Currently Trending: Cryotherapy-Based Skincare Products 

Ice sticks, chilled application wands and cooling masks are popping up on store shelves nationwide. Is cold therapy the magic beauty tool we’ve been searching for? Two experts weigh in.

The first week of the pandemic, my skin suddenly started to resemble a pizza pie. Panicked, I hopped on a video call with New York-based aesthetician Sofie Pavitt for a skincare overhaul, and she gave me a strict new routine that included both acne- and acne-scar-fighting ingredients—and ice cubes.

“The ice cubes are very important,” she said, explaining that applying ice to blemishes can be the best, fastest way to soothe inflammation—a.k.a. reducing the size and redness of pimples.

Since adding ice to my skincare routine and seeing such results, I’ve noticed many new beauty products touting the benefits of a chill. There are “ice globes,” by brands like Skin Gear, glass sticks with balls at the end and ice inside, said to calm redness. Estée Lauder released Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix, which comes with a cooling stainless steel applicator to help diminish under eye puffiness. And Charlotte Tilbury recently debuted a Cryo-Recovery Face Mask (and eye serum) promising to de-puff the face and shrink the appearance of pores.

Do they actually work? “Any form of cryotherapy will provide some benefit, whether you’re using a frozen spoon at home or going to your dermatologist for a treatment, but of course, the results will vary accordingly,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, celebrity dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in New York City who partnered with Charlotte Tilbury for the release of the brand’s new cryotherapy products.

Below, Engelman and Dr. Marni Wiseman, a dermatologist at Winnipeg’s SKiNWISE clinic, share everything you need to know about using cryotherapy for beauty benefits.

(Related: Is an At-Home LED Face Mask Actually Worth It?)

What is cryotherapy exactly?

Cryotherapy is commonly known as a body treatment offered in a professional setting to reduce inflammation, offer pain relief and even help treat anxiety and depression. It’s also used by dermatologists to freeze off warts and cancerous cells. Most recently, it has been used as a facial treatment to improve skin’s appearance.

In a professional setting, cryotherapy involves liquid nitrogen, also known as dry ice, but Engelman says the term can also refer to some at-home techniques, such as using a chilled facial roller or gua cha tool.

Why is cryotherapy so popular right now?

According to Engelman, people are drawn to cryotherapy due to its immediate results—skin is instantly tighter, de-puffed and less red. Plus, it can be convenient. “Anyone can quickly reap the benefits of simple cryotherapy at home with a single beauty tool, or even household items like a spoon or ice cube,” says Engelman.

What are realistic results to expect from cold beauty products?

Professional cryotherapy facials offer greater benefits than at-home alternatives, but cryo-inspired beauty products can lead to some significant results. “Holding a spoon to your undereye area will help with de-puffing, and a beauty tool that’s designed for cryotherapy can be used all over the face to not only deliver cold to the skin, but also to massage, contour, [and] stimulate blood flow,” says Engelman. The process can also boost the efficacy of other topical products by drawing them deeper into the skin as blood vessels contract.

Cryo-inspired beauty tools can also be a great way to soothe post-treatment swelling and redness, such as after a laser treatment, says Wiseman. Plus, the cold can help alleviate any discomfort caused by the procedure.

(Related: Facial Cupping Will De-Puff Your Face While Relieving Built-Up Tension)

Which cryotherapy beauty products are worth trying?

“Look for products that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine or occasional self-care ritual,” says Engelman. She’s a fan of chilled facial rollers as they pair cryotherapy with massage to perform lymphatic drainage, which can offer the benefits of cryo and also help sculpt the face.

Wiseman suggests reaching for a chilled product, like a stainless steel applicator over ice, as they’re safer to use. “Applying ice directly to the skin can actually cause freezing of the skin that’s equated to frostbite,” she says. “Thermal damage can be done to skin cells, which can lead to irreversible damage and cell death.” If you choose to use ice or an ice-focused product, like ice globes, Wiseman says to check in with your body’s warning signs and not overdo it. “If it feels uncomfortably cold, limit the application time.”

Are there any products you should pair with cryotherapy or beauty products?

“Since cryotherapy pulls topical products deeper into the skin, making them more effective, I definitely recommend pairing cryotherapy with serums,” says Engelman. Have dehydrated skin? Apply a moisturizer right after.

(Related: How to Find the Right Vitamin C Serum for You)

How often should you use them for results?

“Cryotherapy treatments work better cumulatively,” says Engelman, so for best results, incorporate your chilled beauty products into your daily routine.

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