If you’re feeling the effects of inflammation — fatigue, puffiness, random aches and pains, to name just a few symptoms — you’re not alone. This modern-day malady seems to be hitting harder than ever after two years of pandemic-related anxiety. But New Yorkers have two new options for restoring body-wide wellness: popping into the space-agey hyperbaric oxygen therapy pods at Joanna Vargas Salon on lower Fifth Avenue, or hightailing it upstate to My Zen Den in Beacon for a calming session of restorative red-light therapy or infrared sauna.
According to the National Cancer Institute, inflammation is a “protective reaction to injury, disease or irritation of the tissues,” and manifests as redness, swelling, pain and/or a feeling of heat in the affected area. There are two types — chronic and acute — and their long list of triggers includes everything from excess alcohol, sub-optimal diet and strenuous workouts to stress and autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
As a chronic inflammation sufferer herself, makeup artist and My Zen Den founder Alexandria Gilleo understands firsthand how debilitating the condition can be. In addition to recommending books (including “Eat Right For Your Inflammation Type” and “The Inflammation Spectrum”) and encouraging clients to request blood work from their primary doc to detect markers for inflammation, Gilleo offers an array of red-light therapy and infrared sauna packages, along with wellness add-ons like dry brushing, liver juice and probiotics.
While red light therapy triggers a boost in cellular energy, which in turn stimulates anti-oxidant production and a reduction in inflammation, infrared sauna generates detoxification — and a subsequent drop in inflammation — through profuse sweating. “Every person is different, so I suggest trying both services,” says Gilleo. “I personally use both daily.”
To do her part to combat this on-the-rise ailment, Vargas, who splits her time between the East and West Coasts, couldn’t wait to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to her clients, particularly since O2 has long been a key element of her facials. “It’s all over LA right now, which is why I wanted to bring it to my NYC salon,” she says. “It makes sense that we have something that’s addressing the whole body.”
The 60-minute $150 treatment entails reclining, fully clothed, in the hands-free chamber, which is equipped with a Netflix-enabled iPad. So you can blast through an episode of “Bridgerton” while the chamber fills with oxygen, gradually boosting circulation, collagen production and elasticity in the body. Not bad for lying down on the job.
From the neck up, the market for creams and serums addressing the signs of “inflammaging” (a mashup of “inflammation” and “aging”) is rapidly expanding, and ranges from the super high-tech Heraux Molecular Anti-Inflammaging Serum and Maei MD Serum 6, to the more natural-leaning Odacité Le Blue Balm, Fresh Floral Recovery Calming Mask and Untamed Humans Topical & Ingestible CBD + CBG Oil.
According to Ben Van Handel, Ph.D., a stem cell biologist at University of Southern California and co-founder of Heraux, adult acne flare-ups and much of the redness and irritation we attribute to “sensitive” skin can be tied to inflammation. A proprietary molecule in the brand’s serum, dubbed HX-1, can “slow down the inflammatory cascade and help the skin recover.”
As a superfan of the anti-inflammatory superstar spice turmeric, which he’s long added to his smoothies, soups and curries, Herbivore co-founder Alex Kummerow made sure to include it in the brand’s new Nova 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum. And in his opinion, we need all the inflammation help we can get.
“I 100 percent believe our modern-day lifestyle is driving most of the inflammation we’re seeing as a society,” says Kummerow. “We understand that poor diet directly correlates with increased amounts of inflammation, as well as environmental pollutants, but one massive contributor that we aren’t talking enough about is stress.”
Get that under control, and with the help of an anti-inflammatory serum or two, you’ll be good to glow.