Get Your Sweat On: Infrared Sauna 101
Our skin is the largest elimination organ of the body. Sweating is fantastic in that it opens up the passageways of the skin and allows toxins to release freely.
Hitting the reset button doesn’t have to mean an intensive yoga retreat in Bali or checking yourself in at The Ranch (although both of those things sound great), it can be as simple as 30 minute sweat session in an infrared sauna. With technology dating back decades, infrared saunas boast a myriad of benefits, from reducing inflammation to detoxing the body. Here’s what you need to know about stepping into the heat.
Infrared light dates back to the 1800s, first discovered by Sir Frederick William Herschel, a scientist researching the light spectrum. In 1893, the electric “light bath” was introduced by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who designed an individual cabinet-like chamber that utilized the heat from light bulbs. The technology continued to advance in Europe and Asia, with the first infrared sauna coming out of Japan in the 1960s. Today, infrared saunas have a presence worldwide and are popular with celebs, athletes, and anyone who looking for the perfect selfie backdrop.
HOW IT WORKS
Unlike the traditional saunas, which use steam to heat the air around the body, infrared saunas use infrared wavelengths of light to heat the body directly and at a lower temperature (100 to 150 degrees versus 200 degrees in a traditional steam sauna). This not only makes the experience more comfortable, but also more gentle. Katie Kaps and Lauren Berlingeri, the founders of New York City’s chicest infrared destination HigherDOSE, compare the sauna experience to “laying in the sun on a hot summer day and feeling the heat radiate to the core of your body.” When this heat penetrates the body, it vibrates water molecules under the skin’s surface which cause you to sweat while increasing your heartrate, creating an effect similar to a workout (think light jog, not spin class).
All infrared supporters list detoxification as one of the major benefits of a session. According to the co-founders, infrared saunas are far more effective when it comes to detoxing the body than traditional steam saunas. “By raising the body's core temperature, infrared saunas can produce a sweat composed of 20% toxins versus sweat composed of only 3% toxins with a traditional sauna,” they noted. The duo says the treatment will detox of your body of heavy metals, pollutants and radiation.
Donna Perrone, the president of Gravity East Village in New York City (another top infrared destination), is in agreement when it comes to detoxification. “Our skin is the largest elimination organ of the body. Sweating is fantastic in that it opens up the passageways of the skin and allows toxins to release freely,” she says. The deep penetration of infrared rays can help to rid the body of impurities that are stored in organs and tissues. Perrone also lists improved circulation and a boost to the immune system as benefits, recommending a sauna session for those feeling under the weather or suffering from arthritis or muscle pain. “Saunas can support a improved metabolism, lower blood pressure, help to relax tight muscles, and ease minor aches and pains,” says Perrone.
And of course, there is the calorie burn. The HigherDOSE founders say a session will burn between 400 and 600 calories, while additional research suggests that infrared sauna use can lead to a decrease in body fat over time.
While some medical professionals say more research is needed to verify infrared health benefits, there isn’t anything wrong with taking advantage of a session to recharge. “You feel relaxed, refreshed, and like a new person after the session,” says Kaps, who notes that like a workout, a session can lower cortisol levels and boost serotonin. You can also thank infrared for that lit-from-within glow you’ll likely be sporting afterwards.
WHERE TO GO
Ready to give it a shot? With locations popping up across the country, chances are there are is a venue for sweating in your city. Check out the list below to start your search and always check with your doctor before booking to see if an infrared session is right for you.
HigherDOSE, New York City Opened in 2016, HigherDOSE has two locations in New York City. The private rooms come complete with a killer soundtrack and Medical Grade Chromotherapy lighting.
Gravity East Village, New York City This wellness center offers infrared sauna sessions, colonics and massages.
Revel & Rose, San Francisco Located in the Marina District in SF, Revel & Rose offers infrared sauna sessions and body wraps.
exhale, Miami Inside the EPIC Hotel and Residences, this exhale location offers a full spa menu and yoga classes in addition to private infrared saunas.
Sweatheory, Los Angeles Get your sweat on and then head over to the shot bar for a vitamin injection or IV drip.
The Cryobar, Chicago Book yourself a infrared session and then come back later for a Cryotherapy treatment.