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Monthly Archives: January 2014

  • The Sauna Skin Care Regimen

    Sauna Skin Care Regimen Photo by dilip36 via Flickr

    Anyone who has been in a sauna can tell you how great your skin feels after all that sweating. The skin becomes flushed, the sweat gives it a glowing sheen, and it feels soft and supple to the touch. Why not follow a sauna skin care regimen? It's a great way to keep the skin clean and clear.

    What Does the Sauna Do For My Skin?

    At the most basic level, sweating cleans the skin, opens pores, and makes the skin pliant (which can help reduce/prevent wrinkles!). A 2008 study in Dermatology suggested that regular sauna use can actually help protect the skin and relieve dry skin conditions.

    The skin has two major types of glands that secrete substances: sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Sweat glands produce sweat, obviously, and sweat's great, but sebaceous glands are actually the part we're interested in. Sebaceous glands surround hair follicles and secrete a waxy substance called sebum onto the skin. Sebum is great stuff. It protects the skin by moisturizing it and delivering nutrients directly to the surface skin cells. It is even thought to have antibacterial properties.

    When the sebaceous glands get blocked by dead skin, cosmetics, or bacteria, you get a blackhead, whitehead, pimple, or boil. It's important to keep the sebaceous glands clean and clear to avoid these blemishes, but also to keep your skin functioning properly. This is where the sauna is a great tool in your skin care regimen.

    When your skin warms in the sauna, your sebum becomes more fluid and it flows more easily over your skin, distributing it more evenly. The sweat that is also released softens the skin and makes it more receptive to the sebum's moisturizing properties. At the same time, your blood circulation increases and moves to the skin, drawing more oxygen and nutrients to the skin's surface. All of this leaves the skin cleaner, healthier, and more moisturized.

    How Do I Begin a Sauna Skin Care Regimen?

    It's easy to make a sauna part of your regular skin care regimen. First, you'll obviously need a sauna. If you don't have access to a private home sauna, most gyms offer saunas as part of their amenities. If you don't want to pay for a monthly membership, many day spas have sauna sessions available for hourly or flat fees. There are also sauna businesses in many communities that offer communal or gender-specific saunas for hourly or flat fees.

    You will also need a swimsuit (if using certain public saunas), a towel for drying yourself, a towel to sit on, an exfoliating tool such as a loofah or rough cloth, and your preferred soap or cleanser. Now you're ready to begin:

    1.  Take a hot shower and use your preferred cleanser to focus on areas with acne. Rinse your skin thoroughly and dry off completely.
    2. Enter the sauna, taking your exfoliating tool. When your skin begins to sweat, gently rub your skin, focusing on problem areas. When you are finished, sit for a few more minutes, then head back to the showers.
    3. Stand under a warm shower and rinse your skin, then turn the water as cold as is comfortable and stand under it until you are no longer sweating. Do not use any soap.
    4. Dry yourself and take a break. Drink some water, sit or walk a little. When you feel back to normal, return to the sauna.
    5. Again, once you begin sweating exfoliate, focusing on problem areas. When finished, rinse off under a cool shower without using any soap. Avoid using any lotions or cosmetics, as well--let your skin breathe! You'll also find that the sauna has given you a rosy glow, and you'll likely not need any additional moisturizer.

    Do you use a sauna as part of your regular skin care regimen? Comment below and tell us about it!

  • The Art of Making Good Löyly

    the art of making good loyly photo by Tulikivi2012

    If you are a sauna aficionado, the one word you really need to know is löyly. It is an old, magical word associated strictly with sauna use in modern times, and it's a really beautiful thing.

    What is Löyly? And How the Heck Do I Say It?

    Löyly derives from the Proto-Finno-Urgic word lewl meaning "spirit" or "soul". Click here to here it pronounced. In modern usage it means the steam that radiates from sauna rocks when water is poured or sprinkled over them. The water evaporates on contact with the hot rocks, and the humidity of the air increases. This contributes to a perception of increased temperature and causes the body to sweat more. On a more spiritual level, it means the entire feeling of the heat as it envelopes you, as well as the steam that fills the room. It is considered a tangible thing, with qualities that can vary due to many factors (keep reading to get an idea of the different factors involved).

    Löyly's restorative and healing powers are so revered that it was once thought that it could drive out diseases and even resolve unhappiness in romantic relationships. While scientifically unfounded, there's no doubt that sharing a sauna with your sweetie is conducive to good relations.

    To drive home the importance of löyly in Finnish culture and sauna culture, it's considered an honor to have the responsibility of adding the löyly to the room when with a group of people. At that point, it's not simply pouring water on hot rocks: it's an art that strives to create the right amount of steam, and a pleasurable experience, for all the present people by working with heat and water. Getting the balance right take experience and skill.

    How Do I Make Good Löyly?

    Just as it can be hard to describe what makes good art, it's hard to define what makes good löyly. Partly, it will be subjective to a bather's preferences and comfort levels. Overall, good löyly is determined by the purity, temperature, and humidity of the air inside the sauna, as well as its thermal radiation. The sauna air must not contain any gaseous impurities, particles, or micro-organisms. This is ensured through effective ventilation and the condition of the sauna: is it clean? Is it constructed from quality materials that were properly treated? A clean, nicely built sauna will also contribute to a more pleasurable overall experience.

    The Basics of Good Löyly:

    Before using any water, the temperature of the sauna air should be 150°F (65.5ºC) or greater.

    As the room heats, fill a bucket intended for sauna use with water. It is important that you do not use just any bucket--plastic buckets can melt or release impurities into the air, and metal buckets can get very warm and become a burn hazard. A good option would be this bucket and ladle set available through us here at Saunasandstuff.com. Never take anything into a sauna that was not intended for use in the sauna.

    Decide whether to go with clean, natural water, or whether to add an essential oil. Purists may insist on fresh, clean water, but adding an essential oil can significantly change and possibly improve the sauna experience. Different oils have different effects by releasing their fragrance into the air: Eucalyptus is good for congestion or allergy sufferers, lavender can aid relaxation, citrus can invigorate.

    Once the sauna is heated and the water is ready, fill the ladle. Again, always use a ladle designed for sauna use. The evaporation is almost instant when the water hits the rocks, and there is a chance of scalding if you do not use the ladle. Start with just a few drops of water and add just a little more at a time. The change in perceived temperature can be dramatic, so start with small amounts, wait, and then add more as needed.

    For Advanced Löyly Artists:

    There is something of a löyly tenet called the Rule of 200, in which the combination of temperature (in Fahrenheit) and the humidity percentage added together should equal 200. It's thought that anything that adds up to more will be uncomfortable for bathers.

    So, if the sauna is set to 150°F, the ideal humidity (according to the Rule) would be at 50%. If the sauna were hotter, say 180°F, the humidity would be best at 20%. The hotter the ambient air, the lower the humidity should be.

    Go Make Good Löyly

    Now armed with the basics, the trick is to find what combination of heat and humidity best suits you. When with a group, it will be a challenge to find a löyly that is comfortable for everyone. With time and practice, you'll be making good löyly in no time.

  • January Sauna News Roundup

    Jade Sauna fire

    With the immense popularity of saunas worldwide, it's no surprise that newsworthy stories pop up around them. We've collected a few recent sauna news bits that you might find interesting.

    Christmas Sauna Deaths

    Three German men were found dead of heart failure in a sauna after drinking heavily at a Christmas party. Conditions in the sauna were normal, but the men's blood alcohol levels were four times the legal driving limit. Just another reminder that alcohol and sauna use do not go together.

    Sauna Fire at Bismarck, North Dakota, Hotel

    A fire was started at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck on December 20, 2013,when an intoxicated man set clothing, including a pair of shoes, on a sauna heater. The pool area was evacuated, but the fire was extinguished without further incident. There was damage to the sauna bench, floor, and heater. Again: alcohol and sauna use is a really bad idea!

    Sauna Fire in Beaverton, Oregon

    Jade Sauna in Beaverton, Oregon, experienced a fire on January 3 when a heat lamp installed in the ceiling overheated. The fire was contained in the attic and fire crews were able to extinguish it without further incident. The damage to the building is estimated at $25,000.

  • The Science Behind the Sauna

    4-pp-cedar-09-w_1 copy

    You've undoubtedly heard many times that using a sauna is good for your health, but why? What is it about sitting in a sauna that's so good for you? We break down some of the science behind the sauna experience so you have a better understanding of what your body is doing.

    Sweating Out Toxins

    We spend a lot of time and energy trying not to sweat--we use anti-perspirants, we wear layers to regulate our temperature. However, sweating is really good for our bodies and we probably aren't doing enough of it. Sweating is our bodies way of cooling itself, but during the process it also excretes molecules that are otherwise cluttering our bloodstream. Perspiration originates directly from the bloodstream. Fluid is delivered from the capillary bed to the sweat gland, carrying organophosphates, heavy metals, pesticides, some preservatives. Flushing these toxins out of your bloodstream prevents them from being stored elsewhere in your body.

    Eccrine glands are the major sweat glands, and we about two million of them all over our bodies. They produce an average of a quart of sweat a day, but when you use a sauna they pump out that much in about 15 minutes. This means that using a sauna will purge at least twice as many toxins out of your body in one day than you do on average.
    Some experts recommend using far-infrared saunas, as they trigger sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna and it's easier to spend longer periods of time in it. Be sure to hydrate before and after using a sauna to replace lost fluids.

    Hot & Cold Intervals

    It's traditional in many countries to heat up in the sauna, then plunge into a cold bath, or snow, or stand under an icy shower, then return to the sauna and repeat. It's thought that this process helps tone the skin and improves circulation. If you read Jitterbug Perfume, it's posited that the hot/cold process can be a factor in longevity. What does it really do?

    We know that shocking the body with a rapid temperature change releases norepinephrine, which is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. It also releases epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline. When these chemicals are released, the effect is a feeling of invigoration. While that may or may not be the key to good health and long life, it certainly feels good and doesn't do any harm.

    Mild Workout

    Steaming in a sauna also dilates the capillaries and thereby improves blood flow, simulating a mild workout. For individuals with limitations that make more traditional forms of exercise difficult, it can stand in as a gentle alternative. Or add it to the end of a workout to extend the effects of the exercise in a gentle way.

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