Does steaming your face help acne?

Facial Steam and Acne -- a Little Goes a Long Way
Many people use facials that incorporate steam on their faces in an effort to fight acne. While it's true that warm mist steam does open pores, which can be clogged with excess oil and impurities, it does not actually clean those pores. The steaming process itself is used simply to make the pimple (or blackhead or whitehead) easier to extract.

Steam is Clean
If you think of steaming as one part of many in your overall facial cleansing routine, you're on the road to good skin care. Steam's function is to gently heat up the delicate facial skin to the point where you sweat, flushing toxins and other impurities from open pores. A side benefit of sweating is that there's salt in perspiration. The salt kills bacteria and bacteria is the root of all acne.

Facial Steams in Moderation
Incorporating facial steams is good -- but moderation is key here. Too many facial steams (more than twice or, at most, three times a week) can have a rebound effect, actually drying your skin. If this happens, your body will compensate by overproducing oil, which in turn can lead to clogged pores and more acne. Another downside of steaming too often is that the process can increase facial inflammation and redness, which makes the acne more visible.

Clean, Steam and Clean Again
Most estheticians and dermatologists endorse clean skin as an important base for clear acne-free skin. Before each facial steam, wash your face so that it's completely free of impurities, including all make-up. Once you've finished the facial, cleanse again using cool water. This will ensure that your open skin pores are clean before they close.

How Long to Steam?
You need to saturate your skin in order to benefit from a facial steam. Plan on between 10 to 15 minutes of steam time per session. A targeted facial is fine, but your skin can also benefit from a visit to a sauna or steam room as long as you do the before and after cleansing.

When Not To Steam
For some people, facial steams can actually aggravate pre-existing skin conditions, and so should be avoided completely. If you suffer from extremely severe acne (including cysts) or from broken capillaries, for example, the heat exposure may make irritate your skin and cause damage. Even if you have a sunburn, wait until it subsides before using steam for a facial.

Another skin condition that is made worse by heat of any kind is rosacea, a common inflammatory skin disorder characterized by a painfully reddened appearance. People with rosacea should never use facial steams.

Side Benefits of Facial Steams
In addition to opening up your pores to make deep-cleaning easier and allowing perspiration to carry away impurities, breathing in steam helps clear the misery of plugged noses and clogged sinuses. Facial steams are relaxing and, if you add some essential oils or aromatic compounds to the heated water, your facial can turn into an aromatherapy session as well.

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