Let your portable steamer do double-duty on your next trip

Woman in Hotel Room
Elina Sazonova / Pexels

Efficient packing is a skill that can take years to master, and it’s one that I’m still working on. I’ve tried everything from rolling clothes to using packing cubes, but I’ve found one of the easiest ways to pack light is to be strategic and only bring lightweight, multipurpose products that can be used in more ways than one. So when I read that writer and packing expert Hitha Palepu uses a portable clothing steamer to give herself post-flight facials, I was intrigued to say the least.

I already bring a travel steamer with me on trips because I find it’s easier and faster to steam all the wrinkled clothes in my suitcase than to iron them – and I’ve convinced myself that because it is super lightweight and compact, it deserves a coveted spot in my carry-on. But if I can get two uses out of this handy gadget, even better! I especially wanted to give the portable steamer facial a try after noticing how dehydrated and dull my skin tends to look after a long day of traveling.

So after a particularly long train ride, I filled my travel steamer up with water, plugged it in, and got to work. While I waited for the steamer to heat up, I removed my makeup using micellar water by Bioderma (amazon.com, $6). Next, I used my favorite Kate Somerville exfoliator (amazon.com, $85) to remove any dead skin. At this point, the steamer was ready to use.

I’ve burned my hands and arms on steamers in the past, so I made sure to be super careful and not let it get too close to my skin. I moved the steamer in circular motions around my face area, making sure it stayed about eight to 10 inches away from my face at all times. This distance allowed the steam to work on my pores without overheating or burning my skin.

I kept the steamer going for about five minutes before I turned it off. The steam really opened up my pores and my complexion was already starting to glow. Since my skin was now prepped to better absorb skincare products, I applied this L’Oreal clay mask (walmart.com, $10) for 10 minutes to help detoxify and brighten my skin.

Afterward, I used a vitamin C serum by Mad Hippie (walmart.com, $31) and Embroylisse moisturizer (amazon.com, $28) to soothe my skin and lock in hydration. I must say I was extremely pleased with the results. You would have never guessed that I just spent the last few hours on a stuffy train because my skin was glowing like I just left the spa.

The steaming really opened up my pores and allowed the skincare products to penetrate my skin deeper for more lasting effects. After seeing how well it worked, I would definitely recommend using your portable clothing steamer as a step in your post-travel skincare routine, as long as you keep it a safe distance away from your face. If you want to give it a try for yourself, keep reading to shop some of our favorite travel steamers.

PurSteam Handheld Garment Steamer

The high-tech tank and spout on this travel steamer helps prevent hot water from spilling out. It also has a nine-foot-long cord, which comes in handy in hotel rooms with minimal outlets.

To buy: amazon.com, $25

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