What Can I Add To My Facial Steam? Herbs, Essential Oils and More To Revive Your Skin

what can i add to my facial steam herbal blend

So, you want to take your facial steam sessions to the next level and you’re wondering “what can I add to my facial steam?” Well this article has got you covered!

In general, you can put herbs, essential oils and fruit peels in facial steaming water. However, it’s important to note that these ingredients can only be used in DIY steamers. They can’t be used in commercial steamers because they could end up damaging the machine.

So, if you’re using using your own DIY steamer – basically a heat-safe bowl filled with hot water – then this article is for you.

Now, without further delay, let’s have a look at some of the things you can add to your water for facial steaming.

HerbsHibiscus, basil, elderflower, calendula, chamomile, lavender, comfrey, peppermint, rose, violet leaf, rosemary
Essential OilsRoman chamomile, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Rose, Sage, Sweet Orange, Tea Tree
Fruit PeelsLemon, orange, grapefruit, clementines
Table of Herbs, Essential Oils and Fruit Peels To Use For Face Steaming


herbs that are good for face steaming showing calendula

Herbs contain volatile oils that get released when they’re steeped in hot water. Those volatile oils have therapeutic benefits and they’re the main reason why herbal steaming is said to be beneficial for the skin. The list below contains some basic herbs that are great for anyone who’s getting started with herbal face steaming.

NOTE: Fresh herbs are best because they contain more volatile oils. However, if you can’t find any, dried herbs will do!

1. Hibiscus

  • Rich in antioxidants and alpha hydroxy acids. 
  • Contains mucilage, which is moisturizing to the skin.
  • Regulates oiliness.
  • Helpful for sensitive skin.


2. Basil

  • Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.
  • Enhances skin moisture and soothes dry/rough skin.


3. Elderflower

  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Rich in antioxidants.
  • Promotes circulation.
  • Mild astringent, which is helpful for reducing pores.


4. Calendula

  • Cools and moistens the skin.
  • Beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.
  • Classified by herbalists as a vulnerary i.e. speeds up wound healing.
  • Antimicrobial and antifungal


5. Chamomile

  • Rich in antioxidants.
  • Soothes inflammation, as well as the side effects of free radical damage.
  • Helpful for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

6. Lavender

  • Reduces swelling and redness caused by acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Anti-microbial and inhibits p. Acnes, which is the bacterium that contributes to acne.
  • Suitable for all skin types, but particularly helpful for dry, sensitive, inflamed and mature skin.


7. Comfrey

  • Relieves pain and inflammation.
  • Promotes skin renewal or cell turnover.
  • Balances oily skin.
  • Improves fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Suitable for all skin types, but particularly soothing for dry, sensitive, inflamed and mature skin.

(sources: 1, 2)

8. Peppermint

  • Antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
  • Soothes acne-related redness as well as itching (from bug bites, for example).
  • Great for all skin types, but particularly helpful for balancing oily and acne-prone skin.


9. Rose Petals & Buds

  • Helps the skin to retain moisture.
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
  • Suitable for all skin types, but particularly soothing for dry, sensitive, inflamed and mature skin.


10. Violet Leaf

  • Naturally cleansing
  • Natural source of salicylic acid
  • Contains mucilage which hydrates the skin.
  • Considered beneficial for oily skin as well as sensitive skin.


11. Rosemary

  • Natural astringent.
  • Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.
  • Rich in antioxidants. 
  • Promotes circulation.
  • Great for oily and acne prone skin


essential oils for facial steaming showing rose oil

If you want to fully incorporate aromatherapy into your face steaming, then essential oils are a must-have. They’re a concentrated source of the aromatic oils that are naturally found in herbs.

Most of the oils listed below are suitable for all skin types. However, I’ve noted the cases in which they can be particularly beneficial for specific types.

  • Roman Chamomile Oil: all skin types, especially dry skin.
  • Cypress Oil: suitable for oily skin.
  • Eucalyptus Oil: all skin types.
  • Frankincense Oil: all skin types, especially dry skin.
  • Geranium Oil: all skin types, especially dry, sensitive and mature skin.
  • Lavender Oil: all skin types, especially dry, sensitive skin.
  • Lemon Oil: suitable for oily and acne prone skin.
  • Peppermint Oil: suitable for oily and acne prone skin.
  • Rose Oil: all skin types.
  • Sage Oil: all skin types.
  • Sweet Orange Oil: all skin types.
  • Tea Tree Oil: ideal for oily and acne prone skin.


fruit peels to use for face steaming showing fresh orange peel

In general, citrus peels add a clean and invigorating aroma to a facial steaming session. Even though orange and lemon peels are the most commonly used, you can also experiment with:

  • lime.
  • grapefruit.
  • clementines.
  • tangerines.

Just as with herbs, fresh peels are better (although you can substitute for dried peels).

Another advantage of using these peels is that they’re great for all skin types. This allows you to mix and match them based on what you have on hand or based on your mood.


Because green tea is known for its high antioxidant content and other healing properties, some people incorporate it into their face steaming blends.

However, it’s unclear how much of green tea’s therapeutic benefits actually end up in the steam (if any).


In general, the following ratios work well when making an herbal face steam blend:

  • 1 cup of herbs
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 2 or 3 drops essential oils

Some blends that you can try are:

  • Rosemary, peppermint, lavender with some eucalyptus oil.
  • Calendula, lavender and comfrey with some geranium or rose oil.
  • Peppermint and rosemary with some tea tree oil.

For detailed steps on how to steam your face at home as well as how to incorporate it into your skincare routine, please read this article on what to do before and after steaming your face.


Can I apply honey after steaming my face?

Raw honey is very nourishing and helps to draw moisture to the skin. As a result, a plain honey mask is an excellent way to re-nourish the skin and restore some of the moisture that is lost during steaming. In addition, since steaming makes the skin more receptive to anything that is applied to it, you will absorb more of the nutrients in honey.

Can I apply rose water after steaming?

Rose water is a gentle, natural toner that can be used after steaming to balance the skin’s pH. Other natural toners to consider are cornflower hydrosol, chamomile hydrosol and peppermint hydrosol.

Do I wash my face after steaming?

It’s best to wash your face before steaming because this eliminates surface dirt. Since steaming actually makes your skin more receptive to whatever you apply on it, you don’t want to make it easy for dirt to enter your pores.

Can I apply aloe vera after steaming?

Steaming can dehydrate the skin a little, so it’s good to replenish that lost moisture with something with a high water content. Given that aloe vera gel is about 99% water, it’s perfect to use after steaming.


Steaming your face with natural ingredients like herbs and essential oils is a fun and easy way to pamper your skin. Not to mention it’s an opportunity to take time out for yourself and enjoy some much-needed self care!

That said, do keep in mind that while the practice of facial steaming has been around for centuries, there’s no modern research around it. So, it’s not entirely clear whether the therapeutic benefits of herbs or essential oils are transported in steam.

So, use these add-ins as a bonus. But if you don’t have them, don’t stress. Simply using plain water will give your skin all of the benefits of steaming.

what can i add to my facial steam - pin image showing herbs and essential oils

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