Susette has a lifelong interest and practice with good physical and mental health, including the environment that sustains us all.
The nature of gift-giving is that you're buying something to enhance the life of your loved one, and it's something you know they want. Unfortunately, appliances of all kinds are notorious for giving double (often unwelcome) messages, so if what you're giving is an appliance, how you present it is critical to its acceptance.
Such was the case one year when my father helpfully (he thought) bought my mother a vacuum cleaner for Valentine's Day. She, seeing it as work and not at all romantic, flew into a rage. The following year, he made amends by writing and singing her a love song. Although he was a great musician and it was a sweet song, that was before the time of CDs, so the song was a one-time thing—also a no-go (though better than a vacuum cleaner). "She likes jewelry, Dad," I wanted to tell him, but I was only ten then.
A facial steamer is an appliance that can be both helpful and welcome. Whether it's accepted or not will depend on the circumstances, the rest of your offer, the type of steamer you give, and how you go about giving it. Doctoring it up with a giant red heart and bow isn't enough. If the face of your loved one is covered with zits or blackheads, they could easily construe this type of gift as an insult, unless they've specifically asked for one.
How to Tell When a Facial Steamer Would Be a Good Gift
If your loved one has been asking for a facial steamer or indicating in some other way that they want one, that is a good time to buy them one. Here are typical situations where you can expect that a steamer would be a good gift:
- When they (or you, if it's for you) have had a spa treatment and loved it, but can rarely afford it;
- When they've been complaining about zits, blackheads, wrinkles, dry or mottled skin;
- When a face masque isn't enough, but they don't know what else to do;
- When they've been steaming their face over water heated in a pan over the stove, but it's really too much work;
- When a friend got one that worked wonders for them;
- When a dermatologist or other specialist recommended one.
Once you've recognized the desire and have decided to buy one, the next step is to inform yourself of what a steamer is and how it works, then figure out how to present it to your loved one to soften the reality that the gift is an appliance.
How Steaming the Face Became Important
In the old days, when merchants traveled from country to country in caravans, and physical beauty became of critical importance in society, some traveler noticed that skin tone in moist, warm places stayed soft and smooth much longer than it did in dry places. Women living in the tropics were more beautiful than women living in the desert. People looked younger longer.
From that recognition evolved the practice of facial steaming as an imitation of nature—an attempt to recreate tropical or hot springs conditions for the face in whichever climate a person lives.
These days, one doesn't have to rely on tropical vacations, hot springs, or professional spas to have clear skin. Humans have developed mechanized methods of face steaming at home—equipment that makes steaming easier and is mobile. You can give yourself or your loved one a facial steam bath right in your own home, in an atmosphere you create, any time you want to.
What is a Facial Steamer?
A portable facial steamer is a machine that generates steam for the face (like a natural hot springs) and that can be moved easily to different locations in the house. It contains a reservoir for water and a bowl over which to put your face for complete steam coverage, and a wand to direct steam to specific parts of your face.
Good machines also have a container that adds essential oils to the steam to enhance desired benefits, e.g. rosemary to stimulate, eucalyptus for antibacterial action (see below). Face steamers can be powered by electricity or batteries.
The original home steam facial, still used today, was simply leaning over a pot of boiling water with face covered by a towel. With the addition of herbs or essential oils, the steam takes on additional effectiveness. If you like, a sexy CD and cuddly clothes can enhance the experience.
The results after treatment are a tight, tingly, healthy face, and good smells in your hair and the air—plus a little tingle in your brain, if you follow the treatment with wine.
Benefits to Using a Facial Steamer
How does steam help the face to stay healthy? Ask Cleopatra or any of the ancient queens known for their beauty. Heat softens the skin and opens the pores. The steam encourages them to sweat, which washes out toxins.
Heat also stimulates blood flow, so cells are cleaned out and fed more thoroughly. Steam makes it easier to breathe deeply, since the bronchial tubes and lungs have to stay moist to operate well. And the combination of heat and steam relaxes the muscles, which lets nutrients flow in and out of tissues more easily and evenly.
Here are the specific effects and benefits of facial steaming:
- Clean cells—heals acne and cleans out blackheads;
- Stimulated blood flow—evens out coloring, creates healthy cells and softer skin;
- Deep breathing—enhances alertness and communication between nerves, brightens eyes;
- Relaxed muscles—reduces wrinkles, softens facial expressions.
How to Use a Face Steam Machine
If you or your loved one has never used a steamer before, it can help (and be pretty fun) for you to go through the process with them the first time. There are several very easy steps to take, starting with gathering equipment and supplies. Here are the supplies needed—in addition to the steamer itself—some of which could also be secondary gifts:
- Two or three towels
- Distilled or filtered water
- A bowl of water with ice
- Hair fastener and/or shower cap
- Essential oils of choice
- Toner and cotton pads
The video below shows the actual process of treatment with a Conair facial steamer, but I prefer the BG facial steamer. I like using herbal oils (different from this video) and my steamer has a special container that keeps the oil separate from the water.
How to Use a Home Facial Steamer
Here are the basic steps in writing. Keep in mind that showing her/him how to use the steamer can be a great secondary gift:
- Fill the face steamer's reservoir with distilled water. Add essential oils to the proper container.
- Pull hair back and fasten out of the way, and/or put on a shower cap. They should wash their face to get rid of any makeup or old oils. Put one towel over their shoulders to capture any sweat.
- Turn the steamer on and have them bend over the facial bowl, covering their head and the bowl with another towel. They will bathe their face for 10-15 minutes (no longer), eyes closed, 8-12" away from the facial bowl. They'll want to steam, not burn their face. When finished, pat the face dry with a towel.
- This is a good time to apply a facial masque. Whether they (or you) do or not, the next step is for them to splash their face with icy water to close the pores. Pat dry. Apply toner with pads, then moisturizer.
Caution: They should only steam their face once a week. Studies have shown no benefit to steaming more often than that. Same with the length of steaming time - no longer than 15 minutes is necessary.
Also realize that it doesn't make sense for them to steam their face once a week, then eat crap that just fills it up with cruddy oils and creates infections all over again. Instead, they should eat lots of fresh, raw vegetables and rough grains, like wheat or oat bread with seeds in it. And drink plenty of fresh, clean water (though not when they're eating).
Essential Oils to Use for the Skin
Essential oils make great secondary gifts. Oils will not only increase effectiveness, but also infuse the air and the hair with scents that last. The essential oil/s you buy will depend on the type of skin that's being treated, and what's going on with it.
Many people who give themselves facials have acne or blackheads. For these conditions, antiseptic oils are great to use in a steamer. Such oils are: Eucalyptus, clove, thyme, wintergreen, chamomile, or tea tree.
If you're treating dry skin use: Chamomile, vitamin E, comfrey, lavender, almond, or marshmallow root oil.
If you're treating oily skin use: Rosemary, lavender, basil, orange, licorice, rose, or lemongrass oil.
"Normal" skin types can use any or a combination of these herbs, rotating according to need or desire. Also check the toner and moisturizer. If they contain herbs, you might want to use an essential oil from a different skin type for balance.
Helping Your Loved One
How to Present a Facial Steamer as a Gift
As for presentation, it's always a good idea to refer to a loved one's own desire for a steamer in some way, and then to give an accompanying gift that enhances the steamer's benefits. You can get ideas from each of the sections above and below, but here are some to start with:
- Add a sweet card that shows your goodwill for the recipient and tells them where you got the idea from: "You've often told me how much you love clear skin and how you wish yours looked better, so when I saw this I thought of you."
"I wish I could buy you a million sessions at a spa, but I can't afford it. However, I can afford this. Think of me when you use it."
"I want to be part of your beautification project. May I offer this and a face massage to go with it?"
- Add a supplemental gift that adds romance to the process—like beeswax candles, soft music CDs, herbs that smell good, or special creams to use afterward.
- Offer a massage or dinner out or prepare a beauty bath for the first few times your loved one uses it.
- Do a treatment with them the first time, showing them how to use the steamer.
- Give them a book about beautification. Look up "facial steamer, actor (or actress)" and see what comes up. You may find a book about someone famous who has been helped by using a steamer.
- Include pretty hair clips or other items they can use to pull back their hair, or a specific brand of makeup they've always wanted to use, once their face has cleared up.
Needless to say, don't give them anything that would make the complexion worse—like chocolate, ice cream, cake, a six-pack of Pepsi, or any food they're allergic to.
Justifying the Cost of a Steamer
Surprisingly enough, a facial steamer really does not cost that much, especially when you compare it to the cost of spas. A good professional steamer can cost up to $3,000, but a decent home facial steamer is much less than that—anywhere from $20–60 on Amazon.com. That doesn't include whatever you buy as a secondary gift, and doesn't include any other types of treatments, but you can use it over and over again, which is a huge benefit.
As a comparison, most professional facials cost $50–150 per session. Steaming is only a small part of the treatment, if used at all. Most professional treatments include cleansing of some sort, a massage, a facial masque, and some sort of extraction process for deep-seated blackheads, etc., all of which one can do at home as part of a cleansing routine.
The end result of a professional treatment or a consistently applied home treatment is a beautiful, clear skin that will increase the attractiveness and confidence of your loved one.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on December 18, 2012:
That reminds me. I forgot to steam this week. I've promised myself to make it a weekly habit and see how well it counteracts smog (lol).
Kim Lam from California on December 18, 2012:
Hello from another Californian. I've heard about facial cleaners but never tried one before. Do they have a full body steamer too? Oh wait...that's what saunas are for. :-) Great hub, very thoroughly written...thank you for sharing!
Om Paramapoonya on December 02, 2012:
It's so true that living in a moist climate is better for our skin. I have experienced it firsthand. Back when I lived in Thailand, I hardly took care of my skin, and yet it was perfectly fine. Now living in the dry California climate, I routinely use a high-quality moisturizer and sometimes essential oils, but my skin still seems to get dry so easily. Plus, I get acne once in a while. Hmmm maybe I should give a facial steamer a try!
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on November 30, 2012:
From one extreme to the other, huh Leah? ;) I didn't realize how beneficial steam could be until I tried it recently. Hearing that your mother's skin was stunning is a strong validation, Krsharpo5. For the four of us, it seems like this practice is well worth taking up.
Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on November 30, 2012:
It seems like I'm cold and dry all of the time. Even the idea of steam sounds wonderful. I remember when we were young, my mother would steam her face and her skin was stunning. I should definitely give it a try. Lavender seems to be my favorite essential oil and I'm going to find the marshmallow oil. Sounds yummy! Thanks for the idea! My dry skin will be on the mend! -K
carol stanley from Arizona on November 30, 2012:
Living in dry climate I really wanted to read this hub. Lots of good and simple ideas here and worth saving in my ever growing bookmark folder.
Leah Lefler from Western New York on November 30, 2012:
I grew up in California and the dry air could definitely wreak havoc on your skin! Now I live in the Great and Frozen North and the winters are absolutely desiccating. Maybe a facial steamer is the way to go!