There are beauty products that will improve your complexion and there are aromatherapy products that are meant to help you relax, but it isn’t too often that you get one product that combines both things. A face steaming does. Face steaming can help get rid of dirt and excess oil, hydrate, detox, promote circulation and help you relax.
“Face steaming” might conjure up some scary images involving your face and a garment steamer, but it isn’t anything terrifying like that. There are a few different variations including ones with mask-like devices, but one of the easiest methods is using a herbal mix and a bit of hot water. If you have ever had a nasty cold and held your head over a sink of warm water with a towel draped over your head, that is your basic face steam (and cough and stuffed nose reliever).
You can make your own herbal steam, or you can buy a ready-made one. I tested out the 4 Season Steams ($28, Fig+Yarrow). The sampler set is good for newbies because it contains four different steams (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) with varying ingredients that focus on slightly different things from reducing pores to calming to respiratory support. Ingredients include eucalyptus, juniper berries, red clover blossoms and cardamom. The steams may be named after the seasons, but that doesn’t mean you are only meant to use the winter one in the winter. You can use whatever one you see fit.
To use the herbs as a facial steam, you put a handful of herbs into a bowl then cover them with boiled water. You leave the water to cool slightly. Then you stick your face over the bowl and drape a towel over your head to create a steam tent. Make sure your neck is in a comfortable position because you stay there for five to 15 minutes breathing in the herbs.
The preparation for the treatment is very simple and almost impossible to mess up. If you put too much water in, take some out or add some more herbs. If you think your water is too cold, just add a bit more boiled water. It’s as easy as applying a mud mask.
If you’re the sort of person who finds that their stress levels are on the moderate to high side, but you find the idea of other stress-relieving activities like tapping and mediation to be a bit ridiculous, you’re not alone. However, don’t write off the herbal steam. The skin benefits of a herbal steam alone should be enough for you to give it a chance. That and the fact that a herbal steam looks so pretty and smells amazing. This is the Fig+Yarrow Winter Herbal Steam:
Just looking at that photo should hopefully help relax you.
I was already a fan of the face steaming/breathing technique for colds, so I was intrigued about how it would work when you added herbs for skin care and relaxation. When I put the herbs in the bowl, I already liked it because it created a soothing scent. It’s similar to delicious tea in a large bowl.
After I put the boiled water in the bowl, I waited about five minutes before I stuck my head over top of it to steam my face. You will have a pretty good idea about whether it is the right temperature. If you drape the towel over your head and feel some steam hitting your face, you’re good.
Even though it was my first herbal steam, I decided to go for the full 15 minutes. It felt like that could be a long time to sit with my face over a bowl of water, but I thought I’d see how long I could last. Plus, I wanted maximum skin care benefits. The time actually went by pretty quickly. Fig + Yarrow suggest you can clear your mind, offer gratitude or focus on intentions. All that is easier said that done. I didn’t have a plan about practicing gratitude or anything. Like most people, I initially started thinking about what I had to do. However, the steam forces you to focus on your breathing more so I ended up thinking about that and watching the herbs swirl around in the water.
As tempted as you may be, do not try to get your phone under the towel because that will defeat the purpose. Plus, it will break the tent. And if you drop it in the herbal steam, you’re going to end up a lot more stressed.
During the steam, I did have to adjust myself a couple of times so I wouldn’t get a neck ache. If you’re doing a steam, make sure you’re in a comfortable position. Apart from that, the time went by surprising quickly.
When I removed the towel, my skin was dewy from all the steam. It wasn’t red or irritated. I followed it up with my regular skin care routine and did notice how easily the products absorbed.
As for my mood, I did feel relaxed post-face steam. It wasn’t too late in the evening and I still could have done a few more things, but the steam had relaxed me enough that I decided to call it a night and go to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, the herbal steam could be your new warm glass of milk, because I feel asleep quite quickly. Dewy skin, relaxation, and a good sleep, what more can you ask for? As for the leftover herbs, you can save those for your next bath so you can experience the relaxing scent all over again.
(Photos: Heather Cichowski/The Gloss)