ELLE Tries It: Infrared Saunas, Heat Blankets and Cosmetic Acupuncture
Three ELLE editors report on the buzziest wellness treatments.
WHAT IT IS A souped-up version of the ’90s-era-health-club staple. You get a similar dry heat—purported to reduce stress and improve heart health—with the added benefit of infrared light. The latter is said to help with muscle repair and boost your metabolic rate. Although proponents swear by the sauna’s detox effect, it’s our organs, like the kidneys and liver, that are responsible for detoxing, not sweat. (Sweat’s job is to regulate body temp.) Infrared saunas can be helpful in pain management: A 2009 study found a clinically relevant improvement in pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis after twice-weekly sessions for four weeks. Most infrared saunas also have chromotherapy LED lights—different colours have different wavelengths, and chromotherapy is based on the principle that these wavelengths have various health benefits when absorbed into the skin. (While chromotherapy has been used for centuries, its effect is hard to quantify.)
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE I try the infrared sauna at Hoame, the new Toronto meditation centre, and after a few minutes inside my private room, I can almost convince myself that I’m lying on a beach in Tulum. While you will get sweaty, the heat is slightly
lower than in your traditional sauna, so you don’t get that “I can’t breathe” feeling.
RESULTS TBD. Hoame’s Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta recommend one 45-minute session (from $55) a week for the above benefits. But if the goal was to feel a bit more relaxed on what was shaping up to be a busy Monday morning, then
mission accomplished. Carli Whitwell
INFRARED HEAT BLANKETS
WHAT IT IS Like an infrared sauna but in blanket form. Because the room remains at, well, room temperature while your body gradually warms, you are more likely to tolerate the heat for a longer period of time because your breathing is unimpeded, says Julianne Smola, co-owner of Dew Sweat House in Toronto.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE Fully anticipating a claustrophobia-inducing burrito wrap, I’m relieved to find that the 55-minute session ($50) is a non-constricting experience. (Think loose sleeping bag.) The blanket is lined with plastic wrap (for hygiene reasons), but it isn’t a bother as I was asked to wear cotton (long sleeves, pants and socks). They leave me to gently bake at a temperature of 68 ̊C, which is manageable. I feel comfortably warm until the last 10 minutes, when it gets pretty darn hot. My exposed head is propped up on pillows, though, and I can easily stick my arms out to drink water while I watch Netflix.
RESULTS I didn’t sweat as much as I thought I would. The first session, says Smola, is an experiment to see what
type of sweat-er you are. (Factors like diet and water consumption influence how sweaty you get.) I did, however, feel an immediate sense of relaxation. Whether the calming effect was due to the heat or simply from the forced in-activity, I enjoyed a rare, amazing sleep that night. Natalie Brennan
WHAT IT IS Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice of inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to channel qi, or energy, to help the body achieve balance. Cosmetic acupuncture involves placing these needles into certain points on the face; this causes microtrauma, which signals the body to send new collagen (and qi) to the area. It’s similar to the idea behind microneedling, an in-office treatment that involves stamping or rolling fine needles across the face (which has usually been numbed).
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE I try the Silk Glow Cosmetic Acupuncture Facial ($150 for 75 minutes) at Silk + Palm in Toronto, where owner Kacie Krecolowich, R.Ac (that’s “registered acupuncturist”—in Ontario, and several other provinces, acupuncture is a regulated profession), first goes over my health history and diet and looks at my tongue (a TCM diagnostic tool). She cleanses my skin and then places around 50 tiny single-use needles into my body (specifically, my feet and the webbing on my hand between my thumb and index finger) and face. The feeling barely registers—less than a pinprick. In some places, like around my laugh lines and the divot in my chin, the feeling is more pronounced. I take a 25-minute nap, during which some of the needles, which are inserted very shallowly in the dermis, pop out of areas that are already plump with collagen. Following that, the needles are removed and Krecolowich performs guasha—scraping the skin with a rose-quartz tool.
RESULTS It’s hard to say after just one session. One to two treatments a week for a total of six to 12 treatments is recommended. My personal goal was to quell the inflammation I had on my face from trying a new product that didn’t agree with my skin, and when I left, there were no pinprick marks, bruises or redness to be seen. (Some people may experience these, but they should disappear within 48 hours.) Krecolowich told me that she uses different needle placement for dealing with wrinkles, scarring and acne; I made a mental note to go back and try it in lieu of my usual cortisone shot the next time I get a cystic pimple. Victoria DiPlacido
View this post on Instagram
〰️ s i l k g l o w ✨ • Look at that glooowwww! ? • Christmas season is just around the corner, which means lots of parties + lots of pictures! • Come get the silk glow and use up your benefits while you’re at it! DM me if you have any questions ✨ • 〰️ silk glow babe: @artijalan ✨
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.