You may be inclined to avoid sweaty situations when you have acne, but sweat can actually be super helpful in clearing your skin. So if you’ve been avoiding the sauna because you’re scared of it worsening your acne, fear not. I’m here to tell you why it can be beneficial and how to use a sauna for acne properly for maximum skin clearing benefits.
What is a sauna?
That may seem like a silly question but it’s important that you’re clear on exactly what I’m talking about. For the purposes of this post, we’re talking about dry saunas – not steam rooms. A sauna is an enclosed room that produces dry heat. There are a few different types of saunas, but we can broadly categorize them as traditional and infrared.
Traditional vs. Infrared
A traditional sauna heats the air around you while an infrared sauna uses infrared light to heat your body directly. Their benefits are virtually the same, but some people consider infrared saunas to be a bit more tolerable in terms of heat. This distinction is good to keep in mind if you want to reap the skin benefits of a sauna but don’t love the heat (I can relate as I’m a sensitive-to-heat kinda gal).
Now what you came here for, the reason to hop in a hot wooden box. Or if you’re already a sauna proponent, validation of your habit. Note that all of the following refers to both infrared and traditional saunas.
Benefits of saunas for acne
1. Cleanse and clear the pores
When your body heats up and you start to sweat, your pores open allowing them to purge any substances clogging them up. Plus, sweat naturally has some antibacterial activity, which is important because a build up of bacteria in the pores can lead to acne.
Even though sweating has acne clearing functions, you don’t want to let it dry on your skin like you do your nightly moisturizer. Always cleanse your body and face after a sauna sesh to ensure those cleared pores stay clear!
Your skin is one of your main detoxification organs. There are millions of little pores for your body to push toxins out of, so take advantage and sweat it out!
Stress can increase inflammation and sebum production. Acne forms when a clogged pore becomes inflamed, so that means stress is a double-whammy contributor. Taking the time to enjoy mindful relaxation in a sauna is a great tool for your overall stress management and consequently, for your skin health.
Circulation doesn’t necessarily directly impact acne, but poor circulation can negatively impact digestion and detoxification – two important elements of maintaining clear skin. Saunas are known to help improve circulation, so you can kill two birds with one hot stone! Figuratively, of course.
Using a sauna for acne: key tips for clear skin
Good sauna technique is invaluable. I know you’re a busy queen with things to do and places to be, so be sure to follow these tips to get the most skin benefit out of your time and money.
- Remove all makeup before entering the sauna (you don’t want to open up those pores just to fill them with makeup!)
- ALWAYS cleanse after to avoid dried sweat clogging pores – sweat is your bff when it’s wet, but dried sweat can sabotage your sauna efforts.
- Drink water before, during and after your sauna to avoid dehydration. Good hydration is key to absorbing skin loving nutrients, maintaining good digestion and elimination and for keeping your skin’s oil balance in check. I suggest bringing a big ol’ 1 litre bottle with you.
- Speaking of hydration, don’t forget to moisturize afterwards!
Extra benefits of using a sauna for acne: hot & cold cycle
If you really want to take your sauna sesh to a whole other level, add some cold water to the mix. Cycling between hot and cold for its therapeutic benefits is something people in Scandinavian countries have been doing for ages (cue my German grandfather taking us on post-ski cold plunges at age 6…)
Here’s why you should consider it:
- Temporarily improves circulation (which inadvertently supports detoxification)
- Helps reduce inflammation (the cold can help reduce physical swelling of pimples and lower overall body inflammation)
- Stimulates the lymphatic system – one of your body’s key detoxification systems
Mixing in a cold plunge or short cold shower can also help you feel energized and refreshed – great for anyone who tends to feel sleepy in the heat.
You can typically find saunas in some gyms or apartment buildings, public pools, spas or your local sauna membership facility.