Hair Steamer 101: The Science, Best Brands, Products, and FAQ

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Hair steamers have been a massive topic lately both inside and outside the salons.

What are they? How do they work? Are they good for the hair? And why are they so great? How to use a hair steamer.

You will be surprised, hair steamers aren’t a new thing, they have been around for years! You most commonly see them now in Afro-Caribbean hair salons, as the hair will typically be lacking moisture.

I would generally use a steamer for the following hair types:

  • Thick
  • Medium
  • Curly
  • Afro-Caribbean
  • Wavy
  • Dry
  • Damaged
  • Brittle

Let’s have a look at everything you need to know about hair steamers…

The science behind hair steamers

There isn’t actually a lot of science when it comes to hair steamers, which is quite surprising.

The hair steamers are designed to create steam that helps to open the hair cuticle, allowing for nutrients to penetrate the hair. The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair, it has layers that open and close, they affect how products penetrate the hair and they also help retain moisture.

If the cuticle layers are open it means that the hair is porous, which means that moisture will absorb quickly but also will leave the hair quickly, whereas if the cuticle layers are closed it means that the hair is healthy.

As we now know the steam will help to open the cuticle, this will then allow hair products to penetrate into the hair more easily, in hair salons steamers are typically used with deep conditioning hair treatments.

They are also good for strengthening the hair, removing impurities from the hair and scalp and refreshing your curls.

The benefits of using a hair steamer include:

  • Hydrate the hair.
  • Encourages blood flow on the scalp to help promote hair growth.
  • Heals damaged hair.
  • Increases softness.
  • Removes frizz.
  • Help to unclog the pores in our scalp.

Now we know the science and benefits behind hair steamer, I am going to share with you my 15 top hair steamers.

It is important to know that hair steamers can either come in a cap form, handheld form, straightener or hooded form, these all differ slightly.

Cap Form: These are for home use and are designed for comfort ability and practicality.

Handheld: There aren’t many of these designed for hair, but they do not come with a hood or cap.

Straightener: Straighteners are used on dry hair, and are to help straighten the hair, remove frizz, add shine, while still providing moisture to the hair.

Hooded (Professional): These are similar to caps but are slightly more professional looking, they often come 2-1 with a facial steamer.

Best hair steamer brands

Four of my favorite hair steamer brands are:

  1. Artist Hand
  1. YUI
  1. VICARKO
  1. KingdomCares

They are all really great; their tools are professional looking, durable and deliver amazing benefits to the hair.

My Top 15 hair steamers

This steamer is a really great alternative to a salon steamer, it still has all the benefits, but it is a lot smaller making it easy to use at home. It can also be used as a facial steamer that helps to refresh the skin and unclogs pores.

The Technology: This steamer has an advanced PTC ceramic heating element that vaporizes the clean water which instantly produces a strong steam.

I really like this steamer as it is affordable, and it will really help to improve both the hair, skin and scalp.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Easy to use.
  • Prevents breakage and split ends.
  • Moisturizes your scalp to help prevent dandruff.
  • Comes with a soothing facial steamer.
  • Provides nutrients to your hair.
Hair Steamer EZBASICS 2 in 1 Ion Facial Steamer with Extendable Arm Table Top Hair Humidifier Hot Mist Moisturizing Facial Atomizer Spa Face Steamer Design for Personal Care Use At Home or Salon

This is a steamer in a cap form, the benefits of this are that it is slightly more comfortable to wear, it is very easy to use and store at home and is also great if you travel a lot.

The Technology: This steamer reaches 65°C, at its highest, and 45°C at its lowest, the heat also evenly distributes throughout the cap.

I really like this steamer as all you have to do is wash the hair, apply the treatment, put the cap on and switch it on. It also has a really nice design on it.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Provides a gentle heat ideal for all hair types.
  • Ideal for home use.
  • Adds moisture to the hair.
  • Helps repair damage.
  • Simple and easy to use.
VICARKO Hair Steamer Thermal Heat Cap Deep Conditioning Natural Black Hair Scalp Treatment Spa Hot Head Care Electric for Home Use Animal Print

This is another really great steam cap, however this one comes in a simplistic black design. It is great for hydrating the hair and scalp, reducing frizz and repairing dry, split ends.

The Technology: It has a flame-retardant electronic temperature control, it will reach its maximum temperature, shut off, the temperature will then drop again to 45°C and start working again.

The really great thing about this cap is that as soon as it reaches 65°C, it will shut off to prevent overheating and damage to the hair. I really like the fact that you can use it wherever you are.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Offers maximum comfort.
  • Makes the hair feel silky and smooth.
  • Ideal for use at home and while travelling.
  • Has a double layer for balanced temperature.
  • Helps to repair any damage to the hair.
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This is a 3-1 steamer that can be used for the hair, skin and interior purposes. It is great for moisturizing the hair and scalp, opening and unclogging facial pores, humidifying rooms indoors and warming up towels.

The Technology: It has a high-tech ozone function that is designed to sterilize, a built-in ozone generator which controls the release of negatively charged oxygen, this helps to reduce scalp sensitivity and prevent dandruff.

I would 100% recommend this steamer as it can be used for so many different reasons which definitely makes it worth the investment.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Moisturizes and hydrates your hair.
  • Comes with a facial steamer that helps to unclog facial pores.
  • Helps to deeply condition the hair.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can also be used to humidify rooms and warm towels.
KINGDOMCARES Large 2-in-1 Hair and Facial Steamer Face Steamer Humidifier Hot Mist Moisturizing Clear Blackheads Acne Facial Hydration Sauna SPA Skin Care Facial Atomizer

This steamer is more for salon professional use. It is really great for hydrating the hair, it will allow nutrients to deeply penetrate into the hair, making it feel smooth and silky.

The Technology: It comes with a timer, and a low-high steam option.

I really love this steamer for its durability and steam options; however, I would not recommend it for general home use as it is slightly harder to store on a day-to-day basis.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • For professional use.
  • Has a low and high steam option.
  • Deeply conditions the hair.
  • Durable and long lasting.
  • Comes with an adjustable timer.
Professional Salon Spa Rolling Hair Steamer Conditioner Color Processor (1 Unit)

This steamer is in the form of a hair straightener and is a really good alternative to a flat iron.

It is designed to eliminate frizz and curls; it helps detangle the hair and leaves the hair feeling smooth and soft.

The Technology: It has double ceramic plates and ion treatment that help detangle the hair, and eliminate frizz leaving the hair feeling soft and shiny.

I like this steam hair straightener as it works for personal use and professional use, giving you salon worthy hair within minutes.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Can be used on any hair type.
  • It has 5 heat settings.
  • Eliminates frizz.
  • Adds moisture to the hair.
Harmless Heat Professional Salon Steam Hair Straightening Brush | Best Double Plate Natural Hair Straightener Comb with Ceramic 3D Bristles Ion Treatment to Straighten and Detangle Fast | Anti Scald

7. Tangyan Mini Steamer

This is a 2-1 steamer that benefits both the hair and skin, it will help nutrients deeply penetrate to help them both feel healthier and more radiant.

The Technology: It has an on/off function meaning it will automatically turn off when the water is low. It also has a high-tech ozone function used to sterilize.

I like this steamer as it is simple and very easy to use, it’s great if you like a pamper and you can use it on both the hair and skin. I would 100% use this one if your hair tends to be quite dry and tangle a lot.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • The fine mist is quickly absorbed by the hair and skin.
  • Moisturizes and hydrates the hair.
  • Prevent split ends.
  • It will automatically turn off when the water is low.
  • This steamer is also ideal for travelling.

Tangyan Mini Steamer

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This is a very neat and simple steamer cap that is designed to close the cuticle, allow nutrients to penetrate the hair, detangle and make the hair feel smooth and soft.

The Technology: It has an adjustable heat function, and the layer zipper design means you can adjust the height.

I really like the simple and easy design of this steam cap, and that it is adjustable to your head circumference, it’s perfect for home use and if you go travelling. I love that it does exactly what it says it will do!

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Simple and convenient to use.
  • High quality.
  • Adjustable temperature controls.
  • Allows for treatments to deeply penetrate the hair.
  • Sits comfortably on the head.
Hair Steamer Heating Cap for Deep Conditioner, Hair SPA Cap, Adjustable Height Hair Thermal Treatment Cap with 2 Zippers, 2 Mode Temperature Control Electric Hair Cap, Silver

This steamer comes in a handheld design, and it can be used for a variety of different reasons – on the hair, skin, disinfecting the home, clothes and car. It helps to hydrate and nourish the hair and repair any damage.

The Technology: The nanoparticles allow for deeper penetration into the hair, it has rapid misting and is ergonomically designed.

I like this steamer for its technology, however for use on the hair I think it can be quite uncomfortable to use. I would say if you just wanted a steamer for quick use then this one’s for you.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Nourishes the hair.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Helps to nourish the hair.
  • Repairs and prevents damage.
  • Easy to use.
YLEI Nano Steam Gun Micro Mist Salon Treatment Hair Steamer Machine, Electric Nano Steam Gun Handheld Sterilizer Disinfectant, Hair Face Care Spray Moisturizing Humidifier Hair Care Styling Tool

This steam straightener helps to reduce the risk of damage and/or split ends by providing moisture to the hair during the straightening process. This straightener makes the hair look and feel healthy by reducing frizz and sealing in the moisture. It must be used on dry hair only!

The Technology: It has Nano titanium ceramic plates that heat evenly throughout, and holds 40 ml of water, enabling continuous styling for up to 30 minutes. The steaming vents are placed on both the top and bottom plates which ensures the hair gets continuous vapor flow and it has 5 temperature settings.

I like that this steamer is very easy to use, great for achieving super sleek hair styles and adds much needed moisture to the hair.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Has a professional design.
  • Adjustable temperature control.
  • Easy to use.
  • Nourishes the hair and locks in moisture.
  • Ideal for most hair types.
MKBOO Hair Straightener with Steam,Salon Professional Nano Titanium Ceramic Steam Flat Iron with Removable Comb+Digital LCD+5 Level Adjustable Temperature+Auto Temperature Lock Black.

This steamer benefits both the hair and skin, it does this by adding much needed moisture. It is also ideal for stimulating the scalp to promote healthy hair growth. This steamer is also very durable.

The Technology: It has a 360° rotatable spray, meaning you can use it at any angle, it will automatically turn off if the water level is too low or too high.

I love the simplicity of this steamer, it does exactly what it says it will, its ideal for home use and it is easy to use and store.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Two in one, for use on the face and hair.
  • 360° rotate able spray.
  • Ideal for home use.
  • Allows products to deeply penetrate the hair.
  • Easy to use.
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No products found.

This steamer has some truly great benefits for the hair; however, I would say it is more for salon use, rather than home use, purely due to its size. It’s really great for deep penetrating hair treatments, which will help to repair and hydrate the hair.

The Technology: It has a large capacity water tank, it has numerous heat temperature functions, it will turn off as soon as it’s run out of water, and it also has ozone technology that helps to eliminate any viruses and bacteria.

I really love all the benefits that this steamer has to offer, if you are going to use it on a regular basis and have the room to store it, I would definitely say it’s worth the investment.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Can work for four to six hours before refilling.
  • Has different heat controls.
  • Gives salon worthy results.
  • Good for professional use.
thlabe Salon Infrared Hair Steamer Salon Ozone Hair Care SPA Steamer Oil Hair Styling Machine Hair Color Processor Hair Steamer Dryer with Rolling Floor Stand Base (110V)

This is a very basic cap hair steamer that will help to hydrate the hair, it’s also very comfortable and easy to use. If used on a regular basis this steamer will really help to improve the overall health of the hair.

The Technology: It is made with quality PU fabric and waterproof liner that keep the moisture locked in.

I really like the pink design of this steamer cap; I also like that it is really easy to store and easy just to pop in your suitcase if you go travelling.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Helps the hair to absorb nutrients.
  • Comes in a pretty design.
  • It is waterproof.
  • Comfortable to use.
  • Great for home use and travelling.
FAMKIT Electric Hair Steamer Cap Hair Nourishing Styling Thermal Treatment Hat 2 Temperature Adjustable

This steamer cap has a really nice purple design, it is designed to help solve your hair care problems by hydrating the hair, reducing frizz and helping to repair any damage.

The Technology: It has 3 temperature levels, is waterproof, has flame-retardant technology and heats evenly throughout.

I would recommend this steamer cap as it is effective and affordable, it’s very easy to use and is ideal if you want to add moisture to your hair and help reduce previous damage. The design of this cap makes it ideal for teenage girls who are struggling with dry hair, however I would only recommend using it once a month.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • It is comfortable and easy to use.
  • Effective and affordable.
  • Has a great design.
  • Helps with frizz.
  • Deeply nourishes the hair.
110V Hair Care Hat,Hair SPA Cap,Hair Care Steamer Cap,Thermal Hair Cap,Waterproof Home Hair Thermal Care Electric Hair Treatment Beauty Steamer Perfect for Family Personal Care (Purple Star)

This is a brilliant professional hair steamer that is mainly designed for use in the salon, it is designed with a swivel rolling base making it easy to move, and it provides even hair coverage which helps to prevent damage to the hair. Read our other related page on – steam hair roller reviews.

The Technology: Has a timer from 0 to 60 minutes, it has an ultra quiet function, and the temperature can be adjusted from high to low.

As a hair stylist I really love this steamer as it has a very simple design, is very easy to use but delivers really great benefits to the client’s hair.

The benefits of this steamer include:

  • Great for professional use.
  • Time and temperature controls.
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble.
  • Allows nutrients to deeply penetrate the hair.
  • Comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
Artist Hand Professional Hair Steamer Hairdressing Care Hood Color Processor Beauty Salon

As you can see from the above list, the majority of the steamers are either in the form of a cap or on wheels (salon professional steamers), this is because they are the easiest and most comfortable for home and salon use. Handheld steamers are used mainly for facials and use in the home, they aren’t necessarily designed for the use on the hair. One of the main reasons for this, I would say is it is quite uncomfortable to hold it up in air towards your hair, for a long period of time.

Do hair steamers really work?

This is the million-dollar question, do hair steamers really work? Are they really worth the investment?

As stylists we mainly use steamers to help hydrate the hair after a colouring or chemical service, they are a really good way to repair any damage, add any much-needed moisture and they will also open the hair cuticle, allowing treatments to penetrate and work.    

So, my answer to that question is yes hair steamers really do work!

Below I’m going to answer any questions that you may have about hair steamers.

FAQ

Hair steamer price

Hair steamer prices can range from anything between $10 to $200, the more expensive ones are generally your salon professional steamers, and your cheaper ones are great for home use. When deciding which one to go for I would first of all decide what you want it for, and how often you will use it.

If you are only going to use it every once in a while, I would suggest going for a slightly cheaper option however if you are going to use it on a weekly basis, I would suggest maybe going for a middle of the range steamer.

I would only say buy a salon professional steamer if you are going to use it on a weekly basis and if you have the room to store it, as they can be quite bulky.

Steam hair straightener vs steam hair cap vs hooded dryer (which is best?)

Each of these has some really great benefits but they slightly differ from each other.

I would say if you were looking to achieve a straight hairstyle while still retaining moisture, I would say go for a steam hair straightener, if you want it mainly to improve the health of your hair, I will say go for a steam hair cap.

Hooded dryers are great, but they are only really used to dry the hair. There aren’t really any additional benefits from it, as stylists we would only use a hair dryer to dry a set.

As you can see, they are quite different; however my personal preference is the steam hair cap purely because I feel like you get some really good benefits from using it, for example by using it with a conditioning treatment, over a course of time you can really help to improve the overall condition of the hair.

Are hair steamers good for hair?

I mean heat in general isn’t really that great for the hair however but using the steam you are putting moisture into the hair, which in turn makes the hair look and feel healthier. 

Steamers are probably the most unlikely to cause any additional damage however I would always be cautious and use them in moderation.

As the heat from the steam opens the cuticle you need to make sure you close the cuticle, this can be done by:

  • Using a conditioner.
  • Doing a cool water rinse.

This is important as if the cuticle isn’t closed, all the moisture you put in will just come straight back out again.

What products should you use while steaming your hair?

If you are using a cap steamer or salon professional steamer, I would suggest that you use a deep conditioning hair mask.

My favourite is the L’Oréal Nutrifier hair mask, It is specifically designed for dry hair and works amazingly with hair steamers.

L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Nutrifier Mask (250ml) 8.4 Fl Oz.

You can also use essential hair oils as a pre cleanse treatment, I would recommend the Hair Envy oil.

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No products found.

If you are going to use a steam hair straightener, I would always recommend that you use a heat protector to go with them, although it has steam, you are still predominantly using heat on your hair.

A great one to use is the Milkshake Incredible Milk, not only is it a heat protector, but it also has eleven other amazing benefits.

milk_shake Incredible Milk, 5.1 Fl Oz

Can you DIY hair steaming?

As with any professional services or tools, I would never recommend that you try to do any of this yourself, the products and tools have been designed with a lot of research and a lot of technology to ensure your safety and the health of your hair.

Does steaming your scalp help hair growth?

Unfortunately, there is currently nothing on the market that will cause the hair to grow, however there are things that we can do to help the hair if and when it does grow.

Using a steamer is one of them, they help to stimulate the scalp, repair split ends and provide moisture to both the hair and scalp. It will help to ensure that the new hair growing through is as healthy as it can be.

Can I steam my hair every day?

No, it is not necessary, and it could cause damage if used too much. Once a month is ideal, or if your hair is very dry you can steam your hair every 7-14 days.

The only exception is when using the steam straighteners; however I never recommend using straighteners on a daily basis.

Can we steam hair after oiling?

Steaming generally needs to be done on damp, clean hair.

However, you can use oil as a pre cleanse treatment prior to shampooing to help soften the hair and scalp.

Does a hair steamer dry your hair?

No, steamers have wet heat; they will not dry the hair.

Should I wash my hair with shampoo after steaming?

If you are going to use as a deep conditioning treatment, you should wash your hair prior, apply the conditioning treatment to wet hair, put under the steamer, once finished you should thoroughly rinse the hair before drying.

If you are going to use it as a pre-treatment then yes, you will need to shampoo and condition after use.

Who should not use hair steaming?

Hair steamers are for anyone suffering with dry, dehydrated hair. Anyone can generally use them but if the hair isn’t necessarily dry you may not see many benefits.

How to use a hair steamer?

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a steamer, as some instructions may differ.

As a whole there aren’t a ton of instructions on how to use steamers, it is pretty straight forward.

  • As a deep conditioner: Wash your hair, towel dry, and apply a deep conditioning mask. Sit under the steamer for 20-30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Hydrating treatment: Apply conditioner to dry hair, and steam for 20-30 minutes. Then shampoo and condition as normal.
  • Pre-Cleanse: Apply essential oils to the hair and scalp, massage in, and steam for 20 minutes. Wash as normal.

How to use a hooded/cap /hand-held steamer?

  1. Apply the conditioning product onto the hair.
  2. Comb through thoroughly.
  3. Pop on a shower cap.
  4. Sit under the steamer for 20-30 minutes.

How to use a straightener steamer?

  1. Ensure the hair is dry before starting.
  2. Section the hair off (you want to use small sections).
  3. Allow the straightener to slowly glide down the hair, from root to tip.
  4. Repeat until the whole head has been covered.

How long to steam hair?

I would always recommend using for between 20-30 minutes, but no longer than that.

How often should I steam my hair?

  • Once a week for normal – dry hair.
  • 7-14 days for very dry hair.
In the salon steamers can really help to add a bit of luxury to a deep conditioning hair treatment, by using one of these steamers above you can recreate this in the comfort of your own home. If you feel that your hair is dry, lacking shine, feels frizzy and unmanageable you should definitely try a hair steamer, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a pamper!

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Welcome to PHB

Co-Founder & Chief Editor ProHairBlog

Stephanie, a native Floridian, has spent the majority of her 25 year career as a licensed Professional in the Hair industry, specializing in Chemical Processing and Curly Hair cutting.

She began learning about natural hair care while working at Aubrey Organics. More recently, she has been taking on the challenging question of hair loss and regrowth as a Hair Coach for Kerotin Haircare.

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