hundreds of calories per workout. In 1992, Blanks trademarked Tae Bo (stands for Total Awareness of Excellent Body Obedience) as a hybrid of Tae Kwon Do and boxing. By the late nineties, millions were shadowboxing and doing high kicks guided by Billy on VHS tapes.4

REAL: While the Tae Bo brand may have faded away, the high-impact, energetic, and just plain fun workout concept has not. Tae Bo paved the way for other fitness trends like Zumba, CrossFit and P90X.

1995 – We Become Sugar-Conscious
Sugar cube pyramid crossed out

Consumers began to realize that sugar significantly impacted daily calorie consumption.5 Food manufacturers seized the opportunity with endless no-sugar products and sugar substitutes. Reducing sugar was good, but replacing it with other unnatural chemicals was bad. 

REAL: Eliminating added sugars and focusing on nutrient-dense, whole foods (as nature intended) is good for you. Reducing sugar intake can help people lose weight, prevent obesity, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is not as simple as grabbing any “sugar-free” label at the grocery store. Consumers are now more educated on food labels and how to identify the hidden culprits lurking in their food.

1996 – The Atkins’ Diet Takes Over the World
'Low carb' written in healthy food

It was 1988 when Robert C. Atkins first published his book, Dr. Atkins’ Health Revolution, about nutrition and complementary medicine. It wasn’t until it’s republication almost a decade later when his signature, high-protein, low-carb diet plan took the weight loss industry by storm.3  This low-carb diet (and many others that followed) were popular because they offered an easy solution for quick results.

A LITTLE OF BOTH: The low-carb diet comes in different names and variations. This is a lasting trend that can be beneficial for some, but not necessarily all. When it comes to diet and nutrition, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Genetics, lifestyle, and many other factors come into play. The goal should be to come up with a balanced nutrition plan that works for your unique body and lifestyle.

1997 – Just Say “No” to Diet Pills
Diet pills fork

Pop culture of the ’70s and ‘80s glamorized diet pills. Luckily, by the late nineties, consumers began to smarten up and toss the diet pills in the trash after doctors found that some of the most popular varieties, containing fenfluramine and phentermine, could cause serious heart problems.2 

REAL: As the wellness movement continues to grow, our ideas of a healthy body image are evolving along with it. Instead of popping a pill, people have smartened up and turned to conscious nutrition and regular activity to keep them healthy vs. skinny.

1999 – The Turn of the Century Brings Infrared Saunas
Person in sauna

Saunas had been around for centuries as an ancient method of cleansing the body. Traditionally, they were unbearably hot, steamy rooms in which breathing can be difficult. As science and technology evolved, so did this healing mechanism. Using infrared technology, a specific wavelength from the sun could be harnessed into soothing, healing light therapy. After a personal healing experience with infrared therapy, Sunlighten was born and pioneered the infrared sauna industry. The first-of-its-kind SoloCarbon® heaters were invented combining high infrared emissivity with a large surface area for the best therapeutic outcome for immunity, detoxificationmuscle recovery, weight lossheart healthrelaxation and anti-aging.   

REAL: It wasn’t until 2009, when Sunlighten’s infrared saunas were featured on Oprah that this form of infrared therapy became mainstream. Soon after, infrared light therapy was one of the fastest-growing home therapies. Today, thousands of people across the world have added Sunlighten saunas to their home for natural healing and prevention. If you don’t have one at home, you can search for “Sunlighten” in your area to find Sunlighten sauna sessions near you. 

2010 – Full Spectrum
Model in sauna

Saunas can quickly and effectively help you get back to feeling amazing again. Infrared therapy has been around for centuries as a way to detoxify your body, but did you know that full spectrum infrared saunas can go even further by heating up your body’s core temperature to a cellular level, where most toxins are stored? Infrared’s deep penetrating heat is what most effectively stimulates metabolic activity, which in turn triggers the release of stored toxins through sweat, as well as through the liver and kidneys. Far infrared has the ability to penetrate human tissue providing a deep, detoxifying sweat. Full spectrum saunas emit three infrared wavelengths independently – near, mid and far. At optimal frequencies, the different wavelengths can precisely target specific benefits.

REAL: Sunlighten was built on innovation. Our patented SoloCarbon far infrared heater technology revolutionized the sauna industry in 2002. In 2010, we rewrote the rules again when we launched our patented SoloCarbon 3 in 1® technology. It’s still the only sauna technology that delivers near, mid, and far infrared heat at the precise levels needed to provide specific results, based on 56 research studies. We’ve taken infrared therapy to the next level with NASA-inspired, near infrared LEDs, and preset wellness programs for detoxification, cardio, pain relief, relaxation, weight loss and anti-aging. Sunlighten’s mPulse line, equipped with the patented SoloCarbon 3 in 1 technology, is the only sauna heater on the market to provide all three infrared wavelengths in one place and customizable to each user.

2019 – Red Light Therapy

Red LED light therapy is the most common of the LED therapies with wavelengths ranging between 633-700 nm. The optimal wavelength is 660 nm for light absorption to reach a depth of 2.3 mm in the dermis.6 Red LED light is used to help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, redness and inflammation, and increase collagen and elastin production. Red LED light has been shown to enhance the detoxification process within the lymphatic system, helping reduce inflammation caused by extra fluid and waste stored in the skin. By reducing inflammation in the body, this also assists with the reduction of joint pain.

REAL: Making waves with LED light. The lumiNIR from Sunlighten features the portability of a hand-held device and four LED options – near infrared, red light, near infrared/red light, and blue light, with the breakthrough LED technology first introduced in Sunlighten’s 3 in 1 infrared saunas. The various cell and tissue types beneath your skin’s surface are every bit as unique as you are. Each one absorbs light at a different wavelength. With that in mind, Sunlighten developed four LED attachments to deliver targeted light energy for the best results for each concern. Supercharge your cells for natural healing, fighting aging, relieving pain, and healing deep tissue in just a few minutes!

A passion for healthy living combined with science-driven innovations has been the fuel behind the Sunlighten brand. As we continue to focus on the science of light for healthy living, we could not be more excited about what is coming on the horizon. Light for healing. Light for longevity. Light for life.

We are truly proud to be part of the global wellness movement.  

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WRITTEN BY: Sunlighten

Shining light on infrared technology, Sunlighten® is the #1 choice for personalized infrared light treatments. Since 1999, we have been committed to innovating wellness products and services that empower our customers to improve their quality of life. Our patented SoloCarbon® technology rejuvenates the body by delivering the highest dose of infrared energy to the body - proven up to 99% effective. Our technological innovations are fueled by our passion to make a difference. And we are building a global community of businesses, consumers, and trusted experts to support each other along the way and make the world a healthier, happier place.

Sunlighten saunas are not a medical device as defined by Section 201(h) of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. Sunlighten provides general information relating to various medical conditions for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. Please consult with your physician regarding diagnosis or treatment.


1 History of Wellness. Retrieved from

2 The 10 Craziest Health Trends Of The Past 40 Years. (September 17, 2015).  Retrieved from

3 50 Wackiest Things We’ve Done for Health. (July 20, 2018).  Retrieved from

4 Sweat Equity: How Tae Bo Conquered the Fitness World. (September 29, 2016).  Retrieved from

5 The Biggest Diet Trend the Year You Were Born. (July 27, 2016).  Retrieved from

6 Daniel Barolet, M. (2008). Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) in Dermatology. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 228