Hair steaming is an important part of natural hair care. Hair steamers aren’t really cheap though so before you invest in one, you need to make sure they’re worth the money. Hint – they are.
While there isn’t a lot of research available out there on the purpose and effectiveness of hair steamers, I think most naturalists can speak to the effects of hair steaming from personal experience.
This article will break down the benefits of steaming, the hair steaming process, how to steam hair with and without a steamer as well as the best steamers for natural hair.
What is Hair Steaming?
Hair steaming is the process of using heat to open up the hair cuticles so products can penetrate the hair better and work much more effectively.
Steaming allows you to add much-needed moisture to natural hair as well.
A hair steamer is a device that will help make the steaming process more efficient and faster.
There are four types of hair steamers – thermal cap, handheld, tabletop (hood) and professional hair steamers.
8 Benefits of Hair Steaming
1. Better Product Penetration
Hair steaming helps to raise the hair cuticles so products can penetrate the hair shaft better. This is especially beneficial for low porosity hair.
2. Reduces Hair Breakage
Hair steaming helps reduce hair breakage. One of the main things dry and damaged hair is in need of is moisture.
Steaming your hair will help open your cuticles for products to work better and reduce hair breakage.
3. Stretches Hair & Promotes Elasticity
Hair steaming stretches your hair and promotes elasticity so you’re able to easily detangle and style your hair. This also means fewer knots and tangles.
4. Prepares Hair for Heat Appliances
Hair steaming prepares your hair for heat appliances later on. One of the best ways to prevent your hair drying out or splitting if you’re blow drying or using a flat iron is to properly deep condition with heat and the right products beforehand.
5. Healthier Scalp
Applying heat helps break down build up on your scalp and fosters a healthier scalp environment, which in turn leads to healthier hair growth.
6. Can Revert Hair
There are times when really dry hair mimics damaged hair and you think you need to cut your hair but before you do this, always go for a protein treatment.
Follow the protein treatment with a deep conditioning treatment, which can help revert hair back to its natural state.
This only applies if you find your hair isn’t curling back up quite right after blow drying or flat ironing. This cannot work if you’ve applied chemicals to alter the strand structure.
7. Helps Eliminate Scalp Issues
Steaming kills bacteria on the scalp. This will help eliminate scalp issues such as dandruff and itchiness with frequent treatments.
8. Prepares Hair for Protective Styling
This refers to long-term protective styles like braids, Senegalese twists, and weaves. This styles will keep your hair under wraps for at least 6 – 8 weeks.
In order to prevent your hair from drying out too much, a good deep conditioning session with heat before installing the protective style will go a long way in protecting your hair while in the style.
Hair Steaming Process
- The hair steaming process is very simple. After shampooing your hair and applying your deep conditioner, pin up your hair ensuring the ends are accessible to the steam.
- Depending on the device you’re using, you usually need to fill up an external container with distilled water or bottled water.
- The container is then attached to the device and heated up. Once it starts releasing steam, you sit under the hair steamer with your deep conditioner in your hair.
- The process takes around 30 minutes and the device will ping when the time is up. You can then rinse out the deep conditioner and proceed with your hair regimen.
How Long Should You Steam Your Hair?
30 minutes is more than enough of a session if you’re using a professional or tabletop steamer. Over steaming hair is actually bad so keep that in mind.
Best Hair Steamers for Natural Hair
I mentioned earlier that there are four types of hair steamers – thermal cap, handheld, tabletop (hood) and professional hair steamers. Whichever one you choose depends on your budget and lifestyle.
I have outlined the best 5 hair steamers, what sets them apart and which one to purchase below:-
A thermal heating cap is a small cordless device that utilizes gel packs to heat the cap and steam your hair. The heating cap works by placing it in the microwave in 45 – 60 second increments until its hot.
You then fasten the cap over your head for 20 – 30 minutes. If the gel packs cool down, you can reheat.
The most popular thermal cap is the Hair Therapy Wrap. The advantage of a thermal cap is its portable, light and easy to use.
If you travel a lot, this is great for use on the road. You can also move around the house while using the Hair Therapy Wrap.
This is the product I use for hair steaming when I’m too lazy to set up my tabletop steamer, don’t feel like sitting under a steamer for 30 minutes or want to take a nap while steaming.
The most popular handheld hair steamer is the Q-Redew Handheld Hair Steamer.
The Q-Redew Handheld Hair Steamer was designed to hydrate, detangle, stretch and reshape the hair.
It can also give hair a moisture boost in-between regimen days without saturating your hair with water.
The Q-Redew Handheld Hair Steamer has a small, detachable water reservoir. The water reservoir is filled with distilled water and heated up then a trigger is pressed to activate the steam.
The good thing about the Q-Redew Handheld Hair Steamer is its quick and easy and you don’t need to drench your hair with products to quickly get some moisture in.
It’s also ideal if you’re on the road a lot. However, check the voltage of the country you’re in before you plug this in outside the US & Canada.
A tabletop steamer is a portable hair steamer you set up on a table or other flat surface around the house.
It’s my go-to hair steamer and I love using it. I’ve had my tabletop steamer for over 5 years and it’s still going.
The Secura S-192 is 2 in 1 because it’s for hair and facial steaming. The manufacturer claims the product contains a built-in ozone generator, which controls the release of negatively charged oxygen.
The Secura S-192 Hair and Facial Steamer is easy to assemble. It heats up pretty fast and releases continuous steam for 20 – 30 minutes before the device runs out of water. An internal alarm notifies you when this happens.
When using a tabletop steamer, it’s important to make sure you let all the parts dry out before you put the product back into storage to prevent electric shocks later on.
Ensure you purchase Secura S-192 Hair and Facial Steamer from reputable sources so you get the authentic product.
I will write a more in-depth separate review of this tabletop steamer in a separate article.
A professional hair steamer is the kind of steamer you would find in a hair salon. A professional hair steamer is a high-end product that packs a lot of power.
It’s rotatable, has several control switches, an automatic on and of switch, and adjustable height.
This is the very best of hair steamers but honestly, if you just need a hair steamer to use at home, a tabletop hair steamer is more than adequate. The tabletop steamer also saves a lot of space by the way.
If you’re in a home where more than one person will be using the hair steamer, then maybe this might be better.
However, keep in mind, a professional hair steamer requires a lot of space and cannot be folded away like all the other recommendations above.
Whichever hair steamer you choose depends on your lifestyle, budget and your hair care goals.
The professional hair steamer comes into play if you really want to splurge or a lot of people will be using it.
Can’t afford any of the options above? Read on for alternatives.
How to Steam Natural Hair Without a Steamer
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a hair steamer so if you’re still trying to save those coins, here are a few ways to steam your hair without a steamer:-
Damp Hot Towel
This was how I steamed my hair back in the day before I could afford hair steamers. It’s an old and tested method.
Simply lightly dampen a towel then heat up in the microwave for 2 minutes. While heating up, apply your deep conditioner then cover your hair with a disposable cap or cling film.
Take out the hot towel and wrap around your head. Wait until it cools down. This takes about 15 – 20 minutes depending on how hot the towel is. If it cools down before then, you can reheat again.
Be careful when handling the towel so you don’t burn your fingers.
The steam from a hot shower can steam your hair. Simply apply your deep conditioner and take a shower without wearing a shower cap. Turn the faucet up as hot as you can tolerate.
Keep in mind that both methods above are not as effective as using a hair steamer but they can get the job done temporarily.
If you have any questions about steaming natural hair, share in the comments section.
Abi delved into the world of hair care after suffering from a bout of severe hair loss. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Natural Oils for Hair and Health, as well as the writer of the Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the creator of the The Self-Empowerment Network Portal. Read more…