Since starting this site, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends, family, and strangers on the internet. One of the most common things people wonder about is whether or not using a facial steamer for acne issues is a good idea. While I’d like to be able to give you a simple yes or no answer, it’s a little more complicated than that. While I strongly believe that it has helped clear up my skin and protect me from breakouts, it’s important to remember that everyone has different skin, so just steaming face acne away isn’t going to work for everybody.
Understanding Why We Break Out In The First Place
In a nutshell, acne is caused when the follicles connecting your pores to the oil glands beneath your skin become clogged, infected, and subsequently inflamed. It doesn’t sound terribly complicated until you consider that what’s clogging them up is the oil from those glands (sebum), skin cells, and hair, which your body produces anyway. Why would your body do this to you???
Unfortunately, we don’t really know exactly why this happens. The primary reason is thought to be changes in hormone levels, which is why acne is so prevalent during puberty. There are a wide range of other factors, though. Genetics are thought to be a factor, as is environment and diet. Some medications even cause acne. Greasy make-up can certainly aggravate a problem caused by too much oil in the first place, and I know all too well how stress can exacerbate the issue. For women, there’s a week or two every month where we’re particularly vulnerable, as well.
The sheer number of potential causes means that people will have all kinds of experiences with acne. While most people seem to get by with just the standard over-the-counter solutions like benzoyl peroxide, I’ve known an increasing number of people over the years getting prescription acne meds from a doctor.
Some folks, myself included, either have bad luck with the usual treatments, which can cause dryness and irritation, or they just prefer a more natural, drug and chemical free method. In my case, it was a little from column A, and a little from column B.
Using Facial Steaming To Clear Your Skin
Honestly, I figured out about using a facial steamer for acne completely by accident- I was just trying to clear my sinuses!
When you do a facial steam treatment, one of the main effects is that your pores open up. This makes it easier for the steam to get in there and help flush out the nasty gunk you don’t want, like that excess oil and dead skin cells, as well as any dirt and makeup you’ve built up. And unlike the typical chemical treatments, it actually has a hydrating effect, rather than drying your skin out.
While most people seem to have good luck steaming face acne directly, some do find that the hot steam irritates their skin. This usually happens when people are first starting out with these types of treatments, so some steamers actually carry a warning to only use it a couple times a week to begin with. My sister, for example, had her face turn red the first couple times she used my Panasonic Ion Steamer, and this is the most common side effect.
For most users who do experience initial redness, the solution is as simple as just doing treatments at night at first. For a small number of people, though, it is a big enough issue that they look elsewhere for relief.
I should note that while some people just do facial steaming for acne, a lot of people use it in addition to other methods. By cleansing the skin and opening the pores, steaming is actually like a pre-treatment which can enhance the effects of other, more traditional treatments.
The Benefits Of Using A Facial Steamer For Acne
While there are ways to give yourself a steam facial without buying a dedicated steamer, the obvious advantage is convenience: even a cheap facial steamer will produce more steam with less effort than, for example, holding your head over a big bowl of boiling water.
The more premium face steamers do have other advantages, too. My personal favorite, the Panasonic Ionic Steamer, releases micro-fine steam particles, 4,000 times smaller than regular steam, which are capable of penetrating more deeply into your pores for a deeper cleanse. The Secura Hot and Cool facial steamer releases fine atomized particles, and can also do a cool mist which can be soothing when used on acne.
How It Helped Me And Some Personal Tips
Even as an adult, I’ve had occasional flare-ups that have been deeply embarrassing for me. I’ve even skipped out on a couple of social events because of it. But I’ve been doing facial steaming for more than a year now, and while at first I had some acne from time to time, like I always have, it’s probably been around 8 or 9 months since the last time. My skin overall looks and feels softer, smoother, and younger 🙂
When I was still getting some acne, I found that using a simple exfoliating mask made out of baking soda either before or after the steamer seemed to be really helpful. I would do the steam for about 10 minutes, and then splash my face with cold water to close the pores back up. If I used any products on my face, I tried to keep it oil free, like Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Moisturizer.
I hope this has been informative for anybody considering using a facial steamer for acne. Again, I wish I could give a more definitive answer. Obviously, everybody would just be steaming face acne away if it was as simple as that, but it’s much more complicated. While it does seem to make a significant improvement for most people, like myself, for some people it either doesn’t work or seems to make things worse. If you’ve tried it, let us know how it worked out in the comments below!