about steaming revolve around the belief that it opens pores, detoxifies the skin, and eliminates toxins, oil, and debris. Let's dissect these claims and understand the reality behind them.

Pores, often termed as pilosebaceous units in dermatology, aren't like doors that open and close with temperature changes. They're channels or columns beneath the skin's surface, connected to sebaceous glands responsible for oil production. These units usually accommodate a hair, even though we might not always perceive facial skin as hairy. Each pore aligns with a sebaceous gland.

When the body heats up, whether through exercise or steam exposure, sweating occurs as a means of temperature regulation. However, contrary to common belief, sweating isn't an effective detox method. Organs like the kidneys and liver play significant roles in eliminating toxins, not sweat. Additionally, steaming stimulates sweat glands, separate from the sebaceous glands connected to pores.

Factors like genetics, hormones, and skin irritation influence sebaceous gland activity. For instance, hormonal changes in teenagers or menopausal women can trigger oil production. Irritation caused by harsh skincare products can paradoxically prompt more oil secretion.

Sweat glands are different from sebaceous glands. That’s a very important differentiation, because often times people think that you are flushing out your pores when you sweat. What is responding to heat or steam are the sweat glands. And the sweat glands are not connected to pores. 

Then the question becomes, what makes sebaceous glands pump out more oil and push all of that to the surface?

Things that increase sebaceous gland activity are genetics, some people are more prone to active sebaceous glands. Hormones can play a role in the activity of your sebaceous glands. That’s why teenagers are more prone to developing oily skin or acne prone skin. Even when some women go through menopause, because of hormonal shift, their sebaceous glands start responding by pumping out more oil and might even experience peri-menoupausal acne flares. Another thing that triggers sebaceous gland secretion is irritation. If you are introducing ingredients that are irritating your skin or if you are not respecting the skin barrier by over exfoliating or over cleansing or use to many alcohol based toners, things that are drying and stripping your skin that will irritate your sebaceous gland, paradoxically your sebaceous glands will pump more oil.

A lot of times clients who have oily skin think that if by using more aggressive scrubs or toners that make their skin feel tight or dry think that those products are drying out their skin, when in actuality it can make things worse, because that irritation can then cause their sebaceous glands to pump out even more oil.

Now, let's clarify what facial steaming actually does:

Steaming causes vasodilation, expanding blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the skin's surface. However, sudden vasodilation from steam exposure can exacerbate conditions like rosacea or increase inflammation. This sudden expansion of blood vessels can bring in fluid, white blood cells, and inflammatory elements, potentially damaging the skin barrier.

When blood vessels are vasodialated, especially in a very sudden way as you’d experience when exposing skin to steam, it can bring not only fluid through the blood vessels into the skin, but that fluid is accompanied by white blood cells and inflammatory cells and inflammatory cytokines - or these little chemical signals - that can increase and trigger inflammation.

Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is crucial for trapping moisture and keeping pollutants out. Steaming can compromise this barrier, leading to increased water loss and allowing irritants to penetrate, triggering inflammation.

Inflammation links various skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and premature aging. Consistent or prolonged steam exposure might contribute to premature aging, worsen melasma, and hyperpigmentation, particularly in individuals with reactive pigment-producing cells.

In summary, steaming the face doesn't detoxify or open pores as commonly believed. Instead, it can compromise the skin barrier and exacerbate various skin issues linked to inflammation.

Put intention into your skincare routine. Keeping your skin healthy is a lifelong responsibility. Caring for your skin is akin to caring for your body – it's an integral part of your lifestyle.

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