When it comes to skin care, there’s no shortage of fads to choose from.
From DIY food masks to layering products, some are willing to try just about anything to get the best from their complexion.
The latest trend to take off in the skin care world is cryotherapy: in other words, “cold therapy.”
Everyone these days seems to be turning down the temperature on their faces.
But does cryotherapy have any real benefits? And how can you safely try the technique at home for yourself? Here’s what the skin care experts have to say.
While cryotherapy is probably most commonly associated with the beauty world these days, it was originally created as a holistic pain treatment.
2005 research suggests that using cold temperatures in medicine dates back all the way to 2500 BC.
However, as reported by Inc., modern cryotherapy’s origins are typically thought to date back to 1978 when it was first invented by Toshima Yamauchi, a Japanese doctor, as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Since the ’70s, cryotherapy has been a popular technique for treating pain.
More recently, cryotherapy has picked up traction in the beauty world as people are becoming interested in cold facials, cold skin products, and cold skin tools.
“A cryotherapy regimen is based around ice cold therapy which is applied to the skin via masks, crystal rollers, cooling orbs, facial massagers, and directly applying ice,” says Savaş Altan, medical aesthetic doctor at Vera Clinic.
Still, the question remains: do they do anything for the appearance of the skin?
According to Altan, cryotherapy in your skin care can help with acne and other kinds of inflammation.
“Cryotherapy principles are a great way to enhance your skin care routine and are considered a great treatment for reducing acne and inflammation,” says Altan.
Cryotherapy can also help to ‘wake up’ the skin.
“Cryotherapy can stimulate blood flow, skin oxygenation, and lymphatic drainage around the face, creating a brighter complexion and reducing the appearance of pores,” says Altan
Melanie Palm, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Art of Skin MD, agrees.
“When it comes to skin care, using tools like ice globes to deliver cold temperatures to the face can help to constrict blood vessels, which can provide temporary firming, tightening and sculpting effects,” says Palm. “They can also be helpful in reducing puffiness, particularly in the under eye area, pretty immediately.”
However, according to Michele Koo of Dr. Koo Skincare, it’s important to practice cryotherapy safely.
“Cryotherapy is used to destroy tissue such as warts or keratoses and can cause significant damage to normal skin,” says Koo. “It’s a tissue destructive process.”
Cold temperatures cause the capillaries to constrict. This makes the skin appear less red and inflamed, but too much cold can irritate the skin and cause more redness.
Koo also adds that contrary to what some skin care influencers may claim, there’s currently no research that suggests that cryotherapy can reduce lines or increase collagen production.
With those safety precautions in mind, there are a few ways to gently practice cryotherapy at home.
Pop your serums or masks in the fridge
Some serums and sheet face masks can become more soothing and depuffing after being refrigerated.
It may prove helpful to put products that target these issues in the fridge since cool temperatures reduce inflammation, redness and puffiness. This can include eye creams, soothing serums, and moisturizing masks.
Koo suggests placing a hydrating mist in the fridge to refresh after long hours in front of a computer screen. There are also other cryo-based serums and masks that are designed to be used cold.
Give yourself a chilled roller or gua sha massage
“A chilled jade roller will calm and lessen inflammation such as an allergic reaction, puffy eyes, or rosacea,” says Koo.
- Use a refrigerated serum or moisturizer so that the tool can glide easily over the skin.
- Then, glide the cooled roller or gua sha over the face (always moving up and out from the center) to drain any congestion in the skin, reduce puffiness, stimulate the blood flow and leave your skin looking lifted and fresh.
- When done, clean and dry your tool.
Don’t directly ice your skin: try ice globes instead
Ice globes are one of the biggest at-home cryotherapy trends around.
An ice globe is a cryotherapy massage tool usually made of glass. It consists of a handle and a sphere filled with anti-freeze liquid. Typically, they’re kept in the freezer to keep them icy cold.
While some influencers recommend using ice cubes directly on the skin, experts caution that it can lead to skin damage.
“I do not recommend doing skin icing as you run the risk of exposing your skin to extreme temperatures, which can lead to skin or underlying fat damage,” says Palm. “Instead of applying ice cubes directly to the skin, I prefer a gentler alternative, like ice globes or an ice roller, which can help to de-puff and even provide temporary sculpting effects.”
If you are going to try tools like ice rollers and globes, Palm adds “it’s important to keep the tool continuously moving across the skin, as opposed to keeping it in one area for too long.”
This can prevent prolonged cold exposure in one area.
Is the future of skin care cold? It certainly seems that it could be.
According to initial research, cryotherapy techniques on the skin may help to reduce puffiness and redness leaving you with a tighter, firmer complexion. However, it’s not a miracle treatment, and it probably won’t do much for any fine lines or collagen depletion.
Luckily, cryotherapy principles can easily be applied at home. Try popping your favorite serums and rollers in the fridge to add some extra depuffing action to your routine, but avoid putting ice directly on the face.
Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.