What the F is an infrared sauna?
Pioneered, naturally, in LA, infrared saunas are the hot new thing in wellness. But what makes the 2.0 different to the original, aside from the Instagram-gold aesthetic?
We spoke to the people at London’s Glow Bar, who also host an in-house hypnotist and an array of crystal-infused skincare and vegan condoms, to find out their take on the trend…
SO, WHAT’S THE DEAL?
The age-old appeal of saunas is the reaction they cause, which is similar to those caused by moderate exercise; sweating and a raised heart rate. While traditional saunas heat the air and therefore your body to a high temperature, infrared saunas use full-spectrum infrared wavelengths to penetrate the upper and lower epidermis, raising both your core body temperature and that of the room. Moreover, infrared saunas can produce these results at lower temperatures that are easier to tolerate; over a 45-minute session, the temperature ranges from 40C to 70C.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND THEM?
The heat creates a spike in heart rate and circulation, and the subsequent surge of oxygen to your brain releases mood-boosting hormones similar to a runner’s high. This has physical effects too, including better sleep and collagen production, which helps strengthen nails and hair, reduce fine lines and make the skin glow. The infrared light can also minimise scars and ease dry skin conditions.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER TO THOSE EXPERIENCED AFTER A NORMAL SAUNA SESSION?
A normal sauna session tests your body conditions in a high-temperature environment, whereas an infrared sauna challenges your body to adapt to its own rising temperature. The benefits of infrared sauna go further to improving your overall wellbeing.
ARE THERE DOWNSIDES TO EXCESS SWEATING?
The high temperatures can cause lightheadedness and a dehydrated feeling but, during a session, it is easy to take a breather by stepping out of your private cabin for as long as needed or just opening the door to let out some hot air. It may seem hard to manage the heat at first, but your body will learn to deal with it better after a couple of sessions.
HOW OFTEN IS IT RECOMMENDED YOU USE THEM?
This is a personal decision, but a weekly sauna session can have huge positive effects on your body and your lifestyle.
ARE THERE CONTRAINDICATIONS?
Infrared saunas are not safe for pregnant women, and those with heart or blood pressure conditions should speak to their doctor before booking. Once out of the sauna, stay well hydrated and avoid alcohol for at least a day afterwards.
WHY THE TREND FOR INFRARED SAUNAS?
The trend is likely part of the global increase in interest for one’s wellbeing. In the past couple of years, dietary trends and more holistic approaches to wellness have brought experiences, such as infrared saunas, into the mainstream as a way of implementing better habits into one’s daily life. Also, like cryotherapy or lymphatic drainage massages, they are among things promoted by wellness gurus and influencers as a way to stay in shape and feel your best.