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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 benefits to steam inhalation:

  • Facial steaming is thought to have benefits for 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.

To choose the steamers on this list, we read customer reviews on multiple websites. We looked at durability, design, and manufacturer’s reputations.

Steam inhalers range in size from small and portable to tabletop. We’ve included several of each. If you want to use your steamer on the go, look for a rechargeable, battery-operated model rather than a corded electric.

Each inhaler has a steam delivery system, such as a facial hood or nozzle-type opening. If you want to use your steamer for skin care, don’t buy a model with a small hood. These are designed to direct steam to the nose or mouth for inhalation, rather than the entire face.

Steam inhalers often come with wild claims about curing disease or eliminating wrinkles. Take these with a grain of salt. 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 soothing scent

Vicks Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$

This personal steamer can be used with or without disposable Vicks VapoPads. The pads are scented with menthol or a lavender-rosemary combination.

It has a soft, flexible plastic hood you can fit over your nose and mouth. It also has an adjustable steam control that lets you maximize or minimize the level of steam production and inhalation.

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

Best for children

MABIS Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$

This steamer has a small, flexible face mask which 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 for essential oil distillation. It also has an indicator light, extension tube, and steam intensity settings that let you control the flow and size of steam particles you inhale.

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

Best dual purpose for facial steaming and room humidifying

Pure Daily Care NanoSteamer

  • Price: $$

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.

There’s some research that 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.

Best for skin exfoliation

Conair True Glow Moisturizing Mist Facial Sauna System

  • Price: $$

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.

Best for alleviating nasal congestion

Aura Medical AVYA Portable Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$$

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.

Best portable

Crane Cordless Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$

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 up to boiling, do not use tap water with this inhaler.

Best spa experience

Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$$

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.

Best self-cleaning

PureGuardian MST55 Personal Warm Mist Steam Inhaler

  • Price: $$$

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.

Best budget

MODVICA Facial Steamer

  • Price: $

This budget-friendly personal steamer is constructed with a facial mask and nasal mask for targeted steaming. It has an automatic shut-off that activates when the steamer is out of water.

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

Best for hair and facial steaming

Super Deal Pro 3-in-1 Ozone Hair and Facial Steamer

  • Price: $$

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, curly or coarse hair becomes softer and more manageable after steaming.

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

Most steam inhalers contain boiling or very hot water. Never overfill your device, as this can cause breakage and spills. Children should always be supervised when using a steam inhaler.

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 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.

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 directions exactly, prior to using essential oil.

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 the face or into the respiratory tract of a single user.

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