Open Those Pores
You've probably heard many times that steaming "opens" your pores, allowing dirt to get out. Pores are not like your eyelids; they don't open and close on command. However, steaming does help unclog pores by clearing away the dead skin cells that are plugging them up.
Benefits of Face Steaming
For such a simple procedure, facial steaming can offer some big benefits. If you are prone to mild acne, the biggest plus of steaming may be that your skin could end up clearer. That's because the moisture softens the surface layer of dead skins cells called the stratum corneum (from the Latin for "horned layer") [source: Goodman and Young]. This process helps to free any dead cells, dirt, bacteria or other trapped matter that could be causing breakouts, and it can allow your skin to better absorb any other products you might use after the steaming. If you have severe acne, however, steaming can sometimes make it worse, so it's good to check with your doctor before undergoing any face steaming treatment.
The warm humidity from steaming may also increase perspiration and stimulate blood circulation. As the body's natural cooling system, sweat consists mostly of water, but it's also mixed with a small amount of your body's wastes and toxins so that you can wash them away. And increasing your circulation in your facial skin can help to give you a warm, colorful glow. However, if you have certain skin conditions that are aggravated by sweating or increased blood circulation, such as rosacea or a fungal infection, then facial steaming may do more harm than good for you [sources: American Academy of Dermatology].
If you opt to go the do-it-yourself route, then other potential benefits could be the cost and convenience. There are plenty of at-home facial steaming products on the market ranging from about $25 to hundreds of dollars, but you don't need any special lotions or equipment to perform a steam treatment at home. If you have running water, a way to heat it up, a container to keep it in and a towel to drape over your head, you're all set.
Steaming your face might seem simple enough, but there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it. On the next page, you'll learn a few ways to steam your face without doing your skin any harm.