Does Sauna Damage my Hair and what to do about it?

Does sauna damage your hair? There is a myth going around that sauna will damage your hair, much like swimming in a pool can sometimes make your hair get a bit of a rug-doll look. Having done sauna regularly for almost all my life however, I have to say I have never really experienced this. I have also talked to some other women about this, and some of them even claim the sauna makes their fizzy hair better.

Perhaps it depends on your hair-type (mine is Scandinavian), or on what you actually do to your hair inside and outside of the sauna. Personally, I don’t like putting any artificial products in my hair in general, so perhaps that mitigates a negative effect. (I only use non-SLS products, and often finish off my hair-washes with vinegar rinses.)

However, I also do several things to my hair inside the sauna, that probably have positive effects. I will discuss these little hacks below. But, don’t worry, I also did some research to make sure I covered any tip and advice that I had not thought about myself! Thus, I will also walk you through the most up-to-date, conventional knowledge to this issue.

So, if you want to find out if sauna-ing actually damages your hair, and how to prevent it, read on!

Sauna and hair: what the experts say

In this section, I go through what I found in my general research about the effect of sauna on your hair, and the conventional tips to avoid any negative effects. (Then, in the section thereafter, I will talk about my own experiences and tips.)

What the experts say about sauna’s effect on your hair

Sauna sessions can potentially have a negative effect on your hair, according to several authority knowledge sources on this issue. That said however, it is important to keep in mind that it is claimed the impact of sauna (if any) on your hair ultimately depends on several different factors:

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  • The type and condition of your hair
  • The duration of the sauna session
  • The temperature in the sauna
  • The frequency with which you use the sauna.

One potential issue with sauna use is said to be that the high heat and humidity can cause your hair to become dry and brittle. This is because the heat can potentially strip the natural oils from your hair, leaving it dry and prone to breakage. Additionally, it is claimed the humidity can cause your hair to become frizzy and unmanageable. Several knowledge sources claim that if you have damaged or color-treated hair, the sauna may exacerbate these issues and cause further damage.

To minimize the potential negative effects of sauna on your hair, several knowledge sources advice one to take these precautions:

  • First, one could limit the duration of your sauna sessions. The longer you stay in the sauna, the more time your hair has to be exposed to the heat and humidity.
  • Additionally, one could try to avoid using the sauna on a daily basis. That would give the hair a break between sauna sessions can allow it time to recover and maintain its natural moisture levels.

Sauna and hair: my experience and best tips

My experience of sauna’s effect on hair

As mentioned, I have personally not experienced negative effects on my hair. As touched upon, I have also talked to other women, and some claim their hair actually gets less fizzy (dry) from using the sauna. These women, however, did not use the sauna every day.

My best tips for great hair when using sauna regularly

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My own best tip however is to use a conditioner or hair serum before entering the sauna. This really helps protect the hair from the heat and humidity, and can also help to keep it hydrated and moisturized. In fact, a sauna session with a conditioner in the hair makes it look amazing afterward in my experience. (However, I only do a hair-conditioning in the sauna when I’m washing my hair anyway, so not every day.)

Another tip is to wear something on your hair during the sauna session, such as a towel, cap or a sauna hat. This will also protect your hair in my experience. This is a great option, since you may not have time to rinse out conditioner after every time you visit the sauna.

Me with a conditioner on in the sauna, and my hair when it had dried.
Image: Me with a conditioner on in the sauna, and my hair when it had dried.

Tips for protecting your hair in the sauna: full list

In this section I list all the tips out there for protecting your hair in the sauna. This includes my own tips, tips from the conventional knowledge sources on sauna-ing, and any other tips that are out there.

Full list of tips for protecting your hair from damage in the sauna

  1. Use a hair mask, serum or (leave-in) conditioner before entering the sauna to add an extra layer of protection to your hair.
  2. Cover your hair with a shower cap or headband before entering the sauna to keep the heat and steam from directly contacting your hair.
  3. Avoid staying in the sauna for too long, as extended exposure to heat and steam can damage your hair.
  4. Use a low heat setting on your hair dryer after leaving the sauna, as high heat can further damage your hair.
  5. Avoid using hot water to rinse your hair after leaving the sauna, as this can strip your hair of its natural oils and further damage it.
  6. Consider using a leave-in conditioner or hair oil to help repair and nourish your hair after a sauna session.
  7. Drink plenty of water before and after your sauna session to help keep your hair hydrated and healthy.
  8. Avoid using harsh chemicals or heat-styling tools on your hair after a sauna session, as your hair may be more susceptible to damage at this time.
  9. Consider using a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask to help repair and nourish your hair after a sauna session.
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The Verdict: Does Sauna Affect your Hair Negatively?

Overall, while sauna use can potentially have an impact on the appearance of your hair, according to the authority knowledge sources, it is important to keep in mind that everyone’s hair is different, and the effects of sauna on your hair will depend on a range of different of factors.

The conventional knowledge sources advice precautions such as limiting sauna sessions, and doing sauna less frequently.  

However, if you don’t want to limit your sauna sessions just because of a hair-issue, the best way to protect your hair is to either use conditioner or hair serum before entering the sauna, or to use a towel or sauna hat during on your hair during the sauna session.

Ok, there you have it! I would love to hear from you about your experiences with hair-issues (if any) in the sauna, in the comments below!


Author: Anna Svensson

Anna is a Scandinavian who grew up with saunas. She has had a life-long love for, and interest in, saunas. In this blog, she shares her best hacks and things she has learned about saunas over the years. You can read more about Anna in the “About” page.

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