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Facials: Should I Steam My Face Before or After Cleansing?

Facials are among the most commonly sought after cosmetic dermatology procedures. Despite the various types of facial procedures and products available, every facial is designed to thoroughly cleanse and rejuvenate one’s skin. Basic facials consist of four basic steps: cleansing, exfoliating, massaging, and rejuvenating via a vitamin-rich mask. Of course, many steps can be taken in between these four pillars. Steam is incorporated in many professional facials, though its placement in the order of operations isn’t always agreed upon or consistent. The main question surrounding steaming is whether it should occur before or after cleansing. Let’s discuss the proper purpose and placement of steaming when it comes to facials.

Steaming for Facials

What Can Steam Do for Your Skin?

Steam has been used for human rituals and hygiene for thousands of years, and it remains an integral part of skin care. The warm vapor soothes and softens the skin, opening up its pores. As a result, blackheads become easier to extract, the skin becomes more hydrated, circulation improves, and the skin becomes more receptive to products that heal, moisturize, and fight acne. It’s no wonder, then, that cosmetic dermatologists and estheticians often incorporate steaming methods in their efforts to restore your skin’s health and beauty. That said, enjoying the many benefits of steaming your face requires the proper methodology and duration. Exposing your skin to high temperatures for too long can result in irritation, redness, and broken capillaries. With this in mind, steaming isn’t typically recommended for those with highly sensitive skin. For everyone else, steaming is often performed for about 10 minutes at a time – in between, the skin should be checked before continuing or stopping further steaming.

Cleansing and Steaming: Which Comes First?

It’s no secret that steaming can work wonders for your skin. Still, the question remains: do you cleanse before or after steaming your face? You might get a slightly different answer to this question depending on who you ask. Some people, for instance, swear by steaming before cleansing so the skin is nice and soft, allowing cleansers to work more efficiently. Conversely, others will always recommend cleansing first so the steaming process is more effective. In other words, this question is sort of like the famous “chicken vs. egg” question. Still, you will find that a majority of professionals opt for cleansing before steaming. Indeed, cleansing the skin is typically the first step in any facial process, as we’ll discuss below.

The Facial Process, Step by Step

As mentioned earlier, there’s no one method for providing an effective facial. There is, however, a basic order of operations that most skin care professionals follow when providing a facial to their clients. The general protocol is as follows:

1. Cleanse the skin (or pre-cleanse in some cases)

2. Steam the skin (this sometimes takes place simultaneously with cleansing)

3. Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells (this can take place before or after steaming)

4. Extract dirt and oil from the pores (e.g., blackheads)

5. Massage the skin to relax it and increase blood flow

6. Apply a mask to enrich the skin with vitamins and other ingredients that promote skin health

7. Moisturize the skin to lock in hydration

Again, these steps don’t always occur in this exact order. Generally speaking, however, steaming should take place after the skin has been thoroughly cleansed. At Premier Dermatology Partners, we offer a range of facials differing in duration, products, and order of operations. We can help you find the best facial procedure for your skin type. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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