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Facial Steamers

Facial steamers are an interesting tool in a skincare routine. Although steam has anecdotally been shown to be beneficial, there are surprisingly few studies on this topic. Read more...




facial steamer

Photo: Wix

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What is a facial steamer?

Steam, when it comes to a facial steamer in particular, is based on heating water beyond the boiling point to the gaseous phase to create steam. Steam is a higher temperature than boiling water so there is no mistaking this is hot!

Facial steaming is intended to take the benefit of the warm water vapor to vasodilate the skin as well as thin out the oils and sebum that have accumulated on the skin. By doing so, there is the suggestion that the pores can open and empty out contents that have become dried out and stuck inside. I say this vaguely because there is not much medical literature to support that the pores truly dilate and that there is a change in the nature of the sebum on the skin. However, the practice of facial steaming has been around for a long time, with or without devices, and people tend to enjoy the experience.

Although a device can be used for facial steaming, many people simply use the steam from a shower or a sauna.

From a medical perspective it is difficult to say how beneficial the process is, however from a self-care perspective there are plenty of people that will say they enjoy this experience!

Are there any medical studies supporting the use of facial steamers for acne or skin in general?

There are medical studies evaluating sauna steam and its effects on the skin. Some of this data can likely be applied to the use of at-home facial steamers. After all, the steam is still composed of water vapor at an elevated yet tolerable temperature.


facial steamer


What benefit has been demonstrated by sauna steam to the skin?

The steam our skin is exposed to in a sauna has been shown to have two major benefits:

  1. Improve the hydration of the skin

  2. Reduce the acne-causing sebum content of our skin

How can at-home or professional facial steamers help with acne?

Anecdotally people will often reference how much easier it is to extract comedones and improve the overall look or feel of the skin. The challenge with facial steamers is to ensure a temperature that can achieve a benefit without the risk of scalding the skin. The benefit to a product designed for facial steaming is that they are more likely to take into consideration the temperatures needed to achieve a benefit while minimizing risks.

What are some risks associated with facial steaming?

The key when using a steamer is to avoid extremes in temperature. Limit the usage of steamers and verify the distance to keep to avoid excess skin redness or irritation. Otherwise, there is likely some benefit for those with acne-prone or dry skin to benefit from the heat and humidity these products can provide.

facial steamer


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