face steaming

What are the benefits of face steaming and how often should you do it? We explain everything you need to know

Face steaming is often a key step during professional salon facials but should we be incorporating it into our every day skincare routine?

Face steaming is not a new skincare practice. In fact, if you search for it in Google, you’ll be hit with over 40-million results. It’s a huge part of many East Asian skincare regimes and if you’ve ever had a professional facial, chances are your aesthetician carried out a facial steam at some stage. 

So why do so many of us often miss this step in our day-to-day routines? Could it actually hold the key to getting a professional, deep-down cleanse at home

We reached out to Jennifer Rock, dermal facialist and founder of Skingredients, to debunk the myths on this ancient (and easy) skincare step. 

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What is face steaming?

Facial steaming is the process of using water vapour to hydrate and warm the skin. In a professional setting this often involves the use of a professional facial steamer or “wand” that creates vapour. But there are also steaming devices that can be used at home.

“Contrary to popular belief, steam doesn’t open your pores,” reveals Rock. “Your pores aren’t doors, and they don’t open and close.”

However steam does increase your skin’s temperature, which in turn warms up and softens any debris and sebum within the pore. Any excess oil and sebum can then liquify, making it easier to drain away or be manually extracted.

This heat can also activate enzymes, so enzyme masques can work more effectively when used post-steaming.

Steaming can also soften the skin, increase hydration (temporarily) and may increase product absorption. As heat helps to dilate blood vessels, steam can also boost circulation for an instant glow.

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Is face steaming safe?

“Face steaming is safe so long as it is performed correctly, meaning the steam is not too hot and it’s not being over-used. However, it’s not recommended for those prone to redness or flushing, as this excess heat will only exacerbate the issue,” reveals Rock. 

“For steaming treatments, 43°C is the ideal temperature and most at-home facial steamers will have a temperature control to regulate their temperature.”

This is one reason why using a professional at-home facial steamer (rather than opting for a bowl of steaming hot water and a towel) is recommended. Steam can cause burns so it’s always best to play it safe and use a device that’s specifically made to steam the face. 

How to use a facial steamer at home

There are lots of at-home face steamers designed to soften the skin and help boost the efficacy of skincare products. If you want to include a facial steam into your skincare routine then Rock advises using it after cleansing and before applying any serums or moisturisers to help lock in hydration. 

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to redness or burst blood vessels, only use a facial steamer once a week. Otherwise, two to three times is the recommended amount.

Steamers can also help to make manual extractions much easier, but at-home extractions should always be carried out with caution.

“I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for an extraction tool, but rather clean fingers, not fingernails,” advises Rock. “Professionals are trained in the correct pressure and technique to perform an at-home extraction and when performed this way, extractions should not cause damage. But there is potential for damage if you don’t know the technicalities of what you’re doing, so watch a Youtube tutorial from a trained professional if are absolutely not going to leave that whitehead on your face!”

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The best at-home face steamers

  • Silk’n VitalSteam

    Best face steamers: Silk’n VitalSteam

    Designed by physicians, Silk’n’s VitalSteam facial sauna disperses ultra-fine steam at temperatures that are safe for your skin and has a cold steam function to help strengthen and hydrate your skin for fresh-faced effect. 

    Plus, there’s even an aromatherapy vessel where you can add your favourite essential oils to release relaxing scents to aid your evening wind-down routine.

    Shop Silk’n VitalSteam at Cult Beauty, £59.99

  • Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler

    Best face steamers: Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler

    This easy-to-use facial steamer comes with two adjustable steam levels and is a great affordable option for anyone looking to try out a facial steamer without spending a fortune. The full face mask means that your skin benefits from the steam, without it escaping into the air around. 

    Shop Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler at lookfantastic, £24.99

  • Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01

    Best face steamers: Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01

    Inspired and created in Japan, this Panasonic Facial Steamer creates extremely fine steam particles (18,000 times finer than regular steam particles!) which are better at deeply penetrating the skin.

    Just choose your steam cycle (12 minute intense, six minute express or three minute instant) then position your face approximately 20cm from the lid and enjoy!

    Shop Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01 at Boots, £129.99

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What to do after face steaming

Post-steaming, the goal is to give back to the skin with ingredients that nourish it and can help to lock in any hydration introduced.

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