Did you ever wonder why beauticians often include steaming your face in their treatment? Or why do many regions and cultures have saunas?

Sauna, photo by Tom Chapman

The reason why people visit thermal baths is because it’s relaxing. The heat raises your heart rate and your blood vessels dilate so that more blood flows to your skin. This can help improve your overall blood circulation.

The heat also relaxes your muscles, especially, in your neck and face. As the heat rises, your sympathetic nervous system gets more active, so that it can keep the temperature balance in your body. As a whole, your body’s reaction can make you feel more alert, yet less sensitive to pain. It can even give you a sense of euphoria. With relaxed muscles, your whole body also relaxes. And often, when you relax your body, your mind will follow along.

If you follow the hot-cooling down cycles, your immune system gets a boost. Regular sauna uses have a higher amount of white blood cells. These are part of your body’s immune system and are against infections.

Now let’s shift to steaming your face. It’s an easy and effective way as well as a cost-effective way to cleans and improve the health of your skin.

Deep Cleansing

When the warm water steam embalms your skin, the heat makes you sweat. In its wake, the natural oils of your skin (sebum) start to flow. This softens the layer of dead skin and helps loosen debris and other impurities. Any excess sebum melts so that you can more easily extract any blackheads or whiteheads.

On a side note, steam doesn’t open your pores. Pore size doesn’t change with skin temperature. A pore may appear to be larger in some individuals because their skin is less elastic. If you want to clean out your pores, try exfoliation regularly.

You are constantly exposed to chemicals, cigarette smoke, toxins, and pollutants, particularly if you live in a big city. These pollutants can impact your overall complexion as well as the texture of your skin. When you expose your skin to steam, you begin to sweat. Sweating flushes out the toxins from your skin.

Better exfoliation

When the steam touches your face and warms it, it softens the top layer of dead skin cells, so that it’s very easy to whisk them off with a physical exfoliator such as a washcloth.

Normally, that is if you don’t steam, you need to rub and tug more to remove the rough dead skin cells. And even if you exfoliate with a physical exfoliator, the scrubbing may still not give you skin that smooth.

Increasing the effectiveness of your products

The steam raises the temperature in your skin. As a result, your blood vessels dilate and so increase blood circulation. The increased blood flow allows products to more easily travel through the skin barrier.

Improving blood flow

The heat from steaming increases blood circulation to your face. A better blood circulation means more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood flow to your face. This again nourishes your skin and improves your complexion, giving you a healthy glow.

Plumping your skin

In general, increased blood flow nourishes your skin and so improves the health of your skin. Enhanced blood circulation also helps boost the production of collagen and elastin. These two proteins are what give your skin its plumpness and bounciness.

But as your skin is exposed to toxins and other pollutants, its ability to retain moisture diminishes. As a consequence, your skin appears less plump, less elastic. The first fine lines and wrinkles appear. Not only will steaming your face restore the moisture, but it also removes the toxins from your skin. As a result, your skin appears clear and fresh.

Beyond beauty: relaxing and soothing

The heat from steaming relaxes the muscles in your face and increases the release of endorphins. These are your body’s own happiness and “feel good” chemicals.

Beyond beauty: Colds and sinus issues

Steaming is great for your skin’s health, it can also relieve sinus congestion and headaches caused by the flu and colds. You surely know how it feels to take a hot shower with the bathroom door shut. The same also happens when you drink a hot cup of tea.

How to do Facial Steaming At Home?

First things first, before you steam your face, always remove your makeup and cleanse your face. You also want to keep your hair away from your face. When your face is clean and dry, you’re ready for your facial steaming session.

If you don’t have a facial steaming machine, you only need

  • 1 large heat-resistant bowl
  • A thick towel

Bring water to boil and fill the heat-resistant bowl. Drape the towel over the back of your head, so that it completely covers your head. The towel will keep the steam in while you lean over the bowl, just ensure that you don’t make your face too close to hot water.

Of course, you can personalise the steaming process based on your skin type and specific needs. For example, you may want to add different types of essential oils, flowers, and herbs, or fruits for a spa-like experience at your home.

Another way to steam your face is the tried and tested hot towel steaming. Place a clean face towel into a bowl, pour hot but not boiling water into the bowl. Wring out the towel then lay it on your face.

Needless to say, you should be careful when you’re handling hot water. Also, if the towel feels too hot to hold in your hands, then it’s certainly too hot for your face. Allow it to cool for a few minutes.

After steaming is the ideal time to use a face mask or a moisturiser if your skin is dry. Your skin is ready to absorb the nutrients.

How long and how often?

If you’re using a facial steaming machine, follow its instruction. Should you be using a low-fi method, it will require some testing on your part. Everyone’s skin is different and some people can tolerate more heat or steam than others.

On your first go, try to sit for 2 minutes, then check yourself in the mirror. If you feel ok, you can add up to 8 minutes. Limit each session to around 10 minutes. Any longer and you can cause dryness and irritation, including redness and sensitivity.

If your skin is on the dry or thin side, you’ll want to steam once a week. Less sensitive skin types can go up to twice a week.

A word of caution

Obviously, steam can cause serious burns, so you should always be careful when steaming. Be careful so that you don’t burn yourself. Also, steaming may aggravate sensitive skin. And anyone prone to redness should avoid it. So, be sure to check with your doctor first, if you’ve got severe acne or any other conditions such as sensitivity or redness.

If you liked how steaming can improve your skin’s health, please feel free to share it with someone who might find it useful.

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