If you follow beauty influencers, like Kasey Boone, on Instagram, you’ve likely heard about facial icing. It’s a quick process that you can DIY, and it involves putting ice on your face by hand or with a tool.
Proponents swear by it for benefits like reduced inflammation.
Of course, putting ice on your face isn’t exactly new. Los Angeles-based celebrity medical aesthetician Candace Marino has recommended incorporating ice into skin care routines for years.
“It’s an age-old skin care trick,” Marino says. “Aestheticians have been telling people for years, ‘If you have a pimple, don’t pick it. Ice it.’”
There’s no evidence that facial icing is rising in popularity, but, anecdotally, Marino thinks it is. She attributes the increase in questions she’s gotten on the trend to social media, which has given people access to skin care tips and tricks.
“A lot of professionals are talking about it, and a lot of skin care influencers are talking about it,” Marino says. “People want to know what it can do. People are doing it on social media. It looks fun and relaxing.”
But facial icing isn’t exactly the same thing as sticking your face in a bowl of ice, though it’s not much more complicated than that.
Nicole Caroline, a master aesthetician in Greenwich, CT, recommends applying ice directly by hand.
You really only need one tool for this skin care routine add-on.
“Generally, you just need ice,” Caroline says. “You [also] need an ice maker or ice cube tray.”
If you don’t want to apply ice directly by hand, there are a few other tools on the market you can try. Marino suggests the Glow Skincare Cold Roller, which you use after it’s been in the refrigerator or freezer for 20 minutes.
“With actual ice, you’re going to have it dripping and melting. With the rollers, you don’t have to worry about the water [melting in your hand],” Marino says, adding, “[The Glow Skincare Cold Roller] holds the cold really well.”
Marino also recommends Caroline’s spheres for their convenience. The Luxury Ice Facial Set comes with formulas to mix in that are intended to boost hydration.
Caroline thinks of facial icing as a quicker, more convenient version of a cryotherapy facial, a treatment that usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and can cost more than $100. Unlike an in-spa treatment, an ice facial will only add one minute (or less) to your skin care routine.
According to Marino, you should “keep the ice moving for 30 seconds to one minute.”
Caroline suggests doing this once or twice per day, every day, to reap long-term benefits without overdoing it.
“You don’t want to overstimulate the skin or cause any irritation,” she says.
Marino says you can do it whenever you want, but many people do it in the morning or before bed.
There aren’t many peer-reviewed studies to support the supposed benefits of ice facials, but here’s what many people believe are the benefits.
Ice facials may help with cystic acne and other chronic skin issues
Inflammation is involved in various chronic skin care conditions, including eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Inflammation is also associated with premature aging. Proponents of ice facials say it can help calm inflammation.
“Cold is how we reduce that inflammation,” Marino says.
Ice facials may reduce eye swelling
Not all skin care conditions are chronic. Some, such as puffy eyes, happen seasonally because of allergies or from a lack of sleep.
The Allergy and Asthma Network suggests putting a damp washcloth in the freezer momentarily and applying it to your eyes if you’re experiencing allergies.
But proponents of ice facials, including Marino, say the skin care routine add-on provides another alternative, as it also has anti-inflammatory benefits.
The Allergy and Asthma Network suggests not directly touching your face. If you think your puffy eyes are a product of allergies, you may want to opt for a roller or sphere. Just make sure to keep the device clean.
Ice facials can help give your skin a natural glow
Too much heat (from sun exposure) may lead to tans — or burns. But The Skin Cancer Foundation advises against tanning to get a glow, as it’s still sun damage that increases your risk for skin cancer.
Caroline says you can get a natural radiance by applying ice to your face.
Bonus: It’ll keep you cool.
Ice facials may aid in lymphatic drainage
Proponents of ice facials say they don’t only reduce the appearance of puffy eyes, but they can also reduce any swelling of the face.
According to Marino, a big reason for this perk is that moving the ice around helps drain excess fluids from the lymphatic system that contribute to face swelling.
Caroline and Marino say anyone can generally give themselves an ice facial, but there are some things you should know before you start.
Keep the ice moving
Think about it: If you stand out in the cold for too long without gloves, you risk getting frostbite or ice burn on your hands.
The same is true for face icing. This is why Caroline and Marino both say it’s important to move the ice and only continue the process for up to 1 minute.
Expect some redness
Redness is normal, but people with sensitive skin or conditions, like rosacea, may experience more than others.
“Ice can aggravate [your skin],” Caroline says. “You want to make sure you have a barrier between the skin and the ice.”
She recommends using a sheet mask with bio-cellulose coating as a barrier for sensitive skin.
Don’t ditch your moisturizer
Though water can moisten the skin, too much can dry it out.
“If we’re letting water evaporate off the skin, it takes some moisture with it,” Marino says.
She suggests moisturizing the skin after icing to prevent dryness and flakiness.
Don’t do it after certain procedures
Caroline suggests consulting with an aesthetician or doctor before giving yourself an ice facial if you’ve recently had:
- laser procedure
- chemical peel
- cosmetic surgery
“You want the skin to heal on its own,” Caroline says.
Face icing isn’t a cure-all
You’ll want to manage your expectations. For example, you may see a reduction in pimples, but you might not.
There’s no real clinical evidence to support the benefits of facial icing. Without clinical evidence, it’s hard to give a timeframe for when breakouts and other skin conditions will improve — or if they will at all.
What’s more, both Caroline and Marino say that ice facials aren’t cure-alls. They suggest maintaining your usual skin care routine, including using a cleanser and moisturizer. Lifestyle factors, like sun protection and diet, also play a role in skin health.
The evidence to support facial icing’s benefits is only anecdotal so far, but some experts say it can reduce inflammation and puffiness. It’s also a quick and accessible process.
For the most part, all you need is ice. You can also buy tools, like rollers, to help with application.
You’ll move ice around your face for a minute or less and then complete your usual skin care routine. It’s important to keep moving the ice around, as leaving it on one spot for too long can cause ice burn.
Speak with your doctor or surgeon before doing an ice facial if you recently had a laser procedure or other cosmetic surgery.
Beth Ann Mayer is a New York-based writer. In her spare time, you can find her training for marathons and wrangling her son, Peter, and three furbabies.