What to Do Before, During, and After Steaming Your Face: Easy Steps

what to do before and after steaming your face
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Beauty is all about pampering yourself, and what could be more luxurious than a steam facial? Not only does it feel great, but it’s also good for your skin.

In this blog post, we will discuss the three most important steps to follow before, during, and after steaming your face. Keep reading to learn more!

What Does Steaming Do for Your Skin?

Steaming your face is an excellent way to cleanse, hydrate, and prep your skin to absorb the active ingredients in your serums, moisturizers, and other skincare products. Including this in your weekly skincare routine can be very beneficial. 

These are the benefits of steaming your skin:

Prepares Skin for Product Absorption

A 10-minute steam will signal the brain to dilate your blood vessels in the area and increase circulation. Increased circulation can temporarily give your face a flushed healthy radiance.

Also, the influx of blood flow makes it easier for oxygenated blood to circulate to your skin cells.  This prepares the skin to absorb and deliver the key ingredients in your skincare products.

After steaming, you may also want to apply a topical antioxidant serum containing vitamin C or vitamin E to deliver those antioxidants directly to your pores, because the skin barrier will be more permeable.

Increases Hydration

Because steaming softens the outer layers of the skin, the warm vaporized water will penetrate and hydrate the deeper layers of the skin, helping to soothe and heal dry skin.

Plumps Skin

The deep hydration and increased blood circulation that comes with steaming will also help to temporarily plump the skin cells, giving your face a healthy youthful glow.

The extra blood flow will help to deliver nourishing oxygen to the cells and promote collagen production.

Releases Acne Bacteria and Sebum

If you have acne-prone skin, steaming can be very helpful.  When you expose your skin to steam, the outermost layer of your skin, the stratum corneum, softens and becomes more porous.

As the stratum corneum becomes more permeable, any oil, dirt, or acne-causing bacteria on the skin surface will loosen up and get washed away.

This will allow the release of sebum trapped in the pores, helping to keep acne and blackheads at bay. 

Blackhead Removal

Steaming is a proven method for prepping clogged pores for blackhead removal.  Steam can help soften your skin and loosen oil and debris in your pores.

Steaming your face before removing your blackheads will make them much easier to extract.

What To Do Before a Facial Steam

Before you start steaming:

Wash your face thoroughly with an alcohol-free gentle cleanser. You don’t need anything fancy; just use something gentle enough to remove makeup without stripping your skin.

Pat your face dry using a towel. Don’t rub your skin too hard as this could irritate sensitive areas like the eyes and lips.

How Can I Steam My Face at Home?

How to steam with a home facial steamer/ Facial Steaming Machine

A facial steaming device provides a spa treatment without having to leave home or pay those expensive spa prices.

They’re pretty straightforward and easy to operate: there’s a water reservoir that you fill up with distilled water and then the steam comes out through a nozzle.  Once your plug it in it will take a few minutes to emit steam.  

1.  Tie your hair back so that it is completely off of your face.  

2.  Close your eyes and place a towel over your head to trap the steam.  It is generally recommended to keep your face 6 to 12 inches away from the steam.  Be sure to follow the directions that come with your facial steaming machine.   

3.  Steam for 2 to 3 minutes, then take a break to see how your skin is reacting.  Be sure to listen to your skin.  Facial steamers are usually more powerful than DIY steaming. 

what to do before and after steaming your face

How to DIY a Face Steamer

To steam over a bowl or sink of hot water

1.  Bring 4 to 6 cups of distilled water to a boil.  Add herbs to the simmering water if desired.

2.  Pour the water into a large bowl or a clean sink with a stopper.  Add oils if desired.

3.  Tie hair back and lean over the sink or bowl with a large towel over your head.  Your face should be about 6 inches from the water. 

4.  Steam for 5 to 10 minutes, raising your head up slightly or pulling back the corner of the towel to reduce the heat as needed. 

To steam with warm towels

1.  Soak a hand towel in hot tap water.  

2.  Tie your hair back away from your face.  

3.  Wring out the towel so that it is damp- not dripping wet. Be careful to make sure the towel is not too hot.  It should be comfortable, not burning on your skin.

4.  Lie down or lean back in a chair and place the towel covering your entire face. Pull the bottom corners up to the middle of your forehead so that just the tip of your nose is uncovered.

5.  Steam for about 5 minutes.  

How to Choose Your Liquid for Steaming

There are several different options to use for your steaming water. 

Tap water is free and easily accessible but it can have impurities that you would be better without.  If possible use distilled or purified water to avoid any impurities. 

If you’re using a facial steaming machine, distilled water will help your steamer last longer as the salts in tap water can clog up your machine.

Some skin enthusiasts like to use tea as the base for steaming.  Teas with antioxidants such as green tea can potentially permeate your skin to deliver even more benefits in your steaming routine.  But tea should not be used in a steaming machine.

How and When to Add Herbs and Oils

You can add dried herbs and oils to your steam. Herbs should be added while the water is heating.  Oils should be added just before you place your face over the steam.


Herbs such as chamomile and rosemary are known to be helpful for some skin concerns.  Chamomile can decrease inflammation and rosemary may help with oily skin. 


Eucalyptus oil can help with acne, orange oil may be somewhat exfoliating and help with dull skin, geranium oil will help to tighten the skin due to its astringent properties, and lavender may help moisturize dry skin and improve eczema.  

How Hot, How Long, and How Often Should I Steam?

How Long Should I Steam My Face?

As a general rule, you should only steam your face once per week for about 10 minutes per steam session.  If you’re new to steaming start with 3 minutes and then check your skin to see how it reacts.  Because steaming is a form of physical exfoliation, doing it too often or for too long can cause irritation. 

Can You Steam Your Face Everyday?

You should not steam your face every day.  Skin will get dry and irritated if steamed too often.  This is especially true for dry skin types or those with sensitive skin.  

How Hot Should the Steam Be?

If you’re boiling water for a DIY steam use caution.  The steam should be warm to your skin, not hot.  It SHOULD NOT hurt or burn.  If your steam is too hot you can cause damage and rupture the capillaries in your skin. 

Using a facial steamer can help you avoid this problem because it should emit steam at the correct temperature.

What To Do After Steaming Your Face

Rinse your face with lukewarm water and gently pat it dry then follow these steps:

1. Gentle Exfoliation 

Immediately following your steam the outer layers of your skin will be very soft and supple.  This would not be a good time to use a harsh exfoliator.  But it is a great time to use something to gently slough off any leftover dead skin cells. 

Since steaming is a form of physical exfoliation, it is better to now complement it with a gentle chemical exfoliator such as a PHA (polyhydroxy acid).   

Polyhydroxy acids, such as gluconolactones or lactobionic acids, have a larger molecular structure compared to AHA and BHA, so they take longer to penetrate through skin and they don’t penetrate as deeply, so these are a much milder way of exfoliating.

2. Apply A Mask 

This step is not a must, but at this point, your skin will be ready and willing to accept all of the nutrients a mask has to offer.  If you have already applied an exfoliator in the previous step, do not use an exfoliating mask.  Instead, choose a clay mask if you are trying to clear up acne or reduce oil, an antiaging sheet mask to tighten or treat dull skin, or a cream mask if you have dry skin. 

3.  Apply A Serum

Serums are a wonderful and super effective way to deliver ingredients that target very specific skin concerns. 

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid are all serum ingredients that can do wonders for your skin such as hydrate, build collagen, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, decrease acne scars, reduce inflammation, and protect skin from free radical damage- just to name a few. 

Applying a serum after steaming will maximize these benefits.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

To find out which serum ingredients will be most beneficial to you, read this article. 

4.  Finish Off With a Moisturizer

Many people confuse serums and moisturizers but they each have their own valuable purpose.  A serum absolutely must be followed by a moisturizer to lock in hydration and the nutrients from your serum.

How can I open my pores without steaming?

Many people believe that they are opening their pores when they steam their face.  But this is actually a myth.  Pores do not open and close. Steam increases the skin’s permeability because it softens the outer layers of the skin. 

If you want a similar effect without steaming you can simply take a long warm shower, or put a warm damp towel on your face for several minutes.  This is not as effective but it can help. 

Is it Bad to Steam Your Face?

It is not bad to steam your face as long as you do it correctly.  Remember that steaming your face exfoliates and increases circulation.  Doing this too often or for too long can be bad for your skin, leading to dryness, irritation and sensitive skin. 

Possible Risks of Steaming

Steam burns can be more damaging than hot water burns.  Be extremely cautious about how close you are to the steam source. 

Never put a hot towel on your face.  It should be warm and comfortable. 

If you have rosacea or eczema you may want to avoid facial steaming altogether.

Since steam increases circulation and dilates the blood vessels in your skin it might add to the redness in rosacea skin types.  

f you have eczema, do not steam for more than 2 or 3 minutes to avoid drying out or further irritating the skin. 


Steaming your face is a great way to cleanse your skin, remove makeup, improve skin health, and relax.

You can also use it to prepare your skin for other treatments like masks, scrubs, peels, etc.

The key to steaming safely is to understand what you’re doing and know your limits.  Enjoy and glow on! 

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