Infrared saunas are so hot right now! Here’s how they can help you get glowing skin, reduce the appearance of cellulite… and oh yeah, relax

radiant skin

Chances are, you’ve spent time in a sauna at some point in your life. They’re great for muscle relaxation and stress relief but I’ve never been a fan because they’re just too dang hot for me! Scorching air plus dizziness does not equal relaxation or fun in my mind.

Five years ago, however, I discovered (and subsequently became obsessed with) a game changer: the infrared sauna. Unlike conventional saunas, which only heat the air, infrared saunas produce the same spectrum of rays that come from the sun (and penetrate more than 1.5 inches into the body), but with the UV radiation filtered out, so they’re completely safe.

My mom bought one when I was living at home during the summer, and I started using it two or three times a week. Initially, I was totally drawn to the fact that you can burn up to 600 calories in a sitting—the key word here being ‘sit’. No exercise required. Yes, I’m lazy.

Then I started noticing that my shoulders (which is where my tension accumulates) weren’t aching and my skin was a lot clearer and more radiant (and remember, at this point I hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of coconut oil). Now I’m a total believer—and when you hear about the many benefits, maybe you’ll be too.


infrared sauna Infrared saunas are so hot right now! Heres how they can help you get glowing skin, reduce the appearance of cellulite... and oh yeah, relax

They used to be tough to find, but now lots of spas, wellness centres, yoga studios and naturopathic clinics offer sessions (usually about 30 minutes). They generally run about $1/minute (or a little less) but some spots offer special packages at reduced prices.


Typically hitting temps between 43 and 54 degrees Celsius, the heat infrared saunas generate makes you sweat like nothing else—about two to three times more than in a regular sauna, even though the latter is between 70 and 100 degrees. And despite the infrared sauna being cooler, you sweat more because the heat it emits is absorbed directly into your body.

Now I know sweating isn’t particularly attractive or appealing, but you wanna know what is? Detoxification! Radiant heat stimulates your deeper tissues and organs, allowing them to release stored toxins. In a regular sauna, your sweat consists of 95 to 97 percent water, while in an infrared sauna, only 80 to 85 percent of it is water—with the remaining 15 to 20 percent being your toxic load. That’s right: lovely things like heavy metals, chemicals and other toxins are leaving your body.

Make sure to shower after you sauna to get rid of all the yucky stuff on your skin. And I said it before but I’ll say it again: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate—before and after a session to replenish fluids and lost minerals. Experts suggest one session per week for the first month, and increasing to two per week after that.


cellulite Infrared saunas are so hot right now! Heres how they can help you get glowing skin, reduce the appearance of cellulite... and oh yeah, relax

If burning calories sitting down doesn’t sound like a dream come true to you, I don’t know what does. Like I said, just 30 minutes in an infrared sauna can burn up to 600 of them! The sauna’s heat makes your heart beat faster, which causes you to sweat, which in turn burns calories. One study showed reduced waist circumference and weight loss in those who weren’t exercising but used infrared saunas regularly instead.

Sauna time may also help reduce the appearance of that nasty c-word—cellulite—under the skin by promoting blood circulation and sweating. Combining sessions with dry brushing can also help. Use a natural fiber brush to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the lymphatic and circulation system before you sauna.


clear skin Infrared saunas are so hot right now! Heres how they can help you get glowing skin, reduce the appearance of cellulite... and oh yeah, relax

Ever notice how great your skin looks after a workout? Exercise increases blood flow and circulation, which draws oxygen to the skin—and that’s exactly what an infrared sauna does too. Plus, when you sweat, your pores open up, and all those impurities that cause breakouts can be eliminated.

I notice that when I sauna consistently, my skin is much clearer and I can go without foundation. Yeah, it’s pretty fantastic. (Now if only I could steal my mom’s sauna and stick it in my apartment instead of having to trek to the salon or yoga studio). Ultimately, sauna sessions help with skin regeneration and keep you glowing and moisturized. People have also seen mayjah improvements in skin issues like eczema, psoriasis and acne.


For me, infrared sauna sessions are kind of like hot baths: comforting, warm, enveloping and super-soothing. Aside from providing you with a rare half-hour block of quiet time, the sauna’s natural radiation gently penetrates tissues and allows muscles, tendons and ligaments to totally relax. It also helps to strengthen the immune system—which can make you more resistant to stress.

And who doesn’t need a little stress relief these days? I’m currently writing this post instead of paying bills, and just the thought of looking at my Visa statement is enough to make me anxious. I might have to book a sauna appointment for this afternoon.

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on twitter: @elizabethedits.

Over to you:

Do you sauna?
Ever used an infrared one?
Which benefit had you at hello: Detoxification? Less cellulite? Glowy skin?


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 9:59 am

There is like, not a single negative thing about these infrared sauna thingies. I’d never even heard of one before now, but it looks so amazing! And god, 600 calories in 30 MINUTES?! I burnt 100 on one of those step-master things in 30 minutes and I couldn’t walk the next day. This seems like the preferable choice. I WANT ONE. I just hope that they are in the UK somewhere, because if they are I am hightailing it over there ASAP!

Huge fan, hyper-hair-colour-aware Thomas xx


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 10:02 am

There is like not a single negative thing about these infrared sauna thingies. I had never even heard of one before now, but I’m reallyreallyreally interested in the weight-loss thing – does it literally help you lose weight just like that?? I seriously hope they have one of these near me, because I will totally be hightailing it over to them ASAP.

Huge fan, hyper-hair-colour-aware Thomas xx


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, August 13/2011 at 5:57 pm

I’ll check with Elizabeth but I don’t think I’d rely on this as a primary weight loss method… I think they’re great as part of an overall health program that includes a good diet and regular exercise. Plus that could get super expensive…


Saturday, August 13/2011 at 6:29 pm

Michelle is right. You also have to build up your tolerance to the saunas, starting at once a week and then the next month maybe going twice a week. Sadly, it’s not a miracle weight loss method that will help you drop 50 pounds like that, but it does provide some amazing health benefits! Hope you can find one!


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 10:51 am

I’m a bit skeptical of a claim like “burn 600 calories.” I was reading about how the calorie meters on cardio machines like ellipticals and treadmills are generated using formulas that often aren’t accurate as they’re based on specific body types and body compositions. I imagine its something similar for the sauna. I don’t think you can lose fat (as opposed to water) from just sitting in a hot, humid room, but perhaps you’d be less bloated and shed some water weight.


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 12:23 pm

Sophia, Infrared saunas are not humid and temperatures are not particularly high (rather than having to heat the air, the infrared heats the body directly), which is why many patients can tolerate them better than a regular sauna, or steam room.

The “burning calories in a sauna” theory comes from several different medical researchers, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the US Army. According to U.S. Army medical research (Ward Dean, M.D.), “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session, consuming nearly 300 calories in the process”. This is based on Guyton’s textbook of Medical Physiology, which states that 1 gram of sweat requires 0.568 kcal to produce, and on average a typical user will sweat about 500 grams.

Where there is some debate is whether these calories burned are helping with weight loss (you will lose water weight, although once you re-hydrate this weight will be put back on), or just simply burning calories (our bodies are constantly burning calories).

Regardless, Infrared saunas are great for beautification of skin, cardiovascular health, and tissue elasticity.


Friday, August 5/2011 at 2:19 am

Thanks for the extra info, although to me it still sounds like you might as well put on a winter coat walk around on a hot day…that’ll get you sweating.


Saturday, August 13/2011 at 6:30 pm

Thank you for all the extra info Serb!
And Sofia, I promise you’ll enjoy an infrared sauna session more than walking around in a winter coat in this heat! Plus you’ll get some other great health benefits! :)


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 12:52 pm

I’m so glad to see that more people are learning about infrared saunas. The spa that I work at has personal sauna domes where people can lie down, instead of a box where they have to sit. Our customers get so relaxed that snoring is a frequent occurrence!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, August 13/2011 at 5:58 pm

OMG I’d SO be up for that!


Thursday, August 4/2011 at 1:57 pm

My parents installed one at their place in the countryside a few years ago and I use it every visit without fail. My skin is always markedly different (glowing) when I leave and I can’t wait to get one of my own someday!


Saturday, August 13/2011 at 6:33 pm

I’m so glad you love it! Makes it even more of a treat to go home doesn’t it? :)


Friday, August 5/2011 at 4:44 am

I don’t know about the whole calorie burning thing…but glowing skin sounds like a possibility… a good one!


Saturday, August 13/2011 at 3:14 pm

Do you know which one your parents have and what price it was? It sounds amazing and I don’t know what is a good price for saunas. Thanks!


Saturday, August 13/2011 at 6:32 pm

Sorry, I don’t know the brand and my parents are on vacation or I’d call and ask them! I do know it was quite expensive, though. I can post the specifics after they get back if you’re still interested!


Wednesday, January 16/2013 at 10:19 pm

I just scored big time and bought a brand new portable sauna, the kind that fits one person, you sit in it and from your shoulders down is in the sauna and the rest is out. It retails for 1800 and I managed to get it for $250 based entirely on the fact that the person selling it won it and had no where to set it up. I just had my electrical socket switched out and plan to start using it tomorrow so excited!


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