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Are Saunas Good for Your Skin? Discover How Women Over 50 Can Sweat Their Way to a More Radiant, Youthful Appearance

Relax and rejuvenate in no time!

If you’ve ever spent time in a sauna, you likely know that they’re known to have numerous health benefits, including improved circulation, muscle relaxation, detoxification through sweating and relief from respiratory ailments. Maybe you’re one of the many people that find saunas mentally rejuvenating, providing a break from the stresses of daily life. But if you’re wondering “Are saunas good for your skin?” you’ll be happy to learn that yes, a regular sauna stint can also benefit our body’s largest organ. And they are gaining steam as a way to clearer, healthier and more radiant complexions, among their many other health and wellness benefits.

The concept of ‘sauna bathing’ goes back thousands of years, originating in Finland as pits dug into the ground heated with hot stones. Nowadays, you can enjoy traditional Finnish sauna bathing in a hot cedar box pumped with dry air powered by electricity, wood-fired or infrared light. Water can be poured over hot rocks to make steam and increase humidity. 

mature woman relaxing in sauna

“Regular sauna use can help improve skin tone and reduce fine wrinkles by boosting circulation to the skin while the sweating a sauna induces can detoxify the skin and make it easier to clean out pores,” says Samir Undavia, MD, a dual-board certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey. 

Need any more reason to feel the heat? Read on for all the skin-healthy benefits of a sauna! 

Related: This Infrared Sauna Blanket Can Relieve Even Chronic Pain — Easy, At-Home Remedy

What are the benefits of a sauna for your skin?

Saunas can boost collagen production, helping you age in reverse

With temps upwards of 158-212 degrees F, saunas induce vasodilation, widening blood vessels. This causes increased blood flow throughout the body, including to the skin. Improved circulation can promote cell turnover and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, including those responsible for collagen production, the protein that provides structure to the skin, helping it maintain elasticity and firmness, attests Erika Luren, MA, MS, NP, founder of Parasol Aesthetics, Dermatology and Wellness. 

Related: Collagen for Women: Adding a Little To Your Smoothie May Make Skin Look Years Younger

Are saunas good for your skin? Yes! They can detoxify pores 

Because skin is constantly exposed to the outside world, it’s vulnerable to environmental stressors and toxins. Saunas promote sweating, which helps the body eliminate toxins and impurities. “Studies show that sauna detoxification can rid skin of toxic elements like lead, copper, nickel, mercury and arsenic,” says Kristina Krosky Helstowski, an aesthetician for Redwood Outdoors. “Look at it as your garbage system dumping those toxins out and allowing the skin to expel those toxins that age us.” While the heat is shedding toxins from our skin, mechanical perspiration helps wash them away for good. 

Saunas can exfoliate skin and help you shed dead skin cells 

The high temperature in saunas causes the skin’s surface to warm up, which can soften the outer layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum. The combination of heat, steam and sweat collectively removes and softens dead skin cells, says Helstowski. Sweat also contains natural moisturizing factors, such as urea and amino acids, which can help to hydrate the skin and soften dead skin cells, facilitating their removal. If you want to go a step further, gently rub or massage your skin with your hands or a gentle exfoliating scrub while you’re in the sauna. This physical exfoliation helps to loosen and remove dead skin cells, revealing smoother, more radiant skin underneath.

Are saunas good for your skin? Yes! They can help skincare absorb better

skincare swatches
Kateryna Klishchevnik/Getty

Because saunas warm the skin, opening up blood vessels, they also open our pores to help our skincare absorb better. “When our pores are open, these products can penetrate deeper into the skin, maximizing their effectiveness,” says Luren. It’s important to note that skin can be a little more sensitive after a hot sauna session, so stick to gentle, hydrating products without any abrasive or irritating ingredients. For best results, Luren recommends following each session with a moisturizing cream boosted with ceramides. 

Related: 7 Best Night Creams for Mature Skin + Why You Should Add One to Your Skin Care Routine

Additionally, always cleanse your skin thoroughly before applying any skincare products to remove sweat, dirt and impurities that may have accumulated during your sauna session.

Saunas can prevent breakouts

Since acne is caused by gunked-up pores and dirt, oil and grime deep within the skin’s surface, it’s reasonable to think that a sauna can help fight breakouts. “Because it does rid us of toxins and open pores by producing salty sweat, it can prevent those clogged pores that cause blackheads and whiteheads,” says Luren. Saunas can also slow sebum production in the skin, i.e. oil, and make us less prone to acne in the first place. In the same vein, saunas can also be helpful in preventing ingrown hairs. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Pimple Redness: Top Dermatologists’ 6 Simple Tips

Are saunas good for your skin? Yes! They can fight stress, which helps skin

Chronic stress is well-documented for its negative effects on our skin and for exacerbating conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne. “Stress triggers the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a trio of glands that play key roles in the body’s response to stress. This can cause the production of local pro-inflammatory factors, such as cortisol and key hormones in the fight-or-flight stress response called catecholamines, which can direct immune cells from the bloodstream into the skin or stimulate pro-inflammatory skin cells,” explains Harvard Health. Studies have also shown that psychological stress disrupts the top layer of our skin, which is essential for locking in moisture and keeping out germs, prolonging its ability to repair itself. 

Saunas beat stress by providing a warm and comforting environment that helps to relax muscles and alleviate tension. The heat stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. This can create euphoria and promote relaxation, reducing stress levels. 

Many also enjoy using saunas as a social activity, whether with friends, family, fellow spa-goers or gym members. Social interaction like this can provide emotional support and a sense of connection, which can also be beneficial for stress relief.

two women in sauna together have conversation to explain Are Saunas Good for Your Skin

What do I need to know before going into the sauna? 

Certain medical conditions might make saunas unsafe for you, so always consult your doctor if you’re unsure. That also goes for if you have eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. While saunas can be helpful for these conditions, Dr. Undavia says too much exposure to the sauna’s dry air can unintentionally make dry, scaly patches worse. 

The amount of time you spend in a sauna should also be monitored. “10-20 minutes is optimal, and the frequency can be a few times a month to a few times a week depending on tolerance and benefits to the individual,” advises Luren. 

Finally, all that sweating can lead to dehydration, so drinking plenty of water before and after is important. You may also need to supplement with electrolytes since dehydration can sometimes deplete the body’s electrolyte supply.

For more skincare secrets, click through these stories:

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Retinol for Body: How to Ensure All of Your Skin Looks Younger

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