Far infrared sauna therapy might sound like something Buck Rogers or Han Solo might use to get relaxed after a long day of saving the universe, but it’s actually a well-known technology used to simulate the effects of moderate exercise and reap the benefits. It has been given a thumbs up in short-term studies of several chronic health problems including congestive heart failure, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease, although experts at The Mayo Clinic warn that more wide-scale testing needs to take place before these benefits are confirmed and no side effects are felt.

How does far infrared sauna therapy work?

Traditional saunas work by blasting your body with heated air, causing you to sweat and your heart rate to increase. They cause people to lose weight, promote better body repair from the increased blood flow and the removal of toxins from the body at the cellular level. The problem with the traditional sauna is the oppressive heat involved. Many people simply cannot tolerate this extreme temperature change, and many others suffer ill effects from prolonged exposure to sauna conditions – including dehydration, muscle weakness and fainting.

Infrared stands for infrared light rays, which are part of the composite that makes up sunlight. When you’re outside for a certain length of time, infrared rays do the most good for your body, penetrating your skin and dissolve harmful substances. Infrared energy can revitalize your cells and increase your metabolism. They do this by activating our sweat glands, which are a great way to eliminate toxins.
Infrared light is broken up into three categories:

  • Near infrared is the shortest wavelength of infrared right. When it comes in contact with the human body, it is absorbed just below the surface of the skin. It creates sweat in most people that revitalizes and heals the skin.
  • Mid infrared is a longer wavelength allowing it to reach deeper. It is absorbed in the body’s soft tissue level. This increases circulation and allows the body to freely pump oxygen and red blood cells to injured areas to promote faster recovery times.
  • Far infrared is the longest wavelength and thus penetrates the deepest into our bodies. It penetrates our fat cells and causes them to vibrate, a phenomenon known as vasodilation. When fat cells vibrate, they eject harmful toxins from our body, which results in the detoxification of our bodies. Far infrared light also stimulates the metabolism, which can greatly aid in losing weight.

Infrared sauna benefits

Infrared saunas don’t just make you feel good, they have tremendous health benefits attached to their use. Here are six critical ones to consider.

  • Relaxation: The faster the world spins and the more connected we all are, the tougher it is to relax. The heat generated by the infrared sauna relaxes your muscles and eases tension in your body. This balances out the level of cortisol, which is our main stress hormone. When your brain feels the muscles chill out, it reduces the level of cortisol being pumped out and lets your body slow down.
  • Pain Relief: In my experience, we build up so many little aches and pains over the decades that we forget what it’s actually like to be pain free. If you’re spending most of your waking hours taking a climate-controlled car to a climate-controlled office and back again, you probably aren’t helping your circulation a whole lot. Infrared saunas will increase your circulation as your core temperature rises. This means more red blood in and more old blood out of areas where you have muscle pain, rusty joins or any sort of inflammation. I’m not promising you’ll be pain free, but you’ll feel loads better.
  • Detoxification: Which is a fancy word for sweating. When you sweat, your body pours out the toxins. Think about the last time you really sweat heavily. No matter how exhausted and sore you were the next day, I bet you still felt pretty good on the inside – that’s your body kicking the toxins to the curb.
  • Weight Loss: It might sound like a gimmick, but the science backs it up. The sauna makes your core temperature rise and your heart rate increases. In order to keep that trend going, your body has to burn more calories. Burn calories, lose weight.
  • Improved Circulation: As someone who wears compression stockings 18 hours a day to keep the old system running, let me tell you this is a fantastic bonus. Not only does good circulation decrease the risk of blood clots, strokes and lots of other scary stuff, but it also means when you do exercise, you’ll have a shorter time recovering.
  • Better Skin: The nearest infrared waves are absorbed right below skin level and are great at pulling the toxins out of your pores, meaning clearer and softer skin.


Best infrared saunas reviewed

Here’s a look at some of the best infrared in-home saunas on the market today.

Best 3-Person Infrared Sauna: Crystal Sauna LC300

This Crystal Sauna 3-Person Luxury Infrared Sauna is made of red cedar wood and has a lifetime warrant with a 1-year in-home service guarantee. It has Pure Carbon Wall-to-Wall Heaters and requires 220-240 volts and 2.6 kW. You must have a heavy duty appliance-type outlet in your home to make it work.
The luxury name comes from the sound system built in. It has an AM/FM CD Player capable of playing MP3s and WMAs along with an USB connection and an Aux-In remote control.
According to Crystal Sauna, it has the largest heating surface in the industry at 5,530 square inches. The benches are wider and deeper than most units and the backrests are portable, meaning you can choose to use them or lose them each session. The red wood comes from Western Canada – either Hemlock Fir or Red Cedar, and every unit is handcrafted in San Francisco, California. The commercial grade heaters that comprise the PureCarborn Far Infrared Heating Technology have an expected lifetime of – more than 11 years of continuous use. The unit also features seven-color therapy lights with a remote control to allow you to explore the world of chromotherapy.

Best Bargain Infrared Sauna: JNH Lifestyles 2 Person Far Infrared Sauna

The only premiere Far Infrared Sauna on the market, the JNH Lifestyles 2 Person clocks in at just $989 plus free shipping from Amazon. Not only does it have 7-Carbon Fiber Far Infrared Heaters, but it is also made of FSC Certified Green Wood meaning there are no chemicals added and no plywood used at all. The wood is Canadian Hemlock T&G Timber, which is considered some of the best insulation on the market. The sauna comes with a 5-year warranty overall. When you want to amp up the relaxation, you can use the built-in AUX controller and two premium speakers to pump in your favorite tunes. The digital remote control also lets you to control the temperature of the auna and how long you use it for. The see-through door is made of a special safety glass that endures higher temperatures, provides better insulation and gives you better visibility from inside the sauna. The low price comes with the added bonus of an unique “tools free” design which means you simply buckle the panels together and enjoy. The internal lights are also cost efficient. They are LED lights which are 50% more cost-efficient than normal light bulbs.

Best Infrared Therapy Sauna with Chromotherapy: Radiant Sauna’s 2-Person Hemlock Infrared Sauna

Made of Canadian hemlock with a bronze-tinted 8mm glass door, it has six Carbon heaters that hit a maximum temperature of 141 degrees Fahrenheit. The unit comes with a seven-year warranty. Its extra features include an oxygen ionizer, a high-quality stereo system and chromotherapy lighting. Chromotherapy, or color therapy, is an alternative medicine that is supposed to balance the energy lacking in a person’s body using colored chakras ranging from red to violet along the spectrum of the rainbow. Each chakra corresponds to a different part of the body: For instance, red is the base of the spine, blue is the throat, green is the heart and violet is the crown of the head. The chromotherapy lighting helps you relax while the far infrared therapy does the work on your muscles.

Best Infrared Therapy Sauna for Romance: 2-Person Hemlock Deluxe Infrared Sauna

It fits perfectly in almost any room in your house and is ideal for spending time with that special someone. It has a towel hook, magazine rack, backrests and a CD player with an MP3 plug-in along with a 7-color therapy light and an oxygen ionizer. It comes with a 7-year limited warranty including 5 years on heating and electronics and 1 year on its radio. The size lets you fit it in nearly every room of your house as it stands 49” x 39” x 75”. It has 5 ceramic heaters, warms up to 141 degrees Fahrenheit at 1,600 watts of heat.

Best Hemlock Wood Infrared Therapy Sauna: Dynamic Saunas AMZ-DYN-6210-01 Venice

Hemlock wood hails from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It starts off soft and toughens with age. This sauna is made of natural reforested Canadian Hemlock and contains 6 low EMF FAR Infrared Carbon Heating Panels. The walls are constructed with double panels that have thick interior and exterior wooden planks for the best insulation. It has the capacity for two people and has an MP3 Auxiliary Connection. Assembly is required but it is possible to do it yourself.Be forewarned that the product is 300 pounds so definitely opt for the free delivery.

Infrared vs. Steam Sauna

If you’re looking to build or install an in-home sauna, the choice between infrared and steam is one you’ll have to make at the get-go. Depending on who you are, what sort of therapy you’re looking to get from your sauna and what your budget looks like, you can make the decision of what sauna best suits your needs. Here’s a look at four critical characteristics to consider when considering which sauna system is best for you.

  • Electrical Power: Traditional steam saunas need more power than infrared saunas do. A traditional sauna will run on 6 kW of power while an infrared needs just 1.6 KW to run. That makes the traditional sauna 275% costlier to run. While the price of electricity in most states doesn’t make this an enormous difference in cost, it is still something to think about.
  • Humidity: It’s all or nothing when it comes to humidity: traditional saunas need a whole lot; infrared saunas don’t need any. Humidity can take a lot more electricity to generate; and let’s face it, it can be murder on your hair.
  • What it Does: Sort of a big deal, right? The traditional sauna uses the equivalent of a stove to warm up the air around you. Your skin thus starts the cooling process by opening your pores to sweat . The infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to emit a light that is absorbed by your body at different wavelengths, causing several different body actions to take place.
  • Heat: This is the big one, and one of the main reasons infrared saunas have become so popular. Traditional dry saunas use temperatures ranging up to 185-195 degrees Fahrenheit. You can cook a brisket at 195 degrees. Not a lot of people like sitting around in that heat. Consider that the average person considers 105 degrees to be a shot shower, and you’re nearly doubling that. At 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit, the infrared sauna doesn’t exactly need a sweater, but the temperature range is much more tolerable by a larger segment of the population.

Carmen is an entrepreneur and content marketer. In a former life, as a corporate business executive, she relied on yoga, reflexology and other alternative practices to fight stress, anxiety and find balance. She’s on a mission to build healthy habits for a balanced, healthy life, connecting body, mind and spirit.