Should You Freeze Your Face? It May Be the Secret to an Instant Face Lift

Photo credit: Image Source - Getty Images
Photo credit: Image Source - Getty Images

When Faye Dunaway, playing Joan Crawford, sticks her face in a sink of ice during that indelible beauty routine scene from 1981’s Mommie Dearest, it seems a little… well, eccentric at best. Yet it turns out that Crawford, who allegedly really did splash her face 25 times every morning with ice cubes marinated in rose water, was onto something. Exposure to extreme cold can actually improve skin’s appearance significantly: depuffing under-eye bags, contouring cheekbones and jawline, reducing pore size, and easing acne. And there’s a reason why some people call it “frotox”—it may also be anti-aging. “I have been using cold therapy for over 30 years, because it is so effective,” says celebrity facialist Joanna Czech, who incorporates a Cryo Machine by Zimmer Cryo in many of her facials. “It helps stimulate collagen and elastin production, which tightens the skin. The cold air helps to remove toxins and CO2 from the superficial layers of the skin. It also calms down redness and inflammation, which makes it a great option for clients with acne, rosacea or eczema. After a Cryo Facial, skin looks smoother, tighter, and truly luminous.”

Makeup artists, models—and yes, even royalty—have understood the beauty benefits of a deep freeze for centuries. Catherine the Great is said to have rubbed ice on her face and décolleté on a regular basis. Pioneering Hollywood makeup artist and brand founder Max Factor invented a strap-on “hangover mask” in the 1940s (Google it) that consisted of multiple ice cubes adhered to a proto-sheet mask. And supermodel supreme Kate Moss has even admitted to lifting the ice-in-the-sink trick straight out of Mommie Dearest. It endures because it works.

Chilling the skin causes blood vessels to contract, shrinking pores and reducing puffiness immediately. Then, when the cold source is removed, blood and oxygen rush to the surface of the skin as it returns to its regular temperature, providing an overall tightening and glow-boosting benefit. And it works on the body just as well as the face. “My most popular all-over treatment is the Supernova Body treatment,” says Founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care and Author of Glow From Within Joanna Vargas. “It's the most requested because it exfoliates, hydrates and reduces inflammation via cryotherapy and oxygen. It’s literally a facial for the body.”

To reap the benefits of cold therapy at home, you need only treat skin for seconds at a time. Dedicated tools, such as Vargas’s Magic Glow Wand, mimic the effect of spa cryotherapy, as do “ice globes,” which are wands with rounded ends that retain their cold once removed from the freezer long enough to do a soothing, super-contouring DIY facial massage. Czech recommends keeping sheet masks in the fridge, then rolling a facial massager over them to encourage the absorption of active ingredients, or even going completely lo-fi and using an ice cube (with caution). “Ice cubes should be wrapped and not used directly on the skin,” she says. “Wrap them in gauze, a muslin face cloth or the soft, silky cloths you get for cleaning your glasses or sunglasses. and then run it over the face, but keep it moving. This way you get the cold without the freezing.” And that’s not her only hack: “One of my favorite ways to use ice cubes are over your serums. This helps to infuse product into the skin. I also find that if you use a microcurrent device, or do a stimulating massage, and then ice the face, it holds the firming effect of the treatment better. It almost ‘freezes’ it in place.”

As an easy, effective add to any skincare regimen, ice can't be beat. And on a hot summer day? Even better.

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