Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.
Sweating is a natural process that helps to regulate body temperature and eliminate toxins from the body. It is an essential component of the sauna experience, as sweating allows our bodies to cool down and release accumulated waste products.
A study published by the Scientific World Journal found that sweating during a sauna session can lead to a significant increase in the excretion of important minerals and other electrolytes, which contributes to the feeling of exhaustion after a sauna.
However, there are more than just minerals and electrolytes expelled during a sauna. Heavy metals and toxins are also excreted through the skin, as well as the body's other detoxification pathways.
This is because far-infrared light targets the fat cells that protect the body by storing heavy metals and toxins. When the body is exposed to a large amount of toxins that it cannot process through the liver and kidneys, it stores them in fat so as not to impair bodily functions.
By using an infrared sauna the body has additional pathways to excrete these toxins ie. sweating through the skin.
Those with a high toxic load or an impaired function of the usual detoxification pathways can benefit further from the use of infrared saunas for detoxification.
Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of wiping sweat off during your sauna session.
Should You Wipe Sweat in Sauna: To Wipe or Not to Wipe?
While wiping away sweat buildup may seem like a natural reaction to feeling sweaty and uncomfortable, the literature suggests that doing so during a sauna mostly depends on personal preference and subjective experiences.
For example, if you suffer from skin conditions then wiping the sweat off during the session will be a no-brainer. Whereas, if you prefer the feeling of beading sweat on your skin, leaving it as "nature-intended" is a likely go-ahead.
Here are some considerations to think of before reaching for that towel:
Interrupting the cooling process: Sweating profusely is a crucial mechanism for regulating body temperature during a sauna. When we wipe away sweat, we may inadvertently interfere with the body's natural cooling process, however, it is unsure if this is a good or bad thing. More clinical studies are needed to understand if wiping sweat off the body causes the body to sweat more or less, and fundamentally its impact on the experience.
Interrupting detoxification: As mentioned earlier, sweating is an essential part of the detoxification process. By wiping away sweat, we may be removing some of the toxins and heavy metals that our bodies are eliminating through the skin. By doing so, sensitive skin can benefit from less irritation due to sweat, and it may also reduce the chance of toxins being reabsorbed.
Sauna etiquette: Extreme heat from a traditional sauna, or infrared, will cause you to sweat profusely. If you are using a public sauna at a gym or spa, it is good etiquette to be hygienic and reduce the amount of bodily fluids left in the sauna.
So, should you wipe the sweat off your body during an infrared sauna session? Yes, we believe so and here's why:
Not only is it hygienic, but we believe that by wiping the sweat off one's skin during a sauna, one also removes any built-up toxins excreted from the skin.
You could also draw the conclusion that wiping the sweat from your skin will make your body continually need to thermoregulate more in order to cool itself down, possibly leading to more sweating than you would have otherwise.
Remember, it is not about how hot your sauna is, but how high your body temperature is. Any tip to increase or maintain an elevated core temperature will be better for your overall wellness.
Let's take a closer look at what toxins you sweat out during a sauna.
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What Toxins Do You Sweat Out in a Sauna?
The toxins you sweat out in a sauna are well researched, suggesting infrared saunas are a valid tool if you are suffering from a toxin overload. One study examined the sweat of sauna participants to discover the following toxins in their sweat samples:
Heavy metals: The study found that induced sweating led to the elimination of certain heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in some plastics and personal care products. The research showed that BPA was excreted through sweat during sauna sessions.
Phthalates: These are another group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and personal care products. The study demonstrated that phthalates were also eliminated through sweating in a sauna.
Organophosphate pesticides: The research identified that some organophosphate pesticide metabolites were excreted through sweat during sauna sessions.
Nitrogen: Another study found that nitrogen loss in sweat increases with higher environmental temperatures and physical activity, impacting protein requirements.
So, if you are wondering whether you should be wiping your sweat during an infrared sauna or not, consider whether you want these toxins to be reabsorbed or eliminated entirely!
Another question that often arises is the colouration of sweat from infrared heat; specifically, some people claim to experience black spots on their towels after a sauna. Let's see what the science says about this.
Why Do I Get Black Spots on My Towel After Infrared Sauna?
Users often notice black spots or marks on their sauna towels after using a sauna. It's commonly believed that these spots are the visible remains of toxins that were previously in the users' bodies. However, this belief may be more based on myth rather than actual fact.
The reason for the discolouration of sweat is often unclear, as there are few scientifically-proven explanations. In rare cases, a skin condition called apocrine chromhidrosis could be responsible for the discolouration of sweat and skin, however, for most of us it is very unlikely that it comes from the pollutants expelled from sweat.
In most cases, black sweat is not caused by a mysterious substance or phenomenon; rather, it is more likely due to impurities that were already present on the skin or towel, which become visible after they come into contact with moisture or heat. Some possible reasons for the occurrence of black sweat include:
Dirt or grime: If your skin has accumulated dirt or grime, it might mix with your sweat and create a dark colouration. Make sure to shower before using a sauna to remove any surface dirt.
Clothing dye: If you are wearing coloured clothing during a sauna session, the dye from your clothes might mix with your sweat and cause it to appear black or dark-coloured. Consider wearing light-coloured or white clothes made from natural fibres that do not bleed dye when wet.
Skin products: Certain skin products, such as lotions, oils, or topical medications, might react with your sweat and cause a dark colouration. Avoid applying these products before using a sauna.
Although sauna heat, and more specifically infrared heat, targets fat-soluble toxins and heavy sweating releases them through sweat glands, they will not be visible on your towel. What you may find on your towel, however, could be remnants of your skincare routine. This brings us to our next question: Should you wash your face before a sauna?
Should I Wash My Face Before an Infrared Sauna?
It is important to thoroughly wash your face before using an infrared sauna, especially if you have cosmetics such as make-up or skin creams on it.
Washing your face beforehand can prevent clogged pores, help your skin to function properly, and allow for more effective sweat production from the face.
As previously stated, the discolouration on towels after a sauna is most likely caused by dirt and cosmetics rather than toxins from the body. Washing your face with cold water and a cloth beforehand should be a regular part of your perfect sauna routine.
What to do before a sauna in order to get the most health benefits includes washing your face and body, but what about after your sauna?
Should I Take a Cold Shower After the Infrared Sauna?
Cold water submersion or a cold shower after saunas may provide benefits that one wouldn't have received otherwise. This is because the improved circulation from increased blood flow and heart rate supplies more nutrients to the body, lowers inflammation, and collects waste products from muscles, joints, and ligaments.
When you're in your infrared sauna, nutrients and toxins travel through your bloodstream because your blood vessels expand. If you immediately take a cold shower or ice bath afterwards, your blood vessels contract, which causes the circulating blood to go towards your organs and detoxification pathways.
The sauna helps to release toxins stored in fat cells, which are then eliminated through sweat and taking a cold shower boosts the body's natural detoxification processes via urine and faeces.
Can You Use Infrared Saunas the Same as Traditional Saunas?
When it comes to wiping off your sweat in a traditional sauna or an infrared sauna, the same principles apply as mentioned earlier. Wiping off your sweat will allow your skin to feel more comfortable, reduce the chance of toxin reabsorption, and may cause you to sweat more because you are interfering with the body's thermoregulation process.
For both types of saunas, you should wash your face and body before use, and you can further stimulate the detoxification process by utilising a cold shower afterwards.
I hope this blog post has helped you understand the importance of wiping sweat when using a sauna and the various toxins that can be found in sweat after a sauna session. If you want to enhance your sauna experience, consider our 2-Person infrared saunas for the ultimate relaxation and detoxification benefits.