Why you should not steam your face so often

Face steaming

I have a phobia of having my face steamed during facials. When I close my eyes and feel the hot steam hovering over my face, I always fear the machine will malfunction and I will get hot water splashed on my face instead. Okay, that’s pretty irrational. I know. But I always have this feeling that steaming isn’t that great for my face even though it is supposed to open up the opens for better cleansing and some experts even claim steam moisturizes the outer layers of the skin.

Perhaps it’s true that the skin will feel plump and saturated with the water coming from steam but from the various books I’ve read, the heat coming from steam is actually bad for our skin. Hot water can leave skin feeling dry and irritated, plus may cause dry skin types to overproduce more oil. In addition, it will aggravate broken capillaries on the skin too.

According to Paula Begoun in The Beauty Bible, wet heat is deceptive. “Because the surface layer of skin likes water so much, hot water can enter the skin, stay there, and cause a burn-like reaction.”

In addition, I also read from the Acne Magazine that excessive facial steaming may actually leave people with acne proned skin to break out more because the steaming action may actually swell the skin’s top layer, which can trap oil, dirt and bacteria in the pores and cause acne postules to form. It can also cause inflammation.

Well, I’m not saying that you can’t steam your face but it’s best to steam in moderation.  Once a month during a facial is probably fine.  In addition, if you’re using some DIY steaming therapy, be careful that the steam is not too hot.  And frequent sessions at the suana is a bad idea as it could leave your skin more dehydrated.  

But personally, I think it’s fine not to have my face steam.  I’ll rather keep it steam free.  So what about you?

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  1. says

    I think it is great to have facial steam once a while. At least it helps my skin:)

    Deb: Once a while is fine as long as it’s not overdone. :)

  2. says

    Thanks for this, I never knew it could be damaging. I would rather be steam-free too, because I have difficulties breathing when doing steaming.

    City Girl: Oh…I know that feeling. Don’t like it too.

  3. Lana says

    Wow, I didn’t know that. I love steaming my face but only once a month to extract the black/whiteheads. It makes my skin feel super clean and getting rid of the clog pores extra easy. But when I do steam I tend to over steam. Now that I know that, I’ll make sure that I don’t cook my face with my steamer. Great post.

    Lana: Once a month sounds fine but don’t over steam! A warm wash cloth over face can do the trick too.

  4. Lana says

    I have a question. I have tiny veins on my eyelids. Is that normal? Or have I damage them by steaming (extreme heat / cold) and washing with extra cold water? Does applying eye cream with pressure damaging to the skin (under the eye and the eyelid)? I found that it helps reduce the puffiness and sagging on my lids. But am I doing more harm than good? Thanks.

    Lana: The tiny veins should be the broken capillaries. Could be due to heat, cold water, sun, age or even excessive intake of alcohol. I have these too! So it’s quite normal. I know there are products available over the counter to combat this problem but I’m not sure it they work since I’ve never tried. Another effective way is to have laser vein therapy but of course that has to be done by a dermatologist.

    Lana, don’t exert pressure when applying eye cream. I doubt that created the veins but you’re pulling and tugging at delicate skin around the region, it could cause wrinkling in future. You may not see the immediate effecs now though. Tap lightly. Use a gel to combat the puffiness or cucumber slice. Don’t drink water at least half an hour into bed too.

  5. andrea says

    every once in a while i like to steam my face. sometimes it doesn’t do the job for my really stubborn pimples. any suggestions?

    andrea: Hard to suggest not knowing your skin condition. You need to determine if your pimples are caused by hormonal activity or overproduction of oil by the oil gland. They could also be caused by products you use. Have you seen a dermatologist or are you use any topical prescription?

  6. yanju says

    thanks for the tip!!!! ddnt know it cld give damaging results as i steam once a wk at home!!! wat i do is every weekend i boil some water & pour it in a bowl & cover my head with a towel for abt 5mins & then i use the body shop ionic clay mask.it actually does wonders as it removes impurities & tightens my pores cos i ve combination skin i would however reduce it to twice a month.
    Many thanks!

    yanju: Yes, try to cut down. You can also use a warm wash cloth in place of the process.

  7. says

    I actually have cystic acne and find that steam helps to combat regular breakouts when used regularly. I don’t steam more than once a month and only during a serious skincare regimen. I also use steam when I am doing extractions because it opens the pores.

    Noreena: Steaming once a month is fine! I think it helps with some skin types too.

  8. Richard says

    I boil my face everyday using a stove pot. I fill it with water, when its boiling i just put my face on the steam to open the pore. Is that good? I really have bad acne and tried everything, proactive to nature’s cure. I started this like 2 days ago. I also apply a little of some neutrogena acne cream and steam my face right after i put it and wash it off w cold water after.

    Richard: This will probably keep your face clean but it’s not good to steam too frequently. If you think steaming helps, try to keep to once a week at most, then decrease the frequency when your problems subsides. Steaming daily is really not recommended. What about your diet? Hey, join us at http://www.glowingdiva.com. There are some recommendations on acne over there. See if you can find something to help you. I also suspect your problem is due to hormones so seeing a dermatologist might help you.

    • dana says

      uhhh the glowing diva website doesn’t work for me. it says its an untrusted website and then tried to sign me on as the site admin.??

      can you fix it?

    • says

      im working as a skin therapist.. steaming as we know can be done once a month but if its an acne treatment in our standard procedure is weekly basis but moderate and 16-18inches away from the face for 5 minutes if you have oily skin and less than 2 minutes for dry skin. and after skin becomes better you can maintain your steaming once a month for good blood circulation and it will also soften the dead skin cells.placing your face over the boiling water can be very difficult especially the eye contour should be properly covered and protected as i was having a bad experience on that.

  9. says

    This is a great advice. It’s like taking a warm shower instead of a steaming hot shower. Cooler water is better for the skin and I use a shower filter to remove the harmful chemicals.

    Edith: I like warm water too. I have this phobia with hot shower.

  10. rajita says

    Qften we don’t meet people who think like us, cause I feel the same whenever I take steam for my face.For that five mts I just close my eyes tightly and tell myself that nothing bad happens.

    Rajita: Oh, you’re exactly like me!!! So I’m sure you can feel my fear too! It’s scary I swear. Most of the time I pretend it’s too hot and ask them to move it further away and sometimes, I’m even tempted to tell them to skip it. And I always can’t wait to get over with that process.

  11. says

    I have had skin problems since hitting puberty and the only thing that ever worked for me was a daily steam, and it might shock some people for me to say that I steam my face for about 20-30mins!

    My skin is very oily and I would still be incredibly acne prone had a friend not advised me to try steaming.

    I think it depends on the individual and also what types of beauty products you use after the steam. I have been using a prescribed acne cream for over a decade and it doesn’t work as effectively if I don’t keep steam in my routine.

    I suppose it’s not a necessity for me to do it every day, but at least once a week is absolutely essential to keep my pores clear and my skin nice and tight which also gives my skin a nice healthy glow to it.

    Maria: You’re right. It depends on the individual. As long as it doesn’t create too much problems, then keep to what you’ve been doing since it works for you.

  12. Tara says

    My previous beautician always steams my face b4 extraction which I hate. Like you, I wonder will the steaming machine go haywire and explode =.= haha. But I have changed facial salon and my current facial sessions have no steaming and I love it.

    Tara: That’s good! I used to inch lower whenever the beautician walks out so that my face will not feel that much steam. 😛

  13. Sam says

    Hey.. Im using zineryt at the moment as I have tiny spots on my forehead, that have been there quite a while, I also have tiny little spots on my cheek to. Is this a good solution to use? Any suggestions Thankyou

    Sam: They sound like skin bumps and could be clogged pores. Is zineryt rich? some products could be too rich for your skin and causing the problem.

  14. Isabella says

    I used to steam my fave everyday and then developed a case of really bad dry eye that had to be treated. I wonder if the steaming had anything to do with it.

    Isabella: Not 100% sure but hot steam is drying so there is some connections. Anyway, don’t steam too often. It will open up your pores too much and then there will be a problem of them closing nicely in future. Occasional is okay.

  15. says

    i have a que???
    i want my skin very tight & without any pimple….. so what have to do…???? my skin is so sensitive now…

    Rahul: To begin with, you need to identify your own skin type. If you have pimples, what’s causing it. Perhaps for a start, you should look at your cleansing process; are you using a cleanser without SLS? Is it clean enough for you?

  16. Mona says

    Thanks, but if used once a month is it benificial or can cause damage?

    I have pimple prone skin and have blackheads too. So i thot if i steam by face my pores will open and i can clean them.

    if steaming is not good then what other measures i can take to keep my skin from pimple and blackhead free.
    I even have spots after pimples are healing.

    Please let me know the cure.

    Mona: You can try it occasionally. It may not may not help with pimples though. To keep your skin away from pimples and blackhead, you need to determine why you are having them. Is it your hormones or is it your skin care. Cleansing and using anti-blemish mask can help too.

  17. lilly:i have a problem of whiteheads severly with which im facing many problems,any my face says

    i have a problem of whiteheads,i have to steam my face daily to clean the whiteheads without which im my face is looking ugly…plz suggest me something so that i can get rid of whiteheads without using steam.and one morething my whiteheads are spreading all over my face…plz help me with a gud suggestion.

  18. Anabelle_Arabian_princess says

    I have PERFECT SKIN!! I eat oily foods, No facials, NO nothing! and my face feels as gooood as nicole kidman!! BOO YAAA!!!

  19. sara says


    My name is Sara I have been suffering from Acne for a very long time, and its really taken a toll on my self confidence and pretty much everything I do. I walk with my face down just so no one can see my face and I have pretty much grounded myself due to the appearence the ace has caused. I have roseacea, cystic acne and extremely dry and blotchy skin, I seem to have it all. I don’t want to use any steroids prescribed by a dermotologist and I am really at a breaking point any tips on natural ways anyone has had luck with will help, thanks..

    • sesame says

      Sara, I can understanding how frustrating you must feel. What do you use to wash your face and what’s the products you use currently? In addition, what’s your age group and do you include diary products in your diet? Sorry for the questions but it’s quite hard to offer any sort of relevant advice without some understanding.

  20. wina says

    hi, thanks for great article. i always steam my face twice a week for 15minutes before apply clay mask because i have a lot of stubborn white heads on my forehead area. i’d like to ask, is it better to steam the face for a few minutes for reduce my whiteheads and a few pimple breakouts? or i can just apply purifying mask directly? thanks in advance

    • sesame says

      You can apply your mask directly without steaming. Say if you wash your face with warm water, you can apply the mask right after that. Don’t steam your face too often or the pores will stay open and big in future.

  21. James says

    I think your article is biased and misleading. Steaming your face is not harmful to your skin in any way shape or form. However using boiling water to steam your face can scald you and I would not recommend doing this. You seem to have something against steaming your face which is fine, but do not post misleading articles online which may alter other peoples views.

    • sesame says

      Hi James:

      I based my info from speaking with beauty experts; people who are in the beauty business trained in cosmetology. My article did not say you can’t steam your face, but rather, steaming your face too often is harmful because once pores are opened, they do not close easily.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you think that frequent steaming is fine, so be it. I’m entitled to state what I think and it happens to be otherwise.

  22. Fit says

    Hi, thanks for this post. I’ve also been feeling that the steamer is not doing good to my skin. May i know what are the books you read that says its bad for our skin? Please, thankyou :)

  23. says

    Okay. So I’m african american with combination (mostly oily and, dare i say, thick skin). about a month ago, I found out about the oil cleansing method.

    …which is very good btw. I only use do this at night (without rinsing the face in hot water… just the towel and wipe excess oil). I’ve been using this method for about a month and my acne has pretty much disappeared and my skin is smoother. (i add aloe vera gel as a moisturiser).

    I know that you could probably think of a million and one things that i’m doing wrong… and i would like to know them. i would like to know how i could improve this method without having to buy a lot of expensive stuff.

    I would also like to know what i can do about my eyes… I use a eye makeup remover from avon that contains mineral oil. what can i do to effectively remove my eye makeup without pulling on the skin and without using heavy oils?

    If you have any advice for me, it would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

  24. Saiqa says

    I believe that steamimg face is good if it is followed by some real good face massage like almond oil or honey oil massage is best,it will bring out the maximum benefits on your skin.Although,you should massage for abt 10 or 14 mints dailt before going to bed but steaming in this way is sufficient twice a month.

  25. says

    I have normal to dry skin and steam my face about once a week. I’ve never had any problems and my skin always looks good after I steam. The trick is to rinse with lukewarm or cold tap water afterwards.

  26. rednose ger says

    Hi hi I hve problem on my nose .. Pimples always come on my nose n onceawhile it swell on my nose n laughed by ppl ard me.. I have oily tzone n I using menthol acne facewash .. I duno why this time my pimples after so many months it’s still not fully cure .. oh I think I have dry skin n oily skin t.t

  27. rednose ger says

    Oh n I hve try alot of acne cream but sme no use .. Nw using the nuteens acne away .. could u reccomand me which acne cream is more effective ??

  28. simran says

    1. which is the best age for steam on face is their any problem if we were take steam at the age of 18.
    2.which is the best and effective dark circle cream.
    3.threading or hot wax which is good for face.

    • sesame says

      It’s actually best not to steam your face at all because when you steam, you’re opening up the pores and unless you use the right products, the pores may not close back effectively. I suggest you steam less frequent – like twice a month – and only if necessary. 18 is fine.

      Threading is okay if you use some soothing balm or lotion to calm down. Hot wax no no cos it will damage your skin long run.

      As for dark eye circle cream, I’ll still searching. Dark eye circles are usually contributed by internal issues.

  29. Rachel says

    Before I steam my face I apply a spoonful of honey on my face, leave it on for about 15 minutes. Then steam for not more than 5 minutes. Wash my face with warm water. Then apply an aqueous cream with pure glycerin. It always leaves my skin amazing.
    I just do it once in a while when I feel my skin is dry and rough. also excellent on lips.

  30. L7997 says

    i’m happy that i finally found this. ^^ just last week i was steaming my face in a hot HOT shower. i kept this up for an entire week.

    =( now i think i know why i broke out with comedones a few days after (many of them), and now inflammation. i’m terrified, but i feel like i know better.
    i’m prone to closed comedones and serious congestion in the nose and inner cheeks. the strongest tazorac does not prevent all of the comedones from forming; but has helped reduce the number, and barely helps with congestion. i steamed be4 (1x a week) with a scrub every day! the worst combo, and this happened that time too but the breakout ruined me. i can’t believe i did the same mistake again.

  31. says

    actually i had just sufferred from chicken pox and they left small holes at my face so i went to the doctor she told me to have a laser treatment.
    i had it three times and then my face and nose filled with blackheads pimples and acne and i have a sensitive skin so can i steam

    • sesame says

      You can steam but don’t do it too frequently. Why don’t you exfoliate instead? Exfoliation can get rid of some of the impurities and dead skin.

  32. ScarGurl22 says

    Wow! that’s a nice post thanks for the info..

    Well, i have a question,
    right now, I really have a bad breakout.. Looks like whiteheads (rash-like) on my forehead, some little whiteheads on cheeks which freaks me out every time i look in the mirror.

    I don’t pick on them though in fear of aggravating the problem, but it took so long before i can get rid of them.. (maybe weeks to a month)

    Can I use steaming, and then extract the whiteheads and will it cause redness after-wards? It’s the only way to speed up the process of getting rid of them i guess.. Any suggestions? I’m really frustrated with it :'(

    • sesame says

      You can steam but just don’t do it too often. How about exfoliation? That can also help with getting rids of some of these whiteheads.

  33. zahra says

    I LOOOOOVE steaming my face.it feels sooooo good.I’m addicted to it.it give me a very very good feeling and after steaming my face looks perfect.so fresh and glowy i just love it.i steam my face at home,like twice a week.5 to 10 minutes each time.and it’s great. :)

  34. pooja says

    hello…i just want to know that what shall i do as i have so many whiteheads and blackheads on my cheeks and forehead..i tried lots of medicine given by doctor but nothing worked..so i need a help from you…

      • pooja says

        no i dint try that???actually i cant do any experiment with my face…thatswhy i dint do any thing..bt i need suggestion that what i should do…

        • sesame says

          Whiteheads and blackheads are best removed via exfoliating or using a deep cleansing mask to draw them out. So this is my suggestion to you on what to try for your skin issue. If your skin is sensitive, look for products suitable for sensitive skin.

  35. pooja says

    i just want to ask one more thing that of which brand i should buy this deep cleansing mask as i have oily skin…please suggest me the best brand for the one i should go…as i dont want to exploit my skin by using bad quality of products…give me suggestions for the brand..or which product i should use…

    • sesame says

      It’s very hard for me to recommend you a right skin care without knowing exactly how your skin would react. Where are you located? Best for you to go to some stores where they can analyze your skin type and recommend appropriate products. I would however recommend you try natural / organic products if your skin is very sensitive.

  36. pooja says

    one more thing to ask is that for which brand i should go as i don’t want to exploit my skin by using bad quality of products.i have oily skin so please suggest me product or brand for this.

  37. vince says

    One of the reasons I started steaming (Im male btw), is because I wanted to encourage my face to sweat. That way, the sweat is what cleanses the pores. If sweating is what causes the pores to open, then you must be telling us not to sweat too much? Is that correct? What do you say to the people who go to the gym and sweat daily… that it is not good to sweat that much because it opens the pores and they might stay open? Thats why, Im not sure if I agree with that advice.

    • sesame says

      I’m not sure if you can compare perspiring naturally via exercise to perspiring from heat due to the steam. I find that heat in general is bad for skin as it can cause drying other than opening the pores so that should not be done frequently. But well, to each his/her own. If you think steaming benefits you, then by all means. Just remember to apply toner after that.

  38. steph91 says

    i personally think you shouldn’t ever steam your face. When you steam your ruining your acid mantel. the acid mantel this the layer of oil that keeps the moister in your skin, so if you steam the moister leaves your face and you’ll start to notice wrinkles around your eyes and mouth. And one should never try steaming when they already have dry skin.

  39. Cathy says

    Everyone is different and steaming my face had always made it look fresh. I sweat alot during the week because I workout and that is great, but steaming works for me because I am very oily and I don’t use soap, and haven’t for years. When I don’t steam, I get blackheads and cystic acne.

  40. Selena says

    Huh…didn’t know it was harmful for you…My mother used to tell me that steaming is really good for you and I feel relaxed when doing this…But then again everyone is different.

    P.s. hey is it ok if I went overboard this week and did steaming everyday of this week? Nothing happened but am I gonna get a long term effect or something?

      • James Reeves says

        I suffered from horrendous skin, spots, scars everything, I steam every single night (I stress NIGHT because doing it in the morning means your face is more sensitive to the elements and is more likely to take a battering) I exfoliate gently straight after steaming to get rid of all the rubbish in my pores, and to this day I haven’t had any more problems, my skin is clear, and doesn’t look dull anymore. I had tried anything and everything, been to the doctors, spent probably up to around £1000+ on skin care and kits etc… I now use dermalogica – special cleansing gel (cleanser) daily clean scrub (exfoliant) daily mattifier (helps mattify and keep spots away in daytime) active moist (oil free moisturizer, to use day and night) and overnight clearing gel (use before moisturizing at night, helps keep spots away overnight). They also do some great masks and loads of other stuff that WORKS. They even claim to guarantee results as long as products are used correctly and are the correct products for your skin type (they have a face mapping thing on the website). Steaming is MOST CERTAINLY NOT bad for your skin, certainly not in my case anyway, I always say if you haven’t tried it then you don’t ACTUALLY know. I for one have tried it, every single night for around 6 months to be exact, and clearly it hasn’t ruined my skin, so people don’t be put off by this woman, or random stuff you hear in these articles, it’s the most natural way of unclogging your pores and keeping skin clean and fresh, I 100% swear by this method, too many chemicals do more damage than they promise to relieve. over & out.

  41. shana says

    I disagree that steaming is bad for skin, as long as you do it correctly. Sweating is a natural way of detoxing which is why most, if not all, dermatologists highly recommend daily exercise. As a severe acne sufferer, I was always embarrased to go to the gym because 1. I couldn’t wear makeup, and 2. my face always got super red and aweful looking, so I tried steaming to help make up for the lack of exercise enduced sweat. It worked wonders! I filled a bowl with very hot, but not boiling water, then sat over it with a towel over my head for 10-15 minutes. The key is to do it properly: Don’t scald yourself! The water should be hot but not too hot. It should be comfortable to breath in. If it hurts your nose when you breath in, let it cool off a bit. Don’t be too close. Your face should be about 10inches away from the water’s surface. Direct contact with very hot water is damaging, which is why the steaming method is better than a super hot shower. Finally, don’t use anything harsh on your skin immediately after steaming, like masks, exfoliants or toner. Your skin is going to be sensitive from the heat so treat it gently. Use a gentle cleanser and wash with luke warm/room temperature water. This will help close the pores back up, hopefully now less clogged. Depending on your skin, you can do it as much as 3 times a week, which is what I did with super oily skin. People with dry skin can use this too, maybe only once a week, and after you rinse with the luke warm water, wait a few minutes for your pores to feel closed and apply a little aloe vera or moisturizer of your choice.

    Steaming is good if done correctly! Also note that this isn’t an excuse not to exercise, but if you don’t like going to the gym often or are just super busy, this can help!

  42. h says

    be careful because the stream malfunctioned for me on my leg but thank god the skin came off and the bruise went in a couple of weeks

  43. maryam says

    the comments r so usefull…i have a question that recently im getting lts of whiteheads on chin,nose and centre of forehead… i dnt knw what to do…how can i elliminate the whiteheads from my face..my skin is also very delicated, whenever i steamed , i got redness on face and allergic too….so now i start using cold steaming with towel…to avoid allergic from my face…please help with home tips

  44. says

    Hi,Å̶̷̩̥͡•̸Ϟ kinda confused about somthins right now.I was told that steamin ur face with hot water mixed with pure honey helps to tighten the pores.I’v been doin this 4 the past 5 days for 5-7 minutes.after wich I apply a spoonful of honey,leavin it 4 somtime. now I hav dese tiny rashes all over my face and Å̶̷̩̥͡•̸Ϟ wondering what’s hapenin.pls I need 2 know if the rashes are from d steamin or from d honey coz my skin Ȋ̝̊̅ڪ super sensitive.and plz does steam reduce d size ov d facial pores or just increases them?

  45. says

    Ok.I’v stopped usin the honey and steaming my face since Å̶̷̩̥͡•̸Ϟ not sure wat’z causin the rashes.plz could you give me tips on how to get rid of the rashes,they are really terrible.

  46. Matsu says

    Hey Sesame! I know you’re super against of facial steaming. I just wanna have your opinion on how i usually do it. I always do it once per week for 5 mins, 10 inches away the face to open my pores. And then i would use my clay mask since it would be absorbed better for 10-15 mins & rinse it off. Lastly i close my pores with chilled facial toner/lotion like Hada Labo. What do you think? Thanks in advance. Your reply would be helpful for me ^^

    • Sesame says

      Personally, I try to avoid steaming but I know some pple find it helps them. The way you’re using suggest that you do take care of your pores thereafter so it may still be okay. Just keep monitoring.

  47. says

    Hi there from my personal experience i am saying this not telling to use this method or forcing to do so.I am just a ordinary person not an expert.I research with a lots of things about beauty,keeping face healthy and acne free.
    Well here what i have learned during those research on steam.
    Steam is good for face but only for those who have oily skin or regular skin.For dry skins it is very bad because it may make your skin more dry.After taking steam i wait for about 20 minutes and then wash it.Why?Because steam reduces fat from the face and also cleans it more over it makes skin to swell ,to recover from that we should wait for at least 20 minutes to become normal.After waiting for 20 minutes i gently rub my skin with cucumber, or tomato that gives my skin a little bit of protein and then i wash it with natural cold water.Then i dry it a little bit naturally not with towel or tissue.After Making it dry i apply any moisturizing cream which ever is good for dry skin because this process makes our skin dry and the dry skin moisturizing cream helps on that point and makes my face skin revive and very glow without applying any make up.Well i am a Man .It can vary gender to gender.You may try once but only up to you.Thanks for reading.
    George last post is: Which machine to chose for home T-shirt printing business?

  48. sparkapcider says

    I steam my face once daily and have been doing so for the past six months and you’d think I had a chemical skin peel or a magic wand. I went from using makeup to cover my skin discolorations to no make up at all.

    I fill a pot weekly with citrus peels, a green jasmine & a peppermint tea bag then steam it after a gentle cleansing with a mild soap. After steaming, I apply a toner and benzoyl peroxide.

    My face has a healthy glow and I am no longer troubled with the high costs of professional treatments, makeup to hide scarring, or the embarrassment of acne.


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