Welcome To Our Sauna – Here Are Some Things You Might Want To Know Before Visiting Us.

Everybody has to have their first sauna experience some time; if you’ve never experienced the joys of sauna bathing before then here’s Sauna Society’s guide to using a sauna and sauna etiquette. One of our missions at Sauna Society is to provide access to the health benefits of saunas without having to visit an expensive spa. Saunas can and should be for everybody, and we’re keen to demystify the practise and open up to more people than ever before.

Different cultures have different sauna traditions, but there are some tips and some dos and don’ts that are common wherever you sauna.

The first question on many people’s minds is often: “Do I have to be naked?” and our answer is no, you do not. In fact, we ask you to keep your swimwear on, please! In some countries it is normal practice however, and this is a good example of how some elements of sauna etiquette and etiquette can differ – read on for our tips for a simple and easy introduction to your first sauna experience:

What Should I Wear?

We ask you to wear swimwear inside our sauna. Our sauna sits on a cliff top above the Atlantic Ocean so can be exposed to the weather, and we therefore suggest that you bring a changing robe (whether that means an all-weather harder shell one or a simple towel robe is completely up to you) or warm, loose fitting clothing with you to wear before and after. What we would say is dress for a British beach day – inside the sauna is swimwear only, but outside it’s rare in the UK to be wanting to just sit around in your swimmers!

Sauna Society Cornwall - Watergate Bay-01

Do I Need A Towel In The Sauna?

Bringing a towel with you is a great idea – not only will you need it to dry yourself after showering or a swim in the sea, but inside the sauna you can sit or lie on it. Sitting or lying on your towel protects your skin from the heat of the wooden bench, and also protects the wooden benches from your (inevitable) sweat.
Any towel is fine. A soft towel is even better, and one that is comfortable to sit in on is even better than that. If you fancy a bright colourful towel with an awesome pattern, we salute you! If you prefer something a little more minimalist, then that is of course fine as well.

Do I Need To Put Wood In The Fire?

Some saunas have electric heaters; ours has a traditional wood-burning stove. You don’t need to worry about tending the fire though – at Sauna Society we have an attendant on site who manages the fire for you. We ask you to please refrain from touching the stove or the logs as the attendant will be maintaining the stove at a steady and consistent temperature.

How Do I Control The Heat And How Much Steam Is Too Much Steam?

Putting water on the stones – what the Finns call ‘löyly’ – does not physically affect the temperature inside the sauna, however the humidity that the steam creates makes it feel warmer. Adding water on the stones also makes you sweat more, because increased humidity increases your body’s tendency to sweat. Increased steam can have a number of positive effects for those with respiratory conditions or those looking to improve the quality of their skin.

Water on the stones therefore is a matter of personal preference, however it is important to not dump water on to the stones but rather drizzle it lightly over to prevent any dramatic and uncomfortably rapid changes humidity and how hot it feels.

With saunas being communal spaces it is also important to consider the personal tastes and desires of the other people you are sharing the sauna with, particularly if you are attending an “open” communal session with strangers. We suggest that you always ask the other people in the sauna before increasing the löyly.

hot stones and bucket of water in a sauna

How Long Should I Stay In The Sauna For And How Do I Know When It’s Time To Get Out?

If you’re new to sauna bathing then we’d recommend staying in the sauna for between 5-10 minutes at a time, before coming outside to cool down. Even if you’re a regular sauna user, we’d recommend not staying in for more than 20 minutes. If you feel yourself getting too warm then don’t be afraid to get out sooner – it’s not a competition. Although some people will treat the sauna as a physical test, there are a huge number of benefits that can still be enjoyed if you leave the sauna before you become uncomfortable.
Do what feels right for you. Our advice would be to stay in the sauna until you begin to feel mildly uncomfortable – that will be the impact of the dynorphins, the hormetic stress indicators that we discussed in this previous article. Just remember, no matter how you feel, don’t stay in the sauna for more than 20 minutes.

Communal Sessions

If you’ve booked a space on an open communal session, you will be sharing the sauna with strangers. In this instance, we recommend entering and exiting the sauna as quickly and quietly as possible so that you don’t let all of that heat escape through the open door! Saunas traditionally are quiet and reflective spaces, so we ask you not to play music through your phone, or exercise in there. If you want to add water to the stones, or add an essential oil to the water, please be considerate of your fellow sauna users and ask if they’re ok with that.

friends sitting in the sauna society sauna at watergate bay

Where Should I Sit In The Sauna?

You can sit or lay down a sauna – laying down obviously being dependent upon how busy the sauna is and the space available. Heat rises, so the lower seats are cooler than the top seats and we would suggest starting your sauna session on a lower level sat before moving up as you acclimatise.

What Should I Wear On My Feet?

Almost everyone takes their shoes off when they arrive at our sauna above Watergate Bay; we’re set up in quite a lovely field and it can be very enjoyable to stand barefoot on the grass outside the sauna. The only thing to consider is your walk down to the beach, which is probably easiest to do so with a pair of flip-flops or shoes on! The path is quite rough and although some of our visitors like to keep things au naturel, most people prefer to something on their feet. The best footwear is something that you can easily slip on and off when you get to the beach.

Should I Bring Water With Me?

You sweat when you sauna, but bringing something to drink isn’t always top of people’s minds. Topping up your fluids is incredibly important, and it can be surprisingly easy to dehydrate yourself relatively quickly in a sauna. We recommend that you bring some water, and remember to drink it!

Do I Need To Shower Before Going In A Sauna?

It’s generally considered good sauna etiquette to have a quick shower before entering the sauna, and not to use a strongly fragranced soap or body-wash. The heat of the sauna and resultant perspiration accentuates smells, both good and bad, and a lot of the ambience of a traditional sauna experience is down to the aroma of the warm cedar and essential oils in the water.

shower with a view over watergate bay at sauna society

If you have any further questions, feel free to check out our FAQ’s here.