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A hot and steamy sauna session is often just what you need to unwind after a challenging day or an intense workout. It’s very relaxing, but there also various benefits associated with regular sauna use are well-researched and well-documented. For example, does the sauna burn calories? Yes. Can it reduce cardiovascular risk? It could. Does it improve muscle recovery? Absolutely.
Many people wonder, “Are saunas good for your skin?”
Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.
Benefits of a Sauna for Skin
There are many dry sauna benefits, including various positive effects on your skin health.
Dr. Rekha Singh shares some of the most important benefits, letting you know how the sauna can become the newest addition to your skincare routine.
Can Increase Circulation
Studies show1 that regular sauna bathing can have many health benefits, including a decrease in blood pressure. That’s in part due to the heat of the sauna causing vasodilation, or expansion of the blood vessels, which increases blood flow and circulation.
This increase in blood circulation is what contributes to healthy skin.
“When exposed to the heat of a sauna, the skin’s temperature rises and its blood vessels expand, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells,” says Dr. Rekha Singh. “This process helps increase circulation, which can help the skin look younger and brighter.”
The increased circulation also assists in collagen production.
“Collagen contributes immensely to youthful skin,” says Dr. Rekha Singh. “By improving collagen production, or by using a dermatologist-recommended hydrolyzed collagen supplement2, you should enjoy benefits including improved hydration, elasticity, and firmness while reducing the appearance of skin wrinkles.”
RELATED: The Best Collagen Supplements
Sweating Helps Release Toxins
According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health3, sweating from “static exposure to a hot environment,” or from sitting in the sauna, has a detoxifying effect, purging the body of “nickel, lead, copper, arsenic, and mercury.”
“Detoxing the body helps prevent pimples, blemishes, and other skin impurities,” says Dr. Rekha Singh. “As sweat evaporates off the skin, it takes away dirt and oil that clog pores, leaving the skin feeling cleaner and fresher.”
Helps to Shed Dead Skin Cells
So, sweating in one of the best home saunas provides detoxification, and it also removes sebum and dead skin cells that, if not removed, could build up on the skin’s surface and eventually find their way into your pores.
Clogged pores often contribute to various undesirable skin conditions, including acne, blackheads, blemishes, and breakouts. Spending time in the sauna helps eliminate the buildup of dead skin cells and sebum, ultimately contributing to healthy and clear skin.
Helps with Skin Conditions Such as Acne and Eczema
“Saunas have been proven to be beneficial for specific skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema,” says Dr. Rekha Singh. “The heat helps to reduce itching and inflammation, while the high temperatures also help reduce bacterial growth on the skin. Regular sauna bathing can also help reduce redness, dryness, and irritation associated with these skin conditions.”
A 2023 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology4 corroborates this fact, as researchers found that “spa therapy,” including regular sauna bathing, “may reduce the effects of [psoriasis and atopic dermatitis] by reducing inflammation.”
RELATED: Benefits of Sauna After a Workout
Skin Tips for After a Sauna
A steamy sauna sesh should work wonders for your dry skin and contribute positively to your overall health and wellness, but there are a few things you should incorporate into your post-sauna regimen to maximize its benefits without paying the price:
- Hydrate: Sweating is great for your skin, but could lead to dehydration if you don’t be sure to consume plenty of water before, during, and after your session
- Take a Cold Shower: A cold shower after the sauna further increases blood flow, releases endorphins, and, most importantly, closes up those pores
- Moisturize: Now that you have fresh, clean skin, moisturize using your preferred creams and lotions to promote skin hydration and encourage a healthy glow
“Don’t fully dry before applying your moisturizer,” says Dr. Rekha Singh. “Applying moisturizing to damp skin helps seal the moisture and ultimately results in a better result.”
Are Saunas Good for Your Skin? Final Thoughts
Saunas provide us with various health benefits, but is the sauna good for your skin?
Dr. Rekha Singh and the current research agrees that regular sauna use does contribute to better overall skin health, as sauna bathing:
- Improves blood circulation
- Increases collagen production
- Provides detoxification
- Removes sebum and dead skin
The sauna’s heat also provides an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces symptoms associated with skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, atopic dermatitis, and more.
So, if your skin needs a little rejuvenation, try working the sauna into your skincare routine!
Are Saunas Good for Your Skin? FAQs
What are the disadvantages of saunas?
There are many sauna benefits, but using a sauna irresponsibly is dangerous. The biggest risks include dehydration5 and electrolyte imbalance6, both of which could create life-threatening conditions. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your session, and consider having one of the best electrolyte drinks to replenish your system.
Saunas also increase your heart rate, which contributes to reduced cardiovascular mortality7, but could be grounds for medical contraindication in some cases. Consult your doctor to discuss your risk factors and determine if using a sauna is right for you.
How long should you stay in a sauna for skin?
Most sauna benefits are realized during sessions that last approximately 10 to 20 minutes, according to Sydney Lappe, registered dietitian.
Is a steam room or sauna better for skin?
According to Dr. Rekha Singh, each different type of sauna will affect your skin differently.
Because a traditional sauna uses dry heat, it can cause dehydration of the skin. Dr. Rekha Singh advises that moisturizers be used to offset this effect.
On the other hand, a steam room is heated with moist air. Dr. Rekha Singh refers to the steam room as ideal for individuals with dry or itchy skin, as the moisture helps hydrate the skin.
RELATED: Steam Room Vs Sauna
Finally, an infrared sauna uses infrared rays to penetrate deep into the skin to generate heat at much lower temperatures, usually no more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The lower temperatures mean that the skin does not become as dehydrated, making this type of sauna good for those with dry or sensitive skin,” says Dr. Rekha Singh.
So, while each type of sauna offers its own set of pros and cons, Dr. Rekha Singh recommends the steam room or infrared sauna over the traditional Finnish dry sauna.
1. Laukkanen JA, Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK. Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018;93(8):1111-1121. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.008
2. de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021;60(12):1449-1461. doi:10.1111/ijd.15518
3. Kuan WH, Chen YL, Liu CL. Excretion of Ni, Pb, Cu, As, and Hg in Sweat under Two Sweating Conditions. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(7):4323. Published 2022 Apr 4. doi:10.3390/ijerph19074323
4. Moini Jazani A, Ayati MH, Nadiri AA, Nasimi Doost Azgomi R. Efficacy of hydrotherapy, spa therapy, and balneotherapy for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis: a systematic review. Int J Dermatol. 2023;62(2):177-189. doi:10.1111/ijd.16080
5. Taylor K, Jones EB. Adult Dehydration. [Updated 2022 Oct 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan
6. Shrimanker I, Bhattarai S. Electrolytes. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 24, 2023.
7. Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK, Khan H, Willeit P, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study. BMC Med. 2018;16(1):219. Published 2018 Nov 29. doi:10.1186/s12916-018-1198-0
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A hot and steamy sauna session is often just what you need to unwind after a challenging day or an intense workout. It’s very relaxing, but there also various benefits associated with regular sauna use are well-researched and well-documented. For example, does the sauna burn calories? Yes. Can it reduce cardiovascular risk? It could. Does it improve muscle recovery? Absolutely.Many people wonder, “Are saunas good for your skin?”We spoke with Dr. » Read more about: Are Saunas Good for Your Skin? Tips From a Dermatologist » Read more