Going to a sauna means following sauna etiquette — unspoken conventions that every person must follow to give everyone, including themselves, a great steaming experience. Many beginners overthink one particular detail: their attire, whether they’re going to a Swedish or infrared sauna. Many are also nervous about going naked, especially if they’re from more conservative cultures.
So, what should you wear in an infrared sauna? Our experts from The Sauna Life have written an essential yet informative guide to help you pick your attire for upcoming infrared sauna sessions. Keep reading to learn how to decompress in comfort.
What is an Infrared Sauna?
There are several types of saunas. What people call a “traditional” sauna is a Swedish sauna, with the classic combination of hot stones and water to create steam and heat the room. The hot air is what warms the people inside. Several other variations include Turkish saunas, dry saunas, and infrared saunas. Infrared saunas are a relatively modern invention compared to the different types.
Instead of steam or water vapor, this type of sauna uses — as the name implies — infrared heat. This is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light. Infrared rays are invisible, but we can feel them as heat.
An infrared sauna typically looks like a traditional one, with wooden benches and walls. Some are made of tents, which are generally more affordable. However, the unifying characteristic is the heating element, which releases infrared light.
So how is this different from other types?
While other types heat the air, which, in turn, heats you, infrared light skips the air to warm your body directly. This allows an infrared sauna to have lower temperatures, ranging from 100 – 140 °F, while a traditional sauna can reach up to 160°F. Not only do you not need to wait for ambient air to warm up, but the lower temperatures also mean that you can stay in the sauna longer and sweat properly.
While infrared sauna benefits are still being studied, many users claim that their infrared sauna opens up their pores, helps them relax their body, reduces their chronic fatigue, helps with weight loss by shedding water, and helps eliminate toxins through better sweating, and even improves their cardiovascular health. Whether you believe their reported health benefits or not, going to an infrared sauna is still a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
However, this brings us back to the original question: what should you wear in an infrared sauna? We’ll start with the historical precedent.
What People Wore When The Sauna Was First Invented
The concept of a “sauna” emerged independently across many cultures worldwide. Steam baths have been around since ancient times, so the traditional attire varied from society to society. In Roman bathhouses, people were said to wear light clothing called a subligaculum. In Turkish hammams, people wore peshtemal, a thin towel.
The modern “sauna,” with the classic wood benches and steaming pile of rocks, is a Swedish cultural invention. It means “bathhouse” in Finnish, and its traditional attire is… well, nothing. To these cultures, nudity isn’t seen as a sexual thing. Most people will provide towels to cover up or sit on during the sauna. Of course, people from other cultures aren’t as comfortable in the buff or with just a towel, so as the popularity of the sauna spread, new sauna clothing conventions emerged, as well.
What Do You Wear in an Infrared Sauna?
Not everyone is comfortable going nude in the sauna. If you want to wear clothes, here’s what we recommend that you wear in an infrared sauna:
Male Clothing Options for Sauna Usage
Loose Cotton Clothing
Wear loose cotton garments, like shorts or pants, to allow air to flow freely around your skin. A cotton wrap will also do. Light clothing made from natural materials absorbs sweat. It is more breathable than clothing made from synthetic materials, so even if you’re wearing a shirt in the sauna, you won’t overheat as quickly.
While there is a debate about wearing swimming costumes to a sauna, some places will allow it. The material is lightweight and excellent at wicking away moisture. Still, it’s not one of the most breathable fabrics.
Towels are standard in most saunas. If you can’t wear any clothing, you can bring a towel to cover up. Don’t forget to get another to wipe sweat from your body or to sit on; this protects you from contaminants and the hot surfaces inside the infrared sauna.
You can also wear as little clothing as possible — that is, none. As we mentioned, going in the buff is how Swedish people enjoy saunas. This is the most effective way to partake in infrared therapy and raise your core body temperature, as there’s no layer of clothing to obstruct the infrared rays. If you have a home sauna, this should be the obvious choice. However, if you’re going to a more public location, ensure that nudity is allowed during the sauna session. Some will still require you to wear a piece of clothing throughout the session.
Female Clothing Options for a Sauna Session
The choices for women are almost the same as for men. While swimsuits are the most practical choice, they can hamper the experience since the material isn’t usually breathable. It inhibits sweating in some applications, defeating the purpose of the sauna. In addition, metal parts may heat more quickly and cause discomfort. The same drawbacks apply to workout clothes, including wide-leg yoga pants and sports bras. Even a loose sports bra will become uncomfortable very quickly.
Loose Cotton Clothing
Loose-fitting clothes are great for those who want to protect their modesty. Cotton makes for great breathable clothing, and the material is absorbent. A breathable shirt cover-up with a two-piece swimsuit or, if preferred, a crop top and shorts are ideal.
You can wear only a towel as a wrap over your body, helping protect your body from the hot surface while also absorbing sweat. A cotton towel is still the best option.
The best way to sweat freely, increase your blood flow, and open all the skin pores on your body for further detoxification is by going into the sauna nude. This is the only way to maximize your skin’s exposure to infrared rays. Still, some places have an appropriate dress code that requires you to cover your body, so ensure that nudity is acceptable before going into public saunas in the buff.
What Are Some Practical Things to Wear During an Infrared Sauna Session?
Even wearing some clothing in an infrared sauna, bringing a towel is still necessary. A towel to sit on will help prevent possible burns, splinters, and moisture — including other people’s sweat. Sitting on a towel also stops your sweat from dripping onto the sauna seats for the following user to worry about. You can also clean the seat with your towel as a courtesy when you leave.
In most traditional sauna sessions, people go barefoot. Having footwear while sitting on the benches may be considered impolite in specific contexts. However, you’re free to wear something as you enter the sauna. Flip-flops and shower sandals are great, as these stop you from slipping or stepping on something unpleasant. Just take them off once when you’re inside.
What Not to Wear During the Session
Used or Dirty Clothing
Gyms and spa centers sometimes have their own saunas, so it might be tempting to reuse what you’re wearing in the sauna. However, that’s a big no-no. If you’re going to wear something while in the infrared sauna, ensure that it’s clean. Too much heat will cause your sweat to pass onto the seat and into the air, ruining the experience for others.
As you sweat, your skin will need room to breathe. Tight clothing or heavy clothing will make this difficult and make your sauna experience uncomfortable. The heat will start to feel unbearable in just a few minutes, so wear something loose, as mentioned above.
Metals in necklaces, watches, and rings will heat up quicker than your skin. These materials also hold heat longer, so you might risk burning yourself, especially in an infrared spa. Take care, especially with bras, since the hooks and the underwire come in close contact with sensitive areas.
Naked Sauna in Private!
Naked is the best way to go when it comes to an infrared sauna. It’s how the Swedish (and other cultures) intended it, realizing all the benefits of unrestricted sweating. Nowadays, some people who value privacy but enjoy nude saunas take the next big step and get their own personal sauna for maximum privacy.
Having a private room where you can steam naked isn’t the only benefit of a personal sauna; it also saves you the stress of avoiding someone else’s bodily fluids. This is a huge relief for some, especially with the pandemic still looming over our shoulders. Having a personal sauna is one way to ensure that your space for relaxing won’t become contaminated.
Do you want to sauna naked, but you’re uncomfortable revealing your body to strangers? Then a personal infrared sauna at home might be the best option!
Get Your Own Personal Infrared Sauna Today
Are you looking for an infrared sauna for your home? The Sauna Life is a trusted source for top-quality sauna systems and accessories. Our catalog offers many models and sizes, ranging from backyard saunas to full-spectrum infrared saunas. Plus, purchasing your infrared sauna from us will be delivered directly to your property.
Visit our website and request a free consultation to start your path to unmatched relaxation.