A steam facial is a skincare treatment that uses trapped vapors from hot water to cleanse the skin. It is also typically implemented as a means to add moisture to the face and to loosen substances in the skin's pores. Steam facials can be performed either at home over a sink or at spas with specialized steaming machines.
An at-home steam facial generally only requires two main pieces of equipment: a sink or large bowl and a towel. A person fills the sink or bowl with hot water, then bends over and positions his or her face close to the water without touching it. He or she then can drape a towel over his or her head to trap the steam from the hot water so it only penetrates the face. The amount of time the treatment takes can vary depending on the individual and his or her comfort level with the steam temperature, but is commonly around 15 minutes.
A steaming machine can also be used to give steam facials, and is most often used at spas, although a person can purchase a steaming machine for home use. The electronic device consists of a lower water chamber connected to an opening that has a diameter wide enough to fit the face. This can be a more comfortable option than the at-home version since a person’s face is not as close to the hot water source.
Prior to performing a steam facial, someone will typically have to cleanse his or her face to remove any excess oil, dirt, or makeup and prevent clogging pores during the steaming process. To make the facial more relaxing or enjoyable, herbs or essential oils may be added to the water supply before the treatment. A person can then position his or her face near the steam source for the preferred amount of time. Once the facial is completed, the face can be dried off and wiped with astringent to remove any sweat and cool down the skin.
Although steam facials are mostly performed for cosmetic reasons, they can also serve a medicinal purpose. The steam may be useful for soothing cold or flu symptoms, such as sore throats, nasal congestion, or other respiratory symptoms. If a person has more serious respiratory issues like asthma, he or she is usually recommended to consult with a doctor before using a steam facial that contains any herbs or essential oils to ensure they won’t cause irritation or other breathing complications.