Living in NYC, I usually try to avoid hot steam as I walk around the city because it’s coming from greasy restaurants, construction, or who knows where. After experiencing the relaxing fog at a few facials, however, I realized that maybe there are some skin benefits to steam if you do it right.
Think about, for instance, when you go into the steam room at the gym. You feel lighter and more “pure” once you step out, right? The same benefits apply to your skin. In fact, that’s exactly why estheticians use it: “Using a facial steamer in tandem with cleansing or just after cleansing not only helps clear out your pores, it also helps to soften the skin so that we can more easily do extractions,” explains Bella Gulkarova, an esthetician at Face Haus in NYC who uses a facial steamer during every treatment.
Do: Use a facial steamer to help your skincare products work better.
Not only does clearing out your pores help purify your skin, but it also clears the way so that your other skincare products can penetrate the skin and work more effectively. “Opening up your pores with steam makes the skin much more receptive to products you put on your face afterward, enhancing their effect,” explains Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a dermatologist in San Diego.
It’s also beneficial during the winter months or for those with dry skin because it helps increase hydration, says Gulkarova. Make the most of the hydration boost by sealing it in with a moisturizing sleeping mask.
Don’t: Steam your face too much.
Both experts recommend keeping your steam time under 15 minutes and limiting it to once or twice a week. “Any more than that and your skin can actually become dry and inflamed,” says Gulkarova. As with anything you try for the first time, Dr. Jacknin recommends starting slow—once a week for five to ten minutes—to see how your skin reacts before you go all in.
Do: Use a steamer on clean skin.
While Dr. Jacknin likes to use a facial steamer after cleansing and toning, Gulkarova adds it in as she’s washing her face to help the cleanser and exfoliator work even better. No matter which way you choose to use your steamer, they both agree that you should never use it while you still have your makeup on, as you don’t want your makeup getting pushed deeper into your pores. Be sure to clean your skin following your steam as well to remove any of the gunk that may have been brought to the surface.
Another important note to remember as you’re steaming: Always keep a distance of at least five inches between you and the steamer—and keep your eyes closed to avoid the heat irritating them.
Don’t: DIY facial steaming.
After reading about all of the benefits of facial steaming, you may be tempted to start boiling a pot of water… or maybe you already have. Don’t do it. “You have no control over an open pot of water and the few dollars you save aren’t worth the risk of the potential burns you could end up with,” says Dr. Jacknin. Instead, go the safer route with one of these at-home tools.