Beurer FS 60 facial sauna
It's been a good 20 years since I last bent over an inhaler. Today it's time for a reunion. A self-test of the FS 60 facial sauna.
Being ill was the best thing in my childhood: endless television and a diet of biscuits and vegetable soup filled the otherwise very uneventful days. It was so great that I often used drama to fake feeling unwell in order to force my mum into taking time off work. So we could spend the day together. It was lovely - until she got the inhaler out of the cellar.
She filled the eggshell-coloured plastic construction from the 1970s with boiling hot water and I then had to put my face in the holder provided to cure my fake illness with steam. To round things off, she placed a towel over my head and left me alone for 15 minutes - with my lies and actually perfectly intact airways.
Since my childhood, I have never bent over such a device again until I tried the Facial Sauna FS 60 from Beurer. A reunion with the inhalation device, now known as a "facial steamer". Spoiler: It was a déjà vu experience of a slightly different kind.
What was rather unpleasant and medically motivated in my childhood is now a cosmetic wellness treatment. The hot steam is supposed to rid the face of impurities, remove blackheads, stimulate circulation and build up moisture. In addition, the steam bath is said to improve the skin's absorption capacity, allowing skincare products to work better.
Scientific evidence for this is thin on the ground, however. The American Academy of Dermatology at least recommends water vapour for dry skin - for example using a room humidifier. And when it comes to the skin's ability to absorb nicotine after a vapour bath, at least one study found that the absorption of nicotine in nicotine patches tripled when the temperature of the skin surface was increased by ten degrees Celsius. Beyond this, however, there is no clinical evidence that the skin absorbs nicotine better at higher temperatures.
Even in the case of clogged pores, professional instructions do not clearly speak for or against the steam bath. However, because it is said to have circulation-enhancing effects, experts from the Cleveland Clinic advise against using it, at least for acute reddening of the skin or skin eczema.
In general, the positive effects of saunas on the whole body have been well researched. So a sauna for the face can't be all that bad. I want to know whether the hype surrounding the "Facial Steamer" is justified and whether you really need to spend money on it.
In front of me is a simple, square package that promises me not only cosmetic facial care, but also "aromatherapy and inhalation". Five purple and white individual parts need to be put together to create a facial sauna:
Assembled, the device weighs just over half a kilogramme and is about the size of a small kitchen blender.
Only visually, a critical thought comes to mind: What about the facial sauna is supposed to be better than the eggshell-coloured device from my childhood? The design is much nicer and the name is more attractive. But the application remains the same, doesn't it? When I look at the device, I suspect a lot of hocus-pocus and something pretty trivial behind it: hot water in a plastic bowl.
To try out the modern facial sauna in style, I set up a wellness temple at home: Scented candles, burbling background music and a face mask for afterwards should round off the treatment. Compared to the inhalation device of my childhood, the aromatherapy of the facial steamer seems to me to be the biggest upgrade. That's why I got myself an essential oil with the title "Spring Awakening".
But now things get bumpy, despite the professional backdrop: According to the instructions, the essential oil is dripped onto a cotton pad, which then goes into the flavour attachment. The round, purple-coloured plastic bowl with holes and removable lid is attached to the base of the large steam mask attachment - so the oil is transported upwards via the rising water vapour. Caution: The essential oil must never be dripped directly into the water.
Of course, I don't have a cotton pad at home and have to fold up toilet paper instead in order to insert the oil-soaked paper into the flavour attachment. In the next step, I fill the base unit with the measuring cup. This helps with the dosage, because: The appliance should not be filled to the brim with water, but only up to the marked upper limit. I screw the large steam mask attachment onto the base unit with a simple twisting motion, plug the mains cable into the power supply and move the rotary switch to level 2.
Important: Level 2 is only used to boil the water before use. I should enjoy the steam bath itself at level 1 - otherwise the steam is too hot and can cause burns.
The water in the small steel basin of the base unit boils up in a flash and steam begins to rise. I shift down a gear and play a little with the "steam plate", which is movably attached between the base unit and the steam mask attachment. The rising steam can be reduced by turning the plate. This works quite well, but I decide to use a lot of steam - full steam ahead - and lean deep into the attachment.
A mistake, because: Neither of the two attachments seems to fit my face and the hot steam is not pleasant, but an imposition. What a bad design, I think - until I study the instructions again in more detail. So that you don't repeat my mistakes: your face shouldn't touch the attachment.
The attachment is not tailored to your face because you're not supposed to put your whole head in it. Just hold your face over the device, as far into the rising steam as is comfortable for you, and stay in this position for about 10 minutes. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
With my face over the sauna, I feel like I've been beamed back to my childhood: The warm plastic smell is only slightly masked by the supposed spring scent from the aroma attachment and, then as now, the water vapour beads off the skin in small drops after a short time. This is neither good nor bad. But ultimately, not much more has changed about the "facial sauna" concept since then than the name.
The device can hardly be used intuitively, there is too much to consider: The right intensity level, the appropriate distance between the face and the steam attachment or the correct handling of the aroma attachment. My misunderstanding that the face has to be placed in the steam attachment probably stems from the fact that its curved shape leads to this misconception.
Once you have overcome these hurdles, however, the feeling after the steam bath is very good. My skin is less tight than before, my cheeks glow pink and my whole face pulsates pleasantly. During the treatment, my breathing became slow and conscious, and the gentle whirring of the device had an additional relaxing effect. Looking in the mirror afterwards is also largely pleasing: I'm as red as after a fever, but with a lovely glow and very smooth skin. I like the short-term effect of the facial sauna enough to try it out at least a second time.
The initial question remains: Do you need a "facial steamer" for these effects? Quite honestly: No.
Call it what you will, in the end the magic is a bit of water vapour. You might as well bend over a pot of hot water and hang a towel over your head like my mum used to do with me.
Say: The facial sauna is an optional facial care tool. It makes your skin feel nice and can possibly add to a glamorous home spa atmosphere. However, it won't revolutionise your facial care routine. After all, flavouring the steam is a little easier with the device.
In the end, however, the device is quite bulky and requires more storage space than my bathroom can accommodate. For me, it therefore ends up in the household limbo of all less decorative utensils: the utility room.Cover photo: shutterstock
I'm a sucker for flowery turns of phrase and allegorical language. Clever metaphors are my Kryptonite – even if, sometimes, it's better to just get to the point. Everything I write is edited by my cat, which I reckon is more «pet humanisation» than metaphor. When I'm not at my desk, I enjoy going hiking, taking part in fireside jamming sessions, dragging my exhausted body out to do some sport and hitting the occasional party.