Not every skincare tool needs to be pricey or complex. In fact, the secret to improving your complexion may already be hiding in your freezer.
Skin’s reaction to cold temperatures prompts a number of physiological systems that benefit your complexion. Whether you use a chilled facial massager, refrigerated products, or a simple ice cube, cold therapy can help reduce puffiness, calm reactive skin, and more.
How Cold Therapy Works
You’re probably familiar with applying ice packs to sore areas of the body to reduce swelling and inflammation. But recently, wellness-minded individuals have embraced the same science behind these age-old remedies. Athletes are incorporating cold plunges and cryotherapy chambers post-workout to improve recovery. And skincare experts are including cold therapy in their routines for a cooling and tightening effect that quickly depuffs, wakes up the skin, and even boosts product penetration.
The theory around cold therapy for the skin revolves around the constriction and dilation of the blood vessels. When exposed to cold temperatures, blood vessels constrict, which reduces redness and causes fluids to pull back from the surface, like a vacuum. In response, excess fluids that cause puffiness and inflammation decrease while the absorption of nutrient-dense skincare products increases. Similar to heat and cold therapy, once the skin re-establishes its normal temperature, the blood vessels dilate, increasing circulation and the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the skin.
Why is Cold Therapy Good for Your Skin?
Beyond the instant visible results and an invigorating sensation, cold therapy can improve your skin’s overall health and promote a youthful appearance. Here are the benefits of cold therapy for your skin:
- Reduces puffiness - Cold temps cause blood vessels to constrict and excess fluids to pull away from the surface.
- Improves skin tone and texture - Tightening and a boosted glow are typical effects of cryotherapy due to increased circulation and the rush of oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
- Shrinks the appearance of pores - Although it’s only temporary, pores contract along with the blood vessels when they are exposed to cold temps.
- Reduces inflammation - Anything “cryo” is anti-inflammatory, which slows the effects of aging, speeds up healing, and stimulates collagen production.
- Decreases redness - Redness is caused by irritation or increased skin temperature. Cold therapy calms and cools, reducing vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels).
- Calms acne - Icing inflamed acne can calm the irritated area and even reduce excessive oil production.
Incorporating Cold Therapy into Your Skincare Routine
There are several ways to reap the benefits of cold therapy for your skin, and the best part is that many of them are free and easy to incorporate into your current routine.
- Ice cubes - A simple ice cube works well but should not be applied directly to the skin. Wrap a few in cotton or gauze or run them over a sheet mask, gently gliding from the center of the face and moving outwards.
- A cold facial massage tool - Our Facial Massager is inherently cool to the touch, but storing it in the fridge gives it the perfect temperature for cold therapy. Facial massage also boosts drainage, giving you a double dose of depuffing.
- Cryo Sticks - I love this cryotherapy treatment by Biologique Recherche. The sculptural wands retain their cool temperature very well. Simultaneously sweep them across each side of your face to increase product absorption or lay them across the eyes to reduce puffiness.
- Face Mask + The Facial Massager or Cryo Sticks - These combinations are an excellent way to help the nutrients in face masks penetrate deeper, and you'll get a double dose of cryo benefits when your skin is feeling particularly reactive.
- Refrigerated skincare products - Keep eye masks, face masks, eye creams, or facial mists in the fridge for when your skin feels inflamed, tired, or puffy.
When combining cold therapy with facial massage, using the correct technique and movements will amplify the benefits. After applying a serum or face mask, sweep the massage tool from the middle of the face, up and out using mild pressure, leading with the roller and following with the handle so you can grasp the contours of your face. Watch this video for my detailed tutorial on facial massage.
Cold Therapy Precautions and Risks
If you follow a few simple rules, cold therapy can become an incredibly safe and effective practice to add to your skincare toolbox.
The first thing to remember is that cold therapy should never feel painful. This is why we recommend keeping your Facial Massager and Cryo Sticks in the refrigerator, not the freezer, and never applying ice cubes directly on the skin. Instead, you should feel a pleasant cooling sensation and energizing effect.
If you’re still wondering whether cold therapy is right for you, check with your esthetician or a healthcare professional.