Sweat, baby, sweat.
The least intuitive thing to do when it’s a bajillion degrees outside is try to find a way to make yourself sweat more, and yet that’s exactly what I did recently—while dabbling in infrared sauna therapy. Blame it on a very chic creative director I’m friends with (looking at you, Katia), but after seeing more than a few of her red-tinged sweaty-ass Instagram posts from Higher Dose, an infrared sauna hotspot (see what I did there?) in the East Village, I had to test it out for myself. After all, literally dozens of models credit the saunas with helping keep things together leading up to big events, and we’ve heard about how beneficial it can be for years. That’s not to say that we were exactly excited by the prospect of sitting in a boiling hot box on a 97 degree day. But anything for a story, right?
What I experienced was surprisingly not awful! The saunas at Higher Dose are really, really, ridiculously nice. Like beautiful wooden planks, fitted with a light-therapy option (I went with red light because I think it’s energizing, but I was also told it was good for my skin), and you just sit in there and sweat. After thirty minutes I’d had about all I could take (hey, it was my first time), but I left feeling pretty incredible. Clear-headed, light, and sort of bright and sparkly. And, as an added bonus, it didn’t feel quite so hot outside anymore! I asked the co-founder of Higher Dose, Katie Kaps, to explain exactly why I felt so excellent.
What is infrared heat:
“Infrared heat is very gentle. The experience is similar to lying in the sun on a warm day and feeling the heat radiate to the core of your body. Unlike traditional (hot rock or steam) saunas—which operate at well in excess of 200°F—infrared heat has the benefit of being effective at a more comfortable operating temperature of 100°-150°F.
“Traditional saunas heat the air instead of heating the body directly, which can make the experience unbearably hot and difficult to breathe. Because infrared heat penetrates human tissue rather than simply heating the surface of the skin, infrared saunas are seven times more effective than traditional saunas at detoxifying the body. By raising the body's core temperature, infrared saunas can produce a sweat composed of 20% toxins vs. only 3% toxins with a traditional sauna.”
The benefits of infrared sauna:
“Infrared saunas can improve skin conditions and keep skin looking young, as well as helping with relaxation, sore muscles, sprains, and most types of bodily pain. Infrared heat penetrates tissue, joints, and muscles to relieve aches and pains from overuse. It can also increase your heart rate, and function much like an intense cardio workout. Finally, infrared heat stimulates the circulatory system and oxygenates the body’s cells. That increased blood flow results in greater overall vitality.”
How to prep for an infrared session, and how to care for yourself after:
“The first thing to do to prep is to not drink the night before. You’ll also want to increase your water intake leading up to the sauna, and don’t eat a large meal right before. Plan to wear loose, comfy clothing to your appointment (Ed note: you’ll still be sweaty AF even after your session is over), and wear minimal or no makeup or body lotions. Right after, you’re going to want to drink a lot of water. You can safely use an infrared sauna once or twice per week.”
*Keep in mind, while we’re enthusiastic about health and well-being, we are not doctors, health-care professionals, or medical experts.