Are Saunas Good For Our Skin?

Saunas have long been touted for their relaxation and stress-relief potential abilities, but did you know they may also offer skin health benefits? Exposure to sauna heat and steam can improve circulation, promote detoxification through sweating, support skin hydration and collagen production, and potentially help with conditions like acne. With sauna use gaining popularity worldwide for personal wellness and self-care routines, it’s worth exploring how it can benefit our largest organ – the skin.

Is sauna good for skin? In this blog article, we’ll break down the science behind saunas. We’ll look at saunas’ impact on skin health and the potential upsides for issues ranging from acne to aging. We’ll also provide practical guidance on how to safely use saunas to reap rewards for your complexion while avoiding any downsides like irritation or dryness.

We’ll also suggest complementary wellness practices – from skincare to nutrition, stress relief to exercise – that may magnify the potential benefits of sauna sessions.

Read on to understand why saunas just might provide that healthy skin glow you’ve been after!

What is a Sauna?

are saunas good for our skin

A sauna is a small enclosed room or house designed for experiencing dry or wet heat sessions, which can induce sweating. Saunas are primarily used for relaxation and have many health benefits. The heat in a sauna can range from 70°C to 100°C (158°F to 212°F), with varying levels of humidity.

There are common types of saunas, each employing different methods to generate heat:

Traditional Finnish Saunas

A traditional sauna uses a wood stove or electric heater to heat stones, which radiate heat in a wood-lined room. Water is thrown onto the hot stones to produce steam and increase humidity.

Infrared Saunas

The infrared sauna uses infrared heaters to release infrared light that is absorbed directly by the skin. Unlike traditional saunas, they do not heat the air around you but directly warm your entire body.

Steam Rooms (or Turkish baths) 

Unlike saunas, steam rooms are characterized by high humidity and moist heat generated by boiling water.

Electrically Heated Saunas

Common in modern homes and fitness centers, these use an electric heater attached to the floor to heat the room.

Understanding Your Skin Structure and Function

is sauna good for skin

The skin, being the largest organ of the human body, has several critical functions:

  1. Protective Barrier: It protects against external pathogens, harmful chemicals, and physical impacts.
  2. Temperature Regulation: Through sweating and vasodilation, the skin helps maintain the body's internal temperature.
  3. Sensation: Your skin contains a variety of nerve endings that sense temperature, touch, vibration, and pain.
  4. Production of Vitamin D: In sunlight, the skin synthesizes Vitamin D, which is essential for your bone health and immune function.

The skin comprises three primary layers:

Epidermis: The outermost layer provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone. It contains four to five layers of its own, depending on the body region.

Dermis: Beneath the epidermis, this layer contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. It's rich in collagen and elastin, providing skin with strength and elasticity.

Subcutaneous Tissue (Hypodermis): This deeper layer is made of fat and connective tissue, playing a crucial role in storing fat and providing insulation and cushioning for the skin.

Common Skin Problems and Concerns

Skin issues can range from temporary to chronic and from cosmetic concerns to serious health problems:

  • Acne: Typically caused by blocked hair follicles due to oil and dead skin cells. It's common in teenagers but can persist into adulthood.
  • Oiliness and Dryness: These are often related to skin type and can be influenced by environmental factors, lifestyle, and diet.
  • Aging Signs: Including wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and fine lines, primarily due to the natural aging process and environmental factors like sun exposure.
  • Skin Conditions: Such as eczema (characterized by dry, itchy skin) and psoriasis (an autoimmune condition causing red, scaly patches).

How Saunas Work and What They Can Do For Your Skin

what saunas can do for your skin

Saunas, whether it's a traditional or infrared sauna, primarily function by elevating the body's surface temperature, typically to about 38-40 degrees Celsius (100-104 degrees Fahrenheit). This heat exposure leads to several physiological responses:

  • Sweating: The body sweats to cool down, which can help flush out toxins and cleanse the skin's pores.
  • Increased Blood Flow: Heat causes blood vessels near the skin to dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin, which in turn drops your blood pressure.

Scientific Research About Sauna's Impact On Skin

A study on healthy participants aged 20-49 investigated the effects of regular sauna use on skin health. The experimental group engaged in 15-minute sauna sessions at 176°F twice per week, while the control group did not use a sauna. Researchers evaluated parameters like skin redness, water loss, physiology, water-holding capacity, and pH. As a result, the sauna group saw favorable skin benefits compared to the control group. 

Aside from increased cardiovascular activity and circulation, the researchers found the sauna participants had less oily skin, healthier pH levels, and better skin moist retention abilities. The study demonstrates that regular use of saunas can significantly improve overall skin health and quality.

Other studies have explored the following common impact of sauna use on skin health:

  • Improved Circulation: Enhanced blood flow can nourish the skin, promoting cell growth and repair, leading to a more vibrant, healthy complexion.
  • Detoxification: Incorporating regular sauna bathing has been linked to the elimination of toxins through sweating, potentially benefiting skin health.
  • Skin Barrier Function: Some research suggests that sauna use may improve the function of the skin barrier, helping to retain moisture and maintain hydration.
  • Stress Reduction: As stress can adversely affect skin health, the relaxation and stress relief provided by sauna sessions may indirectly benefit the skin.

It's important to note that while these studies offer insights into the potential sauna benefits for skin health, individual results can vary. It's essential to approach sauna use as a complement to a holistic skincare and health routine.

The Potential Benefits of Sauna for Your Skin

purpose of sauna use and its benefits to your skin health

Improved Blood Flow

Heat exposure in saunas may cause vasodilation, where blood vessels widen, enhancing blood circulation to the skin's surface. This process transports more nutrients and oxygen, vital for clear skin health, potentially leading to a more vibrant, healthier complexion. Increased circulation may also aid in faster removal of waste products from skin cells, contributing to overall skin health.

Enhanced Detoxification

During a sauna session, the body's core temperature rises, leading to sweating. Sweating is a natural way for the body to regulate temperature and eliminate toxins. This detoxification process may contribute to clearer, more blemish-free skin. Moreover, sweating may also help unclog pores, which is potentially beneficial in managing or treating acne.

Sauna Use and Skin Hydration

Regular sauna use may impact the skin's barrier function. Heat exposure is thought to potentially increase the production of skin oils and natural moisturizing factors, which can help maintain skin hydration. Drink plenty of water to compensate for fluid loss through sweating and to maintain overall hydration levels.

Heat and Skin Regeneration

The heat from saunas may stimulate the production of skin collagen and elastin, two key proteins responsible for skin structure and elasticity. Collagen helps repair and renew skin cells, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, while elastin gives the skin its flexibility, preventing sagging.

Sauna Use and Specific Skin Conditions

Acne and Oily Skin

The warmth and steam of a sauna may open up pores and loosen any buildup of dirt for easier removal. This can be particularly beneficial for those with oily or acne-prone skin, as it can potentially help clear out the impurities that lead to acne. However, washing the face with a gentle cleanser post-sauna is crucial to remove sweat and toxins from the skin's surface.

Dry and Sensitive Skin

For individuals with dry or sensitive skin condition, sauna sessions can dry if not done correctly. Limiting the time spent in the sauna and immediately applying a hydrating moisturizer afterward may help mitigate these effects. Use a moisturizer that suits your skin type to prevent potential irritation and lock in moisture.

Aging Skin and Wrinkle Reduction

Potential blood flow and promotion of collagen production through regular sauna use may have anti-aging effects. These processes can help minimize fine lines and wrinkles, contributing to a more youthful skin appearance.

Psoriasis and Eczema

The heat and sweating in a sauna may help alleviate psoriasis and eczema symptoms for some individuals. It may help remove scales and soothe the skin. However, those with these conditions must consult with a dermatologist, as sauna heat can sometimes exacerbate these conditions.

How to Safely Use a Sauna for Skin Health

Duration and Frequency

To avoid skin stress and dehydration, it's recommended to limit sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes and to not exceed more than a few sessions per week. Overuse of saunas may lead to excessive dryness or irritation, particularly for sensitive types of skin.

Hydration and Safety Tips

Maintaining hydration is crucial when using a sauna. Drink water before and after sauna use to replace fluids lost through sweating. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before sauna use is also recommended, as they can increase the risk of dehydration.


Individuals with cardiovascular conditions, those who are pregnant, and those with certain skin conditions must consult a healthcare provider before using a sauna. It's also important to listen to your body and leave the sauna if you feel dizzy or uncomfortable.

Combining Sauna with Other Skin Care Practices

benefits of sauna for your skin

To maximize the potential skin benefits of your sauna sessions, it's essential to incorporate them into a broader skincare regimen. The combination of sauna and modern skin beauty regimens may help enhance the efficacy of both your skincare routine and the sauna experience.

  1. Pre-Sauna Skin Preparation: Before entering the sauna, cleanse your skin to remove any makeup, dirt, and oil. This may help to unclog pores and allow the skin to breathe and sweat freely.
  2. Use of Gentle Exfoliation: Occasionally, gentle exfoliation before a sauna session may be beneficial. Shed dead skin cells allow for better sweating and detoxification.
  3. Moisturizing Before Sauna: For those with dry skin, applying a light moisturizer or serum before entering the sauna may help protect the skin barrier.
  4. Sauna and Skincare Products: It can be potentially beneficial to apply certain skincare products, like deep hydration masks, during a sauna session, as the heat can help better absorb the product ingredients.

Post-Sauna Skin Care

Proper post-sauna skincare is important in maximizing the benefits and maintaining skin health:

  1. Gentle Cleansing: Immediately after a sauna session, gently cleanse the skin to remove sweat, toxins, and impurities. This may prevent clogged pores and breakouts.
  2. Cool Down and Hydrate: Allow your skin to cool down naturally before applying skincare products. Use cool (not cold shower) water to soothe the skin.
  3. Hydrating Moisturizer: Apply a rich moisturizer to hydrate the skin. After a sauna session, the skin's pores are open, making it more receptive to moisture absorption.
  4. Sun Protection: If you're going outdoors post-sauna, ensure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage, as sauna sessions can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Complementary Therapies

Incorporating complementary practices may further enhance skin health:

Balanced Diet: A balanced diet rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins supports skin health. Diets or any food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like nuts and fish, can improve skin hydration.

Adequate Hydration: Drink plenty of clean water to maintain overall skin health. It can help maintain the balance of oil and water in the skin, preventing issues like dryness or oiliness.

Stress Management: Meditation, yoga, or any relaxing activities may reduce stress levels, which in turn can potentially impact skin health. High stress may trigger skin issues like acne or eczema.

Regular Exercise: Exercise increases blood flow, helping nourish skin cells and keep them vital. It also helps in the detoxification process.

Adequate Sleep: The quality of your sleep is essential for skin repair and regeneration. Lack of sleep can lead to many skin problems, including dullness and signs of aging.

Combining sauna sessions with these complementary practices can create a holistic approach to skincare and overall wellness. This multifaceted routine can help in achieving not just healthier skin but also improved overall health.

In Summary

While more research is still needed, current evidence and anecdotal accounts suggest saunas may be an impactful addition to a skin health and wellness routine when integrated properly.

By enhancing circulation, promoting detoxification, supporting hydration and collagen production, and aiding in relaxation, saunas are potentially effective for improving skin's radiance and helping with common issues.

Approach sauna use with care around duration, hydration, and listening to your body’s cues. Combine sessions with complementary lifestyle measures like a balanced diet, stress relief practices, and targeted skincare. Over time, consistency with this multidimensional approach can reveal the beautiful skin that lies beneath!


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