Literally Cool & Hot Spa Treatments
Our editors are always writing about the hottest beauty trends and coolest spa treatments—from hyperbaric oxygen therapy to salt caves to charcoal face masks—but we've never really explored that idea literally. And yet, heat and cold are both incredibly therapeutic for the body. That's why we decided to compile a list of some of our favorite cold and hot spa treatments, ranked from I'm-pretty-sure-my-eyelashes-are-icicles cold to I-didn't-know-I-could-sweat-there hot.
Temperature: as low as -250 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like you're standing naked on the planet Hoth and there's not even a nearby tauntaun to crawl inside.
Why do it? Many people, but especially professional athletes, love cryotherapy. They say the intense cold minimizes inflammation from injuries and helps alleviate chronic pain. Read our cryotherapy article to see what our editors had to say when they tried it.
Cold Plunge Pool
Temperature: 45–59 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like you jumped into an ice bath after a high school volleyball game and then jumped right back out when the trainer turned around.
Why do it? These pools, commonly found at Korean and Russian spas (such as King Spa and Sauna in Chicago and Archimedes Banya SF in San Francisco), chill the body after a hot sauna session. A quick 6- to 15-second dip in one may reduce pain and inflammation, improve energy, and tighten pores.
Temperature: unconfirmed, but Real Self docs say the panels get down to 12.2 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like your skin is being sandwich between two blocks of ice.
Why do it? CoolSculpting devices use cooling panels to suction up, freeze, and kill fat cells. The dead fat cells are eventually flushed out by the body, and the treatment area looks slimmer. Read more about the cold spa treatment in our CoolSculpting overview.
Temperature: Stones are heated anywhere between 100 and 150 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like someone picked up some rocks from the desert in July and started rubbing them on your body
Why do it? There's nothing like a little warmth to loosen tense muscles, which is why therapists incorporate heated basalt stones into massages. The therapist will either use the stones as massage tools or place a towel between the stones and your skin. The video in our hot-stone massage article shows you exactly what happens during a massage.
Temperature: A little more than 98.6 degrees F; up to 158 degrees F if it's an infrared wrap
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like you're a snuggly burrito (one that should come with a heat advisory if you're in an infrared wrap)
Why do it? Heated body wraps are designed to promote sweating and all of the potential benefits that come with that, from glowing skin to weight loss.
Temperature: 100–140 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like you're standing in the aforementioned desert in July and someone keeps saying, "but at least it's a dry heat"
Why do it? According to the Mayo Clinic, infrared saunas may improve chronic health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure. They also may lower stress levels, relieve aches, and promote glowing skin. Master the ins-and-outs of these hot spa treatments with our infrared sauna article.
Temperature: 176–194 degrees F
Temperature is an abstract notion; tell me how it really feels: like you're swimming through hot liquid even though you're sitting on a wooden bench
Why do it? The whole point is to feel like you're swimming. By hanging out in a hot sauna filled with steam, you will sweat a lot and that process, along with the therapeutic heat, may help improve skin, boost circulation, and relieve pain from conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
This article was originally posted by staff writer Kelly Macdowell in 2015. It has since been updated.
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