Is an at-Home Ice Facial Good for Skin?

Icing your face has its benefits.

Beauty industry experts have used ice cubes for a long time to improve skin's texture and appearance. Dua Lipa's makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, relies on them to ease jet lag-induced puffiness. Kate Hudson is known to submerge her face into an ice bath (simply filling a sink with water and lots of ice cubes), and celebrity facialist Ole Henriksen incorporates ice into Hollywood facials.

Skin icing is a cryotherapy treatment (also known as cold therapy) in which skin is exposed to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes. Gadgets like facial globes and ice rollers stored in a skincare fridge are popular, with experts like facialist Melanie Grant (who counts Victoria Beckham amongst her A-list clientele) sharing icy skincare tools and routines. But the most basic form of cryotherapy is smearing ice cubes on the face, an easy and practically free treatment that can be done right at home.

But what are the benefits of enveloping your face in sub-zero temperatures—and does it truly work? Rather than spending money on expensive gadgets, we decided to try good old H2O (frozen, that is) and some affordable ice trays. Keep reading to discover the benefits of icing your face—and what went down when tried at home.

The Benefits of Icy Skincare

There is real merit to cold beauty, and we're not just talking about the sensorial. "You can use ice to reduce puffiness around the eyes, decrease oil production and inflamed spots, constrict pores, soothe sunburn, and give the skin a healthy glow by boosting micro-circulation," says Sophie Shotter, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Cosmetic Skin Clinic. "It is also said to increase absorption of active ingredients by causing capillary constriction and creating a 'pulling' effect into the skin."

You don't need to go to a professional esthetician to reap its benefits, either. Using ice on the skin is an easily accessible form of cold therapy, according to Dr. Shotter. "As ice cubes are applied to the skin, blood vessels will constrict. This reduces blood flow to the area, which is how swelling and inflammation improve. As the ice is removed, the capillaries will open up again, giving the skin a rosy glow."

While skin icing is relatively safe, it's worth noting that sensitive skin types should tread carefully. Dr. Shotter advises never to apply the ice directly to the skin; instead, "…wrap it in a piece of soft gauze. And don't aim to ice your skin for too long if you struggle with sensitivity. It should feel a little tingly but not painful to avoid burning."

How to Do an at-Home Ice Facial

What You Need

  • One large ice cube (optional: one smaller ice cube for around the eyes)
  • Muslin cloth or flannel

Our Process

After a standard morning skincare routine (cleanser + exfoliating toner), I applied a hyaluronic acid serum. The thinking: If I cleared away the dead skin and applied a serum, the ice would close pores and help the actives drive deeper into the skin.

Holding the cloth-enrobed ice cube, I massaged it onto the skin in an upward movement, just like you would with gua sha or facial rolling. Starting with the décolletage, I worked up the neck in long sweeping movements. Next, I worked the ice cube along the underside of the jawline from chin to ear, then on the jawline (repeating on both sides).

The ice cube chosen for the job was pretty big, so when it came to tackling the puffiness under the eyes, I used the corner of the cube to trace the orbital bone. Lastly, I worked the ice up the cheeks on either side and swept it over the forehead to finish.

The Results

The whole routine took around five minutes, including the generous dose of moisturizer applied afterward. Immediate observations: Skin felt cold and looked slightly flushed as if I had been walking outside on a cold, windy day. But it wasn't an unpleasant feeling; in fact, it was pretty invigorating. The awakening sensation is reason alone for doing this in the morning, but you may want to do it with some time to spare if you're going out, to wait for the redness to subside.

Honestly, the results were better than anticipated. I could see a drastic difference in puffiness, and the more I swept the ice cube over my face, the smoother my skin appeared. Another instant benefit was that my pores—which are fairly large around my nose and on my chin—had vanished. As for the redness, that quickly faded and my skin returned to its normal hue in just a few minutes.

To truly test the effectiveness of an ice facial, I decided to follow up with makeup. It passed with flying colors—whereas I usually have to wait for my makeup to settle into my skin, the same foundation glided on like a dream and had an almost airbrushed finish.

The only advice I would give is to get some trays that make smaller ice cubes since they are more agile to use around the eye area, and bigger ice cubes (these round ones are particularly great for massage) to sweep across the rest of your face, neck, and décolletage.

If you have an ice cube and five minutes to spare, I recommend doing this every morning. If you love skincare rollers and professional treatments, then, by all means, indulge yourself. But I can confirm that a simple ice cube and cloth at home work just as well.

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