If you're in the market for a facial steamer you can use at home, you've come to the right place. The best part of any facial is the moment the steamer comes on. As soon as you feel that warm, moist, air hit your skin, you know you’re in for some pure, uninterrupted relaxation. True, you also know that there is an onslaught of uncomfortable extractions looming in the future, but for those few peaceful minutes are like a mini vacation before the real action starts. Aside from the much-needed zen, facial steamers also offer some pretty important benefits to your skin—and thanks to a slew of easy-to-use facial steamers, you don’t have to book a professional appointment to get them.
The best facial steamers at a glance
- Best with added features: Conair, True Glow Moisturizing Mist Facial Sauna System, $41
- Best adjustable steamer: EZBasics, Ionic Face Steamer, $46
- Best multipurpose: Pure Daily Care, NanoSteamer Ionic Facial Steamer, $40
- Best facial steamer for dry skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, Pro Facial Steamer, $159
- Best portable facial steamer: Hey Dewy, Portable Facial Humidifier, $60
- Best budget: Beauty Nymph, Facial Steamer, $20
- Best for essential oils: Vanity Planet, Aira Ionic Facial Steamer, $60
- Best steamer for sharing: Michael Todd Beauty, Hydrasteamer Vanity Facial Steamer, $121
Below, a dermatologist and an esthetician share their picks for the best facial steamers for at-home facials, plus everything you need to know about how (and why) you should be using them.
Shop the best facial steamers
For only $41, this steamer will give you everything you need for a full-blown at-home facial. After you steam, use the exfoliating brush to slough off dead skin, then apply your moisturizer with the sponge head (both of which are included in your purchase). In addition to the facial-sized cone, it comes with a smaller nasal cone that is great for targeting comedones on your nose or coping with a gnarly cold.
- Includes a facial brush and nasal steamer cone
- Seven timer settings and auto-shutoff feature
- Batteries for brush aren’t included
This ionic steamer will give you a strong and soothing mist within 30 seconds of turning it on (use distilled or purified water for the best results). The nozzle is adjustable so you can aim the steamer at the best angle for your face, and there are aromatherapy pads if you want to use any essential oils. The steamer comes with a five-piece skin kit so you can remove any stubborn blackheads afterward, if needed.
- Available in several color options
- Adjustable nozzle
- Optional aromatherapy pads
- Only one steam setting
This fan-favorite steamer has earned itself tens of thousands of five-star reviews. It steams using an ion generator, which is what pros use in their offices and helps to boost the steam’s detoxifying properties. It also comes with a blemish extractor kit to help you rid your skin of blackheads, and the cone can be removed to act as a towel warmer. Plus, it’s available in three different colors: lilac, teal, and platinum.
- Comes with stainless steel extraction tools
- Three color options
- Can also double as a towel warmer
- Larger profile
This steamer is a splurge compared to the others on this list, but according to Worden, it’s worth the price. It’s got a wide nozzle that will cover your whole face, uses nano technology for maximum hydration, and shuts off automatically after 10 minutes as soon as your steam session is done.
- Highly rated by folks with dry skin
- Doesn’t take up a lot of space
- Only one steam setting
- Pricier pick
While this portable option does send a fine mist to your thirsty skin, it’s more of a humidifier than a steamer. Still, if your main goal is moisture (versus prepping your pores for extractions), Hey Dewy’s USB-rechargeable device may fit the bill. It’s small, great for travel, and provides up to eight hours of mist. Added perk: no matter which of the three color options you choose, the matte finish will look great on your nightstand or desk.
- Portable option for travel or work
- USB rechargeable, with eight hours of runtime
- Three color options
- Doesn’t produce hot steam, only mist
With a full tank, this steamer will run for eight to ten minutes, which is exactly enough time to give your face the recommended treatment. It has a large, mask-style opening to help distribute steam evenly across your face, plus a nasal insert for when your sinuses need a little TLC. Best of all, it’s the lowest-priced option on this list.
- Budget-friendly price
- Includes nasal steam mask
- Two temperature settings
- No auto shutoff
- Larger profile
The Aira uses an ion generator to enrich the water molecules to help the steam do a deeper clean on any pores that are in need of a real cleaning. If you prefer your facial treatment with a light fragrance, you can add your favorite essential oil, and the steamer comes with three essential oil baskets included so you can switch up your scents without mixing them (you should never drop essential oils directly into a humidifier or steamer, as it can damage the machine!). You’ll also get a customizable bunny ears headband, which you can wear while steaming, using a sheet mask, or just when you want to keep your hair out of your face.
- Two color options
- Includes 3 machine-safe baskets for essential oils
- Only one steam setting
If you live with someone else who likes to steam their face, having a smaller water tank can complicate things. Luckily this pick from Michael Todd Beauty holds 260 milliliters of water and runs for up to 45 minutes. That way you and your S/O or roomie can take turns steaming without having to stop the device and refill the tank. It also includes three aromatherapy baskets and has a 365 degree rotating nozzle so you can get the angle just right.
- Larger water tank makes for longer run time
- Adjustable nozzle angle
- Comes with three aromatherapy baskets
- Auto shutoff isn’t adjustable (and doesn’t hit until 45 minutes)
Facial steamer benefits
So, what do dermatologists say about facial steamers? "Facial steaming can help hydrate and soften the outer layer of skin,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “By hydrating the skin, it also helps increase penetration of active ingredients applied topically immediately after steaming.” This means that when you apply your usual serums on freshly steamed skin, they'll be able to get way down deep under the surface of your skin in order to do their jobs more effectively. The same goes for moisturizers: "When followed by moisturizers, steaming can help to add moisture to the skin," adds Dr. King.
Steaming can also be helpful for priming your skin for extractions, which explains why facialists rely on the process before they squeeze out your blackheads. "It can soften up keratinaceous debris and sebum... so comedones will be much easier to extract," says Dr. King. "And the heat increases circulation and can help pimples or cysts come to a head." It's also great as a pre-cursor to any exfoliants or targeted treatments because it's easier to melt away dead, dull skin cells from the surface once the skin is softened by the steam.
Who should use an at-home facial steamer?
"Oily and acne-prone skin will benefit most with using steam," says Taylor Worden, celebrity facialist and founder of Taylor Worden Skin, pointing to the pore-opening and sebum-loosening properties that steaming brings about. Some dry skin types can also benefit from the process thanks to its hydrating and softening benefits.
What are the disadvantages of steaming your face?
If you have severely dry skin, eczema, or rosacea, it's best to steer clear of steaming in order to avoid irritation. And if you're prone to redness, Dr. King suggests proceeding with caution, because the heat from the steam dilates your blood vessels which can cause skin to flush.
How to use a facial steamer
There are a few different ways you can integrate an at-home facial steamer into your regular routine. Use it after you cleanse your skin to open your pores before you apply the rest of the products in your regimen, or prior to doing your own extractions (though you'll want to make sure you're doing them the right way, which you can read more about here).
As far as frequency goes, pros suggest limiting your steamer use to once or twice a week for five to ten minutes. "More than that can dry out the skin," says Dr. King. If you're following up by applying products and doing your own extractions, the entire facial process can take as little as 30 minutes.
It's also critically important that you keep your face at least six to 10 inches away from the water. The reason? "You don't want to risk getting too close and getting burned," says Dr. King. "Steamers have more safety mechanisms [than your usual pot of boiling water], but you still need to make sure that you are keeping your face at a safe distance."
Things to consider before buying
Tools and features
If you're new to the steamer game, you might want a more tricked-out device that comes with extraction tools or exfoliating brushes. Or, if you're a more seasoned pro, those things might already be in your toolkit. Take note of the added features, as they may or may not impact the price of a facial steamer.
If you know you like to add a little aromatherapy to your facial routine, you'll want to opt for a facial steamer that provides baskets or pads for essential oils. Adding oil directly to the water tank can damage your machine, so make it a priority!
Note the water tank and shutoff features
Dermatologists recommend only steaming for five to ten minutes so, unless you're sharing a steamer with someone else, the device you choose doesn't need to run for longer than that. Also, it's helpful to note the auto-shutoff features, especially if you tend to forget to unplug things (you're not alone!).
Frequently asked questions
Do dermatologists recommend facial steaming?
All of the dermatologists we spoke with recommend facial steaming as a method of softening the skin before applying serums or extracting debris. The only groups that our derms recommend avoid steaming are those with super dry skin, rosacea, or eczema. And, of course, they only recommend steaming if you're using the device properly and sparingly, once or twice a week.
Do facial steamers clear pores?
Steaming alone won't necessarily clear your pores, but it can help soften and prep the skin for exfoliation and extractions.
Is it worth buying a facial steamer?
If you're someone who enjoys regular facials, an at-home facial steamer could be a welcome addition to your beauty arsenal. Even if you decide to DIY facial in between professional facials, you may be able to save yourself some cash over time.
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