An herbal facial steam treats all skin types by opening the pores, allowing the herbs’ special properties to treat oily, dry or mature skin. Many of the recommended herbs treat more than one type of skin, so this is ideal for people with combination skin. Simmer a generous handful of fresh herbs or two tbsp. dried herbs in a large pot of water for about three minutes. Remove the pot from the stove, and use a towel to cover your head and the pot, keeping your face at least eight inches from the water.
Oily skin normally results in overactive oil gland production, common in teens and some adults. Facial steams for oily skin typically include herbs credited with addressing excess oil production as well as soothing inflamed or acne-ridden skin. Consider using a facial steam at least once a week to slow oil production and unclog pores.
The book "Herbs for Health and Healing" recommends equal parts chamomile, lemongrass, lavender and rosemary. Add eucalyptus leaves if you specifically want to address acne. Herbalist Jeanne Rose recommends adding witch hazel leaves, rose petals and licorice herbs to her suggested list. Licorice herbs, which include anise seed, fennel or licorice root, help rid the skin of impurities. Also consider strawberry, raspberry or blackberry leaves, and sage leaves.
For a premixed herbal mix for oily skin, "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies II" includes the recommendation of dermatologist Karen E. Burke to use two tbsp. of herbal laxative for a facial steam. The herbal formula, sold in health food stores, contains senna leaves, licorice root, fennel, fruit leaves, lemon verbena and juniper berries, among other herbs.
If you have dry skin, an herbal facial steam may help stimulate oil production while increasing circulation and removing impurities. To prevent over-drying, don’t steam your face for more than five minutes, and use the treatment no more than once a week. People suffering from dry skin typically have under-active oil production, according to “Herbs for Health and Healing.” Ideal herbs to address this issue include equal parts fennel seeds, rosemary leaves and rose petals, with a lesser amount of peppermint leaves. Rose additionally recommends chamomile, comfrey root and comfrey leaves. In her book “The Green Witch Herbal,” herbalist Barbara Griggs suggests borage flowers or comfrey flowers for herbal facials to treat dry skin.
Many of the herbs used for the dry skin herbal facial work well for mature skin because the related issue involves the under-production of sebum, which slows as we age. Do not use a facial steam for more than five minutes or more often than once a week. To specifically treat aging and wrinkled complexions, Rose recommends dandelion root, comfrey root or leaf, cowslip petals, chamomile, licorice root and orange blossom flowers. Rose also suggests squeezing and applying the contents of a vitamin E and vitamin A capsule around the eyes and on wrinkled areas of the face and neck before steaming. Other herbs for facial steams include marshmallow root, comfrey, rose petals and lavender for their regenerative properties.