Recently, a Charlotte’s Book reader submitted an #askcharlotte question about steaming—for a professional perspective, we reached out to Allison Tray of Tres Belle Spa, who cleared things up for us.
Q—Charlotte’s Book Reader:
I’d love to know the truth about steaming: I’ve heard that it can open pores and release toxins, but I’ve also heard that it can cause problems. What’s the deal?
A—Allison Tray, founder of Tres Belle Spa in Brooklyn & Charlotte’s Book Expert:
I’ve heard a lot of questions lately regarding the use of steam on the face, and whether it’s a good or a bad thing. The steaming “law” used to be that it was good for all skin types, but recently, the industry has begun to back away from a “one size fits all” approach. For the most part, steam is still used in most facials and is beneficial in many ways—let’s unclog the misconceptions around steam.
Most skin types benefit from steaming. Steam relaxes the face muscles, opens up the pores, releases toxins, stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, and allows for deep penetration of products. For very oily skin, it’s extremely beneficial in softening the comedones (black heads), preparing them for easy extraction. It also oxygenates and purifies the skin. When post-steam pores are open, the skin is more receptive to nutritional serums and creams.
This theory also works for dry skin: when the pores are under steam, they can absorb beneficial nutrients for hydration and balancing. When massage to the face is used with steam, circulation increases, encouraging collagen and elastin fibers to plump fine lines and give the face a youthful lift.
However, there are certainly times when steam should be used with caution. When addressing the use of steam for those with sensitive skin, the key here is mindfulness—the steamer should not be positioned close to the face. The steam should be applied for half the usual time, and the temperature should be lowered. Sensitive skin, especially skin with rosacea, is susceptible to broken capillaries and should be treated with kid gloves (minimal steam). If you’re worried about sensitive skin, a good alternative to keep pores clean is a warm cloth to the face for just 2 minutes or so. Those who tend to experience redness may get enough steam for their skin type just from a hot bath or shower.
If you’re like me and can’t get enough, be consistent with your facials, enjoy the steam room after a hard workout, and find any excuse to take a steamy bath.
Image: Anne Lubner Designs
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