Is Infrared Sauna a Gimmick? (Separating Fact from Fiction)

 In recent years, infrared saunas have become a popular way to promote wellness and relaxation.

But with any new health trend, it’s important to separate fact from fiction.

So, is an infrared sauna just a gimmick, or is it a worthwhile investment for your health?

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind infrared saunas, the purported health benefits, and whether or not infrared saunas are worth your time and money.

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What is an Infrared Sauna?

An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses infrared lamps to heat the body directly.

Traditional saunas use heated rocks or steam to heat the air around the body, which then heats the body indirectly.

Infrared saunas use a different type of heat that is absorbed directly by the skin and tissues.

How Does an Infrared Sauna Work?

Infrared saunas work by emitting infrared radiation, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation.

This radiation is absorbed by the skin and tissues, which causes the body to heat up.

Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas do not heat the air around the body, so the air temperature inside the sauna can be much lower.

This makes it more tolerable for people who don’t like the high heat of traditional saunas.

Types of Infrared Saunas

There are two main types of infrared saunas: near-infrared and far-infrared.

Near-infrared saunas emit radiation with a shorter wavelength, while far-infrared saunas emit radiation with a longer wavelength.

Some saunas use a combination of both types of radiation.

Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas


One of the most commonly cited benefits of infrared saunas is detoxification.

Proponents of infrared saunas claim that they can help remove toxins from the body by promoting sweating.

Sweat contains trace amounts of toxins like heavy metals and chemicals, and sweating can help flush these toxins out of the body.

Weight Loss

Another potential benefit of infrared saunas is weight loss.

Some studies have shown that regular sauna use can lead to weight loss, but it's important to note that this weight loss is likely due to water loss rather than fat loss.

Pain Relief

Infrared saunas have been suggested to help relieve pain in conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

This could be due to the heat causing blood vessels to dilate and increasing blood flow to affected areas, which can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Cardiovascular Health

Regular use of infrared saunas has also been linked to improved cardiovascular health.

Studies have shown that using an infrared sauna can help reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

Skin Health

Infrared saunas may also have benefits for the skin.

Some studies have suggested that the heat and sweating can help improve skin tone, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and even clear up skin conditions such as acne and eczema.

Mental Health and Stress Reduction

Infrared saunas have been shown to have a relaxing effect on the body, which can help reduce stress and improve mood.

Some people also report improved sleep quality after using an infrared sauna.

Risks and Considerations

While there are potential health benefits of using an infrared sauna, there are also some risks and considerations to keep in mind.


Using an infrared sauna can lead to dehydration, as the heat and sweating can cause the body to lose fluids.

It's important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after using an infrared sauna to stay hydrated.


There is a risk of overheating when using an infrared sauna, especially if the sauna is used for too long or at too high of a temperature.

This can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and even fainting.

Eye Damage

Infrared radiation can be harmful to the eyes, so it's important to keep the eyes closed or wear protective goggles while using an infrared sauna.

Pregnancy and Medical Conditions

Infrared saunas may not be safe for pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions (such as heart disease or high blood pressure), or those taking certain medications.

It's important to consult with a doctor before using an infrared sauna if you have any medical concerns.

Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas

While both types of saunas have health benefits, there are some differences to consider.

Infrared saunas use a different type of heat that is absorbed directly by the skin and tissues, while traditional saunas heat the air around the body.

This means that infrared saunas can be more tolerable for people who don't like the high heat of traditional saunas.

Additionally, some studies have suggested that infrared saunas may have more potent health benefits than traditional saunas.

The Verdict: Gimmick or Worthwhile Investment?

So, is an infrared sauna a gimmick or a worthwhile investment?

The answer likely depends on individual circumstances and preferences.

While there is scientific evidence to support the health benefits of infrared saunas, personal experience and anecdotes should also be taken into account. Additionally, the cost of an infrared sauna may be prohibitive for some people.


  1. How often should I use an infrared sauna? It's generally safe to use an infrared sauna a few times a week, but it's important to listen to your body and avoid overuse.

  2. How long should I stay in an infrared sauna? Start with short sessions of around 10-15 minutes and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the heat.

  3. Can infrared saunas help with arthritis pain? Some people report relief from arthritis pain after using an infrared sauna, but more research is needed to fully understand the extent of the benefits.

  1. Can infrared saunas be used for weight loss? Infrared saunas can lead to weight loss through water loss, but they are not a substitute for healthy eating and exercise habits.

  2. Are there any age restrictions for using an infrared sauna? Children and the elderly should use caution when using an infrared sauna, as they may be more sensitive to the heat.


Infrared saunas are not a gimmick, but they're not a cure-all either.

While there is scientific evidence to support the health benefits of using an infrared sauna, it's important to weigh the risks and considerations before investing in one.

Ultimately, whether or not an infrared sauna is worth the investment will depend on individual circumstances and preferences.

If you do decide to try an infrared sauna, be sure to stay hydrated, start with short sessions, and listen to your body.

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