Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Warning About Steaming Your Face To Eliminate Clogged Pores or Acne

Steaming the face is a step used in most European facials you’d receive at a spa.  Many of you with clogged pores may be experimenting with at home.  At-home steam lovers claim that exposing your clogged pores to hot, balmy mist will clear your skin and open up the pores.

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.
First of all, exposure to hot, moist air is not good for skin as any kind of treatment by itself.  Steam is bad for the skin when overused or done without rhyme or reason.  And it is absolutely never good for skin that is experiencing any kind of inflammation.
Steam is done for about ten minutes during a facial on healthy skin.  Less is done if sensitivity or skin conditions are an issue. 
Hot, moist air actually aggravates acne because it causes the skin to swell in response to the excess heat and water content in the air.  If exposed to this long enough, your pores are more likely to clog as any surface debris on the skin is trapped inside the pore. 
Pores don’t open and close like doors, but the surrounding skin cells actually swell up from all this excess moisture going on, heat, and increased blood flow.  Tropical climates--which have plenty of hot, moist air—increase the odds of breakouts, which is why skin experts have coined the term tropical acne.  Should I mention that this form of acne's pretty severe?

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.
During a facial, an esthetician performs a surface cleanse to remove your makeup and any surface debris before directing the steamer over your face.  This step is so, so, so important because steaming will backfire on you if there is any makeup, oils, pollution, or dirt just sitting there on the skin.  You don’t want your skin’s surface to swell when you’ve got any product on your face, so you must remove your makeup before attempting any kind of steaming treatment. 
This advice also applies when taking a hot shower!  Hot showers are not good for your skin, but they do feel nice.  If you like to take them, be sure you have removed your makeup with a rinse-off cleansing oil or even a makeup wipe before getting in the shower. 
I always recommend washing and conditioning hair first and washing your face last, but if you have makeup on for the duration of a long hot shower, this can lead to clogged pores and insufficient cleansing.  Having makeup melt off your face does not count as a proper cleanse.
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.
Without the extractions, the whole facial can be excessively irritating and problematic for acne-prone skin.  And the more inflamed your acne, the less help any steaming, scrubbing, or handling your skin is at controlling your breakouts.

34 comments:

  1. Very good post! Thank you so much! I looked everywhere for this answer because I read in a blog to steam set my makeup but was confused because I knew steam opened up pores and this would cause your pores to close in makeup. Anywho, thanks. Definitely gonna use your blog for facial information:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your support! Makeup on the skin can cause a lot of problems when steaming the face. That was always my issue, and it made a real difference once I stopped.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent post for those who are very curious very their skin sensitivity. Facial is very important part of skin care. It is very essential once in a week to keep your skin glowing and beautiful. Facial Austin

    ReplyDelete
  4. Did not actually know about this...thanx a lot...beautiful color in da background. .simply lo ve it!

    Wid pure honesty
    Varsha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your kind words and support.

      Delete
  5. My acne has been under control since I use topical my doctor prescribed. I have to wear makeup to cover my blemished skin which causes my face to break out every other day or so. Im assuming my cleanser is not helping all the way. What would you recommend since steaming your face is not beneficial for acne prone skin. What is the best way to clean my face in this situation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ummeh,
      Some have tried natural remedies and they say it worked for them. Things like lemon juice or baking soda and water or aloe Vera gel. Maybe you could look into that and see. Hope that helps.

      Delete
    2. It can be tough to figure out which cleanser will properly remove your makeup without stripping your skin. If you live in an area with hard water or find your cleansers do not rinse easily, you may find that a gentle alcohol-free toner or micellar water needs to be added to your skin care routine after you wash your face. I like the Paula's Choice cleansers and toners because they remove almost all of my makeup without the need for a washcloth and their toners work well for my skin even when I don't have any leftover residue. You can purchase samples of all their products if you want to try out a few to see what you like. Otherwise, you might want to try using an oil-based makeup remover and following with a water-soluble liquid cleanser that rinses easily. This can take some experimenting if you don't live in an area with soft water.

      Delete
  6. I washed my face with normal water and just steamed my face maybe not so gently and then exfoliated with baking soda , then put a mixture of glycerin and rose water, I hope thats ok?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try to treat your skin as gently as possible consistently, and it will be able to tolerate the few instances when you handle it too roughly. I try to gauge how my skin responds to the treatments and determine whether or not I have gone overboard by how red or irritated it becomes.

      Delete
  7. Great post! Had the idea to write my own blog post about steaming after it worked really well on my skin ... but it's always good to see what other bloggers say about certain skin care routines! Most informative post I've seen so far about steaming.

    http://bighairbeautyblog.tumblr.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your support! A lot of my advice differs from other bloggers, but I love reading other people's recommendations and experiences. It always enlightens me to things I've overlooked. Thanks so much for stopping by! I just read your awesome BP post and was thrilled to see someone sharing information about ingredients that work.

      Delete
  8. I have bad blackheads that turn to pimples. I recently started steaming tea tree oil into my pores, its working very well so far. my skinn has had less breakouts and my pores and blackheads are much smaller. I also exfoliate and use a bentonite clay mask once a week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tiffany,
      That sounds similar to one of the first acne facials I learned in esthetician school. Those are great ingredients to target the needs of mild acne. Inflammatory acne should be treated more gently though.
      So glad you found a successful treatment! Thanks for sharing your experience!
      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  9. To get great information on finding that Best skin specialist, visit Best skin specialist in delhi.

    ReplyDelete






  10. i am looking for investor to invest in my vencher and i am looking for buyer’s to sell my land.

    Natural Facial Cleansers

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lol at myself for doing this thinking I would sweat away the acne XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've all done it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  12. What do you think about steaming your face regularly to get rid of sinusitis?
    I started steaming three times a day when my dad asked to stop doing it saying its bad for skin. So I started researching on Google and found your article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Abhishek Lodha,

      I am not an expert on sinusitis. I do know some people like to breath in the vapors to decrease congestion. Your doctor may have some more information on this subject. Thank you for commenting!

      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  13. What about when you are doing an oil cleanse? I've read its suppose to help with acne. The oil is sitting on the face when you steam it. Or is it okay because of the castor oil which draws out dirt and bacteria trapped in the pores?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello C_ljaz,

      I prefer to use water-soluble oil cleansers to remove longwearing, waterproof makeup, followed by a liquid facial cleanser to remove any residue. The oil cleansing technique that uses castor oil has not been successful for me--with or without steam.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  14. STEAMING IS GREAT,MY FACE IS TIGHT AND LUMINATING. DISAGREE WITH THIS ARTICLE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Samantha,

      If you are happy, I am happy for you. Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and experience!

      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
    2. Indeed. Steaming works very well for me also. I'm sure it may not be for everyone, but there is certainly some truth to steaming being beneficial beyond extractions. End facial with an ice cube for flawless finish. Even if pores don't open and close like doors, these methods work and create a noticeable difference... for me anyway.

      Delete
    3. Hello Anu Leif,
      I never argue with success. I have used steam successfully on many people, but my blog addresses inflammatory skin conditions, especially acne. This post responded to the concerns of many readers who emailed me. Often they found that avoiding extreme temperatures improved their skin dramatically. It's simply a matter of doing what works for your skin. :)
      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  15. Hi, Iam writing this with great disappointment please help me with a solution... Before my face was very good looking and healthy (even though iam brownish), but without any guidelines I done facial steaming continuously... Now my face became very dark and dull, I lost my confidence already. I realized the darkening is due to steaming only at the last stage... Its severely effected by skin... the climate also very hot here.. Madam is it possible to get my beautiful skin back ? Can you help me ? I am eagerly waiting for your reply... Iam 28 years old...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darkening of the skin can be caused by the sun or depleted vitamin C (in the case of cigarette smokers, alcohol, or too much caffeine). Another possibility is also too much sun exposure after causing your skin to become too photo sensitive with certain products or cleansing methods. Unless you've burned yourself, steam isn't likely to cause your skin to become darker on it's own. When doing certain processes on your skin or using certain products (especially for those of us who are brown) it's very important to make sure you use a moisturizer with a good sunblock AND limit your time in the sun. You need to cleanse well and try yogurt masks. When doing a facial it's always important that you follow with a good moisturizer. You can try physical scrubs for exfoliation as well as but yogurt does a pretty good job. If your skin is "dull" it's more than likely caused by dead skin and a lack of moisture, or possibly dehydration. Steam isn't going to cause an increase in melanin production. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Hello Jani,
      It sounds as though you have very sensitive skin that has experienced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in response to the skin. It is similar to the flushing reaction I get when exposed to skin, but it will take a bit longer for you to heal, As long as you protect your skin from the sun with daily sunscreen, you should see the inflammation subside after a few weeks. It will take some patience, but as long as you avoid further exposure to extreme temperatures, your skin will heal with time.
      Good luck!
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  16. this post has helped me so much. I just brought a facial sauna from conair and was a little worried about properly using it. thank you for exlaining the positives and negatives that comes with steaming and doing at home treatments. Anything done excessively to your skin is extremely damaging and could hurt your skin instead of help it. thanks for pointing that out.

    spiceadvicexo.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sarahi,
      Thank you so much for your comment! How's the Conair?
      Fondly,
      Elizabeth

      Delete
  17. Hi there!
    I am a new comer for this blog. I have oily skin i think and white head on my face.So, i do honey and lemon facial mask two times a week. but it doesn't last long. after two days,the skin is full of whitehead again. So, i'm thinking to cooperate facial steaming for better result of facial mask. But before i invest in Panasonic facial steamer, i'm searching for info about the pitfall of facial steaming.i wanna know whether facial can help for ,me?

    ReplyDelete