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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



At-Home Steam Facial (without a steamer)

Bowl Method

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and transfer 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. 

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