So, steam facials… who hasn’t tried one?
We all did. I remember, as a teen, reading in my fave mags how steam was this awesome thing that opened up the pores and made it easier to remove all the crap that accumulates in them. And, lots of crap does accumulate in there, especially when we’re teens.
Remember those pimples we always used to get before that all important first date with our first crush, or the day before the yearly class photo would be taken? And that, if you weren’t cursed with acne. No wonder we were willing to try anything to get rid of them.
And boiling a pot of water, covering our heads with a towel, and placing our faces above said pot didn’t seem particularly weird. Not that it was something we would do in front of another human being (the horror!), but it wasn’t one of the weirdest things we tried in the name of beauty – like, you know, putting toothpaste on a pimple.
Did it work? I never could tell. It seemed to do some good, but whether it was the placebo effect or not, who could say? Well, I couldn’t then, but I can now. At least, now I know how to look up scientific studies to find an answer. So, what does the science says?
Steam Can’t Open Pores
Come on, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Nothing can open pores. Pores can be stretched: all that crap that causes breakouts stretches the pores.
That’s why folks with oily and acne-prone skin have such large pores. Excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities are accumulating in there, taking up so much space, pores swell to accommodate them.
But opened (or closed, for that matter)? Nope. Pores aren’t doors. They don’t open nor close. Their size is genetically determined, so there’s nothing you can do about it.
Well, if your pores are being stretched out by dirt and impurities, getting rid of them will shrink them. By that, I mean shrink them to their original, genetically-determined size.
What Steam Really Does For The Skin
But, as it turns out, we may not have steamed our faces in vain, after all. Steam may not be able to open pores, but it does a couple of other good things for the skin:
1. Steam Helps Skincare Products Better Penetrate The Skin
What steam can really do is soften skin. And when skin is softened, it is more permeable. That means that skincare products can penetrate the skin more easily. And, the deeper they go, the better and faster they work.
We don’t have to steam our faces for hours on end, either. Studies have shown that using a steam towel for even just 5 minutes does the trick.
2. Steam Increases Blood Flow
Ok, this isn’t exactly a benefit of steam itself, but of the heat that generates it. Basically, heating the skin increases blood flow and that helps bring nutrients and oxygen to the skin. This is SO important for its health, because it helps skin to fight off the infections and bacteria it comes in contact with.
Great! But, Are There Any Side Effects?
Yes. Remember how I mentioned that steam can make skincare products better penetrate the skin? Well, there’s a catch.
Steam is able to do that only because it disrupts the skin’s protective barrier. That’s not really a good thing. That’s why, if you want to try steaming, it’s best to do it only once a week.
And, don’t overdo it! If the steam is too hot, or you steam your face for too long, you could burn yourself. Ouch!
Another thing. If you have acne or sensitive skin, never steam your face without discussing it with your doctor first. I know it seems like a silly thing, but better be safe than sorry, don’t you agree?Beware of steam facials! They help products better penetrate the skin by disrupting its protective barrier. Not good.Click To Tweet
THE BOTTOM LINE
Steam may help skincare products better penetrate the skin, but that comes at the expense of the skin’s protective barrier. So, no more steaming for this girl. If you want to keep on doing it, do it carefully.
Do you enjoy steam facials, or have you given up on them too?