What Are Infrared Saunas For, And Are They Worth The Hype?

A few months ago, I came across an article from The Cut about the potential mental health benefits of infrared saunas. Even though I was in Los Angeles at the time, the sun was still setting at 4pm, and my mood levels had definitely been suffering for it. At that point, I’d tried exercising six times a week, meditating, and gratitude journaling to keep my Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay, and frankly, sweating it out in a sauna sounded like a way more appealing option. Once I was back in my beloved NYC, I promptly booked an appointment with HigherDOSE, an infrared sauna spa with locations all over NYC, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It’s also the preferred spot of celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, and Bella Hadid, if you’re into that. Read on to find out the alleged benefits of infrared saunas, and what I thought after my 60-minute session.

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These beauties ❤️ @bellahadid @ally.aflalo ❤️ tag your friend and let them know you want to DOSE ?

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What Do Infrared Saunas Do?

Simply put, infrared saunas claim to make you hotter in every way (obviously, pun intended). Not only does an hour of intense sweating knock off some water weight, but infrared heat may actually help boost your metabolism. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, who spoke to The Cut, just half an hour in an infrared sauna could help you burn up to 600 calories. (That’s like, one million squats or an hour on the treadmill. If this is what celebs have secretly been doing instead of working out, I will never feel okay again.)

For those of you less obsessed with losing weight (tell me your secrets), infrared saunas also have major skin benefits. Again per Dr. Lipman, infrared heat boosts circulation, blood flow, and collagen production, giving you an immediate post-sauna glow, as well as long-term benefits from regular use. Lipman, along with HigherDOSE’s co-founders, also hype up the detoxing capabilities of infrared saunas. Co-founder Lauren Berlingeri claims that infrared pulls “heavy metals, environmental pollutants, and radiation” from your system, and the instructional pamphlet inside the sauna room advised that some of your sweat may come out as black from all the toxins being released. (Sidenote: I’m still not sure that I believe “detoxing” is a real thing, but I really want it to be.) Other potential benefits include pain relief (from sore muscles to chronic headaches) and a boosted immune system.

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Currently sweating it out at an infrared sauna place. If you don't know about infrared saunas GET ON BOARD! I love it so much. It's not like a regular sauna where I can only sit there for like 10 mins and then I feel like I'm melting. infrared saunas are great for deep muscle relaxation, detoxing, cardio vascular health and your skin! Michelle told me it helps skin heal faster – I don't know about that but it does feel great! But you know, obviously, I'm no doctor(right @steveagee??)

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Finally, the mental health benefits: a 2016 study showed that whole-body hyperthermia (whole body heating, specifically to 101.3º F, for the non-scientists among us), could have antidepressant effects lasting up to six weeks. Claims have been floating around for years that infrared heat can influence serotonin levels or release endorphins, but evidence is tenuous. The 2016 study, however, focuses on the “stress” aspect of sitting in a sauna—the extreme heat—and how these bursts of stress can better train your brain to deal with non-sauna stressors, like anxiety or depression. Again, no one’s claiming that this is rock-solid science, but these studies, along with the fact that everyone seems to feel f*cking amazing after leaving one of these saunas, was enough to make me desperate to try it for myself.

So, What’s An Infrared Sauna Like?

I visited the 11 Howard location of HigherDOSE, and was immediately thrilled by the spa-like room I entered. Each sauna room has a private bathroom (with a nicer shower than the one in my apartment), a Bluetooth speaker system, water, chilled eucalyptus towels, and of course, the sauna itself.

HigherDOSE

You’re given a chromotherapy menu, which tells you the different light therapy colors available to you, and the benefits of each type of light. It’s pretty intuitive (yellow and orange are more activating, blue is more relaxing), but given that I’m a type-A weirdo, I spent the first half hour cycling through all of them anyway. The first 20 minutes felt like sitting in a colorful, less-hot-than-normal sauna. I was warm, but I didn’t have that slowly-being-cooked feeling I get after about 10 minutes in a regular sauna. At the 20-25 minute mark, things got really satisfying, by which I mean sweat started pouring down my entire body. Again, in regular saunas, I’ll notice a drip here or there, then walk out and be surprised at how sweaty I actually am. In the infrared sauna, there was no doubt that I was coated in sweat, and steadily producing more.

I also have a pretty short tolerance for regular saunas; I’d say 20-30 minutes and I’m begging to leave. With the infrared sauna, I was happy to stay in there a full 50 minutes (I left 10 minutes to shower), and honestly could have stayed a bit longer. Promptly after showering, I noticed a few things. My skin was baby-soft, the dull full-body ache from yesterday’s boxing class was greatly improved, and while I didn’t suddenly feel an all-around calm or “mental high,” my anxiety was noticeably tamed. I know this because my face, which is highly sensitive to many things, including heat, got some crazy red blotches about ten minutes post-sauna. But the last time I’d gotten blotches like this, I locked myself in a bathroom for two hours, crying furiously and sending my dermatologist selfies. This time, I washed my face, said “f*ck it,” and moved on with my day. See? Anxiety calming.

HigherDose

I’m not including a description of my blotchy face to alarm you. Any discoloration was gone within the hour, and I trust that if you have skin like mine, you already know that heat is a trigger. But it was truly remarkable to look in the mirror at something that would have typically ruined my day and be able to let it go. In terms of a mental boost from the infrared sauna, I was expecting something like a runner’s high (which I’ve also never achieved, possibly because I’ve never run long enough to get there). But the mental boost I got instead was actually way more valuable to my life—for the next few hours, at least, I didn’t get derailed by minor sh*t. As far as superpowers go, I’ll take it.

So, the only real major con of infrared saunas? The price tag. HigherDOSE sessions cost $45 and up for solo sessions, or $30 and up if you go with two people. As a one-time expense, it’s not bad, but given that many of the benefits are unlocked by regular use, I wish the experience were slightly more accessible. Given my experience, I’d love to go more often, but until my wellness influencer career really takes off, I’ll likely have to limit it to a once-monthly treat.

Images: Keziban Barry; @higherdose (2), @busyphilipps / Instagram;

5 Fall Date Ideas That Aren’t Basic

It’s finally that time of year to “fall” in love. Summer flings have ended and cuffing season is in full swing. Here are my top five “Brunch Boys approved” date recommendations. You’ll notice there is no apple picking on here, because I promise you nobody wants to see those Instagrams.

Rooftop Cinema Club

Instead of Netflix and chill, switch up your movie watching routine at Rooftop Cinema Club at the Skylawn Embassy (Hilton) Suites in midtown. Here’s the deal: $26 per ticket without popcorn, although you might opt to spend a few extra bucks for an unlimited bucket. Outside food and drinks are a no-no, but the Skylawn rooftop bar opens at 5pm daily, so definitely go early to get your food and drink on.

 

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Book your lawn chair with the @rooftopcinema and enjoy rooftop movies with drinks at The SkyLawn Rooftop Bar this Summer! (????: @juliesahley )

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Watching movies outdoors is always a fun activity, but this particular venue provides wireless headphones to drown out the background noise. Hang out in your adjustable lawn chair (also provided) and remember to dress appropriately for the weather, as fall nights tend to get chilly, especially on rooftops. Come here for the iconic views—I’m talking about the classic films AND the NYC skyline backdrop. You can find the list of movie showings online, through October.

Blood Manor

Jack-o-lanterns and Halloween decor are in all the storefronts setting the spooky mood. Time to have yourselves a Saturday date night scare! Located down on Varick St., Blood Manor is a haunted house that will have you gripping onto your partner for dear life as you move through the labyrinth of terror. Instead of the electronic vampires with red eyes and digital dead people, Blood Manor has real actors who read the room and jump out at you strategically to optimize the scare factor.

This would be a fun group date idea because you are guided through the maze in small groups of six. DON’T wear any clothing you might ruin, in case you back up against a wall and smudge the set. DO wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking through the corridors. Although it’s only a 15-minute affair, it’s worth the scare.

Hike

Breathtaking Breakneck Ridge is a challenging hike, comprised of both rock face and marked dirt paths. Now is the perfect time of year to peep the changing leaves with your partner! This particular destination is just 90 minutes north of Manhattan. Just hop on the MTA from Grand Central to Hudson State Park in Cold Spring, NY. The main loop is just under three miles and takes about four to six hours to complete, so be sure to wear comfortable and appropriate clothing—aka sneakers and layers.

There are multiple overlooks with awesome and unobstructed views of the Hudson. Make sure you stop at the lookout points for epic couple shots—totally Insta-worthy. There’s no race to the top, but it’s definitely a workout, so bring snacks and plenty of hydration. DON’T go on this trip with someone you are just getting to know unless you’re totally comfortable. It’s not like you can cut the date short and bounce…the trail itself is a few hours, tacked on to a total of three hours of travel.

SoJo Day Spa

If you’re in the mood to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC and hang out somewhere more peaceful, check out SoJo Day Spa with your partner. If you ventured on the hike suggested above, maybe you can spend your next day off recovering and relaxing at SoJo Spa in Clearwater, NJ. There’s a shuttle bus from Hell’s Kitchen/Port Authority in NYC that takes you directly to the facility. Enjoy all the amenities, including different pools and saunas, with your day pass, which are relatively inexpensive for a spa. $50 for weekdays and $65 for holidays and weekends! You’ll have to pay for any other treatments you might want to add.

 

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The lovely @misspinno enjoying those beautiful rooftop views ☀ We’re so happy we could treat you… come back soon! ❤ . . . #sojo #sojospaclub #nyc #manhattan #skyline #Hudson #nj #infinitypool #views #travel #wanderlust #spa #spaday #pool #swimming #poolside #poolsideviews #rooftopviews #nycskyline #mysojospaday #sojospaday #koreanspa #spacation #spalife #selflove #treatyoself #bliss #getaway #staycation #energizedlife

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Upon arrival, you put your belongings in your locker and proceed to the bathhouse: clothing is optional indoors. The fall special currently being offered is the “Pink Champagne Couples Massage”. Here’s the deal: a one-hour couples massage, pink champagne toast, chocolate truffles, and complimentary admission for two ($395). Note: you can only book this deal through 10/31. Spend the entire day feeling fancy AF in your robes. You can’t bring your own snacks to the spa, but they do have a stocked cafeteria with Korean-inspired dishes and other healthy options.

Cooking Lesson

Fall is a time to hibernate and be cozy. Bikini season is over, so no need to feel bad about indulging in a cooking class with your SO. Instead of your nightly routine of going out or ordering in, mix it up by playing house with your partner and learning how to cook a gourmet meal. There are many options of cooking classes available in NYC, but two of my favorites are  Sushi by Simon and Sur La Table.

Learn the Japanese culinary art at Sushi By Simon. All classes include two drinks and a sushi mat you can take home with you to rice roll on your own. $110 per person for the fall special, running now through the end of October. Sur La Table has a bit more variety in food options. Each night offers a different cuisine, and the chance to make everything from scratch! The chef gives you plenty of tips along the way, so it’s a great start for beginners. It’s also a great refresher for those of you who are already cooking-inclined. Whichever one you choose, you’re in for a night of delicious food and drinks and an intimate few hours with bae.

Images: Alora Griffiths / Unsplash; skylawnnyc, sojospaclub / Instagram

Best Places To Travel With Your SO On A Budget

A romantic vacation sounds fab right about now, but as good as shamelessly loud hotel sex and day drinking are, the price of it all may be worse than your college debt. But fear not, I’ve done the boring af research and found a bunch of vacation spots that won’t empty your bank account … but maybe your boyfriend’s. These are the best places to travel with your SO on a budget.

1. Dominican Republic

All-inclusive resorts are like a temporary visit to paradise. Free booze. Free food. What more can you ask for? With a $99 price tag, you cannot get much better than that. There’s a minimum stay of three nights, but if you’re schlepping all the way to the Dominican, are you really gonna stay less than that? Just remember that the sun is way hotter there, so be v careful with your sunscreen. The last thing you want to do is pull a Lila from The Heartbreak Kid and be too sunburned post-beach to have sex. What do you call a romantic vacation if you don’t have sex? Marriage Boring.

Bachelor in Paradise

2. Myrtle Beach

When I think of romantic getaways with bae, I think about From Here to Eternity and I’m all in. I know, I know. Another beach vacation. But when I said nothing could be better than a budget-friendly vacation at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican, I lied. Starting at just $44 a night, you’ll stay in a room with a king bed and a gorgeous ocean view. Although this vacay is not all-inclusive, the price is so cheap it justifies itself. Book ASAP and you can be on the beach and making out in the sand before you know it.

Warning: you will get sand in your vagina and it will take ages to get it out. I swear, sand is the herpes of your vacation — once you touch it, it NEVER goes away.

3. Killington, VT

The sex is always best when you’re relaxed. Honestly, stress wreaks havoc on your relationship. Have you ever heard of a husband being murdered by his wife at a spa? Didn’t think so. Ergo (my college profs are defs so proud rn) there is nothing more romantic than a spa getaway with your SO. $229 per person per night may sound a little pricey, but hear me out. A three-night stay at this spa includes all amenities, aka meals, yoga and fitness classes, access to multiple different hikes (if you are an active betch), and a massage! This is a vacation Meredith Blake would definitely enjoy more than her “new family bonding” camping trip. They also have a promo going on for $50 off every couple’s vacay. If you and bae are the outdoorsy type, this getaway is definitely for you.

Parent Trap

4. Sebago Cabins State Park, NY

I swear this cabin in the woods will defs be more romantic than the horror movie of the same name. But then again, Chris Hemsworth was in that movie… Regardless, your SO will have to do. Depending on how bougie you want to be, your vacation in the woods of Harriman State Park (just an hour and a half outside of the city) can cost as little as $266 for the entire week. A full week of obnoxiously loud sex since no one is around to hear good ol’ fashion time with nature? Count me in.

5. Cruise To The Bahamas

The perfect opportunity for you and bae to recreate The Titanic, minus the whole drowning/freezing to death part. If you haven’t noticed already, Groupon is your friend for finding cheap vacations. For $199, you can go on a 2-night Bahamas cruise. Meals and booze included. Need I say more?

6. The Ultimate: Paris

Ending this list with a bang. What city is more romantic than Paris? For $599, you and bae can be in the City of Love for six days. All I have to say is “voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” But all I ask is that you do not decide to propose on the top of the Eiffel tower. Unless you want to be the most clichéd couple, or risk her saying no.

Images: Giphy (6) 

The Ultimate Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Guide

It’s a beautiful time of year. The sun is shining, we can drink outside comfortably, and Mother’s Day is coming up. Since moms only get one day a year of celebration when they really deserve about 365, we as friends, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, whatever, need to make sure we are providing them with the perfect gifts. Flowers are nice, but putting some real thought behind a gift for the woman who birthed you (or any woman who birthed anyone, God bless), is nicer. No offense, but it’s true. So here’s a list of brands that we love and fully approve of for our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and you know you can trust us.

LaserAway

For the mom who’s prepping for her retirement to Florida

If she’s going to be living on a beach, she needs to look hot. LaserAway is her one-stop-shop for laser hair removal, Coolsculpting, Botox, and like, a million other things. If you’re unfamiliar with Coolsculpting, it’s a non-invasive procedure that uses controlled cooling to freeze and eliminate unwanted fat cells. In as little as three weeks, the results will appear and she’ll basically have abs. Jealous? Get a treatment for yourself, too. Because we all know that even though looking fit is fun, the gym fucking sucks. LaserAway has a ton of locations and customers love it so much because they provide treatments that are driven by science, so you know it’s legit. “This stuff really works!” No, but actually it does. Plus they have discount offers like, all the time.

Riley Home

For the mom who deserves to feel like she sleeps in a hotel bed every night

A saint in the streets and a MILF in the sheets. Sorry, that was uncalled for. I deeply apologize. Riley Home has the softest and most beautiful bedding and bath sets and we cannot get over how much we love it all. With their simple but elegant bedding, you can take her room from blah to chic easily. You’ve been hearing her talk about how she wants to redecorate her room for years, right? This is the first step that will get her going and then she can shut up about it forever. Some of our favorite products include the Sateen Sheet Set, Hooded Waffle Robe, and Spa Towel Set.

Drip MediSpa

For the mom who’s DRIPPIN

Okay, so you’ve definitely seen this on TV or at least heard about it. Betch goes out, betch makes bad choices, betch wakes up with a hangover so betch orders an IV drip to bring her back to life. Drip MediSpa is more than just a hangover cure, though. I mean that is the most amazing thing ever, but there are so many other drips on their menu. Yes, you order from a beautiful menu. For the expectant mom, they have a prenatal drip to help control all that nausea and exhaustion. And for the old AF mom (haha sorry, but it’s true) they have a “fountain of youth” drip. Sooo rejuvenating. Book her an IV drip and she will love you SO much! Unless she hates needles. In which case Drip has plenty of other things to offer, like skincare treatments.

Sonos

For the mom who never learned how to use the in-house speaker system anyway

This will probs be easier for her. Fun fact, we bump music at Betches HQ from Sonos speakers and the neighbors are jealous because they think we’re partying 24/7 (we’re not… not partying 24/7). Their newest speaker, the Sonos One, is everything you could ever need in a music playing device. It has a voice-enabled smart speaker, the ability to stream from more than 80 services, and is compatible with our girl Alexa. Basically, mom is about to throw a house party. But yes, you’ll have to set it up for her.

Archipelago Botanicals

For the mom who knew that charcoal was cool like, 2 years ago

Good for you, mom. Archipelago Botanicals has an ah-mazing collection of Charcoal Rose products, and they make it v easy for you by grouping them into cute gift sets. Buy your mom the Charcoal Rose candle so her powder room can smell like something other than her classic potpourri (get with the times, lady). Or she would looove the organic rose water, which is said to clean your pores and give you younger looking skin #vitality. We’re also obsessed with the Charcoal Rose Body Oil because our skin has been dry as fuck due to this horrendous weather (getting better now though, thank you for asking). Basically you can’t go wrong with anything from Archipelago so just like, have at it.

Massage Envy

For the mom that deserves the world, so you’ll send her to a spa

You really can’t go wrong here. There’s nothing that says “you are a perfect human full of wisdom and unique matronly powers and you deserve to be served heaven on a platter” quite like a massage. Good news, Massage Envy is running a special Mother’s Day promotion from now through Mother’s Day. You can purchase $125 in gift cards for her and receive a FREE 60-min facial. Give the facial to her…or yourself, we’ll leave that up to you. You can also get her a membership to Massage Envy, which gives her a reason to make an appointment every month…because again, she deserves it.

Seven Haircare

For the mom who’s best friends with everyone at her salon

Mom, you’re embarrassing me. But at least your hair looks fab. And since she accepts nothing but the best when it comes to haircare, you should definitely introduce her to Seven. Their products are created by a team of stylists who wanted the perfect blends for their salon, so you know their stuff works. Our favorites include their Gazar Diamond Serum, Satara Texture Cream, and Satara Relax Serum. That was really hard to narrow down to just three, though. They have pretty much anything you could ever need to keep your hair in check, especially now that humidity is going to be a thing. No more dull hair, no more fly-aways, no more frizz.

Algenist Skincare

For the mom who’s tried every anti-aging method and product in existence

Chill out, just use Algenist. This award-winning beauty brand has unlocked the secret powers of algae, one of the most nutrient-rich plants in the world, to create anti-aging products with clean and safe formulas. Science! Its natural and clean ingredients make Algenist’s products  non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and they’re good for all skin types. So if your mom also happens to be a hippie betch…this is the stuff. Our favorites include their Complete Eye Renewal Balm, Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid (say that 5 times fast), and their Sublime Anti-Aging Blurring Moisturizer. And they have way more than just anti-aging stuff, they have legit everything to save your skin and you need to check it out.

Shop Betches

For the mom who enjoys the simple things in life (and a good laugh)

Obviously we need to talk about our Mother’s Day cards from Shop Betches. Sometimes we have like, nothing left in our bank account and can’t afford a present, but that just means we have to step up our card game. It’s perfect because the hilarity of the card will balance out the heartfelt sappy note you leave for the most perfect mom. And if you have more than like $6 in your bank, your mom will litttterally die at our “Ask Your Father” hat.

Three Olives Rosé Vodka

For the mom who parties harder than you

She’s gonna be the baddest bitch on the block when she finds out about this. In case you somehow haven’t heard, Three Olives launched their newest vodka this April, and it is rosé flavored. You read that correctly. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that every mom in America loves rosé. And now she has something to whip out at dinner parties that get a little rowdy. Or at book club. Either one works. Also it’s pink (duh) so it will just look really pretty as a gift from you.

Fenty Beauty

For the mom who wants to know what all the cool jams are

What’s the 411? Operator, patch me through to Fenty Beauty. That was so dweeby I’m sorry. Anyways…we all know that anything Rihanna touches turns to gold, and her beauty line is no exception. And for the trendy mom, we recommend going with Fenty all the way. Our faves include the Body Lava Body Luminizer to give mom that effortless glow, and the Universal Gloss Bomb which looks amazing on every betch.

Philosophy

For the mom who always has her shit together

Rude that you didn’t pass that trait down to me, but whatever. It’s no secret that we are ob-SESSED with Philosophy. Everything they make smells amazing, it all works great, and there are just so many options to choose from. All our homes are filled to capacity with Philosophy products because we can’t help ourselves. Our favorites for Mother’s Day include their Amazing Grace Candle, which makes your place smell like it’s filled with flowers from your non-existent boyfriend. Also loving their new Amazing Grace Ballet Rose fragrance. Their packaging is so pretty and light so it will look beauteous as a gift.