Written by Jacqueline Gabardy L.Ac., acupuncturist, herbalist, and holistic fertility coach at Sweet Beet Acupuncture. Jacqueline specializes in women's reproductive health and it's her life's work to bring effective, holistic options to her patients so they can lead happier, healthier lives.
Herbs aren’t just for making tea. Especially when treating the skin, there are lots of botanical substances that are used topically to bring their healing compounds right to the surface where they’re needed.
Facial steams are one of my favorite ways to keep my skin clear and my sinuses healthy, and one of the benefits of using herbs is they are totally customizable depending on what you’re in need of.
For dry, red or sensitive skin use 1/4th cup equal parts chamomile, chrysanthemum, lavender, rose, and marshmallow leaf.
For an oily complexion use 1/4th cup equal parts fennel seed, lemon verbena, or orange peel.
For combination skin (or if your skin isn’t particularly sensitive), use a mix of herbs from both categories.
For added sinus clearing benefits add in 1 tbsp each of eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary. Of course, avoid using any substance in a steam that you are allergic to.
- 2 towels
- a ceramic bowl
- dried herbs - make sure to use good quality, organic herbs (I use Mountain Rose Herbs)
- 1 cup boiling water
Clean your face prior to starting your steam.
Put the herbs in the bowl and place it on top of one of the towels. Position this somewhere it will be comfortable for you to sit with your face over the bowl for 5-10 minutes, such as a table with a chair.
Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the herbs in the bowl. With your hand, feel the temperature of the steam coming out of the bowl about 8 inches above before you place your face over it. This may take a minute or so to cool down, depending on how hot your water is. When the steam is comfortable, drape the second towel over your head and allow the herbal steam to immerse your face.
Steam your face for about 5-10 minutes total, taking a break to breathe in some fresh air every minute, or as often as you need. Try to take some deep breaths of the steam through your nose. If you are prone to nasal congestion, this may loosen up some phlegm, keep some tissues nearby if needed.
Post steam skin care
Once you’re done steaming, dab your face dry, then finish with a toner to close your pores and a facial serum or cream to seal in the moisture.
My favorite toner and facial serum are both from Snow Lotus, which are rose hydrosol and a jojoba-based blend with essential oils, respectively. The serum that suits you best will also depend on your skin type, they have blends for dry, oily, mature, or sensitive complexions. I also add in Cactus Seed Oil for an extra boost of antioxidants.
If you're feeling extra indulgent you can also add in a clay mask after the facial steam and before the toner if you have extra time. It helps draw out extra impurities and oils while your pores are still open.
Dispose of the steeped herbs and their liquid when you’re done with your steam, they aren’t reusable.
I recommend doing this weekly or bi-weekly, unless your sinuses are congested, in which case you can use it daily.