While steam may clear up congestion in your airways, chances are it’s not doing the same for your congested follicles. Yes, steam is used in facials, and you could theoretically incorporate it into an at-home facial. But after many emails from frustrated acne sufferers, I would like to clear the air and explain how your steaming habits may be your skin’s worst enemy.
What about deep pore cleansing and all that jazz? Not with just the steam. You can’t clean your pores by sticking your head over boiling water, I’m afraid.
The other thing to note is that estheticians are using the steam treatments to boost exfoliation treatments like heat activated enzyme peels or traditional jojoba bead scrubs. (On dryer skin, they may include massage, but this would not be advisable on acne prone skin.) If you are trying to get the benefits of a steam treatment at home, you should include your exfoliation along with the steaming step to achieve the results you’re really after.
Alternatively you could follow up your steam with a mud mask to detoxify the skin, which will also provide mild exfoliation and oil control. This poses less of a risk of overexfoliating.
Please know that the real benefit of steaming the face though is to prepare the skin for extractions—not to just open pores or even to exfoliate any better. Using the proper products along with steam can loosen some congestion at home, but professional extractions are the only real skin benefit acne sufferers get from traditional spa facials that aren’t cosmetic procedures.