What is a Sauna Hat and How Does It Benefit You?

Janne Ovaska

Sauna hat, birch vihta, and copper ladle on sauna bench

What is a sauna hat?

A sauna hat, also known as a banya hat, is a popular sauna accessory made from materials such as sheep or alpaca wool, felt, or sheepskin. The cap is designed to protect your head and keep it cool while you're in the high temperatures of a sauna.


Grey sauna hat
A basic sauna hat.


The benefits of wearing a sauna hat

Saunas sometimes reach temperatures in excess of 90°Celsius (195° F). As hot air rises, the most intense heat is experienced at head level when you're on the top bench. For some people, the high head temperatures can lead to quickly feeling overheated with symptoms such as dizziness or nausea.

Since the best sauna results are achieved for most people when you're able to stay in the heat for at least 15 minutes, it's advantageous to utilize a sauna hat to make the time more enjoyable. Hats also help protect hair (especially dyed or otherwise treated) from getting too dry and brittle from overexposure to heat and block the tips of your ears from the sharp sting of the steam.

How does a sauna hat work?

The hat simply acts as a insulating barrier between the hot air and your head. This helps keep your head at a more consistent temperature in the fluctuating waves of heat and prevents the steam from directly touching your skin and hair.

How to use a sauna hat

It probably goes without saying, but to use a sauna hat, just put it on your head! Sauna hats can be used either wet or dry. (Although some will argue that dry is the only way to go.) A dry hat will simply insulate and protect from the direct heat. A hat soaked in water will passively cool your head while also directly protecting. The water in a wetted hat will eventually heat up, so you will need to reintroduce cold water periodically for best results. Experiment with both approaches to find what you enjoy most.


Woman wearing a sauna hat
Example of wearing a sauna hat.


How to wash a sauna hat

Caring for your sauna hat is easy. Most people simply rinse the hat after use and then hang to dry. Real wool hats are naturally antibacterial, so they only need to be lightly rinsed and then hung to dry. If you feel it's needed, hats made of synthetic materials such as polyester felt can be hand washed in lukewarm water or machine washed on the gentle/wool cycle.

To wash a sauna hat:

  • Use detergent or soap suitable for wool
  • Wash with lukewarm water
  • Rinse with lukewarm water
  • Squeeze gently
  • Reshape
  • Hang to dry (We do not recommend using a dryer).

Origin and history

Who invented the sauna hat? While it’s difficult to find information on who “invented” the sauna hat, the roots of sauna hat usage trace back to Central Europe. The habit of wearing something on your head in the sauna or banya was especially popular in Germany and Russia. It’s said that the original sauna hats were made of wet straw, and that the Russians were sometimes known to wear hats made of fur, linen, or whatever else was handy.


Google Trends chart displaying growing worldwide interest in sauna hats
Worldwide Google Trends interest in "Sauna Hat" over the past 15 years.


Finland never really adopted sauna hat usage into their culture and it's rare to find anyone wearing a hat in a “traditional Finnish sauna”. Still, Germans and Russians continue to wear sauna hats with pride, and interest in the accessory for the sauna enthusiasts in North America has been steadily growing as more and more people are welcoming new variety in the way that they experience the sauna.

Do I need a sauna hat?

Although not necessary, many people love sauna hats for the extra enjoyment they provide by alleviating minor discomforts. If you have a hard time staying in the heat for more than a few minutes, or find the stinging sensation on your ears too uncomfortable, a sauna hat might be just what you need. If you feel that your head gets overheated too quickly, you will likely find immense benefit from a hat soaked in cold water.

Types of Sauna Hats

Sauna hats come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. While you only need a basic hat to gain the health benefits, you can express yourself and have some fun by wearing one of the more creatively designed hats. You can find hats that are designed to look like practical gray or white hats, or more intricate hats that imitate Viking helmets with horns, or king and queen crowns. Because of these unique styles, sauna hats can make a perfect gift for the sauna enthusiast in your life.

Sauna Hat Alternative

You can test the concept for yourself by wrapping a small towel around your head. This will have roughly the same effect, although it may take a little more effort to set up.

Here is a video that describes how to make a towel head wrap.


  1. Sauna or Banya hats are designed to keep your head, skin, and hair protected from the high heat of the sauna.
  2. Sauna hats are especially beneficial to those that find it difficult to stay in the heat for long periods of time.
  3. Sauna hats come in many fun shapes and colors. They are usually made of natural wool, polyester felt, or sheepskin.
  4. Sauna hats can be used dry or wet and can be maintained by simply rinsing and hanging to dry.

Take the opportunity to experiment with a sauna hat. You may find it's exactly what you needed to enjoy the sauna even more!

Where to buy sauna hats

We offer a variety of sauna hats in our store. Buy your own today!


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