Welcome to Try Before You Buy, a monthly series where we talk about the pricey beauty products and in-office treatments that are getting major buzz and give our honest feedback.
At the beginning of the year, I was planning vacation trips, indulging in weekly brunches with my friends, and enjoying the occasional party. Then, of course, the pandemic hit. Everything changed, and in response, I made lots of adjustments to my life and learned to take care of my body.
Since March, I've adopted healthier eating habits, have committed to exercising four to five times a week, and have started using tools that improve my physical and mental health, like taking supplements and meditating. The most surprising tool, however, has been a $500 infrared sauna blanket. It’s made a world of difference in optimizing my workouts and helping me remain relaxed, so let me tell you: This isn't your average blanket.
What’s a sauna blanket?
HigherDose’s Sauna Blanket is an infrared pouch-like capsule. It uses magnetic therapy, heat-balancing clay, tourmaline, and infrared crystals and has adjustable heat settings. The brand suggests lying in it for no longer than 45 minutes for benefits that mimic those you get from an infrared sauna. The blanket helps increase the body’s thermal energy and promotes a temporary increase in blood flow, which, in turn, improves circulation and promotes a healthy flow of oxygen.
“We came up with the Infrared Sauna Blanket so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of infrared without needing access to one of our infrared saunas,” say HigherDose cofounders Katie Kaps and Lauren Berlingeri. “With all of us enduring unprecedented times—that are pretty stressful—stress management and self-care have never been more important, especially since heightened stress over long periods of time can compromise our immune systems.” For me, the blanket has done just that.
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How do you use a sauna blanket?
This is how I use it: After each workout, I bundle up—which is advised—in loose, long clothing and socks for unrestricted sweating. I then insert my whole body in the blanket (arms included) at level six, and then I sweat my life away for 45 minutes.
What are the benefits of using a sauna blanket?
As someone who lacks very active sweat glands, this is the perfect way to optimize my workouts, and experts support it. “Sweating serves a physiologic function to help the body maintain its core temperature,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. “We sweat in response to physical activities, like exercise and emotional stresses.”
However, sweating doesn’t particularly remove toxins from the skin, so don’t expect extreme heat to help you do that. “Contrary to popular belief, the only two detoxifying organs in the body are the liver and kidneys,” Dr. Zeichner says. “While sweating can help purge the skin of dirt, oil, makeup, and other particulate matter that accumulates on the skin and in the pores, it’s a misnomer that they offer detoxifying benefits.”
That’s why, instead, the HigherDose infrared sauna blanket claims to improve circulation, expedite muscle recovery, boost glowing skin, help users achieve better sleep, reduce user stress, release the body's happy chemicals, reduce inflammation, and help build a stronger immune system—all of which I’ve experienced since adding it to my twice-daily routine. I’m one of the people who’s resolved to never step foot in another public gym post-pandemic, so instead, I’ve chosen to do at-home workouts, and this blanket has solidified its spot as my post-workout sauna substitute.
Are there any downsides to using a sauna blanket?
While I absolutely love it, the blanket isn’t necessarily for everybody. “If you have sensitive skin, rosacea, or eczema, saunas can be irritating or lead to flares,” warns Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. “The warm temperatures may contribute to flushing, dilated blood vessels, and a rosacea flare. Plus, sweating can exacerbate eczema for some people, and with sensitive skin, the salt content in sweat can act as an irritant. There are also sweat rashes—or miliaria—that are specifically caused by sweating and occlusion of sweat ducts.” So, if you have any of these conditions, consult with your dermatologist about using a sauna blanket before dropping $500.