When you’re mapping out a self-care moment, even with the best face masks and massaging rollers, your pamper session won’t feel complete until a facial steamer is in the mix. Also used by licensed estheticians, facial steamers are beloved for their numerous relaxation and beauty benefits, including opening up your pores, allowing products to penetrate deeper, and brightening the skin. Translation: Using a facial steamer at home is a great way to achieve that salon-worthy glow without paying full price for a professional facial every few months.
To get all the details on the benefits of facial steamers and how to best use them, we consulted a range of experts for advice. Below, see their answers to all your most pressing questions, and shop some of their favorite facial steamer picks.
What are the benefits of facial steaming?
Boosts circulation: “One of the main benefits of using a facial steamer at home is that it increases blood circulation to the skin by raising the skin’s internal temperature,” explains Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skin Care. When you increase the skin’s temperature, oxygen flows to the surface and “feeds the skin cells with new nutrients,” Rouleau adds. When doing your routine, Rouleau advises you should always cleanse, steam, apply serum, and then finish with a moisturizer.
Opens up pores and preps them for extractions: When using a facial steamer, steam increases the temperature of your skin, which in turn heats the debris in your pores. The dirt and oils clogging your pores are usually the consistency of hard butter, but with a little heat, they can be melted to soft butter. “It only stays soft as long as the skin is moist,” adds Rouleau. Once your pores are open, it’s easier to clean the skin and rid it of any congestion.
Prevents acne: By making it easier to remove debris from pores, facial steaming also helps reduce acne, says Roberta Moradfar, celebrity aesthetic nurse practitioner and founder of EFFACÈ Aesthetics. Additionally, she notes that facial steaming softens dead skin cells on the outermost layer of skin to reveal a clearer, more radiant complexion.
Brings pimples to a head: If a pimple (or two) has already cropped up, facial steaming can also help clear breakouts faster. “When skin begins to perspire from the moist steam, the perspiration can bring up the sebum from down within, and the pores (now softened) are open to release it all.”
Increases product absorption: “In addition to opening up your pores, the heat from steam causes your blood vessels to dilate, which leads to a boost in circulation and oxygenation to your skin,” says Moradfar. “This helps increase your skin’s permeability, allowing serums to absorb better and deeper.” Once you’ve completed your steaming session, she recommends using a nourishing hyaluronic acid serum to further lock in moisture.
Hydrates skin: According to Moradfar, facial steaming can hydrate the skin by promoting the skin’s natural oil production—but only if you steam up to a few times a week. “Frequent or excessive steaming can deliver too much heat to the skin, over-drying it and causing damage to collagen fibers,” she warns.
How often should you use a facial steamer?
“Those with normal to combination skin can steam their face once to three times weekly,” says Moradfar. “Those with oily skin tend to have thicker skin and can tolerate more steaming than those with thin to normal skin. Meanwhile, anyone with sensitive skin should limit their steaming to once a week.”
And if you have certain skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema, Moradfar advises avoiding steaming altogether. “Steaming further dilates facial blood vessels, which contributes to worsening the appearance of rosacea. Those with dry skin conditions such as eczema should also avoid steaming to prevent over-drying the skin.”
People who may benefit from facial steaming should use their device no more than 10 minutes at a time to avoid any adverse effects, she says. Additionally, it’s best to test your skin’s tolerance to steaming before increasing the frequency of your steaming sessions.
What’s the best way to use a facial steamer at home?
“Make sure your face isn’t too close to the steam and stay away from high heat settings to avoid a potential steam burn,” notes Moradfar.
If you’re thinking of taking matters into your own hands, you should invest in a quality facial steamer. The beauty tool can bring the spa experience to your home bathroom.
Ahead, more skin experts share their personal favorite facial steamers.
Beauty Commerce Editor
Nerisha is the beauty commerce editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty (and fashion and music). She has a penchant for sneakers and nude lip glosses, and spends way too much time re-watching 90s sitcoms.
Sam Peters is a Commerce Editor at Hearst covering fashion, beauty and more. Her writing has appeared in WWD, Footwear News, Real Simple, PopSugar and Bridal Guide, among others. She enjoys covering the latest trends and testing and reviewing some of the most innovative, emerging products on the market.