Sometimes even after using multiple hair care products, your mane may look dull and lifeless. Applying steam to your hair may be the best way to revive it.
There are many benefits of hair steaming such as rejuvenating and adding shine to your strands.
Here are more details on hair steaming and why you should use it to improve your hair.
What Is Hair Steaming?
Hair steaming is a hair care remedy that helps to trap moisture and absorb the goodness of essential oils and conditioners.
The process involves exposing your hair cuticle to warm steam, which opens the hair shaft, allowing easy penetration and absorption of topical hair care products. (1)(2)
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hair Steaming?
Here are the benefits and disadvantages of hair steaming.
1. Allows better product absorption
The hair is composed of three different layers. The outermost layer, the cuticle, is formed by dead cells overlapping each other in layers, which look similar to fish scales. These scales strengthen and protect the hair shaft from damage and absorb moisture.
After the steaming process, the warmth and moisture open the pores of hair follicles, allowing the hair care products to penetrate the hair strands, thus giving them a health boost. (2)
2. Reduces dandruff
Dandruff is caused by an infestation of the fungus Malassezia furfur on the scalp, which causes dryness and flaking. Steaming your hair opens its pores, providing better hydration and cleansing action.
These effects help in maintaining scalp health by getting rid of harmful microbiomes on the scalp, (3) including dandruff-causing microbiome.
3. Nourishes hair
Hair follicles are tube-like structures that produce hair growth. The cells within them are nourished or strengthened by blood from the nearby blood capillaries.
Every follicle feeds on nutrient-dense blood. If blood circulation is slow, the follicles will get damaged, resulting in hair loss.
Steaming the hair strengthens the follicles by improving the blood flow and hydrating the scalp. (3)
4. Increases hair elasticity
Hair elasticity refers to how much your hair strand can stretch before it is restored to a normal state. The moisture absorbed by your hair during steaming improves hair elasticity, which means you can create any hairstyle without any substantial fear of hair loss. (2)
5. Improves scalp health
Steaming improves hair health by dilating blood vessels, boosting nutrient-rich blood flow into the scalp, strengthening the hair follicles, preventing premature aging, and also keeping the follicles hydrated. (3) It enhances scalp health and leads to less hair fall.
6. Improves secretion of natural oils
The sebaceous glands produce natural oils, or sebum, which help keep the hair nourished. Sebum protects the hair shaft from environmental and heat damage.
The warm and humid environment created by steam enhances sebum secretion, which reduces dryness and gives your hair a natural and attractive look. (4)
7. Deep-cleans the hair
A major benefit of steaming the hair is it opens the cuticles up, releasing the trapped dirt, dust, or product buildup in them.
People with medium to highly porous hair soak up oils and creams more easily than those with other hair types. Therefore, it is highly recommended that they regularly steam their hair to release any grime that cannot be removed by regular hair washing and also restore moisture before the hair is sealed back.
1. Exposure to too much moisture
When the hair cuticle is exposed to a high amount of moisture, the balance between protein and moisture can be disturbed, causing the hair to turn soft, stringy, and greasy.
2. Exposure to too much heat
Steaming your hair has various benefits, but exposure to hot water can also damage it.
Moreover, it is not advised to oversteam your hair or use this remedy frequently, as the hair might turn limp and fragile and lose its moisture-protein balance. (5)
3. Makes hair oily
Oversteaming the hair makes the scalp oily as the sebaceous glands become overactive and release more oil, making your hair look greasy and lifeless. (6)
Let your hair cool after steaming. Cooling opens the cuticles and seals the moisture.
Note: Hair experts claim that hair steaming offers benefits and positively impacts hair growth and strength. In addition, temperature plays a vital role in the texture and behavior of your tresses.
How to Steam Your Hair
Here are a few ways to steam your hair:
1. Use a heat steamer
Most salons have a hair steamer that blows steam that detangles the hair. Normally, they have a hooded or tabletop steamer. The tabletop steamer blows more concentrated steam, which is helpful for detangling hair.
For home use, a handheld steamer is a great alternative.
2. Use a warm towel
Steaming your hair with a warm towel can bring back its natural shine. In a bowl of warm water, dip the towel and place it on your head for 10 minutes.
3. Wear a deep-conditioning cap
A deep-conditioning cap works like a heated towel. It is a better alternative if you feel restless sitting with a warm towel on your chair. Simply microwave a deep-conditioning cap and wrap it on your head.
4. Steam with a shower
Steam showers, in particular, are getting a lot of attention because unlike the sauna or steam room, these units are smaller.
To use a steam shower, all one needs to do is go to the shower room and press a button on the shower’s control panel. It will activate the shower’s steam generator, which then heats water to boiling.
If you are worried about steam dripping down your neck and find it uncomfortable or you feel like the temperature is too hot, then you can drape a towel across your shoulders.
General Queries Related to Hair Steaming
How often should I steam my hair?
If your hair is damaged and lifeless, steam your hair every 7–10 days. It will add moisture to your hair, improve its elasticity, and nourish it actively. Take note that using a hair steamer more than once a week can damage the hair shaft.
The frequency of hair steaming also depends on your hair type. If you have damaged or dull hair, steam it once a week, but if you have normal hair, steam once a month. Always remember to steam your hair for 30 minutes at a time.
Can steaming my hair damage it?
Hair steaming does not damage the hair if you use it properly. Do not go overboard with it as sitting under a steamer for a long duration will not do any good. On the contrary, it will damage your hair. Thus, make sure you only steam your hair for 30 minutes at a time.
Steaming your hair provides immeasurable benefits to your hair. It softens, strengthens, nourishes, and adds shine to your hair if done correctly.
You can either visit a salon or do steaming at home. However, it is better to talk to a dermatologist if your scalp is sensitive. Additionally, color-treated hair needs the expertise of a hairstylist when steaming.
- Yang F-C, Zhang Y, Rheinstädter MC. The structure of People’s Hair. PeerJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201279/. Published October 14, 2014.
- Hair fiber characteristics and methods to evaluate hair … – scielo. https://www.scielo.br/j/bjps/a/XZrwDJrKKXh4Q3JwswHJ4vq/?format=pdf.
- N; TYSYM. Electrolytically generated hydrogen warm water cleanses the keratin-plug-clogged hair-pores and promotes the capillary blood-streams, more markedly than normal warm water does. Medical gas research. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29770191/.
- Endly DC, Miller RA. Oily skin: A review of treatment options. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605215/. Published August 2017.
- Numerical simulation of the effects of blood perfusion, water diffusion, and vaporization on the skin temperature and burn injuries. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10407782.2013.869449.
- The influence of scalp sebum on the performance of hair-styling … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315462472/.