Can an infrared sauna fix your skin problems?

Wed, 14 December 2016 1:24PM

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I’d heard a lot about infrared saunas before I finally visited one. Friends who had tried them out raved – it’s so much more comfortable than a regular sauna! I felt so detoxified! It’s the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done! But I’d also read fantastic reviews online about the effects on skin. From detoxification, like my friend was enthusing about, to clearing breakouts, anti-ageing results, and treatment of skin issues like… eczema, which I deal with chronically. So obviously the skin healing aspect was most appealing to me.

I headed to Nimbus & Co in Bondi to have a go in their infrared sauna pods. Each sauna is inside a private room, complete with a shower and that lovely soothing dim light and aromatherapy scent you associate with luxurious beauty treatments. I was already in heaven. I was run through the settings on the iPad connected to the wall of the sauna. The program ran itself, and I was given several options – I selected Nimbus & Co’s unique Nimbus setting. “It’s our ‘one size fits all’ program for users looking to cover all bases,” explained Neil, owner of Nimbus & Co. Given I wanted the full experience, it seemed perfect. Nimbus & Co also had options specifically for weight loss, skin health or relaxation – all using different heats. I could also use Nimbus & Co’s awesome music selection (I chose James Blake), and while it was down the day I visited, they even have a Netflix account – hello, catching up on The Crown while you sweat those toxins out.

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“Infrared saunas are different to traditional ones, as they use mid, near and far infrared lighting that heats you from your core,” explained Neil. “This means you get deeper penetration, so your body flushes the toxins from the inside out, in comparison to a traditional sauna where the air is heated around you, and then the surface of your skin.” This is why, when I first entered the pod, I didn’t really feel a difference in temperature. It felt a BIT warmer, but not that immediate sweat and moist-air feeling you get from a traditional sauna. Kind of the difference between being in a dry climate to a humid one.

You go in naked (you can wear underwear or swimmers if you like though) which is kind of a weird experience, even though you’re in a private room. I don’t exactly hang around my house starkers regularly, so maybe that’s why I found it odd. For the first, I would say, twenty minutes I was just comfortably warm. And then it was literally like BAM! I started sweating – and I didn’t even feel hot yet! This sounds a bit gross but I was sweating BUCKETLOADS. Like I had gone for a marathon in 36 degree heat. I could see the temperature rising slowly on the iPad screen, and we had reached around 60 degrees.

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By the time the temp got to 65, I was next level sweating and, to be honest, getting a bit uncomfortable. This was only the last 10 minutes though, so I powered through. I did chicken out right at the end, and controlled the heat myself – you can toggle the heat on the device if you get too hot, which is great – especially if you’re a bit panicky about machines that control themselves (ahem, me).

For the rest of the afternoon I felt warm – I sweated for at least an hour afterwards, kind of like when you go for a run and it takes a while to cool down. I did feel like, that night, my eczema was worse. But the following day it felt like the redness had subsided. I didn’t notice a drastic change but given I did only one session, that’s to be expected.

I found the whole experience incredibly relaxing. The private room was probably the biggest benefit over, say, traditional sauna experiences where you’re in a communal room with other people. Being able to relax alone, read some magazines, and choose my own music – all while being detoxified. I did like the way you heated up from your core. I can see how this could be beneficial for things like blood flow, which would in turn benefit skin. For me, the most immediate result was how relaxed I felt after my session – on par with a massage to be honest. But in terms of skincare, I think I’d need to give it several more sessions to truly deduce if it had healing properties for me.

One infrared sauna session (45 minutes) is $42 at Nimbus and Co, or you can book their introductory offer of $80 for 3 sessions.

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