Got dry, cracked winter skin? The Russian Baths might be just the treatment you need.
In the wintertime, taking care of your skin and body is one of the most important things you can do. At home face-masks, extra nourishing moisturizer, hot cups of tea in the evening… we all have our go-to replenishing rituals.
For those who are feeling a bit more culturally adventurous with their beauty endeavors, relaxing and de-stressing with a trip to your local Russian bathing house might be just the thing you need.
When the weather gets cold and dry, our skin can start to suffer. And, if you’ve ever experienced harsh, dry winter skin, you already know that skin tends to become cracked and dull very quickly when the temperature drops. People tend to book spa treatments in the wintertime for a little extra nourishment and care to boost their mood and renew their skin.
But for those who indulge in Russian bathing culture, maintaining healthy skin and circulation is an all-year affair. Traditionally, the Russian baths were reserved just for men. Thankfully, modernity caught up and women are now allowed to indulge in the baths as well. We’re all about inclusivity, so we’re glad that this tradition, though still fairly old-school, has caught up with the times!
A trip to the banya, as Russian baths are often called, is no ordinary afternoon at the spa: it’s a full-day affair with multiple pools, saunas, and even being thrashed with oak branches serve to get you sweating.
If you’re looking for a relaxing, spa-like experience, visiting the banya might not be exactly what you’re looking for – but how often is it that you get to spend all day indulging in activities and rituals that are good for your health and help you feel better on a harsh winter day?
The benefits of this centuries-old tradition are almost too many to count, but we gave it a shot. And if you do decide to visit the banya, you’ll get to experience something truly unique and memorable that will leave you feeling invigorated with glowing skin!
What Are The Benefits Of The Russian Baths?
Though beneficial all year round, Russian baths can help you combat dry, cracked and dull winter skin. The healing steam and plunge pools of the banya are perfect for replenishing your skin after being dried out by indoor heat, too many layers, scratchy wool and cold winds. Get your glow back with the help of this incredible Russian tradition!
Circulation. A trip to the banya will have your blood pumping in no time. Between the steaming hot saunas and the cool plunge pools, the Russian bath experience will improve your circulation in parts of your body that you didn’t even know had blood in them - like your teeth.
Exfoliation. No full-body care experience would be complete without a good old fashioned scrub down, and the banya is no exception. At the banya, you’ll have the option of being beaten fairly aggressively with oak branches, which is said to exfoliate dead skin and improve circulation while delivering the essential plant oils to your skin. How’s that for folk medicine?
Detox. Russian banyas are notorious for the “schvitz” you work up for good reason. Sweating in the sauna opens up your pores and helps your body release excess water and salt which can build up and cause bloating and harbor toxins.
Immunity. Basically, banyas are the cure for the common cold. By raising your body temperature, the banya effectively tricks your body into thinking it has a fever. Your immune system will launch into attack mode and start fighting off any illness that might be lurking in your body.
What Happens At A Russian Bath?
You might imagine spies and gangsters hanging out in towels, talking business as their identity is concealed by the steam. While that might have been true back in the 1920s, the Russian banyas of today are a much more egalitarian, family-friendly affair.
Most banyas won’t have the standard spa treatments you know and love, like facials and pedicures. What you will find instead are steam rooms, saunas, and a series of hot and cold pools designed to help you increase your circulation including a cold water plunge pool for after the sauna.
What You’ll Find At The Banya:
Hot & cold plunge pools. Just like a polar bear plunge, the goal of these hot and cold pools is to help open the pores of your body, improve circulation, soften your skin and ultimately get your body ready to eventually sweat out all the toxins you’ve been accumulating.
As an added bonus, the fluctuating temperature extremes help promote mental alertness and clarity so you’ll feel awake and refreshed when you’re done with your plunge.
Steam rooms & saunas. Like Finnish saunas and Turkish hammams, steam rooms and saunas are part of the main attraction at the banya.
Body treatments (platza, or oak-branch thrashing). While a traditional banya won’t offer luxury body treatments, you’ll definitely find yourself faced with the decision of whether or not you’d like to try the platza, or the “massage” ritual in which bathers are thrashed with oak branches. Said to exfoliate the skin while
Nourishing food & drinks. Rest is an integral part of the banya experience – and no rest is complete without good, hearty foods to replenish your nutrients. Hearty borscht, herring and other smoked fish, assorted pickles… you’ll most definitely find traditional Russian fare at the banya, and we can’t recommend enough trying it out.
Sounds like something out of another era, doesn’t it? The banya is certainly a cultural experience that non-Russians might feel out of place in, but we promise it’s worth the adventure. Seriously, in the depths of winter, your skin and soul will thank you.
Next time you’re thinking of booking a trip to the spa, we highly recommend making a trip to the banya. Between the soaking pools, saunas, and nourishing foods packed with nutrition, you’ll be in for a full day of rest and renewal. If the oak branches and cold plunges don’t get your skin glowing, we don’t know what will!