When you want clear, glowing skin, keeping your pores clean is an absolutely necessity. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy for dirt, oil and makeup to form stubborn clogs that can lead to acne, blackheads or just uneven texture. A steam facial can help open up your pores, so they release the debris that’s clogging them and allow treatment products to penetrate your skin more easily. Using a facial steamer is fairly easy, but follow instructions to avoid burns or other irritations.

Prep Your Skin

For the steam to really deep clean your pores, prepare your skin before you use your facial steamer. Wash your face with a mild cleanser to remove dirt, makeup or oil from the surface of your skin. Afterward, exfoliate with a gentle face scrub to get rid of dead skin cells that can clog your pores. Choose a scrub with round beads; they don’t have the rough, jagged edges that other grains have, so they’re less likely to tear your skin.

Fill It Up

The instructions for filling a steamer vary based on the brand and model, so read the owner’s manual carefully. At-home facial steamers usually have a chamber just below the cone where you place your face. Remove the cap to the chamber and fill it with approximately 2 cups of distilled or purified water. After the steamer is full, plug it into an outlet and turn it on. It may take a few minutes for the steamer to emit steam, so be patient.

Break a Sweat

Once your steamer is giving off steam, set your face inside the cone attachment above the base and allow it to penetrate your pores. To avoid burning your skin or causing swelling, keep your face 5 to 10 inches away from the steam. Start with a two-minute session, then take a break for a minute or so afterward to see how your skin is reacting. If your skin isn’t irritated, do as many as five two-minute sessions, but take a break between sessions to give your skin time to recover. f you’re used to facial steaming, increase the length of the steaming sessions depending on how your skin tolerates the steam.

Maximize Benefits

When you’ve finished your steaming session, turn off the steamer and use a clean towel to wipe your face and clean away any loose dirt from your pores. To complete your facial treatment, apply a facial mask for your skin type. Because the steam has opened your pores, the mask can really penetrate the skin. Follow the instructions for washing off the mask and follow up with your usual moisturizer. Or skip the mask and go straight to your moisturizer. Just be sure to apply a few splashes of cool water to your face to close your pores before moisturizing.

Be Safe

Take breaks often to see how your skin is reacting during a steaming session. If you have rosacea, dermatitis, severe acne or other skin conditions, consult your dermatologist before using a facial steamer. Remember to wash your steamer thoroughly after each use, so harmful bacteria doesn’t grow inside the chamber.