Expert Opinion: Do Ice Facials Live Up to the Hype?

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.04 - 2024 8:20 PM CET

As ice facials gain momentum on social media, experts weigh in on their effectiveness and safety. Is this cool trend really worth it?

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The allure of a quick fix for wrinkles, under-eye bags, and large pores has driven many to embrace the trend of ice facials, with enthusiasts touting their miraculous benefits for skin rejuvenation. But does science support these claims?

We turned to dermatologists to shed light on the cold facts behind ice facials and other forms of cryotherapy.

The principle behind using ice for facial care stems from its well-documented use in reducing pain and swelling in injuries. Dermatologist Elizabeth Kiracofe explains that ice causes vasoconstriction, narrowing blood vessels and potentially alleviating inflammation. This same logic is applied to the bags under one's eyes or the redness and swelling from a pimple, making ice a popular home remedy.

“It generally makes skin look less red and puffy,” Kiracofe says.

However, Jessica Garelik, a dermatologist at New York University, warns against the indiscriminate use of ice on the face, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin. The risk of damaging the skin barrier is a serious concern that could lead to more harm than benefit.

Experts Weigh In: The Science Behind the Cold

While anecdotes and social media testimonials abound, clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of ice facials remains scarce.

According to experts, the benefits of ice facials may include temporary reduction in under-eye puffiness and alleviation of minor skin irritations like pimples or sunburns, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Hadley King, another dermatologist, notes that cold compresses are indeed recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for reducing eye puffiness. According to King the ice facials has another potential benefit due to their exfoliating properties: “Anytime you're getting exfoliation, it gives you nice fresh skin that looks brighter, healthier, and less discolored.”

However, this does not equate to a scientifically proven method for anti-aging or long-term skin health.

Professional Cryotherapy

Some dermatology clinics provide cryotherapy treatments, utilizing the intense cold from liquid nitrogen to remove skin lesions such as warts, skin tags, and certain types of superficial skin cancers. This method is highly effective for addressing specific skin conditions, but it is not advisable or safe to attempt at home, according to Garelik.

There are also treatments like cryofacials, which involve applying vaporized liquid nitrogen to cool the skin intensely. While not recognized as an official treatment like cryotherapy, cryofacials deliver a level of cold that cannot be replicated at home.

But before investing drop hundreds of dollars in these professional treatments, experts urge caution.

Proceed with Caution

Before jumping on the ice facial bandwagon, it's crucial to consider your skin type. Those with dry, sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea may find that ice facials do more harm than good. Kiracofe advises against direct contact with ice and recommends using a barrier like a paper towel or an ice roller to mitigate the risk of irritation.

In the end, while the refreshing sensation of an ice facial might feel good, its status remains more in the realm of a "feel-good" therapy rather than a dermatologist-endorsed treatment. As with any skincare trend, it's essential to listen to your skin and consult with a professional to avoid unintended consequences.

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