If you’re able to indulge in professional facials — lucky you! That means you’re familiar with the idea of steaming. Aside from helping to clean your pores, steaming is a soothing self-care practice that leaves your skin glowing and is especially helpful during cold, dry winter months.
You don’t have to make a pricey trip to the spa to reap the benefits of steaming; you can do it very simply and inexpensively at home with just a fluffy bath towel and a heat-safe bowl for equipment. All you need for supplies are some dried herbs and essential oils, if you want the full effect. Today I’m going to share a few DIY recipes and directions. But first, let’s explore the full benefits of facial steaming:
The Benefits of Facial Steaming
- It warms up your skin — making it more receptive to other products and treatments like masks and serums.
- It enhances circulation, leaving you with glowing skin.
- Steam opens up your pores and helps loosen up any dirt for a deeper cleanse.
- It releases trapped sebum — which is naturally produced by your sebaceous glands but can end up causing acne and blackheads.
- It helps with sinus congestion. Choosing certain herbs or essential oils can enhance this effect.
- It’s relaxing. Warm steam on your face is soothing, promotes deep breathing and when combined with aromatherapy, can lead to feelings of calm and well-being.
- It’s affordable and easy to do. You only need a few supplies and about 15 minutes.
Are you ready to create an at-home facial steam and save a few dollars on the spa treatment? The first recipe requires a bit of advance planning to gather the ingredients — but the other two options below use simple grocery store finds and are just as effective.
Make a DIY Lemon Eucalyptus Facial Steam
I created this recipe with bulk herbs ordered online from Mountain Rose Herbs. I love their products because they’re committed to sustainable sourcing and they’re transparent about their growing and harvesting practices — all a big plus in my book! You might be able to find these herbs at a local herb store — which would reduce your carbon footprint for this project.
As with all facial steams, the recipe is very flexible. Feel free to omit an herb if you can’t find it or to substitute with one available to you. There isn’t a wrong way to create a facial steam, since most of the benefit to your skin is from the actual steam and the herbs are primarily for aromatherapy.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
Dried Lemon Balm — It has been used for thousands of years, some say to heal a broken heart or to attract love. Lemon Balm is a “nervine herb,” which means it has a calming effect for most people.
Dried Eucalyptus — Comes from an evergreen tree native to Australia, but naturalized to California and the Mediterranean. It helps to clear our sinuses and let’s us breathe easier.
Dried White Sage — Native Americans have used this for centuries and some cultures burn it in a practice called “smudging.” Smudging is said to clear a space of spiritual impurities, release negative energy and reduce anxiety.
Dried Rose Buds or Petals (optional) — I added this for a bit of color and light rose scent.
Lemon Essential Oil (optional) — This oil is cold-pressed extracted from lemon peels and is uplifting and revitalizing.
2 TBSP. Dried Lemon Balm
2 TBSP. Dried White Sage
3 to 4 tsp. Dried Eucalyptus Leaves
1 tsp. dried rose petals, optional
2 to 3 Drops Lemon Essential Oil, optional
1 to 2 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil, optional
Gently mix all the herbs together and then add any essential oils. I added the oils to the sage stems. This recipe should make enough for about 2-3 steaming sessions. Store any unused herbal mix in a sealed jar in a dry location.
- Bring 4 to 5 cups water to near boiling. Transfer it to a heat-safe bowl set down in a comfortable spot. (A kitchen or dining room table is good. To save on dishes, I sometimes use the saucepan I boiled the water in, being sure to set it down on a hot pad to protect the table.)
- Add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the herbal mix to the hot water; cover with a plate and let it steep for about 5 minutes.
- Start with freshly cleansed skin and grab a big fluffy towel. Secure your hair so it’s away from your face.
- Drape the towel over your head and shoulders and lean over the bowl or saucepan. Inhale/ exhale the herbal aroma and feel the steam on your face. Be careful not to get too close to the steam as it can burn. If you start to get too hot, lift your head away from the bowl for a minute or two.
- Continue for about 10 minutes or until the steam has dissipated.
- Follow up immediately with a serum or moisturizer, if you wish. The receptive opening of your pores to any treatment doesn’t last too long after steaming — so that’s why you’ll want to do this right away.
And that’s it — a mini-spa at home! Now I haven’t tried this next idea yet, but I think it would be great to pair a steaming session with a one-minute or five-minute meditation from one of those meditation apps (Insight Timer is one option.] Let me know how it goes if you decide to give this a try.
Two Simple Steaming Recipes Using Grocery Store Ingredients
Aside from the fancy dried herb recipe above, you can create a DIY steam from simple ingredients found at your local grocery store. Here are just two ideas:
1. Relaxing Steam
Chamomile Lemon Tea — Use two teabags of Chamomile Lemon tea (or any tea blend with lemon) and two teaspoons grated lemon peels, adding a sprig of eucalyptus leaves, if you have them. Three to four drops of lemon essential oil or eucalyptus oil would be awesome, too.
Benefits of Chamomile: This herb is widely recognized as relaxing to mind and body.
2. Invigorating Steam
Rosemary and Mint — Add about 2 TBSP. dried rosemary; 3 or 4 mint leaves (fresh or dried) or a peppermint tea bag. If you have essential oils, you can use 2-3 drops of rosemary, spearmint or peppermint (choose just one).
Benefits of Rosemary: The steam-distilled oil of the rosemary plant is thought to improve alertness, concentration and memory.
CAUTIONS: Note that rosemary essential oil in high amounts is not recommended for those who are pregnant and eucalyptus oil should be avoided if you have high blood pressure.
I’d love to hear in the comments if you give any of these facial steam recipes a try! How long did you notice the glow?
Think Piece: What Does Self-Care Really Look Like?
Making time for facial steaming easily falls into the category of self-care. But if you’re a busy mom of littles, you might need to re-think the whole concept of self-care. Are you really counting going to the bathroom by yourself self-care? How about a solo trip to Target to buy socks and underwear for the family? Meredith Ethington debunks some of these ideas and takes a hard look at true self-care in I’m Tired of Basic Human Needs Being Seen as Self-Care for Women. It’s well worth the read!