The Best Infrared Sauna Blankets To Make You Feel Like A Human Hot Pocket

Out of all the wacky wellness trends out there — being pricked by acupressure mats, floating in dark pools of water — becoming a human hot pocket may rank among the oddest things folks do in the name of health. We're, of course, talking about the newest wellness craze: infrared sauna blankets. Saunas — a centuries-old invention with roots tracing back to Finland, Turkey, and Korea, among other places —have historically existed as small wood-panel-clad rooms that are heated between 150°F and 190°F and, sometimes, enhanced with heat-conducting rocks. As infrared heat (aka the process of emitting radiant heat as opposed to expressing hot air or steam) has risen in sauna scene popularity, the technology has worked its way into our homes in the form of Hot Pocket-like blankets that promise to swaddle users in the same therapeutic warmth.

While there’s scant medical evidence surrounding these wellness inventions, purported benefits include healthier, clearer skin; muscle pain relief; and an intoxicating level of relaxation. Samantha Baker, VICE's VP of Commerce & Partnerships, invested in a HigherDOSE infrared sauna blanket when the stay-at-home order restricted her monthly spa visits, and the investment was, in her words, “life-changing.”

While it might seem intimidating to cook yourself inside a burning vinyl burrito, “using a far infrared sauna is extremely safe," according to Svetlana Kogan, MD, in a previous Refinery29 interview. (Note: In this case, "far" refers to where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum). "But whenever heat therapy is involved, you cannot do it with pregnant women, people with pacemakers or battery-operated or electric devices, or patients on an insulin pump." Keep reading to learn more about these human-size pouches of heat — and, more importantly, why they may be the game-changing addition to your (or a giftee's) wellness routine.

How do infrared sauna blankets work?

Think of an infrared sauna blanket as an electric sleeping bag that heats up anywhere from 95°F to 167°F, give or take, and is often equipped with other natural elements for an added therapeutic boost. HigherDOSE’s top-rated iteration is constructed with a hybrid material that contains layers of purifying charcoal, clay, amethyst, and tourmaline along with a heating panel encased inside a protective outer polyurethane shell. Depending on the blanket, users can adjust the temperature in a variety of ways — Hammacher Schlemmer’s version even comes with a remote control.

What are the benefits of infrared sauna blankets?

Similar to saunas, people rave about infrared blankets' ability to stimulate blood flow, get healthy, glowing skin from head to toe, and even improve sleep. "I love to combine it with some gentle breathwork to get me started for the day or as a relaxation tool in the evening when I am unwinding," writes one HigherDOSE reviewer. “It was the best decision I could have made,” adds Baker. “I now go into my home sauna five times a week! The best part is I can watch my favorite shows at the same time.”

"I go into my home sauna five times a week! The best part is I can watch my favorite shows at the same time."

Samantha Baker, former Vice commerce vp

How can I use an infrared sauna blanket?

While it's cool to go in a swimsuit (or au naturel, depending on your privacy and comfort level) in traditional saunas, infrared sauna blankets operate a little differently, with a concentrated heating mechanism that works through its close proximity to the body — so breathable, lightweight fabrics like cotton will protect your skin from potential burns. Since you can expect to break a sweat, you don't need to be squeaky clean right before you hop in. That said, it's a good idea to wipe down after each use.

Regarding safety, listening to your body is paramount when using any kind of heat therapy. A good rule to follow is to start at the lowest heat setting for 10 minutes and work your way up to higher heat for longer amounts of time. If it's getting too hot in herre, that's your cue to tap out. Many reviewers like to stay in the three- to four-times-per-week zone, but if you can handle the daily burn, then rock on. It’s also imperative to hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. As with brick-and-mortar saunas, you never want to go into a hot space without having plenty of water beforehand. Avoid dehydration by quenching that thirst before and after your sauna sesh, and you'll be in the clear. (And again, if you have a bun in the oven or use a pacemaker or insulin pump, sit this out for the time being.)

Why are infrared sauna blankets so expensive?

While the concept itself may seem rudimentary — a padded, human-size cocoon plugged into an outlet — many infrared sauna blankets on the market use pretty sophisticated technology. In addition to temperature-balancing materials and zones to ensure that your body receives the heat as evenly as possible, you're also looking at layers of non-toxic materials that can withstand repeated periods of high heat. Another thing to keep in mind is that you're also paying a premium for a spa service that can easily run $65 to $80 per session. As Baker points out, “Before the pandemic, I would treat myself to a session at HigherDOSE about once a month. Once we were stuck inside, I was craving the light.” If you factor in the cost of, say, the popular HigherDOSE blanket (which retails for a hefty $699), that would be the equivalent of about 10 IRL sauna sessions.

Will an infrared sauna blanket really make you feel like a human Hot Pocket?

“YES,” Baker emphatically states in response to this question. “But in a good way.”

What are the best infrared sauna blankets to buy?

Although the most popular is the HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket, there are a smattering of other top-rated options across different budget ranges — a few of which you can shop below.
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