Is steaming your face actually good for your skin?

Facial steamers boast the ability to brighten skin, clear clogged pores and improve blood circulation. But could they be causing more acne or redness when used incorrectly? We asked the experts

If you’re missing your regular salon treatments, DIY skin treatments are a popular alternative. The facial steam—a relaxing and detoxifying treatment—is a common add-on to most in-office techniques, and is very easily replicable at home too. But as some extoll the benefits of cooling down the face to reduce inflammation, questions about the pros of adding extra heat to the skin crop up. We spoke to two dermatologists about their take.

What are the benefits of steaming your face?
“Steam baths and face steaming for glowing skin have been super popular, making the process, which leaves your skin clean, flushed, and glowing, synonymous with good skin,” says Dr Apratim Goel, dermatologist and laser surgeon, Cutis Skin Solution. Because of the heat, blood vessels get dilated which improves the blood circulation, increasing the oxygen intake of your skin and making it healthier. “Improved blood circulation promotes the formation of collagen and provides anti-ageing benefits for the skin. It has a feel-good factor. It makes the skin healthier and cleans up the pores,” says Dr Rinky Kapoor, The Esthetic Clinics. She recommends it to those with acne-prone or oilier skin as it loosens up the pores blocked by sebum, and removes the excess dirt as when pores are dilated, it is easier to unplug.

Who shouldn’t do it?
Steaming is good for most skin types, however, if one has extremely sensitive skin, it is best to skip this. “If you suffer from rosacea or dry sensitive skin, steaming the face would not be recommended. While steaming, the blood vessels dilate and further increase the redness on the face and worsen rosacea,” says Dr Kapoor. She adds that people who have inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema, active stages of acne, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis should not try it.

How to safely steam your face
“It is recommended that you get it done from a skin care professional, but if you are doing it yourself, use a steamer and let the steam blow all over the face. Tie a headband to keep the hair away from your face. Keep your eyes closed to prevent any irritation and place your face a few inches away from the bowl to avoid burns,” says Dr Goel.

Too much steaming can also cause dryness. “Steaming for more than seven to eight minutes starts to make your skin dry as it gets dehydrated. Do not steam more than once a week, for not more than six minutes. Check if your steamer is dirty, as organism buildup is common in a moist and humid climate. Steaming your face with this vapour will lead to more acne and inflammation,” says Dr Kapoor. She suggests using ice or a cool towel to wipe down the face after, which can aid in the balancing of pores once again.

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