Should You Shampoo Before or After Sauna or Steam Room?

Whether you are entering the dry heat of a sauna or the moisture-rich heat of a steam room, it’s a good idea to prepare your skin and hair in advance. You’ve probably heard that it’s good to shampoo beforehand, though people will also say to shampoo afterward, instead. Which is correct?

Showering and shampooing before and after a sauna or steam room are recommended. The first shower and shampoo opens your pores to ready them for cleansing, cleans out any hair products that might be present, and lets you conditioner your hair against the heat.  A follow-up shower with a light shampoo helps to clean your hair and recondition it afterward.  

To better understand this, let’s take a closer look at what a sauna and steam room actually do so that you can see the reason behind these recommendations!

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Effect of Sauna & Steam Room on Your Hair

Both saunas and steam rooms are very good for your hair – provided that you protect yourself from excess heat. The dry air from a sauna or the wet air from a steam room both act to open the pores of your skin, which allows a heat-driven cleansing of your scalp.

In turn, this is going to clean out your glands and ducts so that the flow of sebum, an oily secretion that the body produces moisturizes your skin and hair. This acts as a natural conditioner, although you can get quite a thorough conditioning that beats the shower any day by putting in a little conditioner in advance.

Once the session is completed, your hair has been thoroughly conditioned, but you need to remember that you’ve been seeping impurities out of your pores for 20 to 30 minutes now.

That means you’ve got well-conditioned hair, but it’s technically dirty again, and this is why it’s the perfect time for a mild shampoo and conditioner to complete your session.

Should You Shampoo Before Sauna/Steam Room Sessions?

cleaning hair before sauna steam room session
A woman cleaning hair before sauna & steam room sessions (Image source)

Shampooing before a sauna or steam room is something that you definitely want to do.

While these hot rooms can help to clear your pores, cleaning your body and hair thoroughly beforehand helps to clear your pores so that you can enjoy the full benefits of your sauna or steam room session. Clean pores, after all, will sweat more efficiently!

Once you’ve done this, you can add a little conditioner or oil to your hair, so that the hot environment and your open pores create an ideal moisturizing scenario

The trick is to make sure that you wrap up your hair first with a sauna turban, cap, or tightly with a towel. The result is an excellent conditioning session for your hair and you’re definitely going to notice the results.

Your hair will feel thicker, healthier, and softer, but we should warn you to keep this little hack confined to an actual sauna or steam room – some people recommend using your car as a makeshift sauna and you don’t want to do that.

Just keep up regular visits to the sauna or steam room for the best results.

Should You Shampoo After Sauna/Steam Room Sessions?

Shampooing after using a sauna or a steam room is a good idea. As your pores are practically weeping impurities from the body for the duration of your session, the need arises to clean it off of you – rather than leaving it on and departing the sauna in an unclean state.

The shampoo that you use is very important – shampoo, when overused, can strip your hair follicles a bit when you overuse it. By using a mild shampoo, such as a baby shampoo, you can gently clean your hair again without overly stressing it in the process.

If you only have one sauna or steam room session a week, then you can probably get away with using your regular shampoo, but we still don’t recommend it. Hair is quite delicate and when you get down to it, the keratin-built hair shafts are not technically alive.

The root itself is fed by tiny blood vessels, but once it leaves the skin, what you see is what you are left with. As such, using a mild shampoo, even when sauna or steam room sessions are infrequent is a very good idea.

After you’ve gently washed and shampooed your hair with the baby shampoo, then you can add a little conditioner if you like, but keep this mild as well. During the time in that hot room, your skin has been producing sebum, and some of this will still be present after a mild cleaning with baby shampoo.

So, a little conditioner will go a long way, and as you leave the sauna clean and refreshed, the extra time that you’ve taken to maintain and strengthen your hair is going to help ensure that you aren’t just feeling your best – but you’re also going to look like it!

Taking these extra steps may seem like a chore at first, but once you’ve incorporated them into your routine then you’ll see that it doesn’t take much time at all, and it’s just another way to take FULL advantage of the sauna and steam room experience.

Aside from the amazing cleaning and conditioning that you get, some aficionados even like to incorporate essential oils for use on their hair and skin before every session.

 The unique qualities of the hot, dry, or steamy interiors of your sauna or steam room make all of this possible – it’s just another reason why we make time for these sessions in the first place. Nothing beats the feeling and benefits of a good sauna or steam room!


Shampooing before and after your sauna or steam room session is always going to be the best practice. By shampooing beforehand, you clean and open your pores so that you will sweat more efficiently and your body will produce moisturizing sebum.

By shampooing afterward with a mild shampoo, you can wash the impurities out of your hair, while still maintaining some of the sebum and you can top it off with a mild conditioner if you like.

These little steps don’t take much time, but we challenge you to give them a try for a week or two to see what you think – you’ll be very happy that you did!

(Featured image by Spencer Davis on Unsplash)

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