Below, a dermatologist and an esthetician share their picks for the best facial steamers you can use at home, plus everything you need to know about how (and why) you should be using them.
Shop the best facial steamers
Conair True Glow Moisturizing Mist Facial Sauna System — $40.00
For only $40, this steamer will give you everything you need for a full-blown at-home facial. After you steam, use the exfoliating brush to slough off dead skin, then apply your moisturizer with the sponge head (both of which are included in your purchase). In addition to the facial-sized cone, it comes with a smaller nasal cone that is great for targeting comedones on your nose.
Pure Daily Care NanoSteamer Ionic Facial Steamer — $34.00
This cult-favorite steamer has earned itself tens of thousands of five-star reviews. It steams using an ion generator, which is what pros use in their offices and helps to boost the steam’s detoxifying properties. It also comes with a blemish extractor kit to help you rid your skin of blackheads.
Panasonic Spa Quality Facial Steamer — $45.00
What’s cool about this steamer is the fact that it’s got a built-in UV lamp, which sterilizes the steam before it hits your face so you’re getting the purest and most effective treatment possible. It combines its heating element with an ultra-sonic vaporizer, which is said to promote cell vitality and oxygen absorption in the skin.
Lonove Nano Ionic Face Steamer for Home — $15.00
With a full tank, this steamer will run for eight minutes, which is exactly enough time to give your face the recommended treatment. It produces nano steam particles to really help open and unclog your pores, and is designed with a unique cleaning system, which means the steam is absolutely pure. Although it creates a strong mist, it notably runs quietly. When you’re done, the steamer has an auto shut-off feature.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer — $149.00
This steamer is a splurge compared to the others on this list, but according to Worden, it’s worth the price. It’s got a wide nozzle that will cover your whole face, uses nano technology for maximum hydration, and shuts off automatically after 10 minutes as soon as your steam session is done.
The benefits of facial steaming
“Facial steaming can help hydrate and soften the outer layer of skin,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “By hydrating the skin, it also helps increase penetration of active ingredients applied topically immediately after steaming.” This means that when you apply your usual serums on freshly steamed skin, they’ll be able to get way down deep under the surface of your skin in order to do their jobs more effectively. The same goes for moisturizers: “When followed by moisturizers, steaming can help to add moisture to the skin,” adds Dr. King.
Steaming can also be helpful for priming your skin for extractions, which explains why facialists rely on the process before they squeeze out your blackheads. “It can soften up keratinaceous debris and sebum… so comedones will be much easier to extract,” says Dr. King. “And the heat increases circulation and can help pimples or cysts come to a head.” It’s also great as a pre-cursor to any exfoliants or targeted treatments because it’s easier to melt away dead, dull skin cells from the surface once the skin is softened by the steam.
Who should (and shouldn’t) use an at-home facial steamer
“Oily and acne-prone skin will benefit most with using steam,” says Taylor Worden, celebrity facialist and founder of Taylor Worden Skin, pointing to the pore-opening and sebum-loosening properties that steaming brings about. Some dry skin types can also benefit from the process thanks to its hydrating and softening benefits, but if you have severely dry skin, eczema, or rosacea, it’s best to steer clear of steaming in order to avoid irritation. And if you’re prone to redness, Dr. King suggests proceeding with caution, because the heat from the steam dilates your blood vessels which can cause skin to flush.
How to use a facial steamer
There are a few different ways you can integrate an at-home facial steamer into your regular routine. Use it after you cleanse your skin to open your pores before you apply the rest of the products in your regimen, or prior to doing your own extractions (though you’ll want to make sure you’re doing them the right way, which you can read more about here).
As far as frequency goes, pros suggest limiting your steamer use to once or twice a week for five to ten minutes. “More than that can dry out the skin,” says Dr. King.
It’s also critically important that you keep your face at least six to 10 inches away from the water. The reason? “You don’t want to risk getting too close and getting burned,” says Dr. King. “Steamers have more safety mechanisms [than your usual pot of boiling water], but you still need to make sure that you are keeping your face at a safe distance.”
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