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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.
Meet the Expert
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.
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 ) 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 a facial steamer. Try using one once or twice per week—always on freshly-cleansed skin—and prepare to wonder how you ever lived without one.
To find the very best in at-home steaming devices, we tried out a few of the top contenders. Our testers used these for weeks at a time, rating how well they helped soften and decongest their complexions and aided in extracting blackheads and comedones. We then combined these results with our own research to compile our list.
Keep reading the best facial steamers on the market.
Best Overall: Pure Daily Care NanoSteamer 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer
Unclogs pores and detoxifies the skin
Promotes better product penetration
Includes built-in towel steamer and extraction tools
Device is relatively large
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 is meant to further up 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 skin purification, 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.
Features: Extractor kit, towel warmer | Wireless: No
What Our Testers Say
"My skin looked clearer and refreshed after just one session." — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester
Best Value: Vanity Planet Aira Ionic Facial Steamer
Moisturizes and softens skin
Relaxing to use
Device is relatively large
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 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.
Features: Headband, essential oil pods, easy to use, 1 setting | Wireless: No
What Our Testers Say
“A very satisfying amount of gunk was squeezed out of my nose, thanks to the Aira loosening it up and making it easier to remove. For the first time, I feel like I have an effective routine for removing blackheads safely without an esthetician.” — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester
Best Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer
Moisturizes and softens skin
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.
Features: Easy to use, 1 setting | Wireless: No
Best Splurge, Runner-Up: Panasonic Spa-Quality Nano-Ionic Facial Steamer
Chic, minimal design
Easy to use
Steam output could be greater
Another, slightly pricier pick, this too boasts nano-steam particles meant for extra effective penetration. One cycle takes just six minutes, making it easy to work into your daily skincare routine. We also appreciate the sleek and streamlined design, which both looks pretty and won’t take up too much space on your bathroom counter.
Features: Easy to use, 1 setting, 6-minute treatment | Wireless: No
Best Budget: Conair True Glow Moisturizing Mist Facial Sauna System
Includes exfoliating brush and sponge
Helps open up sinuses
Device is relatively large
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
Uses sterilized steam
Includes mirror, headband, and extraction tools
Can only be used with water
This touts nano-ionic steam, which is meant to penetrate the skin more deeply. Translation? Increased hydration 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.
Features: Headband, extractor kit, integrated mirror | Wireless: No
A good facial steamer is an easy way to step up your skincare game. The Pure Daily Care NanoSteamer 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer is our overall top pick, touting an ion generator that helps purify the skin. The Conair True Glow Moisturizing Mist Facial Sauna System is a choice budget-conscious pick, particularly given that it comes with other tools such as an exfoliating facial brush, but if you want to splurge, go with the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer, which is in fact very similar to steamers that the pros use and works in just nine minutes.
What to Look For in a Facial Steamer
When it comes to shopping for the right facial steamer, Fedotova recommends looking for devices that use nano-ionic technology. Combining smaller, ionized particles of steam is meant to up the ability of the steam to penetrate deeper into your skin, essentially helping it work better, faster. She points out that nano-ionic steamers also enhance their hydration benefits, so any steamer that utilizes this technology a great choice for those with especially dry skin.
Hot and Cold Settings
Steam doesn’t necessarily have to be hot to be effective, so Fedotova suggests opting for a steamer device that generates both hot and cold steam—especially if you have finicky skin. “For inflammatory conditions like rosacea or excessive redness or extremely sensitive complexions, it can be better to use a cool steam,” she says. “This helps hydrate and soften the skin without heating it.”
Size and Design
Is this something you’re going to leave out on your vanity for daily use? Only pulling out for special occasions? Taking with you wherever you go? Shapes and sizes of facial steamers vary greatly so take how often you’re going to be using it/where you’re going to store it into consideration.
Do facial steamers work?
When it comes to professional facials, Fedotova compares steaming the skin to putting gas into your car in order to drive it. In short, yes, facial steaming works—and if you’re planning on doing any other at-home treatment, whether it’s extracting blackheads or putting on a purifying face mask, it's an essential step for prepping the skin to ensure these treatments are most effective. “In addition to hydrating the skin, steaming helps prepare it for any purifying treatments—it softens sebum, softens the epidermis, and preps it for vacuuming, extractions, and exfoliation,” she says.
Are facial steamers good for acne?
According to Fedotova, steaming is beneficial for every complexion—acne-prone included. She says that those with acne are dealing with excessive oil production, and steaming helps to prep clogged pores to be extracted without damaging blood vessels in the process.
Are facial steamers safe?
Blasting hot steam onto your face without the guidance of a professional may feel iffy, but according to Fedotova, as long as a product is certified—and, of course, used properly—then it’s safe. “Manufacturers are now focusing a lot more on safety than before,” she says. “Of course, you also need to make sure that you have a comfortable distance between the steamer’s head and your face.” The strength of a device’s steam stream will vary from product to product, so be sure to thoroughly read through its directions and follow the guidelines for appropriate distance and facial position while using.
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. Always a fan of the steaming step during a pro facial, writing this story convinced her that she needs an at-home option.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any facial steamers from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Cleveland Clinic. Is steaming your face good for your skin?.