Skin icing (also known as cryotherapy) is trending , and it could give your complexion a much-needed burst of radiance. Whilst we’re usually warning you about ways to weather-proof your skin when it’s cold outside, this particular type of ice-cold skincare is actually beneficial for your complexion. Did you know that ice works wonders for dull skin? Well, it can minimise pores and even reduce the inflammation caused by blemishes. We’ve noticed this skincare technique (which has long been practised throughout history) making a comeback with updates that make it even more effective.
We’ve got all the info, the science behind the technique, why it’s trending now and—even better—the best ice-inspired skincare products you can buy right now.
Simply put, skin icing is when you use an ice cube to reduce under-eye or facial puffiness. It has long been a staple of skincare wisdom (we’ve all used a refrigerated spoon or cucumber slices on our eyes in the past, right?). Far from being an old wives tale, there’s actually science behind this age-old advice. When actual ice is applied to the skin, it causes blood to rise to the surface (think of that rosy glow you get after a brisk winter walk), which soothes and tightens the skin.
Ice has long been a secret to clear skin and a healthy-looking glow. Russian empress Catherine the Great was said to have applied ice cubes to her face, neck and décolletage every morning to give her skin a radiant appearance. Whilst expensive facials and complicated skincare tools have their place, sometimes the simplest tricks are classics for a reason.
Iconic Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was another high-profile fan of skin icing. She is said to have regularly submerged her face in a sink of ice water to brighten her complexion and counteract puffiness. Today, celebrity fans include Mandy Moore, who Instagrammed her Super Nova Facial with specialist Joanna Vargas. The Super Nova includes cryotherapy—to help increase circulation, oxygenation and lymphatic drainage, and also provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Vargas’s other clients include Elizabeth Moss and Dakota Johnson, who also enjoy her unique cryotherapy facials.
Kate Moss has also been vocal about her favourite “beauty secret”—the exact same practice of submerging the skin in ice water that Joan Crawford championed years before. If this trick keeps our favourite ’90s supermodels skin looking radiant, we want in.
You can use the ice therapy products we’re raving about below year-round, as the benefits of a cooling effect on the skin are advantageous no matter the season. Look forward to an all-around better complexion, as low temperatures used on the skin have been shown to reduce redness, minimise pores, reduce inflammation and diminish puffiness.
Subjecting the body to freezing temperatures is nothing new (think historic and more recently, athlete-approved ice baths). Amy Lawrenson, Byrdie’s editorial director, even braved the much-praised cryotherapy, where she enveloped her body in a chamber at -91º Celsius. We gave it the thumbs-up for a one-off specialist spa treatment, but thanks to the products below, you can reap the rewards in the comfort of your own home.
Even better, using a cooling skincare product on the face will help the actives absorb better. This is due to the cold temperature making the capillaries in the skin restrict, creating a “pulling” effect. Fatigued faces can look forward to a firming effect and stimulating feeling from the ice that helps eliminate toxins. After cleansing, try rubbing an ice cube in a circular motion around the face and under the eyes. This will stimulate circulation as well as give your skin a revitalising pick-me-up.
This year, we’ve seen a trendy update for the humble ice cube. As if the benefits of skin icing weren’t ample enough, experts have found a way to make this technique even more effective, less messy and at-home-facial friendly. Brands like Anne Semonin and Jalue are leading the way in at-home ice therapy products. Whilst you’d think you’d have to spend big bucks to get these treatments in a salon, they’re making next-level ice facials affordable and easy to do at home. The brands’ clever products manage to harness the ancient power of facial cryotherapy—combining it with new, cutting-edge ingredients and healing herbs to add another benefit to this already popular skincare saviour.
Try it for yourself
Keep scrolling to discover the best products for at an at-home ice facial.
If you’re looking for all-out luxury, skincare expert Teresa Tarmey offers a Cryo-Ball that’ll allow you to experience her sought-after Ice-Lift Facial at home. The Cryo-Ball instantly lifts saggy skin and sculpts the face. Made with surgical-grade steel and freeze-retaining fluids, this kit is all-out skincare innovation in your hands. The ball is kept in the freezer for 12 hours prior to use. When applied, the freezing temperatures will prompt tighter skin and give an instant glow. The genius gadget stays ice cold for ages so you can take your time massaging it across your skin.
The reusable silicone mask is layered over an application of the pure hyaluronic acid to aid the ingredient's delivery into the skin. There’s also a lactic acid toner to gently exfoliate the skin.
This clever little eye-care gem minimises dark circles with the help of its innovative “ice effect” texture. The revolutionary ceramic applicator boosts the icy feeling. Hyaluronic acid and brown alga mean hydration, whilst the gel works to smooth fine lines and reduce puffiness. You can use this at any time during the day, and it’s even approved for those with sensitive skin.
Jalue is the brainchild of Jale Demirchi, who, after being immersed in Russian skincare history and herbalism from birth, was inspired by Catherine the Great’s penchant for ice-cold skincare. Demirchi developed Jalue Ice Therapy so customers could easily reap the benefits of ice facials at home. The packaging feels luxe and triple its affordable price tag. The “wake up your skin” pack contains an ergonomic, reusable ice cone applicator that’s is filled with water and mixed herbal sachets to fight the formation of wrinkles, lessen the appearance of pores and give the skin a glowing appearance.
The hand-sewn muslin cotton sachets contain dried herbs and petals of chamomile, sage, nettle, rose and oak bark—all proven to sooth and boost the skin’s natural glow.
We told you Anne Semonin was the go-to brand for ice therapy at home. The innovative range has been described as “haute couture for the skin,” with MUA Lisa Eldridge professing her love for Semonin’s radiance-boosting ice cubes. We’re not entirely surprised the brand is ahead of this trend, as it’s been pioneering skincare for decades. (Legendary French facialist Anne even counted Grace Kelly as a client.)
These nifty cubes will give you more skin-friendly benefits than an ice cube alone ever could. They contain marine spring water, which is rich in trace elements and mineral salts. There are also extracts of evening primrose oil and red micro-algae to add radiance and moisture. Store these little miracles in your freezer, and when you’re ready to use them, the neuro-cosmetics (which calm the skin’s nerve endings and restore the skin’s natural balance) will work their magic. To use, turn the cubes out of the moulds and wrap them in the gauze provided.
Smooth them over the face, neck and décolletage.
If face masks are your thing, you’ll love this hydrating, plumping ice mask by Korean brand Lindsey. We all know makeup looks best on smooth, glowing skin, so reap the rewards of this icy mask that has wrinkle-busting hyaluronic acid. Simply pour water into the packet that contains a glow-boosting powder, and in just 20 minutes, this cooling mask will leave your skin feeling baby-smooth.
Semonin followed the success of her radiance-boosting ice cubes by creating specialist eye cubes made especially for the delicate area of the skin. Think of these cooling cubes as an instant soother for tired, stressed eyes. Gourd extract plumps up fine lines and wrinkles whilst bioflavonoids visibly improve dark circles. Simply dab over the eyelids; then sweep them under the eyes. The cubes contain hyaluronic acid and lysine, which help to combat ageing. These little cubes are the definition of small but mighty.
Next up, read nine tricks to perfect skin we learnt from the A-list.