You've been there before: You're scrolling through your Instagram feed when you see your favorite celeb post about their favorite new product — a face serum, vitamins that will make your skin brighter, or a specialty food service. You can't help but want to be like the stars, but are the products worth it? In Elite Daily's new series, I Tried, we put it all to the test. We're trying those products as well as celebrities' health and wellness tips, recipes, and life hacks. We'll do the leg work and tell you what living like your fave star is really like.
I'm not big on physical discomfort. In fact, I'm a gigantic baby when it comes to minor annoyances in my environment (like overly hot or cold temperatures), so going to a sweat lodge was never on my radar. However, Selena Gomez's raving Shape House review convinced me that I should try this bizarre beauty treatment. If it's good enough for Queen Selena, then it was certainly good enough for me.
Shape House is a self-proclaimed "Urban Sweat Lodge," which combines "ancient traditions with modern wellness" to help you burn calories, deepen your sleep, improve your skin, and your lift your mood. During the treatment, you're wrapped like a giant burrito in an extremely heavy blanket that utilizes FAR infrared energy to increase your core body temperature. Basically, you sweat out toxins, pathogens, heavy metals, and every sin you've ever committed for 55 minutes until you're drenched and hot as hell.
According to Carson Daly, Selena Gomez actually credited Shape House with transforming her body. Yet Selena isn't the only celebrity to swear by this admittedly odd health and beauty treatment. The Kardashians (really just Khloe and Kourtney) visited during an episode of their show. LL Cool J waxed rhapsodic about Shape House during an interview on Ellen. I'm not very big into spas and the like, but I had to admit, my curiosity got the best of me, so I planned an appointment at one of the New York City locations.
I arrived at 6:45 p.m. on a sensible Tuesday night, ten minutes before my session was scheduled to begin. The lobby smelled strongly of incense and was dimly lit, with a wall of faux leaves and oranges to my right, and a lit sign that said something inspirational about sweating to my left. The smiling girl at the front desk spoke in hushed tones as she handed me a waver to sign on an iPad. I didn't think this experience was going to be intense enough to require a waiver, but I solemnly swore I wasn't pregnant, didn't suffer from heart disease, and that I had eaten and slept in the past 18 hours before I was ushered in.
The employee handed me a crate containing a thin grey suit suit with the words Sweat House emblazoned down one arm and leg, and pointed me toward the bathroom to change. She told me that I would most likely sweat off all my makeup (I'd been wearing it since 6 a.m. anyway) and that makeup remover would be available if I wanted it. I never ended up finding the makeup remover, though, and boy did I need it.
The bathroom (and all the other rooms for that matter) was lit with orange-y red light. A plaque on the wall described the importance of each aesthetic choice. Not only was I going to sweat, but I apparently was going to have a spiritual and sensorial experience while doing so.
Once I put all my personal belongings into the crate, I was ushered into a small "room" that was sectioned off by a curtain.
I slid under the covers and the same smiling attendant velcro-ed me in all from my toes to my neck. Placing a towel under my head and headphones on my ears, she then alerted me to the small hole in the blanket that I could reach my arm through to use the TV remote, drink water, or call for assistance if needed Then, she played a Shape House video on the screen in front of me to set up expectations for the experience, and left me to my burrito self.
After the video, I decided to watch an episode of The Bachelor. I figured it was enough to distract me, but not so intense that I'd be unaware of treatment I was experiencing.
At ten minutes in, I was starting to feel it. I'm not a very sweaty person (even on the rare occasions that I do physically exert myself), but I was sweating buckets. My forehead was soaked and I could feel my body getting all clammy and steamy under the blanket.
Shape House warns you that the last 15 minutes are the worst, and they were not joking. For the first 40, I experienced discomfort. I was hot and sweaty and felt like a baked potato. For the last fifteen, I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest.
During the final 15, the same attendant placed a cool towel scented with lavender oil across my forehead (to help ease the excruciating unpleasantness, I assume). I was tossing and turning under my burrito blanket, but I just couldn't get comfortable. My heart was racing faster than I've ever felt it before, and all I was doing was laying immobile under a giant blanket.
When the experience was finally over, I was brought to the relaxation room, where I sat on a towel draped over a lawn chair, listened to soothing music, drank chamomile tea, and ate some orange slices.
It was, by far, the sweatiest I have ever been in my entire life. My shirt was soaked all the way through and I immediately regretted wearing my freshly washed bra. Even my waterproof makeup was running all over my face, which I've never experienced before. It wasn't strong enough to stand up to the literal force of nature that is Shape House.
I sat there for over half an hour waiting for my heart rate to return to normal.
I felt super sleepy after drinking my tea, but I peeled myself off the chair, changed back into my clothes in one of the dressing rooms, and began my trek home.
I called my best friend Cannada on the way home because I was feeling... weird. I was oddly calm which, for a born-and-bred New Yorker, is not a state I'm used to. On the way to my appointment, I was grinding my teeth from anxiety (which I do about 90 percent) of the time. On the way home, nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt like an amorphous blob of neutrality in the best way.
When I got home, I was shocked to see how disgustingly greasy my hair was and how ridiculously dehydrated my skin looked. I immediately cleansed my skin with my Skyn Iceland Micellar Cleansing Water With Arctic Algae ($25; Skyn Iceland). Because my skin was already feeling dry (which is scary for an oily girl), I knew a micellar water would replenish hydration while stripping away the toxins and debris that I had sweated out of my pores. After cleansing, I hydrated my skin with the Dr. Brandt Skincare Hydro Biotic Recovery Sleeping Mask ($52; Sephora) and my lips with the Bite Agave Lip Mask in Maple ($26; Sephora).
They advise you not to shower immediately (plus my sheets needed to be changed anyway), so I washed my hair the following morning. After one of the bets nights of sleep I ever had, I scrubbed my scalp with the Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt ($53; Ulta), and followed up with the Hask UnWined Provence Rosé Deep Conditioner ($4; Ulta). Finally, my scalp and hair felt back to normal.
So, was this $70 sweat treatment actually worth it? I'd definitely suggest trying it at least once in your life. My mood was immediately improved (I still feel amazing the following day). I'm not quite sure the physiology behind it, but it definitely worked. I've been dealing with pretty intense insomnia over the past few weeks, but last night I definitely had one of the best sleeps of all time. I didn't notice a major difference in my skin (but that might be because I'm a skincare addict anyways). I don't feel skinnier (apparently that comes with repeat trips over time), but I wasn't really expecting to, anyways.
In short, if you're feeling like you need to reset your emotional state, then you might need to sweat it out, sis. I feel like a whole new woman. Selena Gomez definitely wasn't a (bad) liar about this.