Does a Sauna Make Your Skin Lighter or Darker? (Traditional/Infrared)

The traditional sauna provides heat, while the infrared sauna provides heat as well as light. Both heat and infrared rays are significant components of the sun. Can a sauna burn, tan, or lighten your skin?

A sauna does not lighten or darken your skin. Infrared (IR) and Ultraviolet (UV) rays have separate wavelengths, penetrating and affecting the skin differently. UV rays and intense heat can harm the skin, but any effects a traditional or infrared sauna may have on your skin color is temporary and likely a result of either dehydration or the heat.

Keep reading for more information on how the sauna affects skin color and whether or not the sauna is helpful or harmful, keep reading. 

What does a traditional sauna do to the skin?

The traditional sauna pampers our insides by lowering blood pressure, relaxing muscles, detoxifying our bodies, and more. But what about the outside of our bodies? After all, our skin is our body’s largest organ, so what exactly does the sauna do to our skin? 

The sauna provides many benefits for the skin promoting healing, boosting circulation, cleansing the skin, fighting infection, and giving a more youthful appearance.

Some of the major benefits that the sauna has on your skin include:

  • Helps psoriasis – Studies have found that the sauna can help rid the skin of hyperkeratotic scales through hydration, heat, and pH level balancing. 
  • Sweat cleanses the skin – Sweating is the body’s natural way of detoxifying the skin and flushing dirt out of your pores. Therefore, sweating can clear your skin and reduce the probability of future blemishes.
  • Increases collagen in the skin – As we age, our skin loses elasticity resulting in saggy or wrinkly skin. The sauna helps promote the production of collagen, making skin look more youthful. 
  • Helps dry skin – Your body’s sebaceous glands create a natural moisturizer called sebum. When these glands are blocked, the ability to moisturize is reduced. Using the sauna can unclog your pores and glands, allowing sebum the opportunity to do its job. 
  • Relieves stress – The way you feel inside can often be seen on the outside. Stress levels play a large part in how our skin looks. The sauna relieves stress both mentally and physically. Reducing stress can make a significant impact on your skin.
  • Kills harmful bacteria – The heat from a sauna can kill off infective microorganisms.
  • Can reduce inflammation – C-reactive protein is a protein found in your blood plasma that rises in response to inflammation. The frequent use of a sauna lowers C-reactive protein content, therefore reducing inflammation.

Does a traditional sauna make your skin lighter?

The traditional sauna does not have any permanent effects on your skin’s melanin content.

If your skin is lighter or pale after your session in the sauna, this may be a sign of dehydration.

It is essential to drink water before and after your sauna session.

Does a traditional sauna make your skin darker?

The traditional sauna does not make your skin darker.

You may leave the sauna with a pink tone; this is a temporary effect of the heat.

It is common for heat exposure to make your skin flush. 

What does an infrared sauna do to the skin?

The infrared sauna also has many positive benefits for your skin. Like the traditional sauna, the infrared lights are a dermatologist-approved treatment for many skin conditions and routine for overall skin health.

Here are a few benefits that infrared sauna can have on your skin:

  • Promotes healing – Dermatologists believe that infrared lights can speed up healing the skin by increasing the cell renewal process.
  • Helps with inflammation – Like the traditional sauna, the infrared sauna reduces the blood plasmas C-reactive protein, resulting in less inflammation.
  • Collagen production – Collagen is the building block of your skin’s structure. Mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy required to power your skin cells. Mitochondria absorb infrared light resulting in the production of more collagen. 
  • Clearing skin – Sweat is a natural way to clear your pores. Acne breakouts can be directly linked to stress; therefore, enjoying the infrared sauna can help relieve stress and evade future blemishes.

Does an infrared sauna make your skin lighter?

Consistent with the traditional sauna, the infrared sauna does not permanently affect the skin’s melanin content.

However, if after a session you are pale, this is a sign of dehydration, which should be taken very seriously.

Does an infrared sauna make your skin darker?

The infrared sauna does not make your skin darker.

Infrared light is much safer and less intense than UV rays that cause your skin to burn or tan. 

However, if you have skin conditions that affect the pigmentation of your skin, such as melasma, infrared lights may worsen your condition.

How to take care of your skin after using the sauna

With so many incredible sauna benefits, it is important to make the most out of your session with proper aftercare. 

The sauna can be lead to dehydration due to excessive sweating. Sweating is one of the many benefits that the sauna provides, but it is essential to stay hydrated by drinking water before and after your sauna session.

You can also help your skin stay hydrated by using moisturizing lotions.

Like mentioned, sweating is a fantastic sauna benefit because it detoxifies your skin by forcing toxins from your pores. It is suggested to exfoliate in a cool or lukewarm shower after your session. You have to wash those toxins off of your body for the detoxification to be fully effective. 

Additionally, heat opens your pores, and cool water closes them. Therefore, it is best to start your post-session shower with warmer water temperatures and end your shower with cool temperatures as a way to shrink your pores and keep toxins out.