Not all Infrared Saunas are flashy gimmicks.
Only about 95% are.
Sure, biohackers and big box sauna suppliers position them as an innovative alternative to the traditional sauna at an attractive price point.
The reality is almost all of them aren't backed by any scientific data when it relates to the major health outcomes from regular sauna, or red light, exposure.
Here's the key myth, debunked by science.
Red light saunas need a lower temperature because they work in unison.
There is no strong evidence to support this.
Red light and heat exposure are two completely different things and, in general, mass market red light infrared saunas in New Zealand and Australia carry a failure rating for both:
Infrared: they are much too diffuse to offer any meaningful benefits from red light exposure.
Sauna Fail: heat exposure gains have been proven to occur between the ranges of 80-100C.
The sad fact is, these saunas are cheaper to make, easier to install and run, and give off a feeling of healthy gains. This is why so many businesses have leaned in on them — it's become an extremely profitable option for their business.
If you're looking to buy an infrared sauna, ask your supplier these 3 questions to verify the sauna quality and their priorities:
Question #1. What is the max temperature it heats up to and is that enough to realise health benefits from regular heat exposure? (follow up question: what are the health benefits?)
Note: the majority of infrared saunas heat to 55-60C, or 35-40C above room temperature.
These levels can provide minimal returns through skin detoxing (pores sweating) and relaxation (by actually saunaing). Not the key health benefits in the next question.
Question #2. Does a sauna under 80C aid in reductions of cardiovascular disease and cortisol levels as well as positively impact human growth hormone and heat shock proteins?
It simply does not. If they speak to these types of health benefits under 80C they likely aren't worrying less about your health and more about their profits.
Question #3. What positive effects does the infrared light offer and is it proven by direct or diffuse illumination?
Note: there is very little data on whole body illumination of infrared saunas providing any mechanistically supported effects.
At this point infrared is more of a personal preference than anything.
Hopefully these three questions will help weed out those here to help your health or driven by their own material monetary gains.
Recent summaries of this information has been presented by Dr. Andrew Huberman, Stanford School of Medicine Professor.