benefits of facial steaming

To Steam or Not to Steam. That Is The Question

Facial steaming has been touted as a skin saver and a favorite among skincare aficionados. It’s one of those steps that actually feels like it’s cleaning your skin, not to mention that it just feels so good!

And with the array of affordable at-home facial steamers, it seems like it’s a no-brainer to pick one up to add to your weekly self-care day. As it turns out, you may want to think twice before ordering one off of Amazon.

Is Facial Steaming Good for All Skin?

The advantages of facial steaming depend upon the type of skin using it. It can either help relieve or aggravate your skin concerns if it’s used on the wrong skin type.

Sensitive Skin Types

Steam and redness are not friends, nor should they try to be reconciled. Sensitive skin or those with Rosacea should steer clear to avoid more irritation. The steam dilates blood vessels which only adds to the flushed, red look these skin types try to avoid. The extra heat can be particularly irritating and drying to these skin types and overall have negative consequences on the skin.

Normal to Oily Skin Types

If you fall into this description, sticking to a gentle routine will be best for your skin. However, if you suffer from acne and oiliness, or have normal skin, you’ll be happy to know that steam can do some really wonderful things for your skin. It allows for better absorption of topical products and increases circulation and blood flow to the face.

Steam Facials Are Best for Oily Skin

Oily, acne-prone skin reaps the most benefits from the process. The steam allows the dirt and congestion to open up and be gently released from the pores.  The warmth from the steam causes you to slightly sweat which even further cleanses the pores. Steam enhances the detoxification process and is great to prep skin for extractions. Blackheads and whiteheads are particularly well dealt with by steaming the face.

But that doesn't mean steaming is a free license to go on a zit-picking rampage either. That could potentially lead to scarring or more breakouts if not done correctly. The steam should be used as a gentle add-on to help aid the skin cleansing process, but just like most skin products, it is not a complete solution.

It’s important to point out that even though it’s good for cleansing, be mindful to not get too overzealous with it when doing an at-home steam facial. Getting too close to the water or leaving it steaming for too long can result in a burn.

Related: Micro Dermabrasion vs. Chemical Peel

Are you confident in your skin? Discover how to let your skin become its best self.  Visit Perfect Image for more information.

Advantages of Facial Steaming

Here are the benefits of face steaming:

  • It increases circulation. The warm steam, together with sweat, will dilute blood vessels, causing an increase in blood circulation in the face. This nourishes the skin while also delivering more oxygen. The result is a natural glow. 
  • It is cleansing. Steaming opens the pores and loosens dirt and dead skin cell build-up. It also softens blackheads for easy removal.   
  • Trapped sebum is released. Sebum is a natural oil your skin produces for your skin and scalp. Sometimes it gets trapped below the skin’s surface and becomes a host to bacteria, blackheads, and acne.
  • It is hydrating for your skin. The steam causes more oil to be produced and moisturizes the skin.  
  • It’s soothing and relaxing - for you and your skin. The steam is comforting, especially if there are aromatherapy scents added to the process. 
  • It makes other skincare products more effective. The steam makes your skin more permeable, so topical skincare products are more easily absorbed.  
  • It clears sinus congestion. In addition to benefits for your skin, you can also clear sinus congestion by steaming your face. Inhaling the warm steam loosens mucus, allowing you to breathe freely.
  • It is easy and accessible. You can do a steam facial at home without the need for a skincare professional. 

Disadvantages of Facial Steaming

The main disadvantage of facial steaming is that it can irritate already sensitive skin. People with conditions like rosacea or eczema should carefully consider using facial steaming. It could trigger flushing - excessive redness.

How-To Properly Facial Steam at Home

At-Home Steam Facial (without a steamer)

Bowl Method

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and transfer it to a ceramic or glass bowl. Drape a towel over your head and the bowl to trap the steam. You’re going to want to put your hair up to avoid it getting into the boiling water.
  • Hover your face over the bowl but be mindful not to get too close. You should readily feel the warmth and moisture of the steam, but not so close that you feel a burning sensation. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If you’re feeling fancy, you can infuse your steam water with essential oils, dried herbs like rosemary or thyme, lavender, or chamomile for added benefits, and because they all smell nice too.

Towel method

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil or run the tap as hot as you can get it. (The boiling method will give you a more consistent steam. If your tap water doesn’t get hot enough the towels may cool down quickly and reduce the amount of steaming time, but it will also work in a pinch).
  • Once the water has boiled, remove from heat and place a few clean towels in the water. Remove the towels with tongs. Allow them to cool down until you can comfortably wring them out. Place the towels over the face and leave for at least five minutes, no more than ten. Swap out towels if one begins to get too cool. Steam face for 5-10 minutes.

At-Home Steam Facial (with a steamer)

  • Thoroughly cleanse the face. Excess oil can cause pore congestion and won’t allow your skin to detoxify as easily. 
  • Follow the directions on your steamer. Use distilled water if possible. Tap water can have trace heavy metals and other impurities that could affect the steam.
  • Steam for a minimum of 5 minutes, no more than 10. Be mindful of not putting your face too close to the steam.

Any of the above methods is a great, affordable option to a spa trip. Steaming your face no more than once or twice a week.

Related: All About Exfoliation: How Much is Too Much?

Now that you know about the benefits and disadvantages of facial steaming, here is how you can do this at home. Facial steaming can become an essential part of your daily skincare routine. Let's look at what you should do before and after.

How Long Should You Steam Your Face?

If you want to get all of those benefits, you will only need to steam your face for 5 to 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, your skin could become dried out, overheated, or irritated. When the steam hits your face, it will dilate your blood vessels. The blood will rush to the skin with all of that hot steam, leading to irritated skin. Remember that overexposure to high temperatures and hot water will cause your skin to dry out. You never want to overdo this process, or you will experience more disadvantages than benefits. 

Lastly, if you are just starting out the facial steaming process, you need to be cautious. You will want to check out your skin after three minutes during this time. If there is no irritation from the high heat, you can continue with the process. Continue until you have reached the 10-minute mark. 

Can You Steam Your Face Every Day?

The amount of facial steaming will depend on your skin condition. You should use facial steaming about once a week for the best results. While steaming can hydrate the skin, too much of it can have the opposite effect. You need to find the right balance for your skin. Like most beauty techniques, too much of a good thing can cause problems. Facial steaming is safe, but it is an intense treatment, and you should do it sparingly for your skin.

What to Do Before a Facial Steam

While you might think you can just steam your face without washing, you do want to remove all of that dirt, makeup, and other impurities on your face. Make sure to use a makeup remover and cleanse your face with gentle natural soap, soap-free cleanser, or DIY cleanser. For those who wear makeup, you will also want to use makeup remover. 

There are a few things to consider before you steam your face. You might not want to pre-cleanse your face if you have dry skin. This step can actually make your skin drier. On the other hand, it is vital to wash your face to remove all of that excess oil for those with oily skin. You may have to experiment to find the proper skincare routine for your particular skin type. 

What to Do After Steaming Your Face

After you have steamed your face, you need to take a few additional steps. Here are a couple of tips for your face after giving yourself a facial steam. 

Gentle Exfoliation

You might want to exfoliate or scrub before steaming, but there are more benefits after this process. Impurities and dirt can become loose during the steaming process. With that in mind, you will want to remove all of that gunk from your face. You do want to choose the right type of scrub. A salt or sugar scrub could be too irritating after steaming your face. 

Consider using something less abrasive, like an oat flour paste. You might even want to select a chemical exfoliator with alpha-hydroxy acids. You can even make your own paste with goat's milk products containing lactic acid.

Apply a Mask

Now that your face is nice and clean, think about applying a soothing face mask. Once again, you will want to choose a face mask based on your skin type. For example, you can use:

  • Sheet mask to give your skin more nourishment and hydration
  • Clay mask for acne-prone and oily skin types
  • Exfoliating mask to lift off dead skin cells with the help of ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids
  • Cream mask for dehydrated or peeling skin

While you can find many masks in the store, you might have a few ingredients in your home to make an all-natural mask. With that, you know all of the ingredients that will be used on your face. 

Use a Toner

Some people are afraid that using a toner will harm their skin, especially after opening up the pores. However, toners are very beneficial. These products can balance out the skin's pH levels. In many cases, you can use them as an astringent to tighten pores and dry out oily skin. 

Keep in mind that toners are not made for everyone. You don't always have to use toners or add them to your skincare routine. If you have had issues with toners in the past, it is perfectly fine to skip this step. Some people have sensitivities to these products, and it is acceptable to move on to the following tips. 

If you don't decide to use a toner after facial steaming, you must choose the right product. The best ones will use plant hydrosols, and they will include soothing ingredients like peppermint water or rose water. Alcohol-based toners are often too rough for the skin after a facial stream. Placing them on the skin will cause a stinging sensation. Think about choosing a gentle toner that will soothe the skin rather than irritate it. 

Finish With a Serum and/or Moisturizer

Finally, the last step is to use a moisturizer. You might even want to use a serum on your face. If you're going to apply a serum, make sure to apply it before the moisturizer. Serums with vitamin C are the best options. Apply that to your face and top it off with a regular moisturizer. 

Like most of these tips, you can customize them to your needs. If you don't typically use a serum, just apply the moisturizer, and you are ready to go. A great moisturizer will be a cream, lotion, or natural oil. Choose something with jojoba or almond oil. By applying that to your face, you can lock in the moisture on your face.

Last Thoughts on Steam Facials

Steam facials have many benefits to your skin, but they can also be hard on certain skin types. If you have sensitive skin, with eczema or rosacea, you should thoughtfully reconsider steam facials. But if you have oily or acne-prone skin, steam facials may be just the ticket to the clear, smooth, and radiant skin you want. Remember that steam facials are not a complete solution, they are only one part of a skincare practice that nourishes, hydrates, and moisturizes your skin. 

Did you know you can have a professional strength chemical peel at home? We bring the spa experience to your home! Visit Perfect Image to learn more.

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