Three at-home saunas on a red background
Lifestyle

Saunas at the Gym Are Old News. Personal Infrared Saunas Are the Future

Personal infrared saunas are, surprisingly, a somewhat affordable luxury.
By Will Price
May 21, 2024

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Though the concept of a “personal infrared sauna” reads like an SNL sketch poking fun at the needless luxuries of a tech billionaire, the reality nowadays is you could get one for a couple hundred bucks.

But what is an infrared sauna, and how is it different from a traditional one? How big is a “personal” infrared sauna? Which are worth the money? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is an Infrared Sauna?

Infrared saunas are effectively fancy versions of the traditional, radiative heat sauna that’s been around for hundreds of years. Instead of using rocks or a heating unit to warm the air, infrared saunas use far infrared (FIR) bulbs that heat your skin directly. The result is an efficient sauna experience that’s more comfortable for some users.

These products are newer to the consumer market, so the science is well behind the marketing. Be wary of outsized claims made by brands selling infrared saunas accordingly. Below, find some of the benefits the makers of these products claim, as well as the benefits researchers have pinpointed thus far.

SAUNA 101

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

The benefits infrared sauna manufacturers claim are difficult to support and difficult to entirely reject. Here are some of the benefits the companies that make infrared saunas claim to be associated with consistent use:

What do they actually do? Most research specifically addressing the benefits or drawbacks of infrared saunas is very new, limited, still developing, or a combination of all of the above. Here are some science-backed claims.

Workout recovery

A study (1) observing ten physically active men found that bathing in infrared saunas after exercise was favorable for muscular recovery. Critically, the study found this to be the case with both endurance and strength training exercises.

Blood pressure reduction

Though still under the microscope, a few studies (2) strongly support infrared sauna use as an effective therapeutic measure for hypertension, or high blood pressure, as well as other common coronary maladies.

Relaxation

Whether a personal infrared sauna will cure what ails you or not, be assured that, at the very least, it’ll be a relaxing hiding place for you. Infrared saunas may use different mechanics to warm your body, but ultimately they’re still largely doing what a traditional sauna would do. If you’re particularly sensitive to heat, though, infrared saunas will be more relaxing. This is because the air in an infrared sauna will be significantly cooler than the air in a traditional sauna, making it a bit more comfortable to be in. You should be hydrated and set a hard stop time limit for sessions regardless, though.

The Best Personal Infrared Saunas

Heat Wave Rejuvenator Personal Sauna

Best Budget Option

Will you look ridiculous using an infrared sauna like the Heat Wave Rejuvenator? You absolutely, unequivocally will. The benefits are equally obvious. An infrared sauna like this one can be set up and taken down in about 15 seconds, meaning you don’t have to find space in your home for it to remain a permanent fixture. There are holes for your head and hands to pop out, so you can watch TV or doom scroll while infrared sauna bathing as well.The downside to more affordable versions of these products is largely comfort, quality, and heating consistency. A device like the Heat Wave is far more susceptible to temperature fluctuation—and therefore inconsistent performance—than a stationary, higher-powered device. It’s a give-and-take because most fixed infrared saunas are well over $1,000.

Single Person Standup IR Sauna

Best Standup Version

Like a shower, but instead of water, you bathe in infrared light. Akin to the budget sit-down IR saunas, the standup variants are cheap, portable, and moderately effective, but won’t heat up as quickly or perform as consistently as larger, fixed options. That said, the standup version does include your head and hands in the experience, so it’s a bit more full-body than the sit-down tents.

Maxxus Lifesauna Two-Person Infrared Sauna

Best Value

Yes, you can buy the latest wellness gear from none other than Home Depot. This IR sauna isn’t portable or necessarily affordable, but for less than two grand you get a nice looking, high tech sauna that’s going to last longer and work harder than the super budget options. The Maxxus sauna also comes with a two-year warranty.

Sunlighten Amplify II

Best Luxury Option

Sunlighten is probably the biggest name in the premium infrared sauna market. Its products are sturdy, well-made, and come with a nice combo of lengthy warranties and extremely responsive customer service. This also means Sunlighten saunas aren’t cheap. Pricing is available upon request, and the most affordable Sunlighten—the Solo, which is a tabletop sauna—is about $2,500. The Amplify II is the company’s two-person home sauna and runs with both infrared bulbs and traditional heating methods, meaning it heats up fast and delivers the benefits of infrared sauna bathing.

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