Moisturizes and softens the skin
Promotes blood circulation
Relaxing to use
Requires distilled water
Device is relatively large
Vanity Planet Aira Ionic Facial Steamer
We put Vanity Planet's Aira Ionic Facial Steamer to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
I’d like to think my current skincare lineup works pretty hard, but I love any device or tool that can help my products work even harder. Enter Vanity Planet’s Aira Ionic Facial Steamer, a steaming device that loosens up the dirt and debris that clog our pores—blackheads and blemishes included—all while boosting moisture and circulation and helping your products penetrate the skin at a deeper level. A Byrdie pick for one of the best facial steamers of 2021, I took this pretty little device for a spin over the course of ten days. But did it actually live up to its promises?
Read on to find out.
Best for: Most skin types, not dermatologist-recommended for sensitive skin types or those with eczema or rosacea
Uses: Cleanse, clarify, moisturize, and soften the skin; promote blood circulation, boost product absorption
Price: $60 (sale), $95 (original)
Best Features: Features an ion generator that allows nano-sized water particles to penetrate the skin deeper and includes three essential oil baskets
About the Brand: Vanity Planet offers high-performing and skin-inclusive self-care essentials to suit every skin type. The brand’s lineup of accessible and approachable skincare, devices, and treatments has one goal: to give you your best skin ever.
About My Skin: Prone to blackheads
I don’t have many complaints about my skin aside from my nose, which attracts blackheads like it’s its job. While nothing seems to tackle them as a dermatologist or esthetician can, I’m always looking for the next best product or tool to help me extract them safely from home. My skin is also currently pretty dry thanks to freezing temperatures and indoor heating. Overall, I could definitely benefit from some extra hydration and a deep pore cleanse, two things Aira promises to do.
I used the Aira twice a week after washing my face and before applying my evening skincare routine. While a steam session is a relaxing treat any time of day, I really liked using it as an evening wind-down, especially since it would help my nighttime products absorb better. I would use it after cleansing and before the rest of my products (which would include a second post-steam cleanse to remove any dead skin and debris). Because it’s great for loosening up clogged pores, I also made sure to use it before using any blackhead-extracting treatments or devices, such as Dermapore’s Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser.
The Science: Steaming is very effective if done safely
Before we dive into how the Aira fared, let’s first take a look at why you should be steaming your skin in the first place. According to Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics, facial steaming has quite a few benefits. “It can help soften the outer layer of the skin and help keep it moisturized,” she says. This helps to decongest the skin and soften up oil deposits in the pores, making them easier to remove. Dr. Hayag adds that steaming also allows products applied topically to penetrate deeper into your skin, which will improve their efficacy.
Now, you may be asking yourself if you really need to shell out for a fancy device to reap the benefits of steaming at home, and according to Hayag, it’s your safest option. There are plenty of DIY facial steam how-tos on the internet, but she stresses that risks are involved. “Taking a hot shower is not beneficial for the skin because it can easily dry it out and leaning over a bowl of hot water is not preferred either because you run the risk of accidentally burning yourself,” she says. “A steaming device is the best option because it delivers steam safely without the potential for damaging your skin.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean steaming with a device doesn’t come with risks, too. “Steaming is not suitable for every day, and you should only use facial steaming up to twice a week at most,” she says. “With more frequent use, you can potentially dry out your skin and irritate it.” So, as with any device, it’s crucial to make sure you’re not overdoing it. She also doesn’t recommend steaming to anyone with very sensitive skin, eczema, or rosacea. “The heat from the steam dilates blood vessels and can lead to flare-ups, flushing, and further irritate the skin.”
Overall, she considers Aira’s promised benefits to be legit.
For the most part, I do think it will deliver on what it promises, like hydrating, softening the skin’s surface, and opening up the pores, Dr. Hayag suggests
Though, she doesn’t recommend using the device with essential oils, as it suggests. “Steam from only water is the best option—essential oils can be irritating to the skin and can cause contact dermatitis.”
The Design: Sleek and minimal, but on the larger side
The Aira is a sleek, egg-shaped device with a suctioned bottom that allows it to stay in place during use. Its minimal design features a simple nozzle and power button on the front and a discreetly hidden water tank that clicks into the back. It uses an ion generator that enriches the nano-sized water particles of the steam, which helps the steam penetrate and clean even deeper. It also comes with three separate essential oil caps with foam tips that can be saturated in oil to create a more therapeutic steam. These can be clicked onto the nozzle if you decide to use, but aren’t necessary for a steam session.
Overall, the device is pretty and modern, but it’s also a bit large. I’m able to fit it on my desk to steam while I work, but it’s not a device I’d be able to keep displayed on my vanity or in the bathroom of my small NYC apartment, as it takes up quite a bit of counter space.
How to Use: Position your face into the steam stream and relax
The Aira is relatively simple to use, which I appreciate as someone who gets easily overwhelmed by skin tech. Begin with a freshly cleansed face to ensure maximum efficacy.
When you’re ready to start, fill the water tank with distilled water somewhere between the “Min” and “Full” mark, depending on how long you’d like your steam session to last. A full tank should last you about 15 minutes. Vanity Planet doesn’t recommend using tap water since it can cause a buildup of limescale in the device and shorten its lifespan.
Once you click the water tank back into the device, place it securely on a flat, secure, and water-resistant surface and plug it in. (Note, it’s not meant to be lifted and moved around the face while in use.) Adjust the nozzle and height you’d like and press the blue power button. Steam will begin to rise from the nozzle, and after about two minutes, it’ll be ready to use.
With your eyes closed, move towards the steam stream so that it covers the entire face and relax. The device will automatically shut off after 15 minutes or if the water tank is empty, but be sure to unplug it once you’re finished. Afterward, wash your face and apply your favorite products to reap their enhanced benefits.
The device also comes with three essential oil baskets, which can be dipped into your favorite and popped onto the nozzle for a more therapeutic experience. Note that you should not put any essential oils (or anything other than distilled water) into the water tank itself. It’s also important to keep in mind that Dr. Hayag recommends avoiding essential oils altogether since they can irritate, so use them at your own risk.
The brand recommends steaming for no more than 15 minutes two-to-three times per week. Per Dr. Hayag’s recommendations, I used mine only twice a week since I didn’t want to potentially dry out my already dry skin.
The Results: Radiant, soft, and clear skin
While I wouldn’t say I noticed a huge difference in terms of hydration right off the bat, I felt like my skin really drank up any treatments and moisturizers that I applied afterward, which include AHAs, retinol, and heavier night creams depending on the day. That said, the next morning my skin was much more radiant and soft.
After using the Aira for the first time, my skin felt much cleaner and had a healthy glow to it.
I really noticed a difference when it came to my pores. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been having issues with blackheads on and around my nose. One tool I’ve had some success with is the Dermapore Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser, and it was so much more effective after steaming. 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.
Since I only used the device four times over the course of ten days, I can’t say I noticed any long-term effects, though I’m sure I’ll see them down the road now that my products are penetrating on a deeper level. And while this isn’t necessarily a result, I can’t fail to mention that using it is sooo relaxing. Like, meditation-relaxing. It’s essentially a sauna for your face, and I wish I could use it for longer than 15 minutes because I would gladly envelop my face in warm, soothing steam for hours a day if I could.
The Value: So worth it
The Aira is priced at around $96, on Vanity Planet’s website, but often goes on sale there and other retailer sites. While I think its original price is a bit steep, I do think its new price is totally worth it. Not only is the product very effective thanks to its ion generator, but it’s also designed with safety in mind. It’s really sleek and pretty too, despite it being on the larger side; it looks and feels super luxurious. Cheaper and effective options do exist, but most of them are much clunkier.
Similar Products: You’ve got options
NanoSteamer Large 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer ($50): Amazon’s #1 best-selling facial steamer also uses ion technology like the Aira and can double as a room humidifier, which I love. The kit comes with a five-piece blackhead and blemish extractor kit to make your steam session much more effective at declogging gunk from your pores. It even comes with an extra chamber to warm towels, making the experience truly spa-like. For about $10 less than the Aira, you get more bang for your buck.
LONOVE Facial Steamer ($30): Whether you travel a lot or just prefer to have beauty tools that take up less space, this portable mini facial steamer is a great affordable option. The small-but-mighty device still packs in about 10 minutes of steaming goodness and uses ion technology. This one also comes with a four-piece set of extraction tools to help you tackle any problem areas.
Out of the many beauty tools and devices I’ve tested out over the years, Vanity Planet’s Aira Ionic Facial Steamer is one of the select few that’s earned a permanent spot in my beauty routine. It’s helped majorly with my blackheads and has left me with a healthy glow—a rarity during the wintertime. And because it’s so relaxing to use, I like to treat it as my bi-weekly meditation.
- Product Name Aira Ionic Facial Steamer
- Product Brand Vanity Planet
- UPC 812485027256
- Price $96
- Weight 2.2 lbs.
- Included Aira Facial Steamer device, three essential oil baskets, Vanity Planet branded headwrap
- Material Plastic
- Warranty One-year warranty on registered devices