Achieving a quality facial involves more than just placing cucumber slices over your eyes and applying egg whites to your face. Caring for your skin and attaining that coveted healthy radiance often requires indulging in a little steamy therapy.
Facial steaming, traditionally a staple of spa treatments, has gained significant popularity as an at-home skincare practice, making it a coveted addition to your beauty arsenal. But is it suitable for everyone?
What Does Steaming Do?
A facial steamer emits controlled bursts of warm steam across your face, aiming to unclog pores and purify your skin. The steam's purpose is to draw out impurities like oil, dirt, sebum (your skin's natural oil), and other pore-clogging elements that can lead to issues such as blackheads and acne.
Facial steaming typically comes after the cleansing step in your skincare routine. A standard facial steamer is equipped with a water reservoir that you fill with distilled water, which is then heated. As the water reaches the right temperature, it begins to evaporate, creating a soothing, warm mist. Facial steaming can significantly contribute to softer and smoother skin.
The application of heat to your skin is believed to open up your pores, allowing trapped oils, dirt, and sebum to be released. Additionally, the warm steam can hydrate your skin and facial hair, enhancing circulation.
Other purported benefits include reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, stimulating collagen and elastin production (minimising loose skin), and preventing breakouts.
So, what are the advantages of facial steaming at home? Here are the key benefits:
Cleansing and Unclogging Pores: The heat or steam helps open up your pores, making it easier to remove oil, dirt, and sebum deep within.
Hydrating the Skin: Steam can stimulate the production of healthy oils, preventing your skin from drying out, provided you don't overexpose it to hot steam.
Minimising Blackheads: Regular steaming is essential to prevent excess sebum from causing blackheads and skin congestion.
Pimple Prevention: Clearing the pores eliminates trapped oils, dirt, and dead skin, which can contribute to acne and breakouts.
Reducing Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Steaming promotes cell regeneration and enhances collagen production, as the increased blood circulation brings more oxygen to your skin.
Boosting Skincare Product Effectiveness: The warm air creates an ideal environment for your skincare products to penetrate your skin, making it more receptive to your chosen serums and treatments.
Saving Money: Opting for at-home face steaming over spa visits can save you significant money in the long run.
It's essential to note that facial steaming isn't suitable for all skin types. Individuals with sensitive or dry skin, as well as those with specific skin conditions like eczema, may find that high-temperature environments, such as hot showers and saunas, tend to strip away their natural oils and exacerbate dryness.
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Active acne (skin with inflammation, red bumps, or sensitivity)
Before incorporating facial steaming into your routine, it's advisable to consult a skincare professional to determine its suitability for your specific skin type.
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How to Use a Facial Steamer:
The usage of a facial steamer can vary depending on the product or model you have. However, here are some common steps:
Begin by removing any makeup and cleansing your face to eliminate impurities like oil and dirt. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel and pull back any hair from your face.
Exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells.
Fill the water tank of the facial steamer with lukewarm, distilled water.
Reattach the water tank to the steamer and follow the instructions for heating the water.
Some facial steamers can be placed on a flat surface to allow the mist to envelop your face, while others are more compact and held slightly away from your face. Begin steaming your face for a few minutes, checking for any signs of irritation.
If no issues arise, continue steaming for approximately five to ten minutes, or as directed in the instruction manual. Depending on the product, you may need to take periodic breaks.
Once you've finished, pat your face dry and let your skin breathe.
Post-Facial Steaming Care:
It's crucial to resume your regular skincare routine immediately after your facial steaming session. If you don't, the moisture on your skin will begin to evaporate, potentially leaving your skin dry. Here are some basic steps to maximise the benefits of your facial steaming:
Clean your face to remove any dislodged impurities.
Following facial steaming, consider using a sheet mask to draw out additional impurities from your pores. Alternatively, you can apply a facial peel to reduce the appearance of pores, which is especially helpful as steaming tends to enlarge pores. A peel can also minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and correct uneven skin tone.
If you prefer not to use a mask, proceed with your skincare routine immediately after your facial steaming session.
Facial Steaming Without a Steamer:
You don't need to invest in an expensive facial steamer or make spa appointments to enjoy the benefits of steaming. Here are two cost-effective ways to steam your face at home:
Position your face over a bowl or sink filled with hot water.
Place a warm towel over your face.
Some individuals have even found that using humidifiers can offer skin benefits, especially during dry, colder months when skin hydration is crucial. Duration and Frequency: Dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross recommends starting with two minutes of facial steaming before evaluating the impact on your skin. If you notice any irritation, discontinue use. In general, facial steaming should not exceed five minutes, or even less, depending on your specific product or model. If you're new to facial steaming, it's wise to begin with the shorter, recommended duration. Frequency of Use: The frequency of facial steaming varies, with some dermatologists suggesting it should not be done more than once a week. Certain brands recommend using a facial steamer approximately three times a week, although this should be adjusted based on your unique skin characteristics. Daily Use Caution: It's essential to exercise caution with daily or prolonged use of facial steamers. Exposing your skin to heat frequently can lead to dilated blood vessels, potentially causing damage. This can result in effects such as redness, inflammation, or exacerbation of skin conditions like rosacea.
NOT ALL HERBS ARE EQUAL
Some individual plants, flowers and herbs are stand-out for face steaming. A few include -
Benefits of Chamomile
Because chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties in the form of powerful antioxidants including polyphenols and phytochemicals, it helps to protect against long-term and short-term skin inflammation. Chamomile may also accelerate cell and tissue regeneration, promoting healing. It is also antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic. With all these powerful actions, this beautiful apple scented bloom may help to treat an active acne breakout, reducing bacteria and cleansing the skin, whilst also preventing future breakouts.
Benefits of Yarrow
Yarrow is a flowering herb that grows in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. Herbal legend has described that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers during the Trojan War in 1200 BC. In Medieval times, yarrow leaves were rolled up and stuffed in the nose to stop bleeding. It is particularly beneficial in reducing inflammation; it's effective in speeding healing, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, reducing redness, unclog pores, calm irritation and reduce acne scars.
Benefits of Lavender
Aside from its lovely scent, lavender’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties make it an incredibly useful plant for our skin. It can soothe and calm skin, help fight acne, and even help heal minor cuts and burns. It is useful for rashes and skin irritations caused by medical conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Some studies have shown that the antioxidants in lavender may even help to reduce wrinkles.
Benefits of Thyme
Thyme has been widely acknowledged as one of the most used herbs since as far back as ancient Egypt. Thyme belongs to the Lamiaceae, also known as mint, family. Due to thyme’s high thymol content, it kills bacteria and fungus. Thyme has the benefit of antifungal and antiseptic properties. With its circulatory and medicinal properties, Thyme fortifies the skin and provides relief from itching and tightness caused by dry skin.
If you're keen to get steaming, below are some easy recipes to begin a regular skin routine.
Lavender Infused Facial Steam
1 tbsp dried lavender.
1 tbsp dried rose petals.
1 tbsp dried calendula.
1 tbsp dried chamomile.
5 drops geranium essential oil.
2 tbsp lemon juice.
Soothing Chamomile Facial Steam
Lavender and chamomile are both common ingredients used for relaxation. Balanced out with lemongrass, this blend is perfect for unwinding at night.
3 T Lavender Buds
3 T Chamomile Flowers
3 T Lemongrass
Hibiscus & Rose Facial Steam
This colourful blend smells amazing. The energising aroma of citrus and hibiscus is balanced out with the softer scent of rose petals. As an added benefit, the hibiscus petals tint the water a wonderful pink colour.
4 T Hibiscus Petals
3 T California Orange Peel
3 T Red Rose Buds & Petals