Why ev­ery­one’s talk­ing about in­fra-red saunas.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

Hol­ly­wood’s juic­ing crowd has a new ob­ses­sion. In­frared saunas — said to detox the body us­ing heat-gen­er­at­ing in­vis­i­ble light — have made fans of Gwyneth Pal­trow, Mi­randa Kerr and Cindy Craw­ford, and many A-lis­ters now have cus­tom saunas in their homes. Frank Lip­man, the New York in­te­gra­tive-medicine doc­tor to Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal and Donna Karan, en­cour­ages pa­tients to par­take in in­frared to help clear tox­ins, and he raves about his per­sonal Clearlight sauna. “My mus­cles re­lax, I sleep bet­ter and I just feel calm and en­er­gised,” he says. Mean­while, in­frared-ded­i­cated spas (in Syd­ney, we love Al­ka­line and Health Space clin­ics) and in­frared-heated yoga stu­dios (try Mel­bourne’s Hot­box Yoga) are pop­ping up ev­ery­where. But although some be­lieve in­frared light ther­apy is a cure-all — stud­ies in­di­cate that it may en­cour­age weight loss, lower blood pres­sure and re­lieve pain, and re­search for can­cer-treat­ment sup­port is on­go­ing — new, cut­ting-edge skin­care prod­ucts claim to neu­tu­ralise dam­age from in­frared, cit­ing stud­ies that con­clude it can lead to pre­ma­ture ski­nage­ing. So is in­frared good for you or bad?

First, the good: an in­frared sauna is like a tra­di­tional sauna on steroids. “Rather than heat­ing the air around you, which then heats your body, in­frared pen­e­trates deeply, warm­ing you from the in­side out,” ex­plains Joyce Rock­wood, a detox­i­fi­ca­tion ex­pert at trendy LA health oa­sis The Springs. “It’s like giv­ing your cells aer­o­bic ac­tiv­ity,” she claims. Saunas come in va­ri­eties such as blan­ket wraps, one-per­son pods and walk-in cab­ins. Pros such as Rock­wood rec­om­mend go­ing in once or twice a week, and 30 min­utes (a typ­i­cal ses­sion) stim­u­lates not only cir­cu­la­tion but also in­tense sweat­ing — both re­sponses that help rid your body of tox­ins from pol­lu­tion, food or a bad bug, Lip­man says.

On a smaller scale, in­frared light may also treat wrin­kles, via a hand­held de­vice. Nu­face Trin­ity De­vice with Trin­ity Wrin­kle Re­ducer at­tach­ment ($458 plus $220, from emits a spe­cific com­bi­na­tion of red, am­ber and in­frared light that goes just be­low the skin’s sur­face to trig­ger col­la­gen pro­duc­tion. Ironic, con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of new anti-in­frared creams.

Luck­ily, there’s a sim­ple way to parse the dif­fer­ence be­tween good in­frared and bad. The sun pro­duces in­frared wave­lengths, which fall into three cat­e­gories: far, mid and near.the near and mid waves are un­der­stood to be the skin-dam­ag­ing kinds, while “there’s ev­i­dence that far-in­frared saunas pro­vide some ben­e­fits and are prob­a­bly not harm­ful, though there have been no large-scale stud­ies,” says Mathew Avram, di­rec­tor of the Der­ma­tol­ogy Laser & Cos­metic Cen­ter at Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton. Most in­frared-emit­ting ma­chines, in­clud­ing most saunas, pro­duce only far in­frared, spar­ing your com­plex­ion. But the dam­ag­ing waves from the sun pose a real threat. “near in­frared can ac­cel­er­ate the age­ing process, caus­ing un­even skin tone, melasma, wrin­kles and po­ten­tially skin can­cer,” warns der­ma­tol­o­gist Doris Day.and a re­cent study by Coty found that near-in­frared ex­po­sure can dam­age col­la­gen and elastin. Un­for­tu­nately, in­frared light is ex­pe­ri­enced as heat and would not be eas­ily blocked or ab­sorbed by skin­care prod­ucts un­less they were ap­plied like a thick mud. The best ones, Day says, use an­tiox­i­dants that have been shown to clean up free-rad­i­cal dam­age post-ex­po­sure. try Sk­inceu­ti­cals C E Fer­ulic serum ($214),Sk­in­med­ica En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Mois­turiser SPF 15 ($76), or Phi­los­o­phy Ul­ti­mate Mir­a­cle Worker Multi-re­ju­ve­nat­ing Cream SPF 15 ($88). As for adding in­frared-sauna sweat to your health rou­tine, talk to your doc­tor first, and hy­drate be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter, Lip­man ad­vises.who knows? Maybe you’ll see the light.

“Thirty min­utes, (a typ­i­cal ses­sion) stim­u­lates not only cir­cu­la­tion but also in­tense sweat­ing — both help rid your body of tox­ins.”

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