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Looking for a way to step up your skin care game without breaking the bank? Facial steaming is a DIY skin treatment that cleanses, nourishes, and feels luxurious.

Read on to find out how to get your glorious glow on without having to set foot in a spa.

  • It’s cleansing. Steam opens up your pores and helps loosen any buildup of dirt for a deeper cleanse. Opening up your pores also softens blackheads, making them easier to remove.
  • It promotes circulation. The combination of warm steam and an increase in perspiration dilates your blood vessels and increases circulation. This boost of blood flow nourishes your skin and delivers oxygen. The result is a natural, healthy glow.
  • It releases acne-causing bacteria and cells. Opening up your pores allows the release of dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities that clog the pores and contribute to acne.
  • It releases trapped sebum. This naturally occurring oil is produced by your sebaceous glands to lubricate your skin and hair. When sebum gets trapped beneath your skin’s surface, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria and causes acne and blackheads.
  • It’s hydrating. Steam hydrates the skin by helping to increase oil production, naturally moisturizing the face.
  • It helps your skin better absorb skin care products. Steam increases skin’s permeability, enabling it to better absorb topicals. This means you get more bang for your buck from skin care products applied after a steam.
  • It promotes collagen and elastin. The increased blood flow experienced during a steam facial promotes collagen and elastin production. This results in firmer, younger-looking skin.
  • It’s soothing. The feeling of warm steam on your face is relaxing. Add some soothing scents using herbs or essential oils for aromatherapy to take your steam sesh to a whole other level of calm!
  • It helps with sinus congestion. Steam can help relieve sinus congestion and headaches that often accompany it. Adding certain essential oils to your steam can boost the effect.
  • It’s affordable and accessible. You don’t need to dish out big bucks for a steam facial at a spa to enjoy the benefits; it can be done at home using items you already have.

There are a few ways you can enjoy this versatile skin treatment at home. It can be simple and free or as luxe and costly as you — and your wallet — choose.

Here’s a step-by-step description for each technique.

To steam over a bowl or sink of hot water

  1. Grab a big fluffy towel and choose your spot. Comfort is key, so if you’re doing this over a sink you’ll want to use a chair or stool that offers the right height. Otherwise, a bowl on a table is your best bet.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face and cleanse using a gentle exfoliating cleanser. Don’t forget to cleanse your neck, too!
  3. Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil in a kettle or pot, depending on the size of the sink or bowl.
  4. Add a handful of herbs once the water begins to boil and stir.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Carefully pour into the sink or bowl. If you’re using essential oils, this is the time to add a few drops to the water.
  6. Have a seat, drape your towel over your head and the pot, and hold your face 6 inches above the water.
  7. Raise or lower your head for more or less heat and lift a corner of the towel to cool off if needed.
  8. Steam your face for 5 to 10 minutes.

To steam with warm towels

  1. Get a hand towel and turn on the hot water tap. When hot, fill your sink or bowl with enough hot water to soak your towel. Add your herbs.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face and cleanse your face and neck using a gentle exfoliating cleanser.
  3. Soak your towel in the hot water and wring it out so that the towel is damp.
  4. Lean back in a comfy chair or lie down. Place the towel on your face, holding each corner up so they meet in the center of your forehead.
  5. Adjust the towel so that it covers your entire face, including the eyes, leaving just your nose peeking through. Relax for 5 minutes.

To steam with a home facial steamer

  1. Read your facial steamer’s instructions, filling it up as directed. Place it on a table near an outlet so you can plug it in. It will take a few minutes to begin emitting steam.
  2. Secure your hair so that it’s off your face and wash your face using a gentle exfoliating cleanser.
  3. Have a seat, get comfortable, and set your face inside the cone attachment, staying 5 to 10 inches away as it says to do in your steamer’s instruction booklet.
  4. Steam for 2 or 3 minutes at a time with a 1-minute break in between to see how your skin is handling the steam.

Facial steamers offer a more powerful steam than the other methods.

Professional steam You can have a professional give you a steam facial, if you don’t mind splurging. During the cleanse portion of your facial, the esthetician will use a steam machine to prepare your skin. Some estheticians will also continue steaming during the exfoliation phase to get the best results possible. The steam is adjusted based on your sensitivity level, making for a relaxing and effective experience.

At the end of the day, the base you choose for steaming your face won’t make the steaming any less beneficial, but some bases may offer even more perks.

It comes down to personal preference and budget:

  1. Tap water. Tap water is accessible and free, so you can’t really go wrong.
  2. Distilled or spring water. You could also use distilled or spring water, though there’s no evidence to suggest that one is actually better than the other for steaming.
  3. Tea. Beauty teas offer health benefits that are good for you from the inside out, like antioxidants. They’re also supposed to help your body release toxins. Research has found that green tea and others that contain polyphenols have protective and anti-aging benefits when applied topically.

So, could or should you use herbal tea as your base for steaming? Absolutely!

Adding dried herbs and oils to your steam may offer extra benefits. Certain herbs are thought to be more beneficial for different skin types. Some essential oils and herbs are known to have a calming or invigorating effect, depending on what you’re after.

Herbs

  • Chamomile. Research shows that chamomile can help with skin inflammation and dermatitis, making it great for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
  • Rosemary. This fragrant herb may be a good option for those with oily skin.

Oils

  • Lavender. This herb is great for dry skin or eczema, and it has relaxing aromatherapy benefits.
  • Geranium. This oil derived from the geranium flower is a natural astringent that tightens and tones the skin.
  • Eucalyptus. If you deal with acne or are congested, this is a great option.
  • Orange. Along with having uplifting aromatherapy properties, orange may also help with blocked pores and a dull complexion.

A steam burn is more damaging than a burn from boiling water, so you need to be especially careful when steaming your face.

To lower your risk of burns, avoid putting your face too close to the steam. Increase the distance as needed for you to be comfortable. Water should be warm, not hot, if you’re using the towel method.

Steam your face once a week for the best results. Limit each steam session to around 10 minutes to avoid irritating your skin.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of face steaming.

Preparation

  • Hydrate. Drinking water before exposing yourself to heat of any kind is a good idea, so drink some water before you begin.
  • Cleanse. Wash your face using a gentle cleanser with an exfoliator so your skin is ready to reap all the rewards of steaming.

During the steam

  • Keep your eyes closed. You’ll be more comfortable, you won’t risk irritating your eyes, and you can allow your eyelids to enjoy the benefits of the steam.
  • Keep your face 6 to 10 inches away. You don’t want to get too close to the bowl or sink and risk getting burned. Listen to your skin and do what feels comfortable.
  • Follow directions if using a facial steamer. Read the instruction booklet and use your facial steamer as directed.

Immediately after

  • Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Your skin will be extra sensitive, so you don’t want to irritate it by rubbing with a towel.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or serum. The effects of your moisturizer or serum will be enhanced after a steam, so use something that nourishes. If you’re after younger looking skin, this is a great time to use an anti-aging cream.
  • Massage your face. What better way to end a relaxing face steam than with a gentle face massage? Use your fingers to gently massage your forehead, cheeks, and neck using upward strokes. Unless you have oily or sensitive skin, you can use a bit of facial oil to enhance your massage.

Steam can cause serious burns, so keeping a safe distance from the source of the steam is a must. If you’re steaming your face using the damp towel method, make sure the towel is warm — not hot.

If you have rosacea, you might want to skip facial steaming. The heat dilates blood vessels, which contribute to redness.

Though steaming can hydrate the skin, people with very dry skin and eczema should use extra caution. Limit steam sessions to just a couple of minutes to avoid irritation.

A weekly face steaming is a great way to unwind while also promoting healthy skin. But be sure to check with your doctor first if you have an inflammatory skin condition.