Let’s face it. All of us, at one time, have been lured into buying a product that makes big claims with little follow through. Some of us struggle to learn the lesson and do a little checking into a product or company first. (…raises hand and hangs head in shame knowing she has purchased one too many facebook ad products and is surprised when they don’t work…) Hopefully this article (and many in the future), coupled with my continuous need to make purchases “just in case they help” will asist you in making smart purchases for your vocal health and hygene!
The first product I want to highlight and review is the steam inhaler. For anyone who spends a lot of time using their voice, this product is a MUST HAVE, but there are a lot of different types that span a huge price range. But before we get to the nickles and dimes, lets talk about why you should have one of these.
What is one thing you almost ALWAYS see in the hands of a singer? Yep! A water bottle. We are always drinking water! Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! Pee Clear, Sing Clear! Blah Blah Blah. Well we may seem like lunatics, but water is extremely important to vocal health. The problem is that the water you drank yesterday is what will affect your level of hydration tomorrow. Add to that the fact that your body will hydrate your primary organs first since, ya know, they keep us alive. And even though our vocal folds are primary in our lives as singers, they don’t jump the line when the heart or lungs are around and in need. To read more about how to protect your voice and the importance of hydration, click here to read the BLOG “PEE CLEAR, SING CLEAR!
The good news is that there IS a way to directly hydrate those precious sound makers! STEAMING! I’m not just talking about turning the shower on and filling the bathroom. I’m talking about the use of a steam inhaler.
As a singer, I can’t live without this!
A love affair for the ages…my life with my steam inhaler. But seriously, they are fantastic! You can read my previous blog about Hydration here, but this little baby was a game changer for my vocal health and hygiene!
Steaming is the only way to hydrate your vocal folds externally, meaning besides drinking water and letting nature do it’s thing. Some people like steaming in the shower or steam rooms. I wanted something more proactive and less…sweaty, so I got a steam inhaler. Well…technically I now own three. Yes it’s extra, but they all have different features so don’t be so judgy! For this article I also borrowed one from a friend. I have given you the highlights and links to where you can purchase them. I am not being compensated by any of these companies! This is just my opinion! Before we start however, I need to tell you that you MUST use Distilled water in your steamer! Tap water contains minerals that can clog the machine’s parts causing damage. If you absolutely have no distilled water, I have used bottled water in a pinch, but it still isn’t recommended. Now, for the feature presentation…
CONTESTANT #1 CVS BRAND STEAM INHALER $35-$45
This was the first Steam Inhaler that I purchased. I was in desperate need and the price was right. It sat by my bed and was in use twice daily on a regular basis. The water heats up quickly, but it isn’t too hot so you won’t burn your throat breathing in. The reason I moved on to my next steamer was because the opening at the top is pretty large. It covers your nose and mouth well, but it also steams some of your face. I was performing in a show and found that the location was very drying so I brought my steamer with me to the theatre. The problem was that it steamed off my makeup and quickly made me look like a sad clown. In the theatre…no time for that! You can purchase this steam inhaler here.
ENTER CONTESTANT #2 VICKS PERSONAL around $45
This steamer is smaller. It is still a corded steamer and needs to be plugged in to work, but the size and shape make holding it more manageable and direct the steam to your nasal passages rather than your face. I also like that there is a lever on the side that opens and closes the steam opening, allowing you to decide how much steam you want. It too doesn’t create steam that will burn your throat, but also has a great number of vent holes. It comes with these Vicks vapor packets that are designed to go in the bottom, but I am SUPER ANTI anything like that. Sorry, Not Sorry Vicks. That stuff might make you feel good for a minute, but it isn’t good for us singers. You can pick this steamer up here.
As much as I LOVE this steamer, I still went on to buy another one!
CONTESTANT #3 The Beauty Nymph Home Spa Sauna $20
I actually didn’t purchase this one for myself. I got this one for my teenager who is struggling with acne. I tried letting him use my CVS steam inhaler because it covered some of the face, but not enough to make it helpful to him, so I went on a hunt for a steamer meant for your face and found this one that comes with a nose steaming mask. It also has a low and high setting so I had to try it! DO NOT USE THIS TO STEAM YOUR VOCAL FOLDS!!!! I burned my throat with one inhale at the low heat setting! That Nose Steamer Mask really diverts all of the steam RIGHT to your nose and mouth and there is NO protection barrier. When I removed the Nose Mask the steam did spread and filter out to cover the face without directly burning my throat, so it works for my kid’s acne, but NO WAY would I ever use it for my voice! If you want to order this one you can pick it up here.
CONTESTANT #4 MY PURE MIST $100 – $175
This is the steamer that I borrowed from a friend for this BLOG and Video. I saw it first at a convention for Choral Directors and loved a lot of things about this product. The only issue for me is the price. The My Pure Mist is great because it can be used cordless! I actually saw my friend using it right before a rehearsal and pounced on her to ask about how she likes it. It is handy, but it runs out of power FAST so you have to be vigilant about charging it or you might as well get the one that ties you to the wall. The other issue is that you HAVE to use their sterile water solution. All steamers need distilled water rather than tap water, but these little “must use” pouches can really run up the cost. However, they do make it easy to travel. One pouch will give you two 15 minute steam sessions so you basically use one a day if you are me. If you want to pick up one of these you can click this link.
When it all comes down to it, the big deal is making sure that it is high enough quality not to burn you, and that it is something that will easily fit into your lifestyle. I would LOVE the convenience of a portable steamer, but I can find the time to sit still for a few minutes, look through social media, and steam using my machine that is plugged into the wall.
Good luck, and STAY VOCALLY HEALTHY!