How a Sauna Can Help Clear Your Skin

Medically reviewed by Dr. Justin Ternes
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Let’s face it; saunas are a great experience. Besides all their benefits and relaxing qualities, it just feels fun and rewarding when you’re in one. The hot air, low humidity, and calm wooden interiors provide an outstanding balance of comfort and satisfaction that keep people coming back for more. Besides the mental benefits, saunas offer many benefits to your health, including your largest organ, your skin. 

With the right routine, saunas can help clear up your skin, balance its pH and oils, and make it glow. Before every sauna session, remove makeup from your face to allow sweat to flow from every pore. After the sauna, wash off the sweat with mild soap and apply a light lotion to prevent breakouts.

Sweating is often miscategorized as a cause of acne and skin issues. However, the act of sweating is actually helpful to your skin and has therapeutic properties. Acne is mainly caused by bacteria, harmful pH levels, unbalanced skin oils, or a combination of these three. Sweating clears out your pores and brings your skin’s pH and oils to the proper level, as long as you routinely cleanse too. If you want to learn about all the positive skin effects of sauna use and how you can use them to supplement your skincare, read this entire guide!

Effects of Sauna Use and Sweating on Skin

When you enter a sauna, the very first thing you are likely to notice is the extreme heat, followed by its low humidity. In a minute or less, your body starts to feel and respond to the heat by initiating its thermoregulation response. This response is your body’s attempt to cool itself – your heart will begin to beat faster, more blood will be circulated to your skin, and you will most certainly sweat profusely.

Saunas Exercise Your Pores

Woman in a Sauna wipes her forehead with a towel

The heat opens up your pores, expands them, and allows sweat to flow freely out of every pore. As the sweat flows, it carries out dead skin cells, debris, germs, and dirt. Sweating in the sauna cleanses your pores, preventing outbreaks of acne and improving skin tone.

Regular sauna visits will improve your pores. Their expansion is like exercise for the pores. After a few weeks to a few months, many sauna frequenters have noticed improvements in elasticity, complexion, wrinkles, and softness. Additionally,  UV damage and scarring have been shown to have moderate and noticeable improvements from a sauna routine.

Sweating Cleanses Your Skin and Releases Harmful Toxins 

Saunas cause everyone to sweat profusely (if you’re not sweating, you’re a medical anomaly or just dehydrated and need to drink water). When your skin heats up, and you sweat, your pores dilate and allow sweat to pump out of them like a waterfall.

This flushing of sweat removes toxins that might be built upon your skin or in your pores.  So by visiting the sauna routinely, you will be cleansing it regularly and preventing the buildup of toxins, dirt, etc. Therefore, your skin will stay healthy and clear, just make sure it has been properly cleaned and maintained with our guide as a reference.

How Saunas Naturally Moisturize Your Skin

Saunas are fantastic for starting a natural moisturization process by promoting sweat production. When you sweat, your pores are cleansed, and your natural oils and skin pH levels become more balanced. With proper post-sauna skincare (showering, etc.), your skin will stay healthy and prevent the onset of wrinkles (and even shrink some you already have). 

Saunas Improvement of Circulation to the Skin

One of the main effects of the body’s thermoregulation response is increased blood circulation to the skin. The reason blood flow increases to your skin is because your body is trying to expel all of the extra heat to maintain homeostasis (a natural state of equilibrium inside the body).  

When combined with sweat evaporating on your skin, the evaporative cooling effect works efficiently. Blood brings heat to your skin then the sweat removes some of the heat from it when it evaporates and flows into the air.

Saunas Increase Collagen Production

When you routinely visit the sauna, your body experiences a notable change in the production of collagen. Collagen enhances skin’s hydration and strength and gives it firmness while keeping it smooth and looking young.

As you age, your collagen production slows. When you have more collagen, you have fewer wrinkles. Saunas boost the production of collagen in your skin, preventing aging and, in many cases improving damaged skin. 

A Great Sauna Routine for Skin Care

Young Woman Touching Her Face in a Sauna

Sweating is great for your skin. Your pores get larger, and toxins are flushed away, leading to less clogged pores, smoother skin, and a better complexion and skin tone. Increased blood flow to your skin also brings more nutrients and oxygen to your skin, further compounding the health benefits, and contrary to popular misconception, you won’t get burned by the sauna either (our explanation).

If you want the best skin health, sweating in the sauna should not be the only step you take. You can do many things to promote excellent skin health, which will make you glow and look younger for years and years to come. 

Before Going in the Sauna

Before you enter the sauna, you want to be as close to your skin’s natural state as possible. What that means is you should remove any cosmetics, lotions, make-up, gels, and other creams or treatments from your skin. If you leave these products on your skin, they will block your pores and will prevent sweat from dripping out. 

If you enjoy exercise, you should do your workout before the sauna. After your intense workout, you will probably be sweaty already. Practice good hygiene and shower before you get in the sauna. Showering before the sauna will remove any germs and bacteria that will easily replicate in the warm environment of a sauna room. 

Lastly, be sure to drink plenty of fluids before you visit the sauna. Dehydration can sneak up on you, especially if you’re doing an intense workout right before. Also, be mindful if you’ve never used a sauna before.

Inside the Sauna 

Don’t visit the sauna for longer than 20 minutes at a time, and if it’s your first go-around, limit it to just 10-minute stints. You can slowly build up your tolerance, length of time, and the number of visits per week.

Inside the sauna, you should wear little to no clothing to allow your pores to breathe and for sweat to flow freely. If you do wear clothing, limit it to cotton. Synthetic materials can get hot enough to melt and burn you, and they can restrict sweating. 

After Leaving the Sauna 

When you are done with your sauna session, you should immediately shower. The excess sweating produces a lot of sweat, and you’ll want to make sure you wash it all away to prevent breakouts. Sweat and the salt in it also build up in your hair and can cause irritation to hair follicles, so make sure to scrub your scalp well during your shower. 

Use mild soaps and cleansers that promote skin health, and towards the end of your shower, turn the water to cold. Sure this will feel uncomfortable at first, but the cold forces your blood away from your skin and back to your organs and will also cause your pores to constrict. When your pores reduce in size, they are less likely to gather germs, dirt, and sebum, preventing clogs. 

Throughout the Day 

When you are going about your typical day, you should practice good skincare to optimize your health. Wearing sunscreen of at least 15 SPF every day will prevent UV damage and wrinkles caused by repeated sun exposure. Although saunas provide natural moisturization, sometimes that is not enough. To further moisturize your skin, use skincare-focused creams to keep its hydration at the perfect levels. 

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