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- Aestheticians and facialists frequently rely on facial steaming to remove toxins from the skin.
- At-home facial steamers like the $28 ECVISION Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer I bought from Amazon make it easy to utilize the technique on your own.
- Steam softens the skin and opens the pores, releasing the built-up bacteria, sebum, and impurities that often lead to blackheads and whiteheads. Facial steaming also boosts circulation to give you a natural glow, and adds much-needed hydration to dry winter skin.
- These at-home steamers run on filtered water, making them an easy addition to any skincare routine, even for those with sensitive skin.
As a sensitive-skinned beauty editor, I sometimes feel like I'm leading a double life.
It's my job to stay on top of the latest skin-care products, buzzy ingredients, and at-home tools, but I can't actually use many of them myself. I long to take a mini microdermabrasion machine to a few lingering acne scars, or at least try the LED light therapy masks taking over Instagram. My reactive skin requires a gentler approach, though. To avoid irritation and unnecessary breakouts, I rely on a handful of simple, natural ingredients… like, really simple. Water, pure jojoba oil, and the occasional application of aloe vera kind of simple.
I had all but accepted a life devoid of trendy skin-care devices when I came across something called a facial steamer: A gadget not unlike a clothing steamer; except instead of releasing wrinkles from fabric, it releases gunk from pores. And considering the fact that facial steamers utilize a single ingredient — water — the tool seemed safe enough to test on even the most delicate skin (i.e., mine).
If you've ever had a facial before, you've likely experienced the benefits of a good steam.
"Steaming the face softens the pores, helps enhance the penetration of products, and increases circulation in the skin," Sharon Holtz, the spa director at Terranea Resort in Southern California, tells Business Insider. Aestheticians usually begin each facial treatment with a professional-grade steamer, thereby guiding dirt and impurities out of the pores and prepping the skin for product application.
But who says you need to shell out for a fancy facial to experience the #postfacialglow that comes from steaming?
I scooped up the ECVISION Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer for $28 on Amazon, and it's quickly become my favorite skin-care must-have for a couple of reasons.
For one, it's incredibly easy to use. The back of the device features a removable water cartridge that you fill with filtered water (that's important — you don't want to treat your pores with any of the bacteria or minerals found in tap water) and pop back in place. It takes less than a minute for the water to get steamy, at which point you simply hold the tool about six inches away from your face and allow the steam to do its job. A full cartridge typically lasts for 10 minutes or so.
The second reason I'll never give up my at-home skin saunas? I swear my blackheads and whiteheads are almost non-existent after two months of consistent use. That might sound like an exaggeration considering there are no acne-fighting ingredients or cutting-edge creams involved here, but facial steaming proves that a little bit of water goes a long way.
As Holtz says, steaming softens the skin — and this seemingly small action sets off a chain of skin-saving events. As the skin softens, pores open and loosen their grip on any substances that may be "clogging" them, like excess sebum, dirt, and bacteria. These impurities are then gently released from the skin.
At the same time, steaming provides hydration to dry skin while heat dilates the blood vessels in the face, aiding in circulation and oxygenation. With fresh oxygen and nutrients flowing through these blood vessels, the face appears fresh and glowing.
Finally, steam moistens the skin, transforming it into the perfect canvas for product application. Since skin cells are more permeable when they're damp, your favorite serum or moisturizer will penetrate more deeply when applied directly after a steam session and thus, deliver better results.
I'll let you in on my dirty little steaming secret, too: It's the perfect first step for safely popping a pimple. I know, I know— you're never supposed to pop a pimple! But we all do it at some point, right? All I'm saying is that if you do your popping after a steaming session, it's so much easier: Whatever is clogging your pores is drawn closer to the surface of the skin, and your pores are primed to release it quickly and painlessly.
All of that being said, steaming does have its risks.
"It is very important not to overdo it," Holtz says. Holding the steam too close to your face or steaming too often can aggravate sensitive skin, and even lead to burns or flare ups of rosacea and eczema. "You would not want to do it too often, perhaps once or twice a week," the aesthetician recommends.
Holtz suggests making an at-home spa day out of it by following your facial steaming with a clarifying or hydrating face mask. The result? The kind of fresh, clear skin and next-level radiance previously only found in your aesthetician's office — all thanks to a $28 Amazon find and plain old water.