Facial Adventure With a Home Face Steamer
In the old days, when merchants traveled from country to country in caravans, and physical beauty became of critical importance in society, someone noticed that skin tone in moist, warm places stayed soft and smooth much longer than it did in dry places. Women living in the tropics were more beautiful than women living in the desert. People looked younger longer.
From that recognition evolved the practice of facial steaming as an imitation of nature - an attempt to recreate tropical or hot springs conditions for the face in whichever climate a person lives.
Now we don't have to rely on tropical vacations, hot springs, or professional spas to have clear skin. Humans have developed mechanized methods of face steaming at home - equipment that makes steaming easier and is mobile. We can give ourselves a facial steam bath right in our own home, in an atmosphere we create, any time we want to.
Benefits to Using a Face Steamer
How does steam help the face to stay healthy? Ask Cleopatra or any of the ancient queens known for their beauty. Heat softens the skin and opens the pores. The steam encourages them to sweat, which washes out toxins.
Heat also stimulates blood flow, so cells are cleaned out and fed more thoroughly. Steam makes it easier to breathe deeply, since the bronchial tubes and lungs have to stay moist to operate well. And the combination of heat and steam relaxes the muscles, which lets blood flow in and out of tissues more easily and evenly, and enables breathing more deeply.
Here are the specific effects and benefits of facial steaming:
Clean cells - Heals acne and cleans out blackheads.
Stimulated blood flow - Evens coloring, creates healthy cells and softer skin.
Deep breathing - Enhances alertness and communication between nerves, brightens eyes.
Relaxed muscles - Reduces wrinkles, softens facial expressions.
What is a Portable Face Steamer?
A portable facial steamer is a machine that generates steam for the face (like a natural hot springs) and that can be moved easily to different locations in the house. It contains a reservoir for water and a bowl over which to put your face for complete steam coverage, or a wand to direct steam to specific parts of your face.
Good machines also have a container that add essential oils to the steam to enhance desired benefits, e.g. rosemary to stimulate, eucalyptus for antibacterial action (see below). Face steamers can be powered by electricity or batteries.
The original home steam facial, still used today, was simply leaning over a pot of boiling water with face covered by a towel. With the addition of herbs or essential oils, the steam took on additional effectiveness.
The results after treatment are a tight, tingly face and good smells in your hair and the air. A sexy CD and cuddly clothes enhance the experience.
How to Use a Face Steamer
There are several very easy steps to take when steaming your face, starting with gathering equipment and supplies. They are: Two or three towels, distilled or filtered water, a bowl of water with ice, a hair fastener and/or shower cap, essential oils of choice, toner and cotton pads, moisturizer and, of course, a face steamer.
DIY Facial Steaming
Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.
That, or a kick-ass red lipstick. ~Gwyneth Paltrow
Once all is together, you can start. First with the steamer itself, then your own preparation, then the process and followup.
Fill the face steamer's reservoir with distilled water. Add essential oils to the proper container.
Pull hair back and fasten out of the way, and/or put on a shower cap. Wash your face to get rid of any makeup or old oils. Put one towel over your shoulders to capture dripping sweat.
Turn the steamer on and bend over facial bowl, covering your head and the bowl with another towel. Bathe your face for 10-15 minutes (no longer), eyes closed, 8-12" away from the facial bowl. You want to steam, not burn your face. When finished, pat dry with a towel.
This is a good time to apply a facial masque. Whether you do or not, the next step is to splash your face with icy water to close pores. Pat dry. Apply toner with pads, then moisturizer.
Cautions: You only need to steam your face once a week. Studies have shown no benefit to steaming more often than that. Same with the length of steaming time - no longer than 15 minutes is necessary.
To supplement the steaming process, make sure you eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. It doesn't make sense to steam your face once a week, then eat crap that just fills it up with cruddy oils and creates infections all over again. Instead, eat lots of fresh, raw vegetables and rough grains, like wheat or oat bread with seeds in it.
Essential Oils to Use for Steaming Your Face
You can increase and prolong the adventure by adding essential oils to the steam. It will not only increase effectiveness, but also infuse the air and your hair with scents that last. The essential oil/s you use will depend on the type of skin you have, and what's going on with it:
Facial Herbs for the Skin
Many people who give themselves facials have acne or blackheads. For these conditions, antiseptic oils are great to use in a steamer. Such oils are: Eucalyptus, clove, thyme, wintergreen, chamomile, or tea tree.
If you have dry skin use: Chamomile, vitamin E, comfrey, lavender, almond, or marshmallow root oil.
If you have oily skin use: Rosemary, lavender, basil, orange, licorice, rose, or lemongrass oil.
"Normal" skin types can use any or a combination of these herbs, rotating according to need or desire. Also check your toner and moisturizer. If they contain herbs, you might want to use an essential oil from a different skin type for balance.
This is a professional sauna with an extra wide facial shield. It has an automatic thermostat to make sure steam doesn't get too hot.
Maintaining Your Portable Face Steamer
To keep using your steamer for a long time, you will want to take care of it so it doesn't break down. Coil up the electric cord when not in use and fasten it with a rubber band. Once monthly, give it a good cleaning, inside and out. Here is how you clean the inside:
Fill the reservoir with distilled water. Add a teaspoon of white vinegar.
Turn the steamer on and let it run until the water is almost gone. Empty out the rest. The vinegar helps break down any salts that might have accumulated.
Refill the steamer with fresh, distilled water.
Run the steamer again to get rid of the vinegar, so it doesn't wear down any metal surfaces. Empty out whatever water is left.
Dry everything off and put it away.