If you’ve ever used a sauna before, you know you will want to cleanse yourself afterwards to remove any sweat and toxins released from the body during your session. The openness of the pores immediately following your sauna provides an unique opportunity to cleanse the skin and release any lingering toxins on the outer shell of the body.
This article will help prepare you to maximize your sauna experience by ensuring that you have a few sauna specific guidelines to cleanse your body after your sauna session.
Pre-Sauna Cleansing Preparation
Towels, and More Towels
You will need a towel inside your sauna that you can sit on, as well as a smaller towel that you can use to wipe the sweat off the brow before it lands in your eyes. If you are able to walk directly into the shower after your sauna session, that is preferred, but you may need to have a post-sauna/pre-shower towel available to protect your naked or mostly naked body from viewing and stay warm! Finally, you will want to have post shower clean towels at the ready as well.
Remove Make-up and Lotions
Before entering your sauna it is best to remove any make-up and heavy lotions covering the body. While your make-up will come off during the sauna (potentially ruining your towels), this is still an important step as it will allow your pores to open up during the sauna session. A short shower to take off cream, lotions, and make-up may be helpful depending on your personal skincare regimen.
Some skin care experts suggest dry brushing before entering the sauna, while others suggest doing so once you are already in the sauna. You will need to decide for yourself whether to dry brush in the sauna or before. The recommended frequency for dry brushing is 1-3 days a week. For details on how to properly perform dry brushing for maximum benefit please continue reading below.
Dry Brushing in the Sauna
Whether you have decided to perform your dry brushing inside the sauna, or before entering, you will need the same tools and will follow the same motions. A dry brush is made of natural bristles and can be hand held in the palm of the hand or may be held with a longer handle. We find that dry brushes with a longer handle will give you the ability to more easily reach all of the surfaces of your body, but the choice is yours!
Dry brushing is purported to help stimulate lymphatic drainage, exfoliate dead skin cells, improve upper level circulation, as well as possibly lessen the presence of cellulite. (1)
A study that was published by the National Library of Medicine found that dry brushing, when performed in a systematic way on the participants, did reduce the appearance of cellulite:
“This technique of lymphatic system stimulation is efficacious in the treatment of cellulite.” (1)
There is clinically significant data to suggests that dry-brushing may aid in the appearance of cellulite on the upper thighs, and lower abdomen (in women only – sorry, men), particularly when the cellulite was linked to the presence of estrogen. (1)
If you are performing dry brushing in your sauna then you will want to wait until the skin is warm enough, but not until there is profuse sweating occuring. Meaning, the skin should still be mostly dry, so this technique should be performed earlier on in your sauna session.
You can begin at the ankles and begin brushing in circular motions upwards towards the heart. Accessing as many areas as possible on both the front and the back sides of the body. Once you have completed one side up to the heart area, begin on the other ankle. After performing dry brushing on both sides of the lower body, then you will begin in reverse (excluding the face), starting with the wrists, arms, upper back – always moving in the direction of your heart.
You should apply gentle pressure, but not so much that the skin is damaged. Once you have finished, place the dry brush outside of the sauna. Once sweating has begun, you may begin to wipe the skin with a hand held towel. This will remove dead skin cells that will easily be removed from the body when the skin is moist from sweat.
*** Contradiction: Dry brushing is not appropriate for anyone with eczema, or psoriasis with an active flare up. Other skin conditions may not be appropriate for dry brushing. Furthermore, be sure that you can safely move around your sauna to access the different parts of your body, or enlist a friend or family member if you are lacking in flexibility.
Spend some time relaxing in your sauna, so you do not feel that you are spending the whole time attending to skin care.
Exfoliating After the Sauna
After your sauna session you will want to shower immediately. If you are not going to be using a cold plunge directly after your sauna, or going into a massage or other treatment, then you will want to cleanse yourself thoroughly after your sauna.
This means begin with a tepid shower, and slowly increase the temperature so that you feel the water to be warm. Use a gentle exfoliant that has an oil base. This will prevent the skin from drying out. You will gently rub the exfoliant over your body in circular motions. Then rinse your skin clean. If you have a particular face cleanser that you use, now is a time to cleanse the skin on your face thoroughly.
Use a very gentle cleanser for the rest of your body. It is important to cleanse the skin after a sauna session to avoid bacterial infection, however you do not want to dry the skin out. A natural, delicate soap should suffice for most skin types.
Close with a Cold Rinse
Once you have finished cleansing the skin you will want to finish your shower with a cold rinse. The colder temperature will help to close your open pores and prevent outside substances from getting under your skin. If you would like to enjoy a 2 minute cold shower at this point, you will also receive some additional benefits from contrast therapy.
Make sure you have a fresh, clean towel waiting for you upon exiting your post sauna shower.
What Kind of Soap To Use After A Sauna
After a sauna your pores are very open from all of the sweating that has occurred, so you want to treat your skin the same way you would a young child’s or baby’s skin. Use natural cleansers that are free of harsh scents, chemicals, and potential toxins as your skin will be very vulnerable after a sauna.
Further, if you have exfoliated or used a dry brush, then you will have a layer of fresh new skin that will require special treatment.
Moisturize After Post-Sauna Shower
You will want to moisturize your face with your normal serum and day or night cream depending on the time of day that you have used your sauna. You may also want to consider a natural moisturizer on your body to prevent excessive dryness.
Saunas can dry the skin out, especially if you are using a sauna several times a week for therapeutic purposes, so make sure that you have a moisturizer available that works for your skin type.
Sauna As a Deep Cleaning From the Inside Out
Taking a sauna is an excellent way to truly cleanse your body from the inside out. The sweat will purify the internal portions of the body, open the pores, and allow for a truly deep cleansing of the skin. By adding dry brushing to your sauna protocol, as well as an exfoliation session, you may be enhancing your overall health in many more ways.
To make your sauna session as clean as possible make sure you have plenty of towels, as well as a shower readily available. Your post-sauna shower will help to avoid any bacterial infection on the skin and should not be skipped.
Dry brushing is something that can be done just 1-3 times per week and should be avoided in excess or if you have a particular skin condition.
As with all things sauna related, if you are concerned about how your skin may react to dry brushing, regular sauna use, or what type of soap to use consult with your dermatologist before beginning this or any other protocol.