Wellness

Are Infrared Sauna Blankets Worth The Hype?

Here's the deal.

An honest review of infrared sauna blankets and whether they're worth the splurge.
HigherDose

As an esthetician, popping into infrared saunas has been a (lucky) part of my career. Since I’ve worked in many full-service spas, these kinds of saunas would always be at my disposal, so I’d often indulge in quick 30-minute sessions for that relaxing, sweat-it-all-out experience. But now that I’m a full-time mom who works from home — and no longer in that wonderful spa-sphere — I’ve had to figure out how to satisfy that craving for a sauna high from home. That’s how I came to get my hands on the HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket.

Being on lockdown did a number on my sleep, my mental health, and my body, so I wasn’t pleased when I wasn’t able to break a frequent sauna sweat. That’s where an infrared sauna blanket comes in: It essentially wraps the technology and wellness benefits you’d get from being inside an infrared sauna into an actual blanket for at-home use. I was thrilled, but also skeptical: Will it really give me the same perks and level of sweat? Will I feel claustrophobic? How does it work if my head is sticking out?

I called on some experts to help clarify how the portable version of the technology works, then put the product to the test. Read on for everything you need to know about infrared sauna blanket benefits — and whether they’re truly worth the hype.

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What Is An Infrared Sauna Blanket?

An infrared sauna works by delivering infrared radiation to heat the body through infrared wavelengths, says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Traditionally, you’d sit in an enclosed space — à la a regular sauna — and get your sweat on as your body heats up. In blanket form, it looks like a sleeping bag and feels almost like a weighted blanket that can be used anywhere or anytime someone wants to experience the benefits of an infrared sauna in their own space.

What Are The Benefits?

Though you’ll definitely sweat in both, infrared radiation doesn’t feel quite as hot as a traditional sauna: The temperature range is lower (120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit versus the 150 to 180 of a regular sauna) and infrared waves penetrate more deeply than warmed air, leaving you with a higher core body temperature. This means it’s easier to stay in the room — or blanket — for longer and reap more benefits. There’s still additional research that needs to be done to confirm that, explains Garshick, but some evidence has shown infrared saunas can boost cardiovascular function and blood circulation as well as help certain types of medical conditions like high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. It also suggests infrared rays help reduce body aches and expedite muscle recovery.

There are purported beauty benefits, too. "When it comes to skin benefits, infrared heat may help to improve the overall appearance of the skin by helping to reduce puffiness and swelling, while simultaneously boosting circulation which can help to give the skin an overall glow,” says Garshick. And a master esthetician, I attest to this.

You’ll hear a lot of people use the word “detox” when talking about infrared saunas — but that’s not what they do. "The term detoxification can be tricky as it is not necessarily true toxins that are being eliminated,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Alaleh Akhavan, M.D. of Joyful Dermatology tells Bustle. “But the sauna blankets may help you release sweat and as a result leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.” Your body detoxifies itself with its own organs, anyways.

Mainly, though, the benefit of using an infrared sauna blanket is that it feels really good. Who doesn’t love to experience a nice and hearty sweat?

How Often Can You Use An Infrared Blanket?

According to HigherDose, the infrared sauna blanket is safe to use daily — just be sure to listen to your body and how you’re feeling. I personally use mine at least twice a week, preferably at night as it helps me wind down after running after a 1-year-old all day and certainly helps me sleep better. “Infrared done 90 minutes before bedtime can aid in restful sleep as the warming of your core temperature followed by subsequent cooling can promote natural sleepiness,” says Akhavan.

Is The Infrared Sauna Blanket Worth The Hype?

In my opinion, yes: It's worth the hype. My blanket has taken up full residency in my home as it’s exceeded my expectations. It perfectly fits along my queen-sized bed and is very easy to get myself in and out of with the velcro stitching. I'm 5'10 and my feet are not smooshed at the bottom, so that's also a perk (my fellow tall folks understand).

Rather than schlepping to a spa and sitting in a space where other peoples’ naked bodies have sat, an infrared sauna blanket delivers the relaxing experience to your home, all without taking that much space (it wraps up quite nicely). My blanket has improved my quality of sleep, boosted my skin’s glow, and eased my muscle tension. Wrapping myself up into a sweaty burrito has become my favorite self-care ritual.

Although the blanket was a gift, I fully understand these tend to run a bit pricey at $599 — but I would 100% purchase it myself. Think of it this way: Your average sauna session in a spa-like setting will run you around $60 each visit, so if you opt for two sessions a week, you've already paid for your portable blanket in the first month.

Studies referenced:

Barolet, D. (2017). Infrared and Skin: Friend or Foe. J Photochem Photobiol B. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745411/

Hussain, J. (2018). Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/