A Skincare Expert Details The Skin Types And Conditions That Should Probably Pass On The Sauna

Saunas are experiencing a major comeback in 2023. In fact, basking in the glory of a sauna's intense dry heat is said to provide your body with stronger cardiovascular health, improved circulation, and superior muscle relaxation (via The New York Times). What isn't often mentioned in discussions about sauna use is the potential effect it can have on the average person's skin. Since saunas provide dry heat, spending time in one can result in moisture loss, especially if you become dehydrated overall.


If you have sensitive or damaged skin or you suffer from a skin condition, you may experience more than a bit of dryness after visiting a sauna. In some cases, it might even be best for your skin to skip the sauna altogether. Here's what esthetician and makeup artist Sonia Roselli had to tell Glam about identifying the skin types and conditions that should probably skip the sauna. 

Sensitive or sunburned skin should be wary

Sensitive skin is prone to irritation, and sunburned skin is already irritated. Sonia Roselli cautions those with sensitive skin that the dry, hot conditions in a sauna combined with increased sweating may result in painful, itchy, or unsightly irritation that could have been prevented. When it comes to skin with an active sunburn, Sonia warns that "the heat in a sauna can further irritate and damage the skin, making it important to avoid saunas until the skin has fully healed." She adds, "Plus, it will not feel very good. Ouch!"


If your skin's sensitivity is especially triggered by dryness, you may wish to consider a steam room as a sauna alternative. While still providing the benefits of relaxing heat, a steam room offers a more hydrating experience for skin prone to dryness and irritation. Sunburned skin, on the other hand, needs to be fully recovered before it's exposed to high heat of any kind. 

Take caution if you have acne, eczema, or rosacea-prone skin

If you're someone who lives with a chronic skin condition like acne, eczema, or rosacea, unfortunately, the sauna experience may not be for you. The heat and the resulting sweating can contribute to clogged pores and irritation, which can trigger an acne breakout. The hot, sweaty conditions in a sauna can also make eczema symptoms worse. "The heat and sweating in a sauna can exacerbate eczema symptoms, making it important for individuals with eczema to avoid saunas or to take extra precautions when using them," Sonia Roselli explains.


Rosacea is a skin condition that is particularly triggered by heat. This is due to the fact that heat causes the blood vessels to dilate, with rosacea being rooted in blood vessel abnormalities (via MedlinePlus). "Some individuals with rosacea may find that saunas can worsen their symptoms," Rosellia cautions. However, all hope isn't necessarily lost. "It's important to talk to a healthcare provider before using a sauna," she adds.

Ultimately, while saunas are great for decompressing, they may not be for everyone, though it doesn't hurt to chat with your dermatologist or general practitioner to see if the sauna is something you can incorporate into your skincare and/or wellness routine.