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Category : Health & Wellbeing

Health Benefits Of Infrared Saunas

Infrared Sauna Health Benefits

I love me some sauna. And when I go in, I go hard. I stay in as long as I can tolerate, and happily spend hours doing a sauna—steam room—cold shower circuit. This ritual doesn’t happen nearly enough for my liking, though.

Here in the U.S., saunas are considered a special treat—a luxury. In many other parts of the world, however, saunas are an integral part of life (there’s basically a sauna for every household in Finland!). Unfortunately for me and my fellow sauna-obsessed Americans, stateside sauna use is reserved for spa days.

Now, if the Higher Dose team has its way, all that will change. And they don’t just want us all sauna more often, they want us all to experience the (heat) wave of the future. Higher Dose’s mission is “to bring the benefits of infrared therapy to health, fitness and yoga”, and I think they’re onto something. Cool-girl yoga spots around New York City are installing Higher Dose’s infrared technology in their studios for the ultimate “hot yoga” classes…wellness meccas like the The Herban Alchemist and Gravity East Village are installing infrared saunas on site for clients’ use and well-respected wellness companies are even installing them in their offices. Just ask Sakura Life, who are elated with their decision to take the in-office infrared plunge.

Intrigued? So was I. I was fortunate enough to experience both and an Infrared Hot Yoga class at Y7 Studio and an infrared sauna session at Gravity East Village. Read on to discover what infrared technology is and why the entire wellness community is feeling the burn.

What is Infrared?

Higher Dose’s patented infrared technology combines full spectrum infrared with clay and carbon/ceramic heaters. Each element in this system boasts its own specific benefits, and they all combine to create a wellness wonder product. Higher Dose uses full spectrum (near, mid and far) infrared, as each type is beneficial in its own way. Near infrared waves penetrate the epidermis, making them optimal for skin rejuvenation, wound healing and overall skin health. Mid infrared wavelengths are beneficial for increasing circulationmimicking the benefits of a passive workout. Regular use of mid range infrared saunas has even been shown to significantly stimulate blood flow, even after the sauna session is completed. (This means you’ll still be reaping the benefits of your sauna sesh when you get home and binge watch Peaky Blinders.)

As the name suggests, far infrared waves have the longest frequency, allowing them to penetrate deep into human tissue. Unlike traditional heat, infrared heat directly warms your body to the core, even though infrared saunas are set at a lower temperature that traditional saunas. In a traditional sauna, you sit in a hot (180-220 degrees) room, and get super-sweaty. In an infrared sauna, the heat (about 150 degrees) heats your body directly, with only 20% of the heat warming the air. Your body absorbs this infrared heat and reacts to it by raising your core temperature. This results in a deep, detoxifying sweat from the cellular level of the skin, where many toxins and heavy metals hide out and accumulate.

Infrared Sauna review

Then there’s the clayyay! From Amazonian to Australian White, clay in its many forms is a long time skincare superstar. If you’re like me, you have a favorite clay mask (or three) you slather on when your pores need decongesting. As part of an infrared sauna system, however, clay does so much more than unclog pores. The clay cleanses and purifies the sauna air, protecting against germs and environmental stressors. It gets to work internally, too: The clay increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, grounds and balances the nervous system, speeds up the oxidation of serotonin, helps the body more efficiently absorb and use oxygen (by emitting negative ions), strengthens the immune system andclay it ain’t soimproves metabolism. Holla!

The last component is a carbon/ceramic combo heater. Combined, this duo produces long wave infrared waves with a high infrared output. This heat penetrates deeper into your body and is more readily absorbed.

I’d be remiss not to mention the gorgeous, fragrant cedar of which the sauna is made. Saunas have long been constructed from cedar, and for good reason: cedar contains aromatic oils known for their healing, cleansing and naturally antibacterial properties, which aid in detoxification during your sauna sesh.

Why is Infrared SO GOOD?

Simply put, Infrared makes you look and feel your best. Far infrared heat provides all the healthy benefits of natural sunlight without any of its dangerous side effects. As infrared heat raises your core body temperature, it stimulates your lymphatic and immune systems. Your body’s response is to sweat profusely. This ain’t just any sweat: Sweat induced from infrared heat is comprised of 20% toxins, whereas sweat induced from traditional heating systems is comprised of only 3% toxinsmaking infrared 7x more detoxifying than traditional heat. How? The far infrared heat causes the water in our bodies “vibrate”, releasing more toxins than regular heat does. This is why far infrared is optimal for detoxification, weight loss and blood pressure reduction.

Even though this all sounds intense, the infrared panels are actually less aggressive than a traditional heating system. While conventional heat is an unnatural process, infrared heat mimics the sun. “Think hot, smoggy Miami heat vs. a fresh, sunny day.” says Higher Dose Co-Founder, Lauren Berlingeri. (I’ll take the latter, thanks!)

Up in the Sauna

As stated above, I love saunas, so I was thrilled to try the infrared sauna at Gravity East Village (where I’d been before for colonics). Gravity East Village is a low-key wellness center run by the knowledgeable and passionate Donna Perrone. Your sauna session is solo, which is great because you can get nekkid (the only way to sauna, IMHO). They give you a towel to sit on and another softer chamois-type cloth to wipe your face with. YOU WILL BE USING THIS CLOTH.

GEV’s unit is equipped with different colored lights for light therapy as well as speakers so you can listen to spa music, if you’re so inclined. The recommend session length is 30 minutes, butalpha female that I amI went for 40. I can see why they recommend 30, though. For those last 10 minutes, I had to put down my magazine and just be in my sauna experience. I was sweating so profusely that, logistically, holding and/or looking at a magazine no longer worked…it was soaked! But you know what? I loved every sweaty second of it. It was intense, yet relaxing…and after, I felt invigorated, rather than so relaxed I’m almost sleepyhow I usually feel post-sauna.

After the Sauna

Once I toweled off, my skin didn’t have the gross, sticky feeling it usually does after a major schvitz session. This was great, since there’s no shower at GEV. There is a bathroom next to the sauna where you can freshen up, however. (Speaking of bathroomsTMI alert: When I peed right after my sauna sesh, it was super dark and…pungent. Coincidence? I think not. Later, toxins!)

I came prepared with Mio Skincare and Ursa Major Wipes. Next time I’ll also bring a bottle of Vine Minus Ion Care Water. I brought a hydrating mist with me, which was great, but the extra antibacterial boost provided by Vine would have been clutch after all that sweating. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked in the mirror after my session. Instead of my skin looking super red and flushed, it looked healthy and glowy. Since any makeup I had on melted off within about 10 minutes in the sauna, I thought for sure I’d need to reapply before I faced the world…but I didn’t. I combed my eyebrows, put on lip balm and walked out the door.

It’s important to rehydrate after the sauna (and really, to walk into the sauna hydrated as well). They recommend coconut water, but I prefer green juice (also recommended). Luckily there is a Juice Press just a few blocks away from GEV, so I downed a Mother Earth, and got on the train home feeling healthy AF.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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European Pharmacy Finds

beauty products while traveling

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Scatter my ashes at a French pharmacy. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. Team Travel Beauty has gushed about overseas pharmacy staples like Biafine (the dream cream)…we purchased Labello Lip Balm by the CASE before it became readily available stateside…and everyone who’s anyone has a bottle of Bioderma Crealine on her/his #shelfie.

But in all the articles and odes to the beauty stars of European pharmacies, the entire REST of the pharmacy have been all but forgotten…until now. Though I can easily melt my credit card before I even make it past the beauty section of most farmacias, to do so would mean missing out on some true health and wellness treasures. So if you think you’ll be able to practice moderate spending restraint next time you’re in a farmacia, go explore the wonderful world of personal care and wellness products they have. Seems overwhelming? Here are some of my favorite items.

From France: Osma Styptic Pencil

I love my five blade razor. As I’ve shared before, it has allowed me to skip a day (or two) of shaving. Usually, I am able to deftly wield this razor without sustaining injury, but when I’m rushing (always), the dreaded cut can sometimes happen. And if you know, then you know: A multi-blade razor cut ain’t nothin’ to mess with. That’s why I always have one of these on hand. This styptic pencil has astringent properties to curb any bleeding from nicks or cuts. I also use it it to reduce irritation from shaving…and even bad insect bites. This styptic pen is also tres chic: It comes in a travel-friendly crystal tube. Oh la la!

From Germany: Melisana Klosterfrau Melissengeist

Full disclosure: I initially only picked up this “health tonic” because the packaging was so beautiful and intriguing. A stunning cornflower blue box with a simple white drawing…of three nuns. Well, OK! Then, when I saw the Santa Maria Novella-esque bottle inside, I didn’t really care WHAT it didI had to have it. Imagine my delight when the shop girl explained (everything was written in German) that Klosterfrau was started by a nun almost 200 years ago as a line of natural (I’d say organic, but in 1826 that’s all there was!) health remedies. This health tonic, a mixture of mallow, artichoke, hops, arnica, valerian root, mountain pine, plantain and MUCH more, can be mixed with water and drank or applied topically. What does it do? Well, EVERYTHING. It was designed to improve overall well-being: reduce stress, tension, nervousness, restlessness and anxiety and promote healthy sleep. It also eases discomfort  caused by seasonal changes improves the function of the digestive tract, especially indigestion, bloating and flatulence. It’s also a mild way to improve cold/flu symptoms. Applied externally, it supports circulation and is great for sore muscles and muscle tension. This blue box is an absolute must-have for winter cold season.

From India: Monkey Brand Tooth Powder

If “but first, coffee” is your daily battle cry, you need this monkey in your mouth. This organic, ayurvedic tooth powder & whitener, from India’s 100 year old Monkey Brand, is composed of essential oils and herbs mixed in finely-ground wood charcoal. This charcoal is not only a breath purifier, but also an organic bleacha gentle and natural stain-remover. The natural herbs and oils in the powder also promote healthy gums (so important!). Now, one caveat: This stuff is blacker than a stick of Stila Kajal Eye Liner, so know that when you look in the mirror while the powder is on your teeth, it’ll look like, well, you’re brushing your teeth with charcoal. But once you rinse it out, it’s gleam*gleam*gleam.

From Italy: Borotalco Powder

Borotalco has been an Italian home staple for decades. As the proud product of a strict Italian grandma, I can tell you firsthand that Italians do not mess around when it comes to cleanliness. This talc looks beautiful in the bathroom, is genius for sprinkling on linens (great for guest room beds & towels) and sops up sweat like no other. The scent is very unisex and does not overpower. If you buy it in the humonga 500 ml size, it comes in a beautiful tin bottle. Be advised, though: I love this product because the super-fine talc is so easy to put on my body…but that also means my bathroom looks like it’s been hit by a blizzard if I don’t apply it carefully.

From Sweden: Dermatone Coffee Flavored Lip Balm

I love lip balm. I really love lip balm with SPF (sunburnt lips are the WORST, amirite?!). But a lip balm with SPF that’s COFFEE FLAVORED and enriched with ACTUAL CAFFEINE?!?! I’d marry it if I could. An early morning freezing first run ski essential.

From The UK: Bath House Spanish Fig & Nutmeg Deodorant

Powder Fresh. Shower Fresh. Spring Fresh…we get it, deodorant companies. You want us to know you’ll keep our pits “fresh”. What if I told you you could smell fresh while not also smelling like a newborn baby? Enter the sophisticated pit products from UK’s Bath House. These roll-on deodorants are 98% natural and paraben and aluminium free. Technically a “men’s” product, Bath House deodorants are 100% unisexy. If Spanish Fig & Nutmeg is not your thing, other delicious options include Bergamot Amber.

Tried any of these? What are your wellness favorites from overseas? Let us know in the comments!

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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SB Skin’s Tips To Survive Mercury Retrograde

tips for this mercury retrograde from SB skin

This cluster of upsetting deaths right at the beginning of the year had me—and many other people I know—wondering what the HECK was going on?! Is it something we said?? Well, if you follow astrology, you’ll know that on January 5th, Mercury entered a Retrograde period. Those of you that DO NOT follow astrology may balk at the whole idea of “Mercury Retrograde”, thinking it woo-woo and silly. But as this is based on actual planetary movement, you may want to suspend judgement and consider the idea. As Mercury is the planet that rules all types of communications from listening to leases, Mercury Retrograde periods are notorious for throwing big ole wrenches into every area of our lives. Luckily, our skin-whispering sister, Shamara Bondaroff of SB Skin, has some sage advice for getting through this period relatively unscathed.

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You might have noticed…things are all f**ked up. A possible culprit? Mercury is in Retrograde till January 25th. Mercury Retrograde is the one time in the planetary cycle that affects us all fairly uniformly—no one is safe—even if we feel it at different times. I felt it right away on January 5th, when I spilled a protein shake on my computer. My poor Macbook got an unwanted vegan chocolate peanut butter bath.

Whether you’re creating physical messes like me, discord within your relationships or turmoil at work, know that you are not alone. Here are some SB Skin Tips to surviving this period:

  1. Cut people some slack. Give others the benefit of the doubt & try not to take anything too personally.
  2. Don’t make a deal. Save agreements/contracts for after the 25th—seriously. This is a time of major miscommunication, so better to avoid putting yourself in a potentially toxic (potentially long term) situation.
  3. Surround yourself with love. Get together with old friends and family as often as possible.
  4. Be open to new things. Make the most of what’s happening by allowing Mercury to nudge you in unusual directions that you might not have considered otherwise.
  5. Slow down. Take care of yourself! Indulge in a long hot bath, massage or manicure…or all of the above. Of course, this is a perfect time to book a face and body appointment with me ;-).

I hope my advice helps make this crazy time a little easier for you. Expect some more tips from me soon!

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New Year, New You! Tips From Team Charlotte

latest beauty tips from charlottes book

New Year, new you? Every day it seems a new way to revamp, revitalize and reboot ourselves from head to toe hits spas and doctors’ offices…it’s enough to make our bayalaged heads spin. One of our favorite sources for the latest and greatest cosmetic treatments is Team Charlotte. We can always count on Charlotte’s Book to have the scoop on what’s happening right now in aesthetics, beauty and wellness. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest treatment options that Team Charlotte has uncovered. Bottom’s up and Happy New Year!

HOW TO STOP YOUR HANGOVER BEFORE IT STARTS

Sometimes—usually—the best medicine is preventive. According to our CB verified experts, there are some excellent tactics to avoid a brutal hangover. Perhaps you consider that New Year’s Day hangover inevitable. But what can you do before you even start drinking to prevent (or make slightly less terrible) those next-day woes? Read more.

WHAT’S UP WITH ISOLAZ?

When it comes to acne, sometimes lotions and potions just don’t cut it. Pills can be complicated and risky, and needles aren’t for everybody (I’m looking at you, cortisone). So what’s left?

A lot, actually… Read more.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH HAIR BURNING (A.K.A. VELATERAPIA)?

We’ve never purposely played with fire, so we’re still not sure about this new treatment, Velaterapia, a Brazilian hair burning treatment that promises to refresh split ends and leave hair smooth and shiny. Intrigued? Read more.

DERMAPLANING: CHARLOTTE EXPLAINS THIS SIMPLE DEEP EXFOLIATING PROCESS

There are a slew of specialized facials and skincare procedures that offer brighter, firmer and more radiant skin, but here’s why dermaplaning is a favorite among celebrities and supermodels who have to look high-definition photo ready 24/7.

Hungry for more? Sign up for the Charlotte’s Book newsletter.

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6 Easy Wellness Hacks For Your Mind & Body

mind and body wellness hacks

You can throw out every personal care product that has an ingredient you can’t pronounce, you can reboot your entire kitchen, you can even start a daily meditation practice…all in an effort to achieve wellness. All worthy undertakings to be sure, but some of us may want to (may need to) start with baby steps on the path to wellness. Even if you are ready to throw out every granule of sugar in your house and never look back, learning a few modest tweaks that could provide big returns can’t hurt. Here are six easy-peasy (yet impactful) lifestyle hacks I learned during last month’s W.E.L.L. Summit that even a wellness white belt can commit to successfully.

Switch to an aluminum-free deodorant. Beginning your personal wellness journey can be daunting. Where, exactly, do you start? A good—and easy—place to start is swapping out some of the chemical-laden products in our life for cleaner alternatives. During the Healthy Beauty Panel at the W.E.L.L. Summit, all the speakers (including Green Beauty Team Founder Kristen Arnett, Thoughtfully Magazine E.I.C. Brandie Gilliam, Follian Founder Tara Foley and Silent Spring Research Scientist Kathryn Rodgers) agreed that switching to an aluminum-free deodorant is a wonderful wellness first step. This simple swap will significantly decrease your exposure to this dangerous heavy metal. If you’re worried that switching to a more natural deodorant will leave you smelling a little too natural, fear not. In the past year alone, dozens of aluminum-free deodorants have hit the market. I like the consistency and effectiveness of Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream, but if you’d like to stick to a stick deodorant, our friends at Ursa Major just created one.

Avoid fragrance. By now we’ve all heard of the perils of parabens, and I can only imagine what something called Methylchloroisothiazolinone could be doing to my body. But one seemingly innocuous ingredient, fragrance, may be more harmful that we realize. Why? Fragrance is often a blanket term that covers a laundry list of potentially harmful chemicals. This is where a company can hide all the “trade secrets” that it is not required to disclose. Avoiding products that have synthetic fragrance listed as an ingredient is an easy-to-remember way to make safer product choices.

Youyes YOU—can create an all-natural DIY home cleaner! Even those home cleaners touted as “natural” can still contain several harmful chemicals. I was therefore excited to learn about truly non-toxic home cleaning options at the breakout session led by Devin Donaldson, Founder of The Optimist Co. Excited or not, I am the least DIY type person you will ever meet, so when Devin said we’d all be making our own home cleaning scrub, I was ready to sneak out for an extra-long bathroom break. At the hotel bar. I convinced myself to stay, though, and I’m here to tell you—creating this cleanser was the simplest process that yielded an incredibly effective scrub! Ready? All you need is a small mason jar, pure Castile soap, baking soda and 1-2 essential oils of your choice. I chose Lemon and Eucalyptus for their disinfecting and deodorizing properties. In the mason jar, mix the soap and baking soda together into a pudding-like consistency/thickness. Then add a few drops of each oil and mix some more. THAT’S IT. DONE. I’ve used this scrub on my porcelain tub and stainless steel sink with great results. And *bonus* it smells amazing!

body and mind wellness life hacksReal soap has curves. Before the W.E.L.L. Summit, superfatting was what I called a trip to Ample Hills Creamery. Then I learned about the art of soapmaking from Meow Meow Tweet Founder, Tara Pelletier. Among many other things, she told us to always look for soap that’s superfatted, as it is easier on the skin—especially in winter. Huh? Superfatting is the process of adding extra fats (oils or butters) when creating soap, so there is more fat in the mixture than the lye can react with during the chemical reaction (called saponification, fyi). This extra oil in superfatted soap is left on the skin, temporarily replacing skin’s natural film that can be stripped during cleansing. Because of this, superfatted soap is more moisturizing and nourishing. Who knew?! Tara told us to ask if a soap is superfatted before we purchase it.

Another reason to eat local. The W.E.L.L. Summit welcome dinner was otherworldly. It was a start to finish (space, decor, table settings, cocktails and, of course, food) creation of full service sustainable event design and caterers, Chive Events. As we enjoyed the exquisite food, the founders of Chive spoke to us about sustainability (they are a 100% zero waste operation!) and eating local, a very buzzy phrase in food these days. I’ve always understood eating local to mean eating food that was grown close by, not flown or trucked in from far and wide. This means the food is fresher, more delicious and that less fuel is used in its transportation. While this is true, there’s another benefit of eating local: As local food grows, it experiences the same seasonal changes and environmental effects that you experience, so it will be naturally fortified to thrive in your specific environment. It is, therefore, inherently more nourishing and nutritious. So eat local. It does the planet—and your body—good.

“No” is a complete sentence. True wellness is more than just choosing the best food to eat or safest products to use. True wellness begins between our ears! How we relate to and treat ourselves is paramount to an overall feeling of being wellMama Glow herself, Latham Thomas, gave the keynote address at the W.E.L.L. Summit welcome dinner, and she addressed this somewhat elusive aspect of wellness. Her talk was phenomenal—just one sound byte after another. Of all the brilliant tidbits she said, one really stuck with me: “‘No’ is a complete sentence”. It’s a phrase I’d heard before, seen posted on Instagram, probably retweeted at some point. But in that sacred space created at the W.E.L.L. Summit, I internalized this declaration on a deeper level that night.

As a mom and entrepreneur, I am so crazy busy all the time. That should make me less likely to say yes to every request brought my way. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. I get so wrapped up in the Superwoman myth that I feel like I SHOULD BE ABLE to do EVERYTHING, so I often say yes to everything. The side writing project. Cooking and baking for the holiday feast at school. ALL THE BIRTHDAY PARTIES. It all adds up, and the sum is an exhausted Claire who’s short on patience and long on under-eye bags. When I do say no, I feel so guilty, I give a whole litany of reasons why I must decline. But saying no to something you just don’t have the time to do does not need to be accompanied by a reason, justification or apology. A no is a no and that’s all you need to say. Though you may initially feel a twinge of guilt—I still do—you’ll ultimately feel calmer, less stressed, more focused…and a lot more well.

By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram

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