Do Saunas Help with Acne?
beauty & skin , skin

Do Saunas Help with Acne?

What Is Acne and What Causes It?


Acne is a skin condition that causes your pores to get blocked, leading to pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads. Many teenagers suffer from this condition, but some may also struggle with it later in their life because of the many possible causes and triggers. 


In many cases, acne is more prevalent among women and can be triggered by makeup products, smoking, medication, and changes in hormone levels. Several chemicals, including oral contraceptives and corticosteroids, are known to lead to acne breakouts, but the lack of exercise, hygiene, or poor diet has no effect on acne, despite many myths [1]. 


Acne is a disease influenced by many factors, including genetic factors, androgens, stress, and sweating [2]. As saunas cause us to sweat, it may be counterintuitive to use them to alleviate acne symptoms, but there are a few proven benefits that may actually help us clear the skin. 



The Benefits of Saunas for Acne


Having to deal with acne as an adult may be more stressful than people can imagine. Sometimes, using skin care products or makeup products may lead to even more acne than before. Struggling with pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads can be a daunting task, especially when it affects your self-confidence. 


suffering from acne


It’s important to know that it is not your fault – some people are prone to acne, while others have never had to go through this. The difference is that you need to take better care of your acne-prone skin.  


Fortunately, when used correctly, saunas can improve the symptoms of acne, reducing blemishes and clearing your pores. One of the main reasons for this is that saunas make us sweat, which has several benefits for our skin, including clearing all trapped oil and dirt and balancing out the pH. 


For instance, a drop in skin’s pH leads to improved skin cohesion and makes the environment unfriendly to bacteria like P. acnes [3]. This is because sweat contains Dermcidin, a protein that prevents bacteria growth by reducing the bacterium’s ability to create proteins required to survive. 


There are other less obvious benefits of saunas that impact the health and look of our skin. We all lead a busy, stress-inducing life and some relaxing time in a sauna helps us detach from our daily worries. In turn, relaxing can alleviate some of our daily stress, which is one of the main causes of acne. When you are relaxed, your skin will look healthier because you produce more collagen than when you are stressed [4]. 


In addition to this, saunas help with blood circulation. An increased blood flow means that your body cells are able to heal faster and stay healthy, boosting hydration. In other words, the sauna does not dry out your skin, but rather helps it stay hydrated.  


Finally, saunas help open your pores, which is a crucial step to cleaning and exfoliating your skin prone to blemishes. Thus, it’s important to follow several tips to maximize the benefits of using a sauna to treat your acne. 



Tips to Maximize the Effects of a Sauna for Acne


How to Prep for Sauna

A sauna is a form of heat therapy for your skin, but it should be used correctly to maximize its benefits. As probably intuitive, the first important aspect is to prepare your skin accordingly before getting into the sauna. To do so, you should:


washing face - facial wash


  • Use the appropriate facial cleanser for your skin condition to remove any debris, oil, and dirt before getting into the sauna. This will prevent pore clogging in the sauna, but make sure the facial cleanser is gentle enough to avoid irritation. It’s recommended to take a shower, but avoid using any lotions or creams on your body.
  • Hydrate and boost your electrolyte intake with nourishing drinks, such as this Raspberry Iced Tea before, during, and after your sauna experience. Sweating will make you dehydrated, which will worsen your acne. 
  • Make sure your skin is completely clean – which means you should not wear any makeup products when you go to the sauna. You should also stop using any hair products that could end up on your skin. 
  • Make sure you prep your supplies and take them with you. Apart from hydrating drinks, you may also want to pack your own towels to make sure they are clean. Wiping your face with a dirty towel can undo all the benefits of the sauna. 


What to Do During Sauna

While saunas can be extremely beneficial for your acne-prone skin, it’s important to highlight that moderation is key. Not staying long enough means that you won’t reap all the benefits of heat therapy, while staying too much in a sauna means that all the sweat and the gunk sitting on your face will end up blocking your pores again.  In general, sitting for approximately 15 minutes in the sauna will be sufficient for the sweat to remove the dirt, oil, and bacteria from your skin. 

Another important tip is to avoid touching your face and hair not only while you are in the sauna, but outside of the sauna, too. This prevents adding dirt, oil, and bacteria back to your skin. Also, in case you use any hair products, sweating will cause these harmful chemicals to get on your skin, potentially making your acne worse, so it’s always important to avoid makeup and hair products. 


What to Do After Getting Out of the Sauna

Once your session is over, you need to wash your face to clean all the sweat, dirt, and oils using a gentle cleanser. Use a clean towel to dry your face to avoid adding bacteria and dirt back to your skin. Also, this is the perfect time to use a mild exfoliant on your skin. 




It’s important to notice that sweating will make your skin more sensitive, and any products you use, including the mild cleanser before sauna, will sink deeper into your skin than usual. This can cause problems if you use unnatural or toxic products, so you should always opt for high-quality products suitable for your skin condition. 


General Tips for Using a Sauna

If you are new to saunas, you may want to find out how to make your experience as pleasant as possible. When we have a pleasant experience, we are definitely more likely to repeat it, so your acne-prone skin can benefit from the heat treatment. Here are some tips to improve your sauna experience:


1. Plan Your Sauna Time Accordingly

Calculate for time spent in traffic and make sure you arrive on time to avoid stressing before the sauna. The benefits of a sauna are maximized when you are in a good mood and relaxed. 

In addition to this, you should avoid going to the sauna after you have a full meal. This can cancel the benefits as your body focuses on digesting the food rather than allowing the blood to circulate fully in your body. The best you can do is plan your sauna before your snack or meal. 


2. Listen to Your Body

You may hear from friends or relatives that they spend one hour at a time in the sauna. However, if you use it for the first time, 10-15 minutes is more than enough, especially if you want to treat your acne-prone skin. The ideal period is dictated by your own body – you can end your experience at any time if you feel uncomfortable. 


3. Sauna Attire

What you bring into the sauna can make or break your experience. If you have your own sauna at home, you can remove all your clothes and fully enjoy the experience. However, if you go to a public sauna, you may not be willing to remove all your clothing and may opt for a bathing suit instead. 

In this case, you should try to avoid any clothing with metal parts or accessories that can get very hot and uncomfortable on your skin. Avoid bringing books or electronics (like your phone) because the high humidity in the sauna will damage them. Most saunas will have relaxing music, so it’s best to sit and relax, disconnecting from the high-tech life for a change. 



The Bottom Line: Do Saunas Help with Acne?


Acne-prone skin requires more care than other types. A sauna can help you improve your skin as long as you use it correctly and avoid contaminating or irritating your skin. It’s important to have an excellent skincare and haircare routine using products specifically designed for your condition and drinking plenty of hydrating liquids.  


A sauna can help you with acne because sweating will naturally remove oil, dirt, and bacteria that cause blemishes. Before and after the sauna, it’s important to clean your skin using mild products. As your skin will be more sensitive after the heat therapy, these products will sink deeper into your pores, so you should not use any toxic products. 


Perhaps most importantly, staying hydrated before, during, and after getting out of the sauna will help your skin stay healthy and glowing. If you want to find out more about how hydration can help you with your acne-prone skin, click here





[1] NCBI: Ayer, J., & Burrows, N., Acne: more than skin deep. 2006; Available from:
[2] Mayo Clinic: Acne - Symptoms and causes. 2020; Available from:
[3] Karger: Kowatzki, D., Macholdt, C., Krull, K., Schmidt, D., Deufel, T., Elsner, P., & Fluhr, J. W., Effect of Regular Sauna on Epidermal Barrier Function and Stratum Corneum Water-Holding Capacity in vivo in Humans: A Controlled Study. 2008; Available from:
[4] Science Direct: Yamamoto, Y., Obayashi, K., Okano, Y., Satoh, Y., Masaki, H., & Funasaka, Y. . Efficacy of thermal stimulation on wrinkle removal via the enhancement of collagen synthesis. 2006; Available from:,up%2Dregulation%20of%20collagen%20synthesis.

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