Due to current corona measures, going to the sauna is not an option. I miss it a lot and just recently came across an interesting article about it in a magazine. It was about the effect of sauna visits on our health and well-being. And since I'm on the subject of “skin”, I would like to dedicate this blog post to the question of what sauna actually does to our skin, whether and how we can support it to get the best out of it – as soon as we can go there again :)
Why we go to the sauna
Nowadays, regular sauna visits are almost perceived as a social event. You meet and spend a relaxing time together. This is good for our psychosocial wellbeing. From a physiological point of view, a visit to the sauna strengthens our cardiovascular and immune systems and can also alleviate symptoms of rheumatic diseases.
Sweating as a natural cleaning function
In fact, the sauna originally served to thoroughly cleanse the body, as the heat opens up our pores and even deeper-seated impurities can be “sweated out” in a very natural way. You are probably familiar with the term “pore-deep cleaning” - which can be perfectly applied to this process.
The sweating and cooling phases that are typical of the sauna stimulate the blood circulation in the skin and thus supply it more effectively with moisture and minerals. Regular sauna sessions even train the skin and can increase its water storage capacity. This better armies you against dehydration, the skin appears fresher and more youthful.
The widened pores also allow sebum and dead skin cells to be removed more effectively. That is why taking a sauna gives people who suffer from acne relief in individual cases, because acne clogs the pores, which often leads to inflammation. But since the causes of acne diseases are diverse, it is always advisable to seek medical advice, because there are also forms of acne that can worsen even more when you visit the sauna.
Can we increase the positive effect of the sauna on our skin?
Taking a sauna supports our skin functions in a completely natural way and there is actually no need for additional cleaning and care products. In principle, however, the following applies: What feels good is good for your skin. If you want to use a sauna scrub because you will feel even happier in your skin afterwards, then do it! If your skin is taut when it has returned to normal ambient temperature after using the sauna (about thirty minutes), then it is very likely to be prone to dryness. In this case, a so-called water-in-oil emulsion, a cream that provides more intensive care due to its high proportion of fats and oils, does a good job. And whatever applies, but even more so when you go to the sauna: drink a lot so that the higher moisture loss during the sauna can be optimally compensated for from the inside.
No matter what season
Sauna is not a question of the season - it is good for the skin, body and soul all year round. Skin care products, on the other hand, have a more special effect and should always match your skin type and the time of year. In dry and cool climates, for example, the skin needs formulations with a higher fat and oil content (water-in-oil emulsions). These richer emulsions form a film on the skin that prevents it from drying out and at the same time protects it from the harsh weather. In summer, on the other hand, the skin loves formulations with a higher proportion of water (oil-in-water emulsions) because it is thirsty and the water is also used for cooling.
So you should definitely look into the ingredients of your care products in order to be able to make the right selection for your skin at the right time. However, the basis of all your decision is always your skin type. If you find it difficult to determine it yourself, then it is worth going to the cosmetics institute. There you are in the best professional hands and a cosmetic treatment is not only good for your skin, but also for your personal well-being.
What if you are not a sauna fan?
The answer to this question is also my tip for everyone who has to forego the sauna in Corona times: All positive sauna effects on the skin can also be achieved cosmetically. Exfoliating, for example, also ensures better blood circulation in the skin, removes dead skin cells and stimulates cell renewal. The gentlest peeling is an enzymatic peeling, as it contains neither abrasives nor acids, but “works” with active ingredients from plant juices - the so-called proteases. These are enzymes that can break down protein. These loosen dead cells in the horny layer of the skin, which can then be easily removed from the surface.
And when it comes to the skin's ability to retain moisture, there is highly effective cosmetic support - on the one hand, through ingredients that act as moisturizing factors and, on the other hand, through ingredients that improve the skin's evaporation barrier.
Suitable moisturizing factors are, for example, sterols, lipids, amino acids, protein hydrolysates, salts of fruit acids, fructose, glycerol and natural moisturizing factors occurring in the skin, such as lactic acid or urea. Very good in summer - in winter, high-molecular moisturizing factors such as native proteins, hyaluronic acid or other polysaccharides are less suitable, as these active ingredients form a gel film on the skin, which cools the skin.
The best way to improve the evaporation barrier is to combine oil components that imitate the composition of natural skin sebum. Lanolin, a number of natural waxes, oils and butters as well as wax esters, triglycerides or neutral oils of natural origin can be used for this purpose.