Facial steamers are devices that use heated (sometimes ionized) water to help unclog pores when you use the device directly on your face. Derms have mixed opinions on them, but most still say they can be beneficial in some ways to those who have oily or acne-prone skin.
Dermatologist, Marisa Garshick, MD, breaks down the pros and cons. “While facial steamers are thought to soften clogged pores, making them easier to extract and therefore reducing breakouts, they are not a necessity and shouldn’t replace other known acne-fighting ingredients and treatments. That said, if it is working for you, you can continue to use it, but it’s best to do so in conjunction with other acne-fighting treatments. It is also important to remember that they are not necessarily going to make red, inflamed, or cystic breakouts better. Further, certain skin types, such as those that are prone to rosacea or eczema, may actually experience a worsening in those conditions after exposure to steam,” she says.
Snehal Amin, MD, also weighs in by stating, “Steaming, like a hot towel or just hot water, can help the skin absorb medications and products better. It also definitely increases blood flow so skin appears fuller and pinker. Theoretically, this blood flow is bringing more nutrients to the superficial skin. The moisture effect evaporates quickly, though, so it’s important to apply a good, simple moisturizer afterward.”
All in all, I see that there are some nice benefits from using a device like this if you have things like stubborn blackheads and would like to find a way to reduce them at home. But as Garshick says, it probably shouldn’t replace a good skincare routine. If you do want to invest in a device, I’ve rounded up a few derm recommendations below and other budget-friendly options.