Hollywood icons like Joan Crawford have long praised daily ice baths as skin-tightening miracles, and ice in different forms has continued to play a role in our skincare routines.
Cute little skin fridges to chill our products through the summer months, fancy 'cryo' rollers and spheres, ice facials and all even Calippo-shaped skincare cocktails applied like icy serums straight to the face.
I follow a number of facialists and estheticians, and many of them name ice as a must for any acne-prone skin, using it to avoid picking at blemishes, reducing swelling and speeding up healing. So what's the real deal? Is it a chilly bit of skin magic, or just a 'cool' way to freshen the face?
In the sporting world, ice baths (also known as cold-water immersion), have often been used to reduce inflammation and decrease recovery time although there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of this for the muscles over other types of recovery (and recently it's been suggested that this kind of cryotherapy won't benefit the muscles over time).
I follow a number of facialists and estheticians, and many of them the humble ice cube (or even frozen water in a shot glass) as a must for any acne-prone skin, using it to avoid picking at blemishes, reducing swelling and speeding up healing. So what's the real deal? Is it a chilly bit of skin magic, or just a 'cool' way to freshen the face?
Ice isn't going to have much impact on blackheads or whiteheads (noninflammatory pimples) and it definitely won't "shrink" your pores, but pustules and cysts could benefit from some cooling down with ice to reduce swelling and irritation, also constricting blood flow and lessening the red appearance of a particularly angry pimple. You'll also get a temporary numbing which can be a welcome relief for a cystic acne that's throbbing (especially if you've gone to town on it that day!).
You're best off not applying ice straight to the skin, instead using an ice pack or a clean microfibre towel to create a barrier between the ice and your skin, and keep taking the ice on and off every few minutes.
As a general rule of thumb, our skin doesn't like extreme temperatures, hot or cold, so excessive steaming and icing can have the opposite effect and end up causing additional inflammation and trauma.
As someone that "runs cold" most of the day, I always welcome lukewarm water on my face as it tends to prepare my skin best for other products and for sunscreen to sit smoothly on top, so I've personally never been tempted by ice therapy for my skin.
Overall, this kind of DIY treatment is super low-risk and inexpensive, and worth a try if you're a few days away from seeing your trusted skin specialist and managing some unruly breakouts, but you definitely don't require any $200 cryo-tools to achieve the same outcome as some clean spoons straight out of the freezer!