Just as the golden phrase in real estate is “location, location, location,” everyone’s always on a quest for “moisture, moisture, moisture,” in the hair care world. Properly hydrated hair doesn’t need much by way of a sales pitch, because dry strands can look dull, struggle to hold styles, and are more prone to breakage. Though countless hair care products promise that all-coveted hydration, it can still be tough to get what’s in the bottle to penetrate your strands and make a real difference. If you’re nodding your head in agreeance, you might want to try hair steaming.
According to data from consumer brand platform Spate, there are over 2,400 searches in the U.S. each month for hair steaming — and that number has increased by 46.3% since last year. TikTokers love it too: The hashtag #hairsteaming currently has over 8.4 million views and showcases videos of beauty aficionados doing the spa-like treatment. So what exactly is it? Think of it like using a facial steamer but on your hair and scalp. It involves applying steam to your hair to open up your follicles and infuse your strands with moisture, all with the goal of relieving dryness. Read on for everything you need to know about trying the hydrating treatment for yourself.
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The Benefits Of Steaming Hair
Done either in a salon or at home, hair steaming blasts the scalp, hair follicles, and strands with moist heat, explains Antonia Wazir, Mizani global curl specialist and stylist at Bianchi’s Salon in Royal Oak, Michigan. “While steaming hair, the hair cuticle is slightly lifted, allowing conditioning agents and moisture further into the hair strand,” she tells Bustle. Even without accompanying products, hair steaming offers benefits on its own by softening strands and making them less prone to split ends and breakage, Wazir says.
Most choose to apply some sort of treatment product to their hair before steaming so they can reap the perk of it going deeper into their strands. For this, turn to a hair mask, leave-in conditioner, serum, or oil — preferably one that’s rich in fatty acids, which Wazir recommends for added nourishment.
It’s not only your hair that gets a boost from steaming, either. “Using moist heat on the scalp will help open pores and exfoliate buildup of product and dead skin cells in a gentle way,” Wazir explains. That exfoliation plus increased blood flow to the scalp may aid in better hair growth, too. While Wazir says all hair types will benefit from steaming, the method is a dream for those with especially low-porosity hair that has a hard time accepting moisture. “This includes tighter texture types, as well as hair that’s been chemically treated with color or keratin treatments,” she tells Bustle.
How To Try Hair Steaming
For steaming your hair at home, Wazir says a hot towel wrapped around your head in the shower will do the trick, but you could also use a handheld steamer, a cap, or hooded dryer for the job. Depending on your hair type, Wazir says steaming sessions that last between 10 minutes and an hour is plenty of time to soften your strands and scalp, and for the products to penetrate. “Once a week is enough to give hair the elasticity and moisture that is needed,” she adds.
Steaming is a useful option for most, but Wazir warns that people with severe scalp concerns like flaking, soreness, or ingrown hairs should avoid this method. “Because steaming can exfoliate the scalp, it may cause irritation on sores or irritated areas, and if you are someone who already suffers from bacterial or fungal infections, prolonged moisture isn’t a great idea,” she tells Bustle.
Shop Hair Steaming Essentials
The Nourishing Mask
This mask from Mizani is a favorite of Wazir’s. “It has incredible nourishing oils that are processed for cuticle penetration and Moroccan lava clay which retains moisture while steaming, she says.
The Handheld Steamer
Wazir is also a fan of this handheld steamer from Q-Redew for its portability and price point. You get the added benefit of detangling with long bristles, too.
The Heat Therapy Cap
This cap also makes at-home hair steaming a cinch: It’s microwave safe, so just pop it in when you’re ready to use it, put it on your scalp, and let it do the steaming work.