There's not much to say about infrared saunas without sounding like a new age hippie with a wheatgrass habit. Not that that's a bad thing. The old-fashioned technology has made a very chic comeback as of late and it's steeped in all the detox-y, cleanse-y language of heavy metals and purification you would expect—and be a little be wary of. But it doesn't matter. Because if and when you decide it's time to try out an infrared sauna, two things are going to happen:
1. It's the sweatiest you're ever going to be in your life.
2. You're going to feel so damn good afterwards, you're not going to know what to do with yourself.
Right before Fashion Week blew our calendars to smithereens, Emily Ferber and Claire Knebl skipped out of work early to try out the Higher Dose-branded infrared saunas in the basement of The Alchemist's Kitchen in the East Village. It was still hot out, so by the time we got there, we were already a little bit sweaty... Just getting a head start on the experience, we figured.
Putting your comfort with heat and sweat aside (for reference, Claire digs the heat, while Emily could not hate anything more fervently), actually stepping into the Higher Dose sauna is a bit disorienting. First of all, it looks like a glowing, wooden panic room. It's really only big enough for one–or for you and someone you're particularly close with. Stepping gingerly inside, your eyes have to adjust, and something happens to the pressue in your head. Everything feels a little slower and out-of-body.
It takes about 30 seconds to start perspiring. This is mainly thanks to those infrared rays that makes the sauna an "infrared sauna." The body perceives infrared light as heat, which makes the body sweat at a lower temperature than your standard issue, Eastern Promises-style sauna. This means you can tolerate the actual sauna-sitting experience for longer—and get more out of it. We've been told that can mean something like 600 calories burned in one session, lowering your cortisol levels at the same time. While sitting. Naked. Misting yourself with pure Bulgarian rosewater. Listening to your favorite podcast through the High Dose built-in speakers. (Claire brought a magazine and it withered in the heat immediately. Emily turned on West Wing Weekly.)
The goal is to stay in there for as close to 40 minutes as you can muster. The last 10 are especially hard. But don't feel bad if you step out early—from experience, you're going to keep sweating for the next 10 minutes or so anyway. So resist getting dressed immediately. Take a cab home, shower off, and go immediately to sleep. It will be the most restorative sleep of your life. Followed by the glowiest skin in the morning. And with that, who needs any science-y, detox lingo to convince them? We certainly don't.
Photos via the authors.
When in doubt, sweat it out: Read all about the best little sweat lodge in LA here.