How to Give Yourself a Cryotherapy Facial at Home

It’s an old trick of makeup artists: sweeping ice cubes over the face to shrink puffy undereyes and leave skin taut as a drum. Suffice to say, this particular technique wasn’t the most high-tech or mess-free of approaches, but “ice-lift facials” are having a revival and, crucially, an upgrade. This sub-zero take on beauty has evolved into ice globes and cryotherapy tools that promise an uncharted glow and ice-skating-rink-smooth skin. Best of all, they’re so low-tech, if you were blindfolded and handed these tools, you’d still be able to use them.

Given the strong interplay between beauty and wellness, it’s no wonder that cryotherapy — subjecting your body to temperatures as low as -220 degrees Fahrenheit – has transcended into the skin-care space. While a professional “skin-icing” facial involves liquid nitrogen (dry ice) being applied to the face, the at-home version deploys a tool that’s primed in the freezer. These come in myriad forms, all in tune with the type of aesthetically-pleasing beauty post Instagram eats up.

As the moniker suggests, ice globes (some of the more popular at-home cryotherapy tools), have a spherical head made of glass or stainless steel, which is filled with a freezable liquid. Perched atop ergonomic handles, they’re shaped like a pair of maracas you sweep over the planes of the face. At the other end of the spectrum are wands that resemble arty soup ladles and futuristic steel versions of your jade roller. Or perhaps you prefer a less labor-intensive option: wearing an icy face mask to counteract morning-after puffiness.

What is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late ’70s as a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. Athletes in Europe and the US adopted the technique, stripping and standing in whole-body cryo chambers for up to three minutes to aid muscle recovery. Just like you reach for a bag of frozen peas to take down swelling from an injury, “the idea is to cool and numb areas of inflammation before an arduous game,” says Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. It can also help “quell aching joints and ease migraines,” she adds.

How does cryotherapy benefit the skin?

A pallid hue and puffy face are no match for the cold. Chief among cryotherapy’s benefits are the immediate sculpting effects, which encourage skin to become a smoother, tighter, perkier version of itself, effectively putting sagging on ice for a few hours. The cold shock “causes blood vessels to constrict, firming and tightening the skin,” says Dr. Gohara. When that subsides, “your blood vessels swell back up with fresh nutrient-rich blood. This temporary increase in localized blood flow enhances the performance of your skin-care products by helping actives to penetrate deeper.”

Equally impressive is the luminous, translucent glow often seen afterward. “[Ice globes and cryotherapy tools] can help to transiently improve firmness as well as facial circulation and glow,” adds Dr. Gohara, who notes that this is achieved by its abilities to temporarily alter the blood flow. “Theoretically, cryotherapy also helps skin by boosting antioxidants but there is little science to corroborate this.” Nevertheless, Dr. Gohara stresses that she’s a big fan of using ice globes, particularly on the cheeks and under the eyes.

Joshua Zeichner, M.D., FAAD. a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure that while it’s unclear whether regular use of ice globes can help skin age better, some facts stack up in its favor. “We do know they will provide an almost immediate deep de-puffing effect,” he explains. “Cold temperatures constrict blood vessels to help reduce inflammation, decrease swelling and excess fluid, and minimize redness in the skin.”

Cryotherapy is also said to have some “collagen-modulating activities in the skin,” he continues. “There’s data to suggest that it can help improve scarring.”

Are ice globes and cryotherapy tools safe?

The short answer is yes – with a caveat. While the “skin icing” trend is huge on Reels and TikTok, the dermatologists we spoke to say that swirling an ice cube on the skin could do damage on the sly, so don’t skimp on a proper tool.

“To open up the lymph nodes, press the warm tools on either side of the clavicle, then behind the neck and in front of the ears,” says Louise, adding that you should then roll them across the forehead before gliding a wand down each side of the face.

The tools of the at-home cryofacial trade include ice globes, masks, and assorted rollers that you can pop into the fridge or freezer so they can get nice and chilly before you use them. Some of our favorites? The Charlotte Tilbury Cryo Recovery Mask ($55), a reusable silicone mask you strap onto your face to get that intense cooling and toning of your skin. We also love the Kiramoon Moon Globes ($42), which are glass facial massagers that will help reduce puffiness and are super cute to boot — we love the light purple tint of the glass and silver glitter suspended inside the liquid. A more bougie option comes from Angela Caglia, whose Cryo Facial Globes ($125) are plated in 18K gold. Finally, the Vanity Planet Revive Professional Facial Ice Roller ($29) is like your jade roller, except made with a stainless steel head big enough to even use on your body when you want to soothe aching muscles after the gym.

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