"Shed worries and stress. Get hot. Get high. Welcome to your new addiction." This buzzing language on Higher Dose's website and social media accounts was all it took to get me hyped to visit the infrared sauna spa on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The idea of detoxing, burning calories, and finding a meditative state of mind all in one sitting was too tempting to pass up.
Infrared saunas pump out a radiant heat that penetrates the skin more deeply than traditional saunas, which rely simply on heating the air around you. Here, you're heating the body from the inside out with sun-like rays on an invisible light spectrum—no SPF required. This heat reaches fat and muscles far more effectively than other methods.
Not a new technology, infrared light has been used for decades in neonatal units and to treat injured athletes. But its mind-body-healing connection is what's drawing devotees like Gwyneth Paltrow, Selena Gomez, and Kim Kardashian, and welcoming accolades from functional medicine doctors and integrative physicians like Dr. Frank Lipman and Dr. Alejandro Junger.
The benefits mentioned most with regular use include a brighter complexion, weight loss, better sleep, clearer and more productive thinking, improved workouts, decreased muscle aches or tension, and a major mood boost. Founders of Higher Dose Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps are self-proclaimed seekers of a natural high. They believe that the key to the "high life" is found through next-level health therapies, specifically weekly infrared sauna sessions, that up your dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
When I entered the spa on a Saturday afternoon, a lush wall of live plants welcomed me down a set of exposed wood stairs. The serene space was edgy yet chic, large and open, dimly lit by candles and salt lamps. I waited for my appointment while sipping on alkaline water and listening to the glowy, infrared addicts around me using words like "euphoric" and "better than anything I've ever tried before." Hearing all this had me clamoring to get into my hot box.