The Old-School Gadget That Fixed My 5 Totally Different Skin Problems

My skin is alternately super-dry, super-oily, red and splotchy, acne-ridden and flaking off.

If my skin had a mind it would be losing it right about now. My complexion is out of control. Seriously nutso. It’s super dry on Monday, super oily on Tuesday, there are these weird red splotches happening on Wednesday (that go away after I eat pickles, don’t ask) -- complexion is sort-of-kind-of decent on Thursday, Friday I’m a pizza face, Saturday I’m a pizza face, and on Sunday my entire forehead looks like it’s flaking off in paper thin sheets. Guh-ross.

Needless to say, I've been rummaging through my skincare stash for a fix to the problem(s). On pizza face night, I realized I had NOTHING that contained any acne fighting ingredients. No benzoyl peroxide. No salicylic acid. No retinol. Nothing.

As I spent what felt like hours reading labels, looking for something -- anything -- that I could slap on my face to zap the zits (preferably overnight), I kept eyeing this Conair Facial Steamer ($29.99) that I had put in the corner of my closet post-Christmas. My mom, who still labels everything “From Santa” even though her three kids are all over the age of 25 (bless her heart) gifted me with the steamer after I’d complained about not being able to get facials as often as I once did. Having a toddler changes things, y'all! “Now you can do your own facials at home,” she'd said. True. But after putting the steamer in the closet, old baby toys and super-size boxes of training pants barricaded the steamer. Eventually, I forgot I even had the contraption. Sorry, mom!

I tore through the closet. Looking, looking -- and there it was: shiny and still brand new. I had no other option. Did I mention it was two in the morning? Having a toddler changes things, y'all! I figured that now was as good a time as any to try the steamer out.

I knew from getting pro facials (and being a Chatty Cathy during my treatments, bombarding my estheticians with questions like it was their beauty school final exam) that the purpose of the steam is to soften the skin and open the pores so that it’s easier to clean out the gunk -- makeup, dirt, dead skin cells -- that collects and creates pimples. That’s all well and good. But could an at-home, plastic steamer give the same results as an industrial-strength spa steamer?

The answer is YES. Double YES.

Here’s the blow-by-blow: After washing my face as usual, I fill the steamer’s metal basin with water. If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water, use distilled H2O. Plug the contraption in and push the power button. The facial sauna heats up for about three minutes and then a light flashes when it’s ready to steam the heck out of your face. I snap the facial cone on top and rest my face over it for up to 15 minutes. (If my kid is trying to climb the walls, I cut the session down to three minutes, no biggie).

After the steaming is done, I pat my face dry and apply a mask -- this one from Eve Lomis like EVERYTHING GOOD IN THE WORLD. Rinse the mask off after however-long-you-can-leave-it-on-for, pat dry, and yaddayaddayadda.

The point is that this at-home steam thing saves me money on pro-treatments, almost clears up breakouts overnight, and doubles as a concentrated humidifier for stuffed-up, allergy-ridden noses (snatch). Santa is a genius.