I Tried an Infrared Sauna Pod—Here’s What Happened

Updated 10/14/19
Infrared Sauna
Getty/Michaklootwijk 

I’m a skeptical person by nature and don’t buy into hype when it comes to services with lofty claims—or any claims, for that matter. I need to see and experience results first-hand (true results), and only ever write about something and want to share its benefits with you if it truly blows me away and delivers. Which is why I’m here today to tell you about why I’m obsessed with infrared sauna pods. TBH, obsessed doesn’t cover it.

After one 40-minute session, I am an infrared sauna full-on convert, devotee, groupie fangirl and all-around sauna pod junkie. If you need to find me, then just check the infrared sauna pod, because that’s where I’ll be. I want one in my home (Kendall Jenner style). And to be completely honest, I've already adjusted my monthly budget to carve out funds solely to get my sweat on. So now I’ll back up a bit and explain why I'm 100 percent obsessed. Keep scrolling to read about what went down.

What Is an Infrared Sauna Pod?

An infrared sauna uses infrared lamps to heat the body directly as opposed to warming the air like a traditional sauna. 

What exactly is an infrared sauna pod, and what do they do, you ask? Good questions. The "pod" is a futuristic-looking capsule that’s more or less identical (in appearance) to a tanning bed. It’s large enough for the human body (you’ll fit, don’t worry), and you lay in it like you’re going to sleep (which many people, in fact, do). The top half closes over you, leaving only your supported head sticking out. The bed lights up like Battleship, emitting red infrared light rays in the near and far spectrums.

Infrared light heats your body from the inside—so infrared sauna pods are basically like typical saunas except minus the oppressive, stifling, suffocating heat that gets intolerable so quickly. The biggest difference in the two is the infrared sauna pod heats you, not the air. By doing so, they are supposed to enhance metabolic function (aka burn calories), stimulate the production of collagen, de-stress, detoxify, and assist in the recovery of pain, injury, and illness by dilating blood vessels to increase circulation and deliver oxygen throughout your body.

Additionally, infrared rays make the water molecules in the body vibrate and break down, to release toxins that you then sweat out. But was all of this baloney, or would it actually work? 

Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Grace Kim/BYRDIE

I was invited to try one for the first time after a weekend in Vegas, so needless to say, I’ve never needed to detox more. I was feeling rundown, haggard, and gross; and laying down in a warm, comfy sauna pod to sweat out my sins was pretty much what the doctor ordered.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

  • Improves the overall appearance of skin
  • Helps burn up calories
  • Removes toxins
  • Reduces stress and fatigue

The girl who initiated me to my first session, Jourdan, went over the benefits: improves skin, burns calories, removes toxins, relieves pain, reduces stress and fatigue, strengthens the immune system. Supposedly, you can burn as many as 600 calories in 30 minutes. She explained that the heat gets your heart rate moving, the metabolic equivalent to exercise, so doctors will recommend infrared sauna therapy to people who have been in auto accidents and can’t workout as a way to condition their cardiovascular system.

Jourdan also told me that when she’s feeling tired, she pops into the pod for a session and leaves feeling totally energized. But I was mostly there to see if it affected my skin. “The glow,” she called it—and promised I would see it. The increased circulation is supposed to bring oxygen and nutrients to the skin surface, promoting healthy, glowing skin.

What to Expect

At first, I have to admit, that the beds intimidated me a little bit—I had the idea of my insides kind of…cooking (sorry), and I made sure to triple-check that it was safe. But upon climbing into the bed, I couldn’t have been more at ease. I am claustrophobic and didn’t feel any spatial anxiety whatsoever. The room was playing spa music with soothing lighting and subtle aromatherapy; and the beds are lined with healing jade stones, which made for an even more soothing, peaceful experience.

If you are beginning to feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable, you can lift the bed lid any time you want to get out.

Lying in that bed was one of the most relaxing, comfortable, comforting, de-stressing experiences I’ve ever had. You melt right in, and I never wanted to get out. As one of my coworkers joked, it’s like being in the womb.

Jourdan set the temperature on my bed to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit for the math-challenged like me), which is the starting temperature for anyone new. When she came in to check on me about 20 minutes later, she told me she could raise the temperature if I “really wanted to sweat more,” but 50 felt like the perfect place for me to be.

Fascinatingly, I found that after the first ten minutes, my heart was indeed pounding due to the heat taking effect on my system/burning those calories, yet I still felt perfectly calm. It was surreal.

Twenty minutes in, I found myself sweating, but could barely feel it. It was, in fact, pleasant—the least-effort yet cleansing sweating I’ve ever done. I didn’t ever fall asleep, but did completely bliss out, and didn’t want to leave. 

When I emerged from the sauna pod room, one of the front desk people saw me and exclaimed, “Oh you got “the glow!’” I wasn’t near a mirror yet and took what he said with a grain of salt. Until I went into the bathroom and saw my reflection, and my skin truly was glowing. Not oily, not sweaty, but straight-up backstage model glowing. I ran back out of the bathroom and said, “Oh my goodness it is glowing!” And then proceeded to tell them all that I wanted to sauna-pod every day.

The increased circulation is supposed to bring oxygen and nutrients to the skin surface, promoting healthy, glowing skin.

When I got home, my boyfriend, who didn’t know I had been to an infrared sauna pod, exclaimed, on his own, “Your skin looks amazing right now.” But that’s not even all. Fifteen minutes later, he told me it wasn’t just my face—that the tone of my legs looked good. It made sense because the sauna pod affects your entire epidermis. My boyfriend is not someone who has ever noticed or complimented the skin tone on my legs. To me, this was hugely revelatory.

The Final Glowy Takeaway

I continued to notice “the glow” for the next few days, and have already booked my next session—my boyfriend is coming with me, so we’re calling it a sauna pod date. Not only did I see noticeable skin differences after one session, it was the most relaxing 40 minutes I’ve had...ever. A one-time session can range anywhere from $50-100 depending on your location and many spas offer a discounted rate for first-timers (so don't forget to ask). Considering it comes with a similar price tag as other spa treatments, I have no problem dishing out cash for this glow-getting therapy treatment. I'll see you at the sauna pod. 

Have you ever tried an infrared sauna pod? If not, do you think you will after reading this? Sound off in the comments!

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