I have always loved sitting in a sauna or steam room. It relaxes me, it makes me happy and to be honest, it’s the only time I truly switch off. So it was interesting to be asked whether a sauna helps with acne. In this post I look at whether sauna is good for acne and whether you want to start jumping into the heat as soon as possible for the sake of clear skin!
Let’s look at the science
The pioneer in research and compiling all the scientific evidence on sauna use is Dr. Rhonda Patrick. For a full overview of al the health benefits and risks of heat exposure using saunas, I recommend reading her full article on the al the health benefits (albeit quit long, detailed and very dense at times) which can be found here: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/sauna
According to Dr. Patrick, “bathing oneself in heat for the purposes of purification, cleansing, and healing is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years and observed across many cultures.”
This article shows that sauna bathing is one of the healthiest things you can do. It benefits your cardiovascular health and longevity. However there isn’t much evidence on how it affects skin and her detailed brief doesn’t even cover it. But if we think about what is happening to the body when we enter a sauna we can make some conclusions. Sauna use causes the body to be incredibly stressed, the skin and body temperature rises rapidly and sweating is a direct result of this increase. Cardiac output increases, and blood flow is redistributed from the core to the skin, which helps with sweating. It is a very similar process to exercise, but much more enjoyable!
So what about it clearing my acne?
The real question of course is whether saunas help with acne. Well, there is no direct scientific evidence, but many people report that it does help. As discussed above, sauna causes blood flow to the skin, which can deliver nutrients, and cause any inflammation to diminsh. This in turn will help acne to disappear. All the sweating that ensues is of course also a great thing for skin as well. The more toxins you can remove from your body, the better chances you have that you get rid of acne.
What’s more, scientific evidence does show that inflammation is reduced using saunas. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory blood protein and sauna use has been shown to reduce CRP in the blood. Whether this impacts acne is not known however, but even if it doesn’t at least you would be healthier! There is a good chance this will at least reduce your acne breakouts.
There is also evidence that sauna use promotes mental health and reduces depression. Depression and mental health in general does impact skin health and one could conclude that anything that helps your happiness would help your acne. Studies have shown that people increasing core body temperature, which would of course increase the skin temperature as well, experienced an acute antidepressant effect. Again, if it doesn’t help clear your acne, it will make you happier. But there is a very good chance it promotes clearer skin.
How many times should you use the sauna to cure acne?
There is a lack of scientific evidence on using saunas for acne, however there is plenty of scientific evidence which show the power of heat for your overall health. My view is that if something is going to make you healthier, it is very likely going to make you look a lot better. We’ve all seen those people who eat junk food everyday, are overweight and have bad skin. We’ve also seen those people who eat very healthy, exercise lots and their skin is radiant. Health and skin is connected, it is not just about what cream you put on your skin, it is how you treat yourself.
So what can saunas do for your health, according so some reseach conducted, using a sauna four times a week, can produce some incredible health benefits:
- 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death (i.e. heart attack) and reduced heart disease mortality – remember what is good for the heart, is good for blood flow, which will be good for your skin
- 50% lower chance of deadly cardiovascular disease
- 48% lower fatal coronoary heart disease
- 46% lower chance of hypertension
- 40% reduced risk of dying! – let’s read this again, regular sauna use actually lowers your chances of dying drastically
So what do you care? You might be a teenager and not worried at all about the health of your heart. I understand. But what is good for your heart, is good for your skin, is good for your acne. A healthier heart improves overall blood flow which is more likely to clear acne.
The biggest problem for me and many others is how you can find the time to use a sauna four times a week. First it’s expensive, you need to join a health club or gym. Second, whilst the sauna itself takes little time, getting to the health club, changing, showering, clearing your face afterwards just takes a lot of time. The good news is that even a few sauna sessions a month can help, so do what you can.
But what if you don’t have a sauna?
If you’re like me and just don’t have the space for a sauna at home, and don’t have time to go a health suite several times a week, then what do you do? Research has shown that being immersed in hot water has similar effects to a sauna. Hence, this is great news for those who do not have easy access to a sauna. Taking a hot bath has similar effects to a sauna and I suspect that taking regular hot baths will help with acne. It is important not to use bubbles or soap in the hot bath as some of those ingredients will make your acne worse.
For the best effects:
- Your hot bath should be uncomfortable but not painfull – never stay in too long either – keep your safety in mind at all times.
- Do not use any soap or products that create bubbles or are smelly
- You could use natural bath salts that are rich in magenesium, such as Epsom salts. Just make sure they do not have unnatural ingredients added, which is often the case
- Wash your face with cold water immediately after the hot bath to clear the pores
Following these simple steps is likely to help you have clearer skin. Whether you use a sauna or a hot bath, heat can help you heal acne and clear your skin quickly.
Should you start using the sauna to help with acne?
If you’re a healthy person, and have no underlying health conditions (but worth checking with your doctor), it would be worth trying this very enjoyable acne cure. There is no scientific evidence to show that sauna use can heal acne. However, as we have explored in this article, it is likely to make you healthier and happier, so you have little to lose! Many people report clearer skin after sauna use.
There are of course many different saunas. It is best to use a dry sauna and not a steam sauna. The reason being that if humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate from the skin. You want the sweat to evaporate and keep the skin clear. Make sure you wash your face with cold water after the sauna as well to rinse away all the toxins and sweat. You really don’t want to make the acne worse by leaving the sweat on your skin for more than half an hour. If you do that, it is likely to worsen acne. I personally have an ice cold shower which does wonder for my skin. Ice baths after a sauna are a little more extreme but again are great way to cure acne.
Saunas are good for acne, and whether you use a traditional or infrared sauna, you will receive similar resilts. In fact, whether you use an infrared sauna or a traditional sauna doesn’t matter too much.
Traditional finish saunas do get hotter, but there is evidence that a lower temperature in infrared sauna can be beneficial. The infrared in a sauna itself can also have health benefits, so worth trying both if you can, but not everyone has the choice so go for what is close to you. Infrared therapy is a much advertised acne cure online, but it really lacks much scientific evidence.
It would be wise to combine sauna and steam rooms with natural oils. For best results apply only after you washed your face and once your pores are unclogged.
Let me know whether you’ve tried saunas to clear your skin, and let me know where they cured your acne on the Facebook group!