If you're ready to try facial steaming, the first thing you need to look out for is the water's temperature. Ideally, most professionals use temperatures at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). If you aren't cautious and get too close to the hot steam, you could scald your skin, which can leave behind a scar. Slowly get closer to the steam, but don't get too close -- some professionals advise getting no closer than 12 inches (30 centimeters), but others say 18 inches (45 centimeters) is close enough. If you let too much heat get near your skin, the increased blood flow could lead to broken capillaries under your skin [source: McCoy].
Now that you know the potential dangers, you're ready to start the steaming. First, wash your face so that your pores are free to release any impurities without built-up dirt or makeup blocking the way. Prepare your facial steaming equipment as directed if you have any, or if not, boil some water and pour it into a bowl. Tie your hair back and use a towel as a tent for both the bowl and your head. Lean your face over the steam for about five to seven minutes. Exposing your skin to the heat for much longer -- or more often than once a week -- can actually dry your skin out [source: Howard]. The steaming works best if it's followed up by a light exfoliation and then moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated [source: Bouchez].
Many people choose to add in different herbs or essential oils -- such as lavender, rosemary, peppermint or ylang-ylang -- in hopes that they can produce a desired effect on the skin [source: Mars]. However, health experts say that your skin can't get any benefits from herbal steam, and that all this does is simply make the steam fragrant [source: Goodman and Young]. Some at-home facial steamers offer an aromatherapy option that allows you to add in herbs or essential oils for a scented steaming.
If you want to delve deeper into face steaming and decide whether it might be right for you, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Rosacea Patients Can Enjoy Some Spa Treatments." (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/rosaceanet/spa_treatments.html
- Berg, Rona; Anja Kroencke; and Deborah Jaffe. "Beauty: The New Basics." Workman Publishing. 2001. (Accessed Sept. 17, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=qAVvUjfza9gC&pg=PA49&dq=benefits+of+facial+steam&lr=&ei=9buySuCGBZiWNeu_hLMD&client=firefox-a#v=onepage&q=benefits%20of%20facial%20steam&f=false
- Bergel, Reinhard R. "Steam Bath: Healthy Revitalizing Steam." Day Spa Association. (Accessed Oct. 12, 2009)http://www.dayspaassociation.com/mainpages/steambath.htm
- Bouchez, Colette. "A Primer on Summer Skin Repair." WebMD. Aug. 1, 2005. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/guide/primer-summer-skin-repair?page=3
- Goodman, Thomas; and Stephanie Young. "Smart Face: A Dermatologist's Guide to Saving Your Money and Saving Your Skin." Prentice Hall. 1988. (Accessed Sept. 17, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=-KaE-j6NjQUC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=facial+steaming&source=bl&ots=KFjVs_hV-_&sig=0jGQvYoPlSnhIk-40vT71Lg29g4&hl=en&ei=sraySpPdLZmTtgfei8itDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9#v=onepage&q=facial%20steaming&f=false
- Howard, Jenni Baden. "20 bad beauty habits." Daily Mail. (Accessed Oct. 14, 2009)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4624/20-bad-beauty-habits.html
- Mars, Brigette. "Beauty by Nature." Healthy Living Publications. 2006. (Accessed Sept. 17, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=3eb7OiuZIDMC&pg=PA32&dq=how+to+do+a+facial+steaming&lr=&ei=puGySqOHIJ6yNMHdjf8D&client=firefox-a#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20do%20a%20facial%20steaming&f=false
- McCoy, Edain. "Enchantments: 200 Spells for Bath & Beauty Enhancement." Llewellyn Publications. 2001. (Accessed Sept. 17, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=xhbDpBQJVvQC&pg=PA89&dq=home+facial+steaming&lr=&ei=8eKySuWnIqPGNbyo-ewD&client=firefox-a#v=onepage&q=home%20facial%20steaming&f=false
- Ouellette, Janine. "Full Steam Ahead to Great Skin: Learn the DIY steam solution to keeping your skin beautiful." PlanetGreen. Aug. 5, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 17, 2009)http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fashion-beauty/face-steam.html