How to Use a Sauna: What to Do Before, During & After

Spending time in a hot, dry sauna can be a rejuvenating and healthy experience if done properly. With temperatures typically ranging from 160-212 degrees Fahrenheit, saunas stimulate sweating, promote relaxation, relieve sore muscles, and provide other benefits like stress relief and skin cleansing. However, inadequately preparing for or using a sauna can lead to safety issues like dehydration, overheating, and dizziness. This is why it is crucial to follow certain precautions before, during, and after your sauna session.

This article provides practical guidelines for sauna beginners as well as tips for intermediate and advanced users. We will cover how to adequately hydrate before entering, recommended time limits for staying inside the sauna, warning signs to watch out for, and the proper way to cool down afterward. Following these simple protocols allows you to safely enjoy all the health and wellness benefits saunas have to offer.

Table of Contents

1. Before Using a Sauna

i. Should You Sauna Before or After These Activities

Infrared sauna before or after acupuncture: It is typically recommended to wait at least 4 hours after acupuncture before using an infrared sauna. The heat from the sauna can amplify the effects of acupuncture, increasing the risk of dizziness or fainting if done too soon after treatment. Sauna before acupuncture may also make needles more painful. For best results and comfort, schedule your sauna session later in the day following your acupuncture appointment.

Sauna before or after running: Sauna before running is not recommended as heat exposure can lead to dehydration, negatively impacting your performance. Sauna after running allows your body temperature to lower closer to normal before heat exposure and can help speed muscle recovery, relieve soreness, and reduce inflammation from the run. Wait at least 30-60 minutes after running before entering the sauna. Learn more.

Sauna before or after waxing/eyebrow wax: It is best to wait 24-48 hours after waxing before using a sauna. The heat can irritate freshly waxed skin. If saunaing before waxing, the heat opens pores and follicles, which can increase the risk of skin lifting or burning during waxing, making it more painful. Sauna post-waxing is safer once the skin has calmed and is less prone to sensitivity.

Sauna before or after tanning bed/spray tan booth: It’s best to avoid the sauna before and after tanning sessions. The sauna heat can cause excess perspiration that impacts spray tan application or causes faster fading. Saunaing after UV tanning intensifies skin damage and dehydration risk. Allow at least 24 hours between the sauna and your tanning appointment for safety and the best tanning results.

Infrared sauna before or after massage: It is typically recommended to infrared sauna before a massage. The heat will relax muscles, increase blood flow, and enhance massage effects. Saunaing after may be overstimulating. However, if getting a deep tissue massage, wait until the next day in the sauna so the heat doesn’t agitate freshly worked tissues. Avoid sauna for at least 24 hours after intense massage sessions.

Infrared sauna before or after colonic: It is best to avoid using an infrared sauna before or after getting a colonic. The sauna heat can lead to dehydration which can make colonic side effects like dizziness or fatigue worse. Additionally, the sauna can irritate an already taxed digestive system. Wait at least 1-2 days after a colonic before infrared saunaing to allow the body to fully recover.

ii. Should You Sauna After These Surgery

Can you use the sauna after a c-section: It’s generally recommended to wait until after the postpartum recovery period, typically 6-8 weeks after a c-section, before using a sauna. Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice, as heat exposure too soon after surgery can potentially interfere with healing.

Can you go in the sauna after microneedling: It’s advisable to avoid saunas or intense heat exposure for a few days after microneedling to protect the treated skin. Heat can increase inflammation and sensitivity. Consult your skincare professional for specific guidance, but typically waiting 2-3 days post-micro needling before sauna use is recommended for optimal healing. Learn more.

Can you use sauna steam rooms after breast cancer: For individuals with a history of breast cancer, using saunas or steam rooms should be approached cautiously. Consult with your healthcare provider before sauna use, as heat exposure can impact lymphedema risk or surgical areas. Personalized advice is crucial to ensure safe and appropriate post-treatment care.

Can you use infrared sauna after hysterectomy: It is generally recommended to avoid infrared sauna use for 6-8 weeks after a hysterectomy to ensure the incisions and internal tissues can fully heal to avoid complications. After getting medical clearance, begin slowly with short 5-10 sessions, staying well-hydrated. The heat may help reduce scarring and improve recovery later on during the healing process.

Infrared sauna after hair transplant: It is best to wait at least 2 weeks after a hair transplant before using an infrared sauna. The heat causes increased blood flow which can lead to swelling and potential dislodging of transplanted grafts while they are still fragile taking root. After healing, regular sauna use may aid growth by improving scalp circulation, however, strength settings should remain very low initially.

Can you use the sauna with an ostomy bag: It is usually safe to use a sauna with an ostomy bag as long as proper precautions are taken, such as staying well hydrated, limiting time to 10-15 minutes, and avoiding direct steam on the bag site. Monitor overheating symptoms and empty/change the bag beforehand if possible. Test a small towel over the bag if desired to keep the site comfortable in the heat.

Sauna after laparoscopic surgery: It is best to avoid the sauna for at least 2 weeks after laparoscopic surgery to allow incisions to fully close. After getting medical clearance, it is generally safe to sauna using low heat for short sessions. Benefits may include reducing scars and relieving post-surgery discomfort, though it’s normal to have additional soreness post-sauna initially during the remaining healing process. Read more.

Can you use the sauna after liposuction: It is recommended to wait at least 6 weeks after liposuction before using a sauna to allow swelling and bruising to fully resolve and incisions to heal. After getting clearance from your provider, sauna heat may aid in remaining inflammation and fluid reduction. Start slowly with low heat settings. Compression garments can be worn for comfort if needed.

iii. Preparing For Sauna

a. Clothing

What to wear: In a sauna, it’s common to wear a towel, swimsuit, or a clean, loose-fitting cotton wrap for modesty. Some prefer to go nude for better heat circulation, but it’s essential to check and follow the sauna’s specific rules or cultural norms regarding attire for a comfortable and respectful experience.

Underwear: Wearing underwear in a sauna is a personal choice based on comfort and cultural norms. Some prefer to go nude for better heat circulation, while others wear underwear for modesty. Ensure cleanliness and considerate behavior in shared saunas, following guidelines or rules set by the facility for a respectful experience.

Sauna hat: Wearing a sauna hat is optional but can help protect your head from excessive heat in traditional saunas. The hat prevents overheating and can enhance comfort during extended sauna sessions. If you find your head getting too hot or uncomfortable, wearing a sauna hat can be a practical choice for a more enjoyable sauna experience.

Can you be naked: In many saunas, being naked is acceptable and common practice for better heat circulation and comfort. However, it’s essential to respect the rules and cultural norms of the specific sauna you are using. Always ensure cleanliness and considerate behavior in shared sauna spaces for a pleasant experience.

b. Food

Sauna before or after eating: It’s generally recommended to avoid eating a heavy meal immediately before using a sauna to prevent discomfort or indigestion. Opting for a light snack or waiting an hour after eating before sauna use is advisable. After a sauna session, it’s important to rehydrate and nourish your body with a balanced meal to replenish lost fluids and nutrients.

c. Hair care

Coconut oil usage: Using coconut oil before a sauna can be beneficial for moisturizing the skin and enhancing the sauna experience. It can create a barrier to lock in moisture and protect the skin from excessive dryness caused by the heat. After a sauna session, applying coconut oil can help rehydrate and nourish the skin, restoring moisture and promoting skin health.

Shampoo usage: Using shampoo before a sauna is generally recommended if you want to cleanse your hair before the session. This can help remove any dirt, oil, or products from your hair, allowing the heat from the sauna to penetrate your scalp more effectively. After a sauna session, you can choose to shampoo your hair to remove sweat and any impurities that may have accumulated during the session. It’s important to use a gentle shampoo to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils.

d. Shower

Shower before or after the sauna: Showering before a sauna session is advisable to cleanse your body of dirt, oils, and any products that could block pores, allowing you to sweat more effectively during the sauna. After a sauna session, it’s recommended to shower to rinse off sweat, cool down, and cleanse your skin to remove toxins released through sweating. Showering after a sauna helps maintain hygiene and leaves you feeling refreshed.

Also read: How to Build a Sauna at Home

2. While Using a Sauna

i. Best Time to Use Sauna

The best time to use a sauna ultimately depends on personal preference and lifestyle. Some people prefer using a sauna in the morning to start their day feeling refreshed and energized, while others enjoy using it in the evening to unwind and relax before bedtime. Choose a time that fits into your routine and allows you to fully enjoy the sauna experience.

ii. How Long to Stay in the Sauna

The duration of time to stay in a sauna can vary depending on individual tolerance, experience, and the type of sauna. As a general guideline, beginners may start with 10-15 minute sessions and gradually increase up to 20-30 minutes as they become accustomed to the heat. It’s essential to listen to your body’s signals, stay hydrated, and exit the sauna if you feel uncomfortable or overheated.

iii. Drinking Water in the Infrared Sauna

Yes, it’s important to stay hydrated when using an infrared sauna. The heat in the sauna can cause you to sweat and lose fluids, so drinking water before, during (if possible), and after your session is crucial to prevent dehydration and maintain your body’s hydration levels. Remember to listen to your body and drink water as needed to stay properly hydrated.

iv. Killing Time in the Sauna

Phone: While it’s tempting to bring your phone into a sauna for entertainment or music, it’s generally not recommended due to the high heat and humidity that can damage electronic devices. Instead, consider leaving your phone outside the sauna in a safe, dry place or use waterproof Bluetooth speakers to enjoy music without risking damage to your phone. Prioritize your phone’s safety and longevity by keeping it away from extreme sauna conditions.

Airpods: Using AirPods in a sauna is generally not recommended due to the sauna’s high heat and humidity levels, which can damage the delicate electronic components of the AirPods. Moisture and extreme temperatures can compromise the functionality of AirPods and reduce their lifespan. It’s best to avoid using AirPods in saunas to prevent potential damage to the devices.

Kindle: Using a Kindle e-reader in a sauna is not advisable due to the sauna’s high heat and humidity levels, which can harm electronic devices. Exposing a Kindle to extreme temperatures and moisture can lead to malfunctions or permanent damage. It’s best to keep electronic devices like Kindles outside the sauna to prevent any potential issues and ensure their proper functioning.

Laptop: Using a laptop in a sauna is highly discouraged due to the intense heat and humidity, which can severely damage the laptop and pose safety risks. Electronics are not designed to withstand sauna conditions, and exposing a laptop to such extreme heat and moisture can lead to malfunctions, data loss, or even fire hazards. It’s best to keep laptops and other electronic devices away from saunas to prevent damage and ensure safety.

iPad: Similar to laptops and other electronic devices, using an iPad in a sauna is not recommended due to the high heat and humidity levels that can damage the device. The sauna environment can cause overheating, malfunction, or permanent damage to the iPad’s components. It’s advisable to keep electronic devices like iPads outside the sauna to protect them from potential harm and ensure their longevity.

iPod: Using an iPod in a sauna is not advisable due to the sauna’s high heat and humidity, which can damage the device. The extreme conditions in a sauna can lead to malfunctions, overheating, or permanent damage to the iPod’s components. It’s recommended to keep electronic devices like iPods outside the sauna to ensure their longevity and prevent potential harm.

Also read: 10+ Gyms That Offer Sauna & Steam Rooms Near You

3. After Using a Sauna

After a rejuvenating sauna session, it’s crucial to follow proper post-sauna care to maximize the benefits and ensure a safe recovery. From hydration to cooling down, post-sauna rituals play a vital role in maintaining overall well-being. Here are essential steps to take after a sauna session.

  • Hydrate: Drink ample water to replenish lost fluids and prevent dehydration. Hydrating post-sauna is key to restoring balance in your body.
  • Cool Down Gradually: Lower your body temperature slowly by taking a lukewarm shower or using a cool compress. Gradual cooling helps your body adjust after heat exposure.
  • Moisturize: Apply a hydrating lotion to nourish your skin and counteract dryness caused by sweating in the sauna. Moisturizing helps maintain skin health.
  • Rest and Relax: Allow your body to rest and recover post-sauna. Take a moment to unwind, relax, and enjoy the calming effects of the sauna experience.
  • Eat a Light Snack: Refuel your body with a nutritious snack to replenish energy levels. Opt for light, healthy options to support post-sauna recovery.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel after the sauna. If you experience dizziness, weakness, or any discomfort, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Shower: Rinse off in a shower to cleanse your skin of sweat and toxins released during the sauna session. Maintaining hygiene post-sauna is essential for overall well-being.

By following these post-sauna practices, you can enhance the benefits of your sauna experience and promote a healthy recovery. Prioritize hydration, cooling down, skincare, and relaxation to make the most of your sauna session and support your overall wellness. Incorporating these steps into your post-sauna routine can help you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the day ahead.


Should you leave the sauna door open or closed?

Leaving the sauna door open or closed depends on personal preference and the type of sauna. Closing the door traps heat for higher temperatures while leaving it open allows for cooler temperatures and better air circulation. Experiment with both options to see what is most comfortable for you.

Can you use the sauna on blood thinners?

Using a sauna while on blood thinners can increase the risk of overheating and dehydration due to the body’s reduced ability to regulate temperature. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider before sauna use to ensure it’s safe, as the combination can potentially lead to adverse effects.

Does sauna cause dandruff prevention?

Saunas can help with dandruff prevention by promoting scalp health through improved circulation and sweat gland stimulation. The heat and steam in saunas can also unclog hair follicles and reduce dryness. However, individual results may vary, and using appropriate hair care products post-sauna is essential for optimal scalp health.

Do you need sunscreen in an infrared sauna?

Sunscreen is not necessary in an infrared sauna since the heat emitted is different from UV radiation. Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body directly, not UV rays. However, it’s essential to stay hydrated and follow recommended session durations to prevent overheating and dehydration in saunas. Learn more.

Can you use a sauna after piercing? Can you wear jewellery in Sauna?

It’s generally advised to avoid saunas immediately after getting a piercing to prevent irritation or infection. Wait until the piercing has fully healed before exposing it to heat or steam. Remove jewelry before entering a sauna to prevent skin burns and discomfort, especially if the jewelry contains metals that could heat up.

How to build a sauna at home?

To build a sauna at home, select a suitable location, plan the layout, choose the type (traditional, infrared), insulate the walls and ceiling, install a heat source (electric or wood-fired stove for traditional saunas, infrared panels for infrared saunas), add seating, and ensure proper ventilation for a comfortable and safe sauna experience.

How to listen to music in the sauna?

Listening to music in a sauna can be enjoyable and relaxing. Consider using waterproof Bluetooth speakers or sauna-specific audio systems designed to withstand the heat and humidity of saunas. Alternatively, you can create a sauna playlist on your phone or music player and place it outside the sauna within Bluetooth range to enjoy your favorite tunes while relaxing in the sauna. Just ensure the music source is kept away from direct contact with the sauna’s heat and moisture to prevent damage.

Is sauna good for digestion?

Sauna sessions can potentially benefit digestion by relaxing digestive muscles and improving circulation. The heat and steam in saunas may aid in digestion by promoting muscle relaxation and potentially enhancing nutrient absorption. While more research is needed, saunas could have a positive impact on gastrointestinal health.

Should you use the sauna blanket or belt before/After eating?

Using a sauna blanket or belt before eating may potentially aid digestion and boost metabolism. Post-meal use could promote relaxation and detoxification. The timing of sauna blanket or belt usage in relation to meals can influence their benefits, with pre-meal use possibly offering more digestive advantages.

Does sauna help with food poisoning?

Saunas may offer relief for food poisoning symptoms by inducing sweating to eliminate toxins and promote relaxation. The increased circulation during sauna sessions could potentially aid in easing digestive discomfort. While not a cure, sauna use might help alleviate some effects of food poisoning.


Incorporating a sauna session into your wellness routine can offer a multitude of benefits for both the body and mind. By following the proper steps before, during, and after a sauna session, you can enhance the overall experience and maximize its positive effects. Preparing your body beforehand, practicing mindfulness and relaxation during the sauna, and taking care of yourself post-session are all essential aspects of making the most out of your sauna experience.

Remember to stay hydrated, listen to your body’s signals, and prioritize your well-being throughout the sauna process. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, detoxification, or muscle recovery, a sauna can be a valuable addition to your self-care regimen. By understanding how to use a sauna effectively and implementing these guidelines, you can enjoy a rejuvenating and beneficial sauna experience that leaves you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to take on the day.

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