What happens if you skip shower after sauna? (my experiment)

Anna in a traditional sauna. SaunaEdge.com

Do you ever get the feeling that all of the nice benefits with a sauna session are cut short due to the shower afterward? I often get that feeling, so one evening, I went ahead and made a little experiment in which I choose the skip the shower after my sauna session. This is what happened:

Skipping shower after my sauna session, gave me the following reactions:  I felt nauseous and weak immediately after. I had to sit down for a long time before leaving the changing room. Later in the evening I had loss of appetite and eating made me feel worse. I felt overall uneasy and low-energy the whole rest of the evening.  

In this post, I am going to tell you about why and how I conducted this experiment of not showering after the sauna, and go into all the details about how it made me feel. I also did some research online, so in the end, I will walk you through what the current knowledge says about showering after sauna.

Let’s dive in!

Background and execution of my sauna experiment: why, how?

One evening when I was sitting in the traditional sauna downstairs of my apartment, I got this idea of testing what would happen if I skipped the shower afterward. I was not planning to go out later in the night anyway (and my bed-sheets were also due for a wash), so I thought that if I was to make this experiment, now was a good time.

Why did I want to make this little experiment? Well, as mentioned earlier, I always get the feeling that I am missing out on some of the beneficial effects from the sauna when I step into the shower afterward. I feel that my sweating and increased blood circulation is too abruptly interrupted when I step into the shower after my sauna. Also, my soft-faced look seems to disappear the minute my face is cooled down by the water. To me, it simply seems like the whole regenerative process in my body is cut short.

I was thinking to myself: Could skipping the shower after my sauna perhaps give me even more magnified effects from the sauna session? Or would it have negative effects since I would not be rinsing off all the waste I had sweated out? How would it make me feel? I was itching to find out, so I had to go ahead and try the experiment!

But what about all the toxins you sweat out in the sauna? Was I going to simply let these stay in my skin for a whole night? (Yuck!) Well, my thinking went like this: Since I sweat and drip so intensively the l sauna, I figured that most of the waste may actually drip off my body during the heavy sweating, only to leave a smaller fraction of it there to stay.

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Also, I took some precautions to try to minimize the amount of “bad” sweat that would stay on my body after the sauna:

I first did a long, intense sauna session. Then I actually took a shower to rinse all off all the sweat. Thereafter however, I went into the sauna again, and completed another long session. It was after this final session that I chose not to shower.

My thinking here was that perhaps the second set of sweating could be less toxic, since I had already rinsed off all the immediate waste materials in the shower after my first sauna session.

Anyway, that was my thought-process and methodology around the whole experiment, but let me now tell you, in the next section, what actually happened to me.

Image: Me in the sauna. (Not the night of the experiment.)

Results: What actually happened and how did I feel?

So, what happened then, and how did it make me feel? Well, first of all I never walk directly into the shower after a sauna session. I am usually too exhausted and heated. I always sit down and rest in my cool-down area before even attempting to start showering. So, I sat down as usual to cool down and have some water. During this time, most of the immediate sweat dried off, so I was not that wet anymore.

Then, when I felt less exhausted, and a bit drier, I simply whipped off the last part of the sweat with a towel. Thereafter, I went to the changing room, to jump into my trainers (that were also due for a wash anyway). However, just walking the few steps to the changing room was a bit of a challenge, as I felt very heavy in my body and almost a bit dizzy.

Then in the changing room, I started feeling very uneasy, almost nauseous. I had to sit down for a long time, and eventually I had some more water. I would actually have lied down on the bench, had it not been a public changing room. That is how bad I felt.

It was a big surprise to me that I had such a strong, negative reaction to such a “small” thing as just skipping a shower after the sauna!

However, I don’t know how representative this reaction is, as I am a person that has a blood pressure that is a bit on the lower side. It’s within the normal range, but a bit lower than average. Also, during the years that I did Bikram yoga (that is yoga in heat and humidity) regularly, I actually fainted once due to the heat. This is rather uncommon. I only know of one other woman that has experienced this during a Bikram yoga session, and we were probably at least 500 studio members. So, I am probably more sensitive to these things than most people.

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Anyway, let me now get back to the story: After a rather long time of just sitting there in the changing room, I felt that I finally had the strength to walk back to the elevator, to get back to my apartment. However, even this felt like a bit of a challenge. I was happy not to run into any person on the way, because I honestly felt too weak to hold a conversation. I just wanted to get back inside to my apartment and hit the sofa.

So, I made it back into the apartment, and still felt rather weak. In fact, I felt weak the whole evening and did not really have the energy to do anything. Moreover, eating a bit of a dinner in the evening made me feel even worse. (I also had zero apatite, which is very unusual for me.)

I then later went to sleep. I didn’t notice anything unusual about my sleep. I slept well, but I hardly ever have a problem with sleep, so that was nothing out of the ordinary.

The next morning, I showered as usual (and dumped the sheets and clothes into the wash-machine). I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary during that next day. I also didn’t notice anything untypical about my skin.

Experiment’s conclusion: can you skip shower after sauna?

My conclusion, based on this experiment of mine, is that you absolutely cannot skip the shower after a sauna session. At least, you should not skip showering after the sauna if you do not want to risk feeling, nauseous, weak, at a loss of appetite, low-energy, or overall uneasy.

What the current knowledge says about skipping shower after sauna

Ok, so my experience is only an N=1, or one person’s unique reaction. I might not be representative of anyone but myself. Therefore, let me now also share with you what the current knowledge say about showering (or now showering) after the sauna.

First and foremost, as with anything related to sauna usage, there are hardly any studies done on its more intricate details. Therefore, there is also not much said about what happens if you skip the shower after your sauna. My online research mostly just yielded general common-sense recommendations. I however summarize these below, for anyone who’s interested:

So, unsurprisingly, it turns out it’s generally recommended to shower after using a sauna. This has the purpose of rinsing off sweat and impurities, that may have accumulated on the skin during the sauna session. (As I mentioned, all of the previous knowledge you can find about this topic, is simply common-sense recommendations.)

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Below, I first summarize what the current knowledge says about why it’s recommended to shower after sauna. Then, I go through what is said to happen to your body if you skip the shower after the sauna session.

Current knowledge about why shower after sauna

  • Rinsing off sweat and impurities: After a sauna session, it is generally recommended to shower to rinse off sweat and impurities that may have accumulated on the skin during the sauna session. This can help to enhance the overall benefits of the sauna and may improve the overall cleanliness and comfort of the experience.
  • Closing the pores: Showering after a sauna can help to close the pores, which may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems. Closing the pores can also help to lock in moisture and improve the overall health and appearance of the skin.
  • Relaxing the muscles: Showering after a sauna can help to relax the muscles and may be especially beneficial for those who have sore or tired muscles. A longer shower may be more effective at relaxing the muscles and may provide additional benefits such as reducing stress and promoting sleep.

Current knowledge about what happens if no shower after sauna

  • The skin may feel sticky or uncomfortable: If you do not shower after using a sauna, the skin may feel sticky or uncomfortable as sweat and impurities accumulate on the skin. This can be unpleasant and may make you feel dirty or uncomfortable.
  • The benefits of the sauna may be reduced: Showering after using a sauna can help to rinse off sweat and impurities and close the pores, which may enhance the overall benefits of the sauna. If you do not shower after using a sauna, the benefits of the sauna may be reduced.

When it comes to the first point above, I can definitely attest to feeling uncomfortable when skipping the shower after sauna. However, I did not feel particularly sticky in my skin. (This was perhaps because I simply wiped off whatever sweat had not dried with a towel.)

Regarding the second point, it would make sense that this is true: Had there been positive effects of not showering after the sauna, I doubt that I would have felt as unwell as I did in the experiment.

Final Verdict: Don’t skip the shower after sauna!

Okay, so the final verdict, both based on my own experience and based on the current knowledge and recommendations out there is: Do not (ever!) skip showering after your sauna session! If you do, be prepared to risk feeling nauseous, weak, heavy in your body, at a loss of appetite, unwell and overall low-energy.

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