Things in the wellness realm are really heating up—literally. Sweat lodges are becoming a trend, one in which you pay to be wrapped up like human burrito as a means to release toxins and emerge a more relaxed, radiant version of yourself (Selena Gomez and a list of other glowing stars reportedly swear by it). In a similar vein, infrared heat treatments are making a widespread appearance in spas on account of their full-body benefits. Curious to learn about the practice, we tapped Dr. Blanka Orloff of Skin Matrx to give us the scoop on the infrared therapy craze.
What Does Infrared Light Do To The Body?
"Infrared light affects skin but also penetrates deeper to reach muscles, tendons, etc. Thus, there are many external and internal beneficial effects.
•It stimulates production of fiber blasts, which make more collagen and elastin.
•It produces more nitric oxide gas, which locally improves blood flow and brings in nutrients for faster healing, and lowers blood pressure.
•It improves lymphatic circulation, boosts the immune system and healing, and has detoxing effects.
•It decreases inflammation, which means less pain, less redness and faster healing.
•It desensitizes nerves, which is important for people who suffer from chronic pain or diabetic nerve pain."
What Are The Main Benefits Of Infrared Therapy?
"A key benefit is the detoxifying effect on the body. It allows us to sweat out impurities and boosts lymphatic drainage, which clears toxins out of the body. It can also help to heal external and internal wounds such as sore muscles from exercise, tendonitis and pulled muscles. Infrared therapy has anti-aging benefits, as it helps to improve collagen and elastin production. It also lowers blood pressure and helps the body to relax. Relaxation allows us to sleep better, clear our minds and optimize overall physiology."
The infrared sauna cocoon at Skin Matrx. Photos: Courtesy
Is There Anyone Who Should Avoid Infrared Therapy?
"If you suffer from heart disease or a serious chronic medical condition, check with a medical professional prior to using an infrared sauna cocoon [pictured above]. If you're claustrophobic, try lying in the pod for a few minutes before using it to ensure that you're comfortable."
Can You Experience Benefits After One Treatment?
"You can certainly feel some immediate benefits—such as relaxation—after just one treatment. In some cases, one might even notice pain issues are resolved. However, if you are treating an open wound, it may take a series of treatments before you see results."
Editor's note: I tried the Skin Matrx cocoon out of pure curiosity (read: not seeking treatment for any injuries) and did feel slightly more relaxed after one session. For anyone curious about the heat from the infrared lights, it wasn't as intense as I feared. Going into it, I expected to sweat profusely—especially as it's often referred to as a sauna. The cocoon did feel warm, but not uncomfortably so—there were fans blowing on my face so I didn't overheat. Overall, I give the infrared experience a thumbs-up and am interested to see what kind of results come with continued use.