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Around five years ago, a chemical peel was the “it” treatment to try. Fast forward to 2022 and the skin wellness mantra is more “be gentle”, which means the art of facial steaming is once again on the menu.
“Deep cleansing is back,” says aesthetician and skincare expert Abigail James, who has never let go of this Ancient Greek-born method. “Steaming softens the skin, and although it doesn’t open pores like many believe, it softens what’s in your pores, making it an effective step prior to extraction or simply for a thorough cleanse at the end of the day.”
Heat from steam is known to increase microcirculation (you’ll know it’s working when your skin flushes pink). This allows an uptake of oxygen and nutrients to flow to the skin’s surface, enhancing collagen production in the process. The steam itself also offers a boost of hydration, which is particularly beneficial for those with drier skin types.
Celebrities love this hardworking skincare hack, too. Singer Alicia Keys revealed to British Vogue last month that steaming is her “favourite thing”, saying, “it’s a simple thing that everyone can do”. Victoria Beckham has been known to teach her 30 million Instagram followers how “important” a steam session is for a glow and Jada Pinkett Smith is said to be a fan, too.
But you’d be a little naive to think Beckham is sitting at home, balancing a towel on top of her head while leaning over a bowl of water. Oh no, the art of steaming has certainly upped its game. There are now several plug-in devices to help you gauge the intensity and temperature of your steam. Facialist Sarah Chapman’s Pro Hydro-Mist Steamer is one of the best on the market (and is the device Beckham prefers) as it uses a micro-fine waft of steam to avoid irritation yet still delivers the results you’re expecting.
But whether you choose a nifty gadget or stick to what you know, it’s easy to get started. The key is to steam your face two to three times a week to notice a clearer, rejuvenated complexion.
If you opt for the bowl method, experts say a lightweight hair towel is fine to use along with a large mixing bowl. Pour half a cup of cold water for every cup and a half of boiling you use, and always set on a sturdy surface to avoid mishaps.
Either way, simply position your face around 20cm from the steam, ensuring the temperature never exceeds 40 degrees – the optimal warmth Chapman advises for relaxing impurities. Sessions shouldn’t last any longer than 10 minutes each, making the ideal wind-down ritual. Just make sure to cleanse your skin afterwards to rid it of any debris sitting on the skin post-session.
If you’re looking to upgrade your at-home experience, adding a few drops of rose water will fill the room with fragrance, and is just how Keys enjoys hers. Note: stay away from essential oils as this can irritate and clog skin. Better yet, applying a plump-boosting serum or mask just before starting your steam can help lock in moisture for lasting hydration. Continue with the rest of your skincare routine as normal – whether you choose to steam in the morning or evening is up to you.
The devices to try
Pro hydro-mist facial steamer, £138, Sarah Chapman
Magnitone SteamAhead Hydrating Facial Micro Steamer, £30, Holland & Barrett
ZSH Facial Steamer, with Extendable Arm, £89.99, Amazon
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