We’ve long been warned about using heated styling tools on our hair. All the curling irons, straightening tools, and hair dryers help to style however we like, but they definitely have a negative effect on the health of our hair—that's been proven. So when we discovered the newest gadget: a cold version of styling tools, we were skeptical (and intrigued).
Cryotherapy has already been used for the body to alleviate arthritis aches and post-workout pain, and more recently, introduced into skincare and facials for acne and eczema symptoms, as well as brightening, energizing, and lifting benefits. So, I suppose it's no surprise cold therapy has extended to our strands. In fact, the practice is not entirely new. Cryotherapy caps have been approved by the FDA to prevent hair loss in chemotherapy patients since 2015. Below, expert advice and various studies about why cryotherapy may be a helpful new way to style and care for your hair.
Cold Versus Hot
"Cold brushes are finishing tools that smooth hair," says Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist and hair expert at The Right Hairstyles. "They are not meant to straighten the hair like heat brushes, and can even be used on curls,” Abdullah explains. These tools work by adding moisture and flattening the hair cuticle, which is pretty much the opposite of how heat works (heat opens your hair cuticle). When the cold flattens it, the cuticle is sealed, which is how the cryotherapy is able to reduce frizz, increase shine, and encourage hair growth.
"Cryotherapy is great for all types of hair," Adbullah says, "particularly color-treated or over-processed hair—anything that's prone to splitting." It’s also great for those with curly and natural hair, says Sally-Kate Duboux of Hair by Duboux in Hockley, Essex. "Working oils and creams through your hair helps the cryotherapy [do its job], and can work wonders on locking in moisture and adding shine,” Duboux adds. "The cold treatment locks in the moisture lost through the over-use of heated tools, and cryotherapy brushes add a natural healthy shine to your hair while smoothing any natural or humidity-induced frizz, she explains.
If you have been experiencing any kind of hair loss, this could be a game changer. A 2017 study found cryotherapy is an effective treatment for alopecia patches—and it’s a simple and non-invasive option. "It can be considered as a meaningful therapeutic modality for alopecia areata, especially when the disease status is mild, or the conventional AA treatment is not applicable,” the study concludes.
Cryotherapy is hydrating, as it grabs moisture from your environment and seals it into your air. That said, if you hair in prone to oiliness, don't use it every day, or try balancing your moisture levels with weekly protein treatments. That’s not to say that cryotherapy shouldn’t be used daily. In order to see results, you’ll most likely need to do it at for a few weeks before you really notice a difference.
Babyliss' Pro CryoCare The Cold Brush is a popular option, as well as products from smaller companies like the Perfect Finish Ice Cold Treatment and the Frozen Flat Iron from CIC Beauty. The Cold Brush cools, moisturizes, and untangles while it brushes your hair. It goes down to 32 degrees, so while it won’t freeze your hair, you’ll notice the chill.