Hot, steamy saunas have a range of awesome benefits from improving blood circulation to helping de-stress and relax your mind. But can they relax your skin too?
We know that acne can be embarrassing and disheartening. Going out the front door can be challenging. But trust us, a trip to a sauna could be the best thing you do right now.
Acne Plus Sauna – A Solution or A Problem?
The thought of sitting in a hot, sweaty room might not sound like a good remedy to your acne… yet it could be exactly what you need to give your skin a workout and sweat the pimples away.
Often acne is caused by androgen. This hormone causes the oil glands in your skin to swell and produce excess sebum – that liquid that comes out of spots and builds up on greasy skin types. The sebum builds, swelling in your pores, capturing dirt and becoming a playground for bacteria.
Using steam or heat (e.g. washing your face with hot water) is a known way to get your sebum flowing and let the clogged glands function as normal.
More: Tea Tree Oil for Acne
What Happens to Spots in A Sauna?
Adding heat to your spots causes them to open. The pores on your face, which are usually tightly shut, will open and the dirt, bacteria, toxins or just sebum will be exposed. As your face heats up, this sebum becomes soft and more liquid-like. Along with sweat, it pours from your pores and unclogs them. Any dirt or bacteria lingering in there that’s creating a spot (usually a blackhead) will be pushed out.
As for whiteheads, the added heat from the sauna and expansion of sebum can cause them to pop – or make them easier to pop. If that does happen, following the steps below to care for your skin and keep your pores clean is especially important to prevent further infection.
How to Use A Sauna for Acne
Hold up! Before you run down to your nearest sauna you need a little prep work. We aren’t working miracles here, so you need to put in a little effort and follow the steps.
- Pack the things you need – 2 towels (one for sitting in the sauna, one for drying off afterward), dermatological soap that’s safe for your body and face, a gentle exfoliating loofah, and clean clothes if you’re working out before using the sauna.
- Drink plenty of water! The sauna will dehydrate you so make sure you are fully hydrated before you step inside. You should only spend short periods in the sauna so don’t worry about drinking so much you immediately need the toilet – you won’t be holding it for long.
- Wash your face with clean water. You don’t need to use a special cleanser unless you have one already. This pre-wash is just above removing any sweat or makeup on your face before you enter the sauna. If it’s not washed off, it can back-clog your pores and stop them from opening and sweating out.
- Relax in the sauna for approximately 15 minutes. The heat will open your pores and the sweat will naturally push out the dirt, sebum, and bacteria that are causing your acne. You can massage the area with a clean cloth or just your fingers if you feel the need to.
- Leave the sauna and immediately rinse your face to get rid of the sweat and dirt that you’ve expelled while your pores are still open. Make sure your body cools down (a cold shower does the trick) before you start round 2 in the sauna or cleanse thoroughly with the soap you have.
- If you’ve finished in the sauna, make sure you immediately wash and cool down to close your pores. Then use your skin-friendly soap and gentle loofah to wash away any lingering oils and dirt.
Finally, don’t forget to rehydrate your body and skin by drinking plenty of water and moisturizing where needed.
Are Saunas Sanitary?
Yes, most are. Find a low humidity dry sauna, rather than a steamed sauna – we just want the heat to open our pores instead of steam to condense on our skin and leave traces of whatever is lingering in it!
If you’re using a public sauna, check that it’s cleaned regularly and has good reviews online for cleanliness. There is a slim chance of catching a respiratory infection if the sauna is dirty.
Following the aftercare steps once you’ve left the sauna is important to stay sanitary, otherwise you’re just leaving the dirt and toxins you’ve expelled on your skin to clog your pores again.
Additional Ways to Care for Your Skin
Keeping your skin moisturized is important for keeping your skin healthy and clean. Even oily skin, which seems to have an abundance of moisture, needs moisturizing. Our skin cells produce sebum when they are dry, so excess oil can be a sign that you need to moisturize more. You’ll need to replace some of the moisture you lose from the sauna!Acne-targeting moisturizers should be in your skincare kit, and essential oils like tea tree too. This oil is naturally anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, so it will help kill the bacteria that cause acne and reduce redness. You can apply it topically (aka, rub diluted oil or tea tree lotion into your acne) or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water to create a mini steam sauna for your face.
Watch this for more information about tea tree oil.
Sauna Your Spots Away
So, do saunas help with acne? The answer is yes if you use them wisely and take care of your skin. Remember to talk with your doctor or dermatologist if you have severe acne or sensitive skin before jumping in the sauna and applying topical treatments. Depending on the type of acne you have, they might be the perfect treatment.