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This winter, my body has been calling for extra restoration. Herbal steams are one of my favorite remedies for congested skin, sinuses, or just a stagnant winter feeling. By infusing herbs in boiling water, a steam releases  the herbs’ nutrient-rich volatile oils. Herbal steams have two primary benefits:


BENEFITS / HERBS

Skincare

The heat of the steam opens up pores, melts sebum and blackheads, and releases volatile oils. For skincare-focused steams, I recommend herbs with circulatory, antimicrobial, and brightening properties:

  • Green tea - tone and tighten
  • Calendula - gentle, all skin types, soothe and nourish
  • Lavender - calm and relax, treat acne
  • Rose - calm and relax, treat acne
  • Licorice - brighten
  • Rosemary - boost circulation
  • Yarrow - heal, stop bleeding, heal infection, treat acne
  • Chamomile - calm, relax, gentle, all skin types
  • Marshmallow - soothing demulcent, calming

Immune, lymph, and respiratory systems

Breathing in the herbs’ volatile oils opens your respiratory system, clears mucus, and brings the benefits of these potent oils into your bloodstream. It’s an especially good remedy during cold and allergy seasons. For these steams, I recommend herbs that calm, soothe, and promote immunity:

  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Yarrow
  • Elderflower

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with a clean face, cleansing & wiping off any makeup or products.
  2. Fill 11”x7” pot (you want a large pot for this!) with 6.5 cups water or a one inch layer of water in pot. Put on high heat, bring to just under a boil, turn heat off.
  3. Add your herbal mixture and let steep for 10 minutes covered. For proportions use one tablespoon of herbs to every cup of water (so for my recipe, I use 6-7 tablespoons of herbs per pot). Use the benefits guide above to choose herb(s) that fit your needs.
  4. Bring covered pot to an area where you can comfortably sit or stand, and place the hot pot on a heat-proof surface (such as a towel or cutting board). Drape a large towel over your entire head, torso, and pot--tenting yourself. Uncover pot and steam for 2-5 min, breathing deeply and staying tented so no steam escapes. After the steam, your skin will be flushed, pores and sinuses will be wide open.

 

Pro tips:

Right after a steam is a great time to follow with your favorite face mask–open pores will allow your mask to work deeper. You can also use the leftover herbal steam water from the pot to make an herbal bath. For the bath, just pour the pot through a strainer, cheesecloth, or muslin sack or pour the mixture right in and strain after. Your skin will absorb the benefits of the herbal infusion.