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A good steam is an essential part of any professional facial—and that’s not just because it feels good. A blast of warm, moist air works wonders when it comes to helping clean out and clear out your complexion.
“Steaming the face helps to soften the oil deposits in the pores and also on the skin's surface, making it easier to remove that oil and ultimately decongest the skin,” explains celebrity esthetician Elina Fedotova. Not to mention that by softening the outer layer of the skin, steaming also enhances the penetration of any active ingredients you use afterward.
While you may not yet have thought of steaming as a part of your at-home skincare routine, you should. Fedotova’s favorite trick is to simply hold your face a comfortable distance away from a bowl of hot herbal tea (such as chamomile or calendula for added detoxifying benefits) and cover your head with a towel for five to 10 minutes. But if you want to get really fancy and up your DIY facial game, consider picking up one of these top facial steamers. Try using one once or twice per week—always on freshly-cleansed skin—and prepare to wonder how you ever lived without one.
Below, we've picked out the best facial steamers for you to test out.
Best Overall: NanoSteamer Large 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer
Whether you’re looking for a steamer to use regularly or just to pull out on special occasions, the specs and price on this one can’t be beaten. It has an ion generator, which further ups the benefits of the steam, and is similar to what you’d get from a professional machine. Professional vaporizers combine both steam and ionization, which helps to kill pathogens on the surface of the skin and boost detoxification, notes Fedotova.
It also comes with a five-piece set of blackhead and blemish extractors, not to mention that it can be used as a general room humidifier and even has a chamber to keep towels warm for when you really want to bring the spa-like vibe home.
Best Value: Vanity Planet Aira Ionic Facial Steamer
This option offers the perfect marriage of good value, essential features, and a chic aesthetic, too. It’s another pick that also delivers ionic steam for maximum efficacy, the steam kicks in in just 30 to 45 seconds, and you can even add in your favorite essential oils to turn your steam sesh into an even more spa-like experience. We also appreciate the streamlined design that will look great displayed on any bathroom counter.
Best Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer
The micro-steam technology in this pro-inspired steamer goes to work fast; a full cycle takes just nine minutes, and both helps purify and hydrate your complexion. Plus, a wide nozzle makes for complete and even steam coverage. Other nice features? An automatic shut-off function (safety first) and a carrying handle for easy portability.
Best Budget: Conair True Glow Moisturizing Facial Sauna System
For a great price you basically get everything you need to totally step up your at-home facial game. We’re talking not only a great facial steamer but also two other tools—a battery-powered exfoliating brush and sponge head for applying moisturizer. Use all three, in that order, for soft, smooth, glowing skin. But the bang for your buck doesn’t stop there; this also comes with a more narrow cone that can be used to steam your sinuses, choice for cold and flu season.
Best Ionic: Okachi Gliya Facial Steamer
This touts nano-ionic steam, which can penetrate the skin more deeply. Translation? Increased hydration (up to 10 times more) and pore de-clogging to boot. Also nice: A built-in UV lamp sterilizes the steam, keeping your skincare routine nice and sanitary. FYI, use only water in this guy, no essential oils.
Best Fast-Acting: Panasonic Nano Spa Quality Facial Steamer
Sure, steaming can be something you only do when you have extra time to dedicate to your skincare routine, but it can also be a fast fix and quick pick-me-up, thanks to this option. It goes to town and does its thing in just six minutes, meaning you can easily incorporate this on sleepy mornings when your skin needs a little extra TLC, or at night to help deep clean your complexion before bed. It’s also super easy to use, featuring just one on/off button.
Best for Blackheads: Voumey Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer
Steaming is an especially smart step when you want to dislodge stubborn blackheads. And where do those stubborn blackheads most often pop up? Yep, around your nose. That’s why we appreciate that this steamer has not only a full face mask but also a separate nose attachment. Use it as a targeted treatment to clear out clogged pores around your nose, or to clear out sinuses when you’re sick. It also touts an option for different levels of power, which many other steamers don’t.
Best for Travel: Lonove Facial Steamer Nano Ionic Face Steamer
Sure, it may seem a little odd to take a steamer with you on vacation, but once you do, there’s no going back. (Try using one after a long flight to detox and rehydrate your skin and thank us later.) Enter this portable option, which weighs in at just under one and a half pounds. The plastic it’s made of is also BPA-free, and it delivers about 10 minutes worth of steam, a good amount for such a small device.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s a big fan of facials—both the professional and at-home kind—and values the steaming step more than ever after researching this article.
Elina Fedotova is a celebrity esthetician and founder of Elina Organics Spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo, MI. She’s known for her customized, skin-changing facials—where steaming is always an essential step.