Unexpected things that can happen to you in a sauna

Going to the sauna is usually a relaxing experience, and a time for stillness. However, there are a few strange or unexpected things that can happen to you in the sauna if you’re not careful.

Some of the unexpected things that can happen to you in sauna, if you are not careful and take the necessary precautions, are: Your your mobile phone can stop working due to the high temperature, you can get burnt wearing jewellery, the protective surface of your glasses can wear off, your contact lenses can dry, your makeup can melt, your tattoo can become faded, your hair can get fizzy, and you can get dizzy.

In this post I will walk you through all the strange and unexpected things that could happen in a sauna if you are not careful, follow your common-sense, and take certain precautions. I will also explain how you can prevent these things.

First, I will list all the strange and unpleasant things that can happen. Then, I will discuss how you can prevent them. In doing so, I will also share some of my experiences and best tips in what works and doesn’t work for me, in trying to prevent adverse events in the sauna.

Ok, let’s start!

Six odd things that could happen in a sauna

As mentioned, saunas are typically a relaxing space that makes you feel great. However, due to the high temperature and humidity in the sauna, a few strange things could happen. These are however preventable if you take the necessary precautions.

Below, I list six of the unexpected things that can happen to you in a sauna:

  1. Electronic devices, such as phones or tablets, could malfunction due to the high temperatures in the sauna.
  2. Jewelry or other metallic objects could burn you, or get distorted, due to the high temperature.
  3. Makeup could melt or smear due to the high temperatures and humidity in the sauna, and this can cause clogged pores.
  4. Tattoos could become distorted or fade due to the high temperatures in the sauna.
  5. Hair could become frizzy or unmanageable due to the high levels of humidity in the sauna.
  6. A person could get dizzy, even risk passing out, due to the intense heat in the sauna.
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Did you find any of these issues surprising? Anyway, in the next section, I will go into how you can prevent these things from happening. I will also talk about my own experiences, and what I have found to work best for prevention (after a life-time of sauna-usage).

How to prevent adverse events from happening in the sauna

In this section, I discuss how you can avoid the listed, adverse events from actually happening in the sauna. In doing so, I will also share my experiences of what works and what doesn’t work for me, in avoiding these adverse sauna-events.

Below is the full list of best tips on how to prevent adverse events from happening in the sauna.

Don’t bring electronic devices into the sauna

If you bring an mobile or other electronic device into the sauna anyway: do it at your own risk, and try to not keep it there for a very long time.

Don’t wear jewelry in the sauna

If you can, just leave your jewelry at home. If you are not able to do this and is worried about safety, there are usually safety-boxes where you can put your valuables, in public sauna spaces. Ask at the reception if you cannot find one. (For me, I sometimes just hide my valuables in my towel within my bag. However, this is of course rather risky if there are other people around the sauna space, or if you’re not constantly watching your bag.)

Take off your makeup before the sauna

I have personally entered the sauna several times with some mascara on. I cannot really say that I felt any negative effects from that however, except for that it made me look a bit like a raccoon, with big, black stripes under my eyes. However, I have in fact experienced getting breakouts and clogged pores at times when I have not wiped off my face cream before entering the sauna.  

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Put lotion on your tattoo(s) before entering the sauna

I don’t personally have any tattoos. However, what I have heard from people that have tattoos is that they put some kind of lotion on them before entering the sauna. This should, supposedly, prevent the tattoos form fading or becoming distorted. However, this is not something I can attest to myself.

Put protection on your hair before entering the sauna

The kind of protections that usually work well for the hair in a sauna, to avoid fizz or hair damage, are: conditioner, hair-serum, leave-in conditioner, sauna hat, a cap, or a towel. I usually apply conditioner into my hair before entering the sauna, during the days I wash my hair. That works well for me. However, I typically do not apply any type of protection during the days that I am not washing my hair. Personally, I cannot really say that I have experienced any noticeable negative effects, but it probably depends a lot on your hair type (and hair style).

Bring lots of water and take breaks

To avoid getting dizzy in the sauna, or even faint, it’s best to drink a lot of water. Drink water before, after and during the sauna. Also, if you go regularly, you might want to add some extra sea-salt to your diet, to not loose too many electrolytes and minerals.

I usually drink a lot of water before the sauna, some during the sauna, and very much after the sauna. I also usually chew on salt crystals right after the sauna. (If you have been sweating a lot in the sauna, you will in fact naturally be itching for something salty.)

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Another tip to avoid getting dizzy, or worse, is to (of course) take lots of breaks, and step out of the sauna if it gets too hot. Some people have a tendency to always want to perform and push themselves too hard. I personally find it better to try to avoid that tendency. If you want even stronger results from the sauna, it is (in my experience) better to instead go more regularly. That way you will build up your tolerance to the sauna-heat naturally instead.

Another tip that I personally adhere to, is to not close the eyes in the sauna, especially if you are there alone. I find that since sauna-ing is so relaxing, it is tempting to close the eyes and meditate a bit, or just relax. However, for me, this can get too relaxing. I am worried I could actually fall asleep, get dizzy, or somehow loose my attentiveness. I have practiced Bikram yoga for several years, which is yoga in heat and humidity, and there you are not allowed to close your eyes during the practice, so I think there is something to this.

Final words

So, there you have it. Do you agree with these best tips on how to prevent adverse events from happening in the sauna? Have you had anything unusual happen to you in the hot-room, and if so, what did you do? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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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