Need to detox post holidays? We feel you.
If you’re looking for the perfect way to unwind after a hectic holiday season — I’ve got just the thing for you. A 10-minute facial steam is the thing to get me feeling good as new, and if you find this process even half as relaxing as I do, you’re going to love what’s in store.
Whenever I’m feeling stressed — and especially when it’s starting to show on my face (blemishes and congested pores are the worst!) — I try to take some time out for myself and get a pot of water boiling. Because once I hear those bubbles start to form — I know that relaxation awaits. That being said, I often find myself doing this once or twice a week.
There are some major benefits to facial steams beyond just how calming taking the time to sit still for 10 minutes can be. For instance, steams open your pores and allow for any dirt and grime to easily exit. So not only are you de-stressing, you’re working on getting rid of those blackheads, too. Because of the ability to flush out pores, "Facial steaming is a great option for patients with acne prone skin or with stubborn blackheads" Dr. Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, owner and founder of The Dermatology & Laser Group told Marie Claire magazine.
Not only does the steaming process clear your pores, but according to the dermatologist, it also makes it easier for your skin to absorb any product you use after.
"Freshly cleaned pores are better able to absorb skin creams with active ingredients such as retinol based-products or prescription creams from your dermatologist," as told to Marie Claire.
Ok, so now that you’ve heard about some of the benefits, let’s get into the process, shall we?
STEP #1 THE SET-UP
For starters, it’s all about the setup. I like to create a sort of oasis for myself. I start with a ceramic bowl that once was my grandmother’s. It’s got pastel stripes and is very pretty, plus holds tons of sentimental value.
Once the bowl’s placed on the table, I wash my face to make sure it’s nice and clean before the steam. Then, I dim the lights, strike a match and get a great-smelling candle burning. I also make sure the room is nice and quiet. I don’t play music, I just use the time to sit and think. All right — setup complete.
Now, it’s time to tend to the water. Once you’ve got a few cups boiling, you can add it into a ceramic or heat-resistant bowl. (Important Note : Make sure you are extra careful when dealing with boiling hot water.)
STEP #2 TRAP THE STEAM WITH A TOWEL
Make sure you have a towel handy, and all that’s left to do is set a timer and sit with your head over the bowl, placing your towel over your head to trap the steam inside.
But — you can also add a little something extra special to make the process even more luxurious. If you add ingredients such as lavender, rose petals, rosemary or other natural, soothing items to your water you’ll feel like you’re getting a legit spa treatment, all in the comfort of your home.
STEP #3 TONE POST-STEAM
Once the timer dings and your 10 minutes are up, it’s important to immediately follow up with a toner and then to rinse your face with icy cold water to help the pores go back to their normal size. I use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water as a natural way to fight acne and even my complexion. Take your time massaging your toner in, using your hands in a circular motion with a light touch so as not to tug on the skin. You’ll be surprised what exits the pores during this step — and then you’ll understand precisely why these steams are so great for detoxifying and purifying.
WHEN NOT TO TRY FACIAL STEAMS:
It’s important to note that facial steams aren’t necessarily recommended for everyone. According to Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, "The heat that you're exposing your skin to causes dilation of blood vessels — leading to flushing, increased inflammation and worsening of conditions like rosacea," as told Marie Claire. In addition to causing inflammation, steams can also strip the skin of natural oils, the dermatologist says, so, if you have rosacea, extremely dry skin or eczema, this treatment may not be the one for you.
Personally, however, I can’t recommend this method enough. It’s a great way to unwind and help your skin at the same time, so if you’re interested — I’d definitely suggest making this part of your beauty routine. There are plenty of winning ingredients that can be added to your water. Here are some of my favourites:
Dried rose petals are incredible to add to your steam water because the flower really does work wonders for the skin. Dana Murray, Licensed Aesthetician and Babe and Beauty blogger, told Reader’s Digest, "They reduce redness and calm the skin. Plus since they have astringent and antibacterial properties, they are especially wonderful for people with oily and acne-prone skin types. Rose extracts are high in vitamin C so they help to stimulate collagen and are high in vitamin E so it's very moisturizing."
Plus, if you carefully pick out the flowers once your 10 minutes are up and lay them out to dry again, you can get a couple of uses out of the same petals.
Lavender can also be great for treating blemish-prone skin. Marina Peredo, Certified Dermatologist at SkinInfluence NYC, told the Huffington Post, “The antiseptic and antibacterial properties may be a more natural solution to mild acne.”
Whether you add a few drops of lavender oil or add fresh lavender flowers, as I tend to do, your skin will reap the benefits.
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Augusta Statz is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer. She believes a full life involves expressing personal style through fashion and makeup, finding inspiration in art and enjoying a good meal, so that’s what she spends most of her time doing. When she’s not writing professionally, she’s also tinkering away on Labels & Lacquer, a blog she manages with her sister. Follow along with her beauty, style and food adventures on Instagram @augusta_statz.