67 degrees Celsius. That was the temperature the attendant told me the infrared sauna would climb to. As sweat poured down my body I couldn’t help but wonder how people made it through 45 minutes of this heat. But I couldn’t argue with results. When I came out I felt refreshed, relaxed, and alert – and after a night of very little sleep with two young kids at home, that was exactly what I needed to start my day. Also, I couldn’t help but notice my skin was glowing.
Beloved by celebrities such as Irina Shayk and Doutzen Kroes, infrared saunas have been heating up the global wellness space in the last few years. In Stockholm, aficionados turn to HEAT by Sophia Lie, founded by Sophia herself, Scandinavia’s own top model turned business woman. After more than a decade in the fashion and beauty industry, working for brands such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and H&M, the constant traveling and intense schedule left Sophia feeling like she needed more than a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep her on track. Soon infrared sauna therapy became a fundamental part of her recovery routine.
There’s a history of steam baths, sauna baths, steam rooms, and all sorts of different heat treatments in cultures from all over the world. The Russian banya has been an integral part of the culture for centuries while the Turkish Hammam is the same as a Turkish bath and is a Middle Eastern tradition. But while traditional saunas work by heating up the air around you, the light from an infrared sauna penetrates your skin directly and raises your core body temperature from within.
Because infrared technology relies on light waves, whereas traditional saunas warm up the entire room before the warmth even reaches your skin, they can stay at a higher - and still comfortable - temperature (operating at 65-85 C versus 45-55 C). Meaning they can be more effective than their traditional counterpart because you can tolerate higher temperatures for longer.
Benefits include a deep detoxifying sweat, collagen and elastin production, increased circulation, and serotonin and dopamine increases in your brain, much like the "runners high" you get from traditional cardio exercise.
Though more research is needed to back up these claims, one small study found that participants experienced an increase in melatonin production and better sleep quality following infrared light therapy, which ultimately led to greater athletic endurance.
During my visit I also tried an LPG massage treatment. Using the state of the art CELLU M6 Alliance Medical LPG machine, LPG massage is sort of like a lymphatic drainage face massage but for your entire body. A suction machine (operated by a trained attendant) gives you a deep-tissue massage to stimulate the lymphatic system, break up fat, and reduce fluid retention. This nonsurgical treatment is used to activate fibroblast cells to produce new collagen and hyaluronic acid, which can help thicken and mildly firm skin tone reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Although the price point is somewhat steep for both treatments, the deep, detoxifying sweat and energy boost from the sauna and the lack of body bloat from the LPG massage left me feeling recharged and ready for the day. And really, that’s priceless – for both mind and body.