About

  • A cryotherapy facial involves having liquid nitrogen (aka dry ice) pumped all over your face for 2 to 3 minutes. The goal is to give the skin a glowy, youthful, and even appearance.

Safety

  • Cryo facials are generally considered safe.
  • In rare cases, cryotherapy can cause numbness, tingling, or frostbite.
  • Make sure you’re seeing a trained professional that you feel comfortable with.

Convenience

  • These facials are so popular, in part, because they’re fast and affordable, with no downtime or redness of the skin afterward.
  • A typical session lasts about 15 to 30 minutes, with the actual pumping lasting only 2 to 3 minutes.

Cost

  • The price of cryo facials ranges, but they’re generally considered to be one of the more affordable facial options.
  • Prices can range from around $40 to $150 or more per facial.

Efficacy

  • Cryo facials are an effective way to tighten and brighten the skin. They increase blood flow to the face, which can make the skin look healthy and plump.

It may not sound particularly pleasant to freeze your face, but that’s exactly what a cryotherapy facial — sometimes playfully called “frotox” — does, and people are loving it.

During the facial, a machine-operated device pumps liquid nitrogen onto the face. It’s said to brighten skin, tighten pores, and maybe even reduce the appearance of fine lines or age spots, all in as little as 15 minutes.

Who’s an ideal candidate?

Cryotherapy facials are a noninvasive cosmetic procedure and, unlike certain peels or microdermabrasion, they won’t leave skin looking red or raw.

Really, anyone who wants a glow is a good candidate for a cryotherapy facial, especially those who feel that their skin looks tired or dull.

If you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s best to check in with your doctor before getting a cryo facial.

might want to skip it

General risks for cryo facials include skin discoloration for up to 1 year, or possibly even permanently, according to the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center. A 2010 study suggests that the risk is increased for people who have darker skin types and certain skin conditions.

Because cryo facials are an elective cosmetic procedure, they’re not covered by insurance. The price ranges dramatically, depending on where you have one done. Typically, cryo facials start at around $40 and can go all the way to $150.

The facial itself is typically really quick; some take less than 20 minutes. Also, because there’s no anesthesia or redness, there’s no need for downtime — you can go right back to work.

During a cryo facial, the intense cold causes your blood vessels to contract and your pores to tighten, which is a similar but more intense version of what happens when you rub ice on your face.

Once your skin returns to its normal temperature, the blood vessels dilate quickly.

This causes an increase in the flow of blood and oxygen to the face, which can make skin glowy and more vibrant, and may also cause your lips to look more plump. The rush of blood and oxygen can also make the face look less swollen and more taut.

Cryotherapy, in general, may have health benefits for people with skin conditions. One study, for example, showed that whole-body cryotherapy can help reduce atopic dermatitis symptoms.

There’s also some research supporting the idea that extremely cold temperatures can reduce sebum production, thereby reducing acne. However, the study was conducted in mice, so more research is needed.

When you arrive for your appointment, the practitioner will go through several steps to get you ready for your cryo facial. The procedure generally goes as follows:

  • Your face will be thoroughly cleansed and dried. Some practitioners like to steam the face or do a gentle massage for lymphatic drainage before the cold part begins.
  • They’ll likely ask you to remove any jewelry and give you goggles to wear.
  • You’ll feel liquid nitrogen hitting your face from a hose. It’ll definitely feel cold — like sticking your face in a freezer — but it shouldn’t be unbearable.
  • The hose will cover your face for just about 3 minutes. Some people find the sensation relaxing.
  • The technician will then apply a moisturizer or serum on your face, and in some cases, they do a second facial. Then you’re good to go.

Cryo facials target the face and, in some cases, the neck or décolletage.

Healthcare providers sometimes use this cryotherapy technique on other areas of the body. Cryotherapy may, for example, help reduce symptoms of migraine and arthritis pain, treat mood disorders, freeze cancer cells, and potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

While cryotherapy facials are generally considered safe, there are risks and possible side effects.

  • Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated room, as nitrogen in an enclosed space can cause oxygen deficiency.
  • Because the vapor is extremely cold, usually between -200°F (-129°C) and -300°F (-184°C), you could get ice burn, or frostbite, though this is a rare side effect.
  • You may temporarily feel numbness or tingling of the face.
  • Some people experience skin discoloration, and it may be temporary or permanent.

Cryo facials are quick and easy, with little to no downtime. You’ll be able to walk out of the aesthetician’s office and continue with your normal activities.

You should see results immediately, and they’ll be similar to the glowy look that the skin can have after a brisk walk in the cold. These initial results tend to last for a few weeks.

To maintain the effects, a person may need a cryo facial every 3 to 5 weeks. The more frequently you go, the more permanent results will be, as the facial can change skin’s texture and firmness over time.

You should prepare for a cryo facial as you would for any other facial.

  • If you get Botox or other injectables, make sure to wait at least 2 weeks before your cryo facial.
  • Drink lots of water in the days before, so your skin is hydrated.
  • Also, avoid heavy exfoliation and any new products that could irritate your skin.
  • If possible, try to show up without heavy makeup — this will cut down the overall time of the procedure.

You want to make sure that you’re getting a cryo facial from a reliable, licensed aesthetician.

It may be a good idea to visit the aesthetician before booking the appointment, to make sure that their space seems clean and inviting and to see before and after photos of their clients.

The aesthetician may want to look at your skin and tell you whether you seem like a good candidate for cryo or if they recommend a different treatment.