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Steam inhalers are sometimes marketed as personal steam therapeutics or personal steam inhalers. Some are designed to be used as personal saunas for skin care. Others are geared toward supporting respiratory health and comfort.

There are multiple potential benefits to steam inhalation:

  • Facial steaming may have benefits for your skin. It can open pores, making it easier to remove bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells.
  • Steam inhalation has benefits for vocal health. If you’re a singer, teacher, or public speaker, you can use a steam inhaler to keep your voice box moist and soothe irritated vocal cords.
  • Facial steaming may be beneficial for alleviating nasal congestion and reducing sinus headaches. Facial steaming isn’t a cure for colds, allergies, or the flu, but it may comfort you when you’re feeling congested or sick.

Here’s what we took into consideration when making our picks for the best steam inhalers:

  • customer reviews: To choose the steamers on this list, we read customer reviews on multiple websites. We looked at durability, design, and manufacturer’s reputations.
  • size: Steam inhalers range in size from small and portable to tabletop. We’ve included several of each. We also included models with different steam delivery systems, including devices with facial hoods and nozzle-type openings.
  • battery type. We included rechargeable options and corded electric options to suit different needs.
  • grandiose claims: We avoided products from manufacturers that make wild claims about curing disease or eliminating wrinkles. Steam inhalers have multiple benefits, but they can’t cure conditions.

Pricing guide

Steam inhalers range in price from around $20 to $200. We’ve indicated price as follows:

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Best for children

MABIS Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: 1-year limited
  • Steam time: adjustable

This steamer has a small, flexible face mask that directs steam to either the nose or mouth.

It comes in two animal character designs, Digger Dog or Margo Moo, making it a fun choice for children or adults with a love of whimsy.

The inhaler has an aromatherapy tank, so you can use it with essential oils. It also has an indicator light, extension tube, and steam intensity settings that let you control the flow and size of steam particles.

This steam inhaler comes with a 1-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • easy to use and clean
  • produces a lot of steam and heats quickly
  • can use with essential oils
  • suitable for children

Cons

  • water compartment is small
  • some parts take a while to dry

Best dual purpose for facial steaming and room humidifying

Pure Daily Care NanoSteamer

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: 1-year limited
  • Steam time: up to 30 minutes

This full-size device can be used as a personal facial steamer or as a room humidifier.

According to the manufacturer, it produces steam containing negative ions.

Some research suggests negative ions may be beneficial for skin barrier function and recovery. Other studies have found that negative ions can effectively clean indoor air, especially during hazy conditions.

The steamer comes with a stainless steel five-piece skin kit that contains a blackhead extractor. It also has a towel warming chamber, which can be beneficial for removing makeup and soothing skin.

The larger water tank produces steam for up to 30 minutes.

This steamer comes with a 1-year satisfaction guarantee.

Pros

  • produces up to 30 minutes of steam
  • hygienic stainless steel construction
  • includes skin care accessories

Cons

  • steam blast isn’t as strong as other devices
  • no place to add essential oils

Best for skin exfoliation

Conair True Glow Gentle Mist Moisturizing Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Steam time: 3-15 minutes or 30 minutes

This steamer comes with a facial cone for full facial steaming. It also has a nasal cone you can use specifically for respiratory steam treatments.

It comes with a battery-operated exfoliating facial brush and a sponge applicator you can use to apply moisturizer after steaming.

Pros

  • includes accessories like a facial brush
  • easy to use
  • has a timer feature

Cons

  • some say it produces little steam

Best for alleviating nasal congestion

Aura Medical AVYA Portable Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$$
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Steam time: N/A

This rechargeable, portable steamer is designed specifically to help relieve nasal congestion and headache. It uses a proprietary vibrating mesh technology to heat saline solution into very small particles of steam.

The steam is emitted through a nozzle which is placed directly under the nose. The steam temperature can be adjusted to your comfort level.

The company sells two types of saline solution, Himalayan Aqueous Solution and AVYA Aqueous Solution.

You can also make your own saline solution at home or use this device with water alone. Unlike most steam inhalers, this device doesn’t boil water to make steam. If you decide not to use the saline solutions sold by the company, only use distilled water or preboiled water.

Reviewers say this inhaler is beneficial for asthma and for reducing allergic rhinitis symptoms. Others say it helps moisturize the nasal cavity, reducing the occurrence of nose bleeds.

This inhaler comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • rechargeable battery
  • adjustable temperature
  • cleaning mode

Cons

  • must use saline solution or distilled water
  • potential durability issues

Best portable

Crane Cordless Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: NA
  • Steam time: 15 minutes

This portable, lightweight steamer is cordless and rechargeable. It comes with a small supply of bottled spring water, vapor pads, a charger, and a travel case.

It has four mist temperature settings: low warm, high warm, low cool, and high cool. Since it doesn’t heat water to boiling, do not use tap water with this inhaler.

Pros

  • portable, lightweight design
  • rechargeable battery
  • multiple temperature settings

Cons

  • must use saline solution or distilled water
  • expensive

Best spa experience

Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$$
  • Warranty: 30 days
  • Steam time: up to 9 minutes

This durable, lightweight steamer has a wide nozzle for full facial steaming. It has an automatic safety shutoff timed for 9-minute facials. The handle makes it easy to carry.

The manufacturer recommends using distilled water to eliminate mineral buildup in the steamer.

This steamer comes with a free 30-day return policy.

Pros

  • durable construction
  • lightweight
  • ergonomic design

Cons

  • pricey

Best self-cleaning

Guardian Technologies PureGuardian MST55 Personal Warm Mist Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Steam time: 5-15 minutes

This corded, warm mist inhaler comes with an aromatherapy tray. It’s self-cleaning and has an automatic drying cycle, so you don’t have to worry about mineral deposits or mold buildup.

The inhaler comes with one large and one small latex-free facial mask, plus one essential oil pad.

The manufacturer does not recommend this steamer for children under 13 years old. It also comes with a 1-year warranty.

Pros

  • aromatherapy compatible
  • self-cleaning and self-drying
  • simple controls

Cons

  • not suitable for kids under 13
  • portable size but corded

Best budget

Kingsteam Nano Ionic Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: N/A
  • Steam time: 8-10 minutes

This budget-friendly personal steamer is constructed with a facial mask for targeted steaming. It’s designed to keep the temperature consistent to prevent dangerous overheating and features a portable, ergonomic design.

The small steamer can also be used with essential oils, thanks to a built-in funnel.

Some reviewers mention the steamer emits a chemical smell when first used.

Pros

  • heats quickly
  • produces a continuous stream of steam
  • budget-friendly

Cons

  • small water tank

Best for hair and facial steaming

SUPER DEAL Pro 3-in-1 Ozone Hair and Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$
  • Warranty: N/A
  • Steam time: about 30 minutes

This personal steamer is large and resembles a bonnet-style hair dryer. It’s big enough to add humidity to the air in a small room. It also has a facial steaming applicator wand you can use for targeted steaming.

The bonnet is designed to steam hair. According to reviewers, steaming helps make curly or coarse hair softer and more manageable.

Pros

  • can be used on hair
  • large reservoir
  • wand for targeted steaming

Cons

  • it can be a challenge to position it above your head
  • poor option for facial steaming

Here’s how to safely use a steam inhaler:

Do read the instructions. Take a few moments to read the manual or manufacturer’s directions to help ensure that you use your steam inhaler safely.

Do fill carefully. Most steam inhalers contain boiling or very hot water. Never overfill your device, as this can cause breakage and spills.

Do be careful of who uses one. Children should always be supervised when using a steam inhaler.

Don’t use it too close to your face. Steam inhalers don’t need to be flush with your face to be effective. To avoid burns, keep your face several inches away from the steam stream.

Don’t add product unless the manufacturer says it’s ok. Don’t put oil or gel into a steamer that is not designed to be used with essential oils. This can cause clogging and damage to your machine.

Don’t use your steam inhaler for vaginal steaming. Not only is this potentially unsafe, but there’s also no scientific evidence that vaginal steaming has any benefit for health, cleanliness, or mood.

If you’re experiencing frequent sinus pain and congestion, you may find it helpful to consult with a doctor who can refer you to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist or allergist.

It’s possible that your sinus symptoms may not be from an infection but rather the result of migraine, a neurological condition that can cause severe head pain and other symptoms.

If you’re experiencing skin issues like rashes, consider making an appointment with a board certified dermatologist. They can recommend treatment options for issues like rosacea, acne, and more. They can also give you advice on how to better utilize your facial steamer.

Do I have to use distilled water with a steam inhaler, or is tap water safe to use?

Most steam inhalers boil water within the device to make steam. Boiling kills organisms found in tap water, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that cause illness. This makes the steam safe to inhale. This type of steamer doesn’t require distilled or purified water, although there’s no harm in using this type of water.

Some steam inhalers emit cool steam mist. Others utilize technologies other than boiling to generate steam. If you use a non-boiling steam inhaler with your own water supply, always use distilled water or boiled tap water. Make sure the water comes to a rolling boil before using.

Another plus to using distilled, rather than tap, water is reduced mineral buildup in the steamer itself.

Can I put essential oils into my steam inhaler?

Some steam inhalers come with special compartments for essential oil pads. These are safe to use with the essential oil of your choice.

Don’t put oil, gel, or anything other than water into a steam inhaler that isn’t designed for that purpose. You’ll clog and break your device if you do.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly before using essential oils.

If you have a pet, make sure the mist is safe for them to breathe in. Some essential oils, such as cinnamon and peppermint, can be toxic to birds, cats, dogs, and other pets when inhaled. It’s a good idea to check with your vet before using.

How do steam inhalers differ from humidifiers and vaporizers?

Humidifiers and vaporizers both release moisture into the air. Humidifiers produce cool mist. Vaporizers produce warm mist.

Both are meant to alter the air in a home or work environment by making it humid and more comfortable to breathe.

Unlike humidifiers and vaporizers, steam inhalers are small and designed to direct humid, warm air directly onto your face or into your respiratory tract.

Most steam inhalers have an internal mechanism that heats water, turning it into steam. Technically, this makes them a type of vaporizer.