Short of a professional extraction, treating your skin to a steam facial is probably the best thing you can do for your pores. You've likely noticed that most professional extractions start with steaming. Not everyone has the money for consistent professional extractions, though. Occasionally, you might want to skip the esthetician's bill and create your own at-home spa. You can even use what you probably already have in your kitchen. Steaming may loosen dirt and debris in your pores, and might even allow the products you apply afterward to penetrate deeper. And then, if that's not enough to sell you on it, there's always the post-steam glow.
Gather your supplies. You’ll need baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and some herbs—whichever you feel are best for you—to add to your steam.
Baking soda and water are all you need for a little budget-friendly deep pore cleansing with light exfoliation. Mix two teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water into a paste. Using circular motions, massage that mixture onto your face for one minute, and then rinse to remove pore-clogging dead skin cells.
Bring water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and customize your steam facial for your skin type by adding fresh or dried herbs to the boiling water. We’re using parsley because it acts as a natural astringent, which has been used to treat bruises and wounds. If your skin is dry or sensitive, try a soothing ingredient like chamomile instead. Licorice root and mint are also great detoxifiers that work on all skin types.
Lean over the water basin, keeping your face about 12 inches from the water, and drape a towel over your head to create a tent. Sit like this and steam your face for about five to 10 minutes to clear out your pores.
Pat your skin dry with a clean towel, preferably a gentle towel like Tatcha's Kinu Pure Silk Polishing Face Cloth ($70 for 5).
Now that the dirt and impurities have been loosened from your pores, wipe it all away with a toner. If you don't have a toner on hand, don't fret—you can just use apple cider vinegar. It's an antiseptic and an antibacterial that may balance the pH of your skin while it gently exfoliates to keep pores clean. Just mix equal parts ACV and filtered water (or use one part ACV and two parts water if your skin is sensitive), and apply the toner using a cotton pad.
Finish off your facial by applying the moisturizer of your choice. If you want to stick to the all-natural route, use a natural oil—we're partial to rose hip seed, but a lot of people love coconut oil.
Photographer: Kat Borchart
Hair and Makeup: Barbara Lamelza
Producer: Jenna Peffley
Orchard A, van Vuuren S. Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4517971. doi:10.1155/2017/4517971
Yagnik D, Serafin V, J Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):1732. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x