Infrared saunas have become trendy in the "wellness" sphere.
The extra hot saunas are designed to activate the sweat glands which should lead to toxin elimination, collagen production, endorphin release, increased circulation, a relaxed mind and muscles, and that all-important glow.
At "self-care space" Glow Bar in central London, they claim a 30-minute session can burn up to 600 calories, too.
I sweated maybe more than I ever have, and I loved the stylish "wellness" vibe of the place, but I didn't really notice any difference afterward.
Glow. We all want to glow. We all know people who do glow. And they're usually privileged slim women who exercise regularly, sleep at least eight hours a night, go on bi-annual wellness holidays, and shun alcohol, caffeine, dairy, sugar, and gluten.
It sounds like hard work — expensive hard work. But what if there was any easier way?
Well, there might be. Enter, the infrared sauna. They're supposedly different from normal saunas in that they heat the body directly rather than just the air, and this is meant to result in higher activation of the sweat glands and thus toxin elimination, collagen production, endorphin release, increased circulation, and a relaxed mind and muscles.
At "self-care space" Glow Bar in central London, they claim a 30-minute session can also burn up to 600 calories, though this I find hard to believe.
"Infrared therapy stimulates collagen production while healing your skin from the surface to deeper levels leading to long-term skin benefits," Glow Bar claims.
"The action of profusely sweating at a lower temperature means that your skin literally glows from the moment you leave us."
Having been frequented by supermodels including Irina Shayk and Doutzen Kroes, rapper Professor Green, TV presenters Liv Lo Golding, and Karishma Kotak, reality TV star Mimi Bouchard, and influencer Niomi Smart, I was intrigued to try out one of the 45-minute sauna sessions, which cost £40 ($53) for myself.
This is what it was like.
After you enter Glow Bar, you walk through the cafe and go downstairs to the sauna area, which has this very millennial, relaxing waiting area.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderNaturally, there's a pink neon sign — if the room wasn't already Instagrammable enough.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderI was shown to the changing room and changed into my robe. You can do the sauna naked or in swimwear — given I would be taking selfies for this very article, I opted for a bikini, but I think I would have done that even if I wasn't writing about my experience.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderOnce changed, I was shown to my sauna room. It was small — outside the sauna, there was a shelf where I could leave a water bottle and phone, and there was also a small diffuser and hanging plant to add to the relaxing ambiance.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderIt was dimly-lit and there was a mirror on the back of the door, which was a bit weird when I was actually in the sauna — you just see yourself naked/in a bikini, getting increasingly sweaty. But I then learned it's to make the room seem bigger and less claustrophobic.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderThe sauna itself is wood-paneled, and there's also a control screen which I was told not to touch. It would show me how much time I had left and the temperature — the sauna would gradually get hotter, starting around 50C (122F) and increasing to 70C (158F).
Rachel Hosie/InsiderAs per the staff's recommendation, I played some relaxing music from my phone, de-robed, and it was time to go in!
Rachel Hosie/InsiderThere were infra-red panels either side of the sauna, but there wasn't much space and it was hard to get comfy. I could just about sit with my legs stretched out on the bench if I was really pressed up to the wall.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderAt the start, it felt just like a normal sauna.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderHowever, it only took 10 minutes for me to feel a bit like I couldn't breathe, and for sweat to start dripping down me. I swiftly put my hair up. About 15 minutes into the sauna, I'd relaxed into it and was enjoying it. I was getting really rather sweaty, though.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderAnd I only got sweatier. Half-way through the 45-minute session, I was sweating in places I didn't know I could, like my toes. I kept opening the door to sip my water.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderHalf an hour in, I started to feel really quite uncomfortable, and for the final 10 minutes, my heart-rate quickened as if I'd exercised. I was very red in the face, light-headed, and counting down the minutes until it was over.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderI had to come out two minutes before the end, which sounds ridiculous now. But I just couldn't last those two more minutes. I was dying for water, my nose was running, and I certainly didn't feel like a health goddess. Even after a shower, I was still sweating, and it took a while for my body to cool down, my heart-rate to slow, and my face to return to a normal color.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderAnother woman in the changing room emerged from her sauna looking impeccable, with her hair down, fake lashes, and not remotely red in the face. I did not understand, but decided to head up to the cafe to try and cool down.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderUnashamedly basic as I am, I was low-key obsessed with the interior of the cafe. It's very pretty.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderThe cafe serves teas, coffees, smoothies, smoothie bowls, gluten-free toast, and "moon milks." Everything is vegan, and you can also add a "high vibe spike" such as ashwagandha (a medicinal herb), CBD, cordyceps (a mushroom adaptogen), he shou wu (a herbal remedy), or a "super sexy" blend. Classic cafe ingredients, really.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderAlso on offer were mini CBD banana breads, CBD dates (£2.50/$3.29 each), CBD truffles, (£2.50/$3.29 each), and ashwagandha raw Snickers squares.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderThere was a little shop area, but I decided just to order a drink and sit myself down. Moon milks, I discovered, are apparently adaptogenic caffeine-free dairy-free drinks, all of which have different flavors and different benefits. They can be iced or hot, and considering I was still super hot, I went for the former.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderI ordered the "Glow" (rose, beetroot, schisandra) which ended up matching my nails, top, and face. Served on a rose quartz coaster with a bamboo straw, it was very pretty. The first flavor I got was just almond milk, but then a Turkish Delight taste came through. I liked it, but £5 ($6.58) for a small glass of almond milk with some powders in it is a little steep if you ask me.
Rachel Hosie/InsiderIt had been an interesting afternoon and certainly hadn't done me any harm, but I didn't really notice any benefit.
It was hard to tell whether my skin was any better because it was just so damn red. Even after I cooled down, I didn't really notice a difference.
When I arrived at Glow Bar, I was quite stressed and exhausted, and I probably did leave in a better mood — although this was partly because I found the whole place so fascinating.
I imagine I might reap higher rewards if I went back a few more times, now that I know what I'm getting myself in for.
Everything about Glow Bar is very "wellness." Is it a bit ridiculous? To me, yes. But at the same time, I quite like it. The vibe and decor make you feel good. It's stylish and relaxing, not to mention prime Instagram fodder.
Of course, spending £2.50 ($3.30) on a CBD truffle is madness and entirely unnecessary in the pursuit of health, but if there are people out there who want to do that, why not?
Whether the sauna and moon milk actually did anything for my health is hard to say, but next time I want to feel like one of those glowy women, I might just go back.
Read the original article on Insider