infrared sauna

Are Infrared Saunas Worth the Hype?

An expert helps us separate fact from fiction.

If you have an Instagram account, odds are high that you've come across a friend, an influencer, or your SLT instructor raving about the benefits of sweating, specifically inside an infrared sauna. And if you're anything like me, one question has probably crossed your mind while scrolling through your feed—do infrared saunas actually do anything? The answer is yes. According to Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist, there are several skin care and wellness benefits one can reap from using infrared technology. Ahead, Dr. Yadav explains why it's so effective, plus we round up six of the best at-home infrared saunas.

What exactly is an infrared sauna?

Infrared radiation delivers heat to the skin through long wavelengths, says Dr. Yadav. Because of the infrared technology, heat is able to go up to 4mm deep into your skin, making it more effective than a traditional, steam-based sauna.

What are the body and skin-care benefits of using infrared heat?

While infrared radiation raises your body temperature, it doesn't feel quite as hot as a traditional sauna, says Dr. Yadav. "This allows you to stay in the sauna longer to reap more benefits." There's still more studies to be done to confirm the benefits of infrared heat, but according to Dr. Yadav, initial findings suggest that it can "promote better sleep, reduce pain and stiffness from arthritis, and expedite muscle recovery." And when it comes to the skin, infrared heat can help reinforce a firmer, smoother skin tone, she adds.

Can infrared heat "detoxify" the body?

When people mention "detox" in relation to infrared heat, they're usually making the claim that the technology has the ability to clear impurities out of your body. According to Dr. Yadav, this is false. "When your body sweats, it's working to cool itself down, not to clean itself out," she says. "Your kidney and liver are responsible for detoxifying your body."

Can it help to boost your mood?

"The heat from an infrared sauna boosts your endorphin levels," says Dr. Yadav. That means that its mood enhancing benefits are similar to those you'd get from a hot, sweaty workout.

What should you do before coming into contact with infrared heat?

Regardless of where you sauna, the prep should be the same, says Dr. Yadav. She recommends drinking a lot of water beforehand to prevent lightheadedness. "Consider bringing water into the sauna with you, if allowed," she says. "Determine how much clothing you'd like to wear, depending on your location and your comfort level, as well as the temperature setting and amount of time that's best for you," she adds. If it's your first time, Dr. Yadav recommends starting at the lowest temperature possible for 15 minutes to ease yourself in. And while you can meditate or listen to music, be sure not to fall asleep.

How should one expect to feel during the process?

Even though the heat will have a deeper sensation than the feeling you'd get from a traditional sauna, according to Dr. Yadav, "you can also expect to feel more comfortable as the air around you will be cooler and not stuffy."

What are some aftercare tips?

It's important to let your body temperature return back down to its normal levels and drink more water to help with the recovery process after you leave the sauna. "Once you've cooled down fully," says Dr. Yadav, "take a bath or shower to cleanse your skin of any dirt or oil and sweat to prevent any breakouts."

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