Because everyone seems to be getting their sweat on
As you can imagine, we love a good sweat, especially when it comes in the form of detoxification. However, the prospect of sitting in a boiling wooden planked box doesn't sound all that appealing, but the promise of change does. Curious, after hearing mixed feedback coupled with endless red-hued IG posts from our favorite sporty, model-y types swearing by the noticeable benefits ranging from clear-mind to clear-skin, I decided to give it a go and get my sweat on. Post several sessions, here’s what I found out.
WHAT IS INFRARED HEAT ANYWAY?
If you’ve ever tried a traditional sauna, you’re probably familiar with the hot stones, and water combo used to create steam, that in turn, heats the room (and you). Whereas, infrared saunas use infrared light (a band in the spectrum of light that's felt rather than seen) to heat the body, namely, not the air.
The feeling of being in the sauna is similar to lying in the sun on a very, VERY warm day with temperatures around 100° to 150°F. In contrast, hot-stone saunas tend to feel more scorching at about 200°F. Also, the quality of heat penetrates deeper—up to three inches—which enhances metabolic function equivalent to exercise, i.e., burns calories by increasing the heart rate. Hello, weight loss! All the while, stimulating the production of collagen, lowering anxiety, detoxifying the skin, and assisting in post-fitness muscle recovery -- in short, you'll look amazing and feel as much too.
Yes, but how does it work? Well, IR heats the body gradually, which activates the elimination of toxins upwards of 20% versus only 3% with old-school saunas. As a bonus, this slow roast relieves aches and pains from working out, plus dilates blood vessels to increase circulation and deliver oxygen throughout your body. Hands to all of that.
WE'VE HEARD ALL THE BENEFITS, BUT HERE'S HOW I ACTUALLY FELT...
I had heard all the benefits pre-sauna sessions from stimulating collagen and oxygenation to burning calories (woop, woop!), and pain relief. But what I felt/noticed was all over improved skin clarity, tone, vibrancy, and texture -- the glow was real! Plus, I was super energized and felt a decrease in post-workout soreness. Not to mention, the 600+ burned calories per session, which I’ve flat out chosen to believe at face value.
After my treatment, I continued to notice a definitive glow, which comes from increased circulation and oxygen to the skin surface, promoting healthy-looking skin. Plus, I've heard that the light from infrared saunas falls into the category of low-level light therapy, which can be used to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Another noticeable effect (and felt by mwah) was my off the charts energy which also led to less anxiety. Perhaps I was simply too busy being AH-mazing for anything to stress me out, or maybe it was just increased blood flow, who knows!
WHAT TO DO PRE AND POST YOUR INFRARED SESH?
First things first, no alcohol the night before! And, drink tons of water leading up to the sauna and avoid eating a large meal just before, if possible. I also suggest (and this is not mandatory) going with minimal to no makeup or body lotions, plus wear loose clothes, because the sweat situation is real -- even after you wrap. Last but not least, make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
OK, INTO ALL OF THAT! HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE GO?
I was going once a week for six weeks and noticed a significant difference. That said, I’ve heard mixed reviews on frequency, from die-hards that have saunas installed in their homes and do a 15 min session a day to those that go for longer sittings of 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. In general, I've found that most experts suggest, once or twice a week (or as often as you can). There are a few caveats, of course. Overuse can cause overheating and dehydration, so feel out what works for you. Plus, if you have any concerns, medical issues, or are pregnant, definitely check-in with your doctor.
Not only did I see a real difference in my skin after one session, but it was also a somewhat relaxing 40-minute glow-getting therapy treatment. The bottom line: If you’re interested in trying an infrared spa, experts say it’s generally pretty safe—just don’t expect major miracles beyond glowing skin -- which hey, is still pretty exciting in my book!
* While we fancy ourselves health enthusiasts and very well informed, we're not medical professionals nor health-care experts. Read, get curious, and for any hard-hitting medical questions you may have, please ring your doc.