The first thing you have to figure out when you invest in an at-home infrared sauna device is where you’re going to keep it. Depending on what you get, the difficulty of this task will vary. Now that I’m the proud owner of Higher Dose’s infrared sauna wrap—essentially a heated sleeping bag for sweating and the most space-conscious option I could find—I find myself in a highly niche intersection of two avenues of New York life: that we love gimmicky health trends and that we tend to live in extremely small apartments. Higher Dose’s bright blue plastic-y heat burrito will eventually take up residence under my bed (I assume), but right now it’s in the middle of my living room floor. Something’s going to have to go to make room for it—I’m just not sure what yet.
Or I could just leave it out. The whole point of bringing one of these bad boys home was to impose some sweat immersion therapy on myself. Out of sight in under-bed storage, out of mind. My thinking when Higher Dose graciously gifted me the blanket was that I could use it once a week (they recommend once a day) to get comfortable in the heat. The more time I spend in heat willingly, the less I might hate heat when it’s out of my control. Theoretically, this would make me more likely to go do things outside in the summer, like hiking or going to the beach. It would only take 11 sessions at a retail infrared sauna to break even on this blanket. Not nothing, but also not the most. That, and I was sold on the concept after reading Brennan’s review of an LA sweat lodge all those years ago.
Sweating regularly, even without vigorous physical activity, is apparently a good thing to do—regardless of whether you buy into the new age-y health claims that include but are not limited to the excretion of heavy metals from the body. (I’m a skeptic but this study is promising.) Just ask your dad why he goes for a schvitz every time you’re on a family vacation. It’s relaxing! It feels good! You sleep like a baby afterwards! But times have changed. You could cook your body at temperatures north of 100 degrees in the company of sweaty strangers. Or! You could do it in the privacy of your own home, on top of your couch, watching the best Netflix money can buy. I opted for West Wing (season 1, episode 2, 'Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc' for my Josh Lyman die-hards out there). It’s 42 minutes, just enough time to let the infrared coils heat you to your core without placing you squarely on the brink of consciousness. If you’re going to sweat, at least sweat safely with a 12 oz. glass of water and Avène Eau Thermale mist within arm’s reach.
As funky as the blanket is, I’ll say this: I found sweating profusely at home way, way better than sweating profusely in someone else’s contraption. Not surprising—who doesn’t love owning more than renting? More tactically, the velcro-wrap situation suits me because it’s body-focused, leaving your face free to enjoy your cool, apartment air (don’t leave the A/C on—defeats the purpose). Your face will still sweat, don’t worry; but it’s a better experience for a novice. Claustrophobes need not worry either. The sack is roomy enough to readjust your legs and pull your arms out in case you need to FaceTime anyone. (“Look, Ma! My job is weird!”) You can also hop right out, into your shower, and into bed. No redressing or commuting necessary.
Of course, the one other thing that you have to figure out after you sweat in an at-home infrared sauna device is—how the hell do you clean it? I’m open to suggestions here. While sweat will not seep out of your burrito while you’re in it, it doesn’t magically vanish when you turn off the switch. I think maybe that’s what I expected? I can’t say I went into the experience with a ton of forethought about anything, much less what was about to exit my body and accumulate in the plastic-y folds of my new apparatus. Anyway, the comedown was something I should have planned for. I’ll spare you the details, but you’re going to want to be equipped with some paper towels and some disinfecting wipes. I also found Method’s Daily Shower Spray particularly useful after the fact. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable and does great things in the smell department. Once things are mopped up, let it air dry and fold it back up. Where you store it is up to you.
Photo via Instagram.