Applying ice to an area of the body for health purposes is known as cold therapy, or cryotherapy. It’s routinely used in the treatment of contusion injuries to:

  • ease pain by temporarily reducing nerve activity
  • lessen swelling by reducing blood flow
  • speed up functional recovery by promoting soft tissue healing

Proponents of ice facials, or “skin icing,” suggest that it can be used to:

These claims are only supported by anecdotal evidence. There’s no definitive clinical research indicating that ice facials can address these conditions.

Keep reading if you’re still curious about this popular face treatment. We’ll tell you more about it, including how to apply the ice to your face, alternative ingredients for your ice cubes, and best practices tips.

Advocates of ice facials suggest rolling four or five ice cubes in a soft cotton cloth. They then recommend using the covered ice cubes to gently massage your face with circular motions for a minute or two.

The circular massage can be performed a few times every day on your:

  • jawline
  • chin
  • lips
  • nose
  • cheeks
  • forehead

Ice for puffy eyes

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you can reduce bags under your eyes by applying a cold compress to the area with mild pressure for a few minutes. Proponents of ice facials suggest using ice cubes made of water or a caffeinated drink such as tea or coffee.

According to research from 2013, caffeine can penetrate the skin and increase circulation.

Ice for acne

Advocates of using skin icing to treat acne suggest it can slow down inflammation and minimize skin pores to reduce excessive oil production.

If using ice facials to address acne, change your ice and wrapping often to avoid spreading bacteria from one part of your face to another.

Some advocates of natural healing suggest replacing the water in your ice cubes with other ingredients, such as aloe vera and green tea. Anecdotal evidence suggests that ice cubes made with these ingredients can fine-tune the facial treatment for specific conditions.

Aloe ice

In the natural health community, aloe vera is used for a number of skin conditions. However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says there’s no sufficient scientific evidence to support aloe for healing wounds or any of its other popular uses.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that frozen aloe maintains its healing powers and can soothe sunburn and acne. Proponents of this practice say that if you don’t have frozen aloe, you can apply aloe gel to your skin before doing your regular ice facial.

Green tea ice

A number of studies, including one from 2013 published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, suggest that the catechins in green tea are antiviral and antibacterial.

Advocates of ice facials suggest that using ice cubes made from green tea can combine the benefits of ice on your face with virus- and bacteria-killing properties.

Before giving ice facials a try, discuss it with your doctor or dermatologist. They may have some concerns or suggestions for your skin condition, medications you may be taking, and current health status.

If you get the green light from your healthcare provider, here are some recommended tips to follow:

  1. Use a dedicated ice tray for the cubes you’ll be using for your face. Clean it after each use.
  2. Always wash your face before icing.
  3. Keep a clean washcloth or tissue handy to wipe excess liquid that might drip from your face.
  4. Use a cloth or some other barrier between the ice and your skin. This will protect your hands and face.
  5. Avoid holding the ice on your skin for too long. Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can result in ice burn.

The popularity of facial skin icing is simple to explain. If fits the profile for a health fad, including:

  • It’s inexpensive.
  • It’s easy to do.
  • There’s anecdotal evidence.
  • It’s widely covered on the internet.
  • It’s natural, non-chemically based.
  • It’s presented as a logical, sensible practice.

Facial skin icing is very popular. Although not supported by clinical research, there’s anecdotal evidence that it could be helpful for a number of conditions, such as acne and puffy eyes.

Many proponents of the practice suggest making ice cubes with different ingredients, like aloe and green tea, to address specific skin care needs.

If you’re considering ice facials, discuss the idea with your healthcare provider first. They can determine if icing your face is appropriate for your current health condition and any medications, especially topical, that you’ve been prescribed.