Everything You Need to Know About Skin Icing

January 30, 2023
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By: Marianne Mychaskiw | skincare.com by L'Oréal
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Leave it to social media to present new skincare technique after new skincare technique, with each one claiming to move the world — or at the very least, impart a wildly glowy finish. The latest one in question is skin icing, which involves massaging frozen ice globes onto your face to create a luminous, sculpted appearance. Of course, we know better than to blindly follow every social media beauty trend we come across. So to get the 411 on this skincare technique, we reached out to Bell Yoo, a dermatology nurse practitioner at Facile Skin in Los Angeles. 

Keep reading to find out what the technique does, how to practice it at home, and whether or not it’s right for you. 

What Is Skin Icing? 

“Skin icing is a recent skincare trend all over social media that involves exposing the skin to extremely cold temperatures,” Yoo says. “Some will use ice cubes or a chilled skincare tool on their face for several minutes a day.” 

While the method you see on your feed is typically a DIY one, Yoo notes that in a professional setting, skin icing is done by a dermatologist or esthetician through the form of a cryotherapy facial. “This involves using liquid nitrogen to expose the face to cold temperatures,” she adds.


Picture of a person touching the top of their cheekbone

What Are the Benefits of Skin Icing?

“Applying ice to skin constricts blood vessels and can lead to reduced inflammation [and] less oil, thus temporarily resulting in improvement of acne,” Yoo says. Skin icing can also help to temporarily minimize the appearance of pores, so exposing your complexion to cooler temperatures before makeup may work to give your foundation a smooth, even canvas. 

Additionally, because cold temperatures help with swelling, skin icing can provide relief for any puffiness you experience (hi, puffy under-eyes after an all-night TV marathon), and can help reduce the size of a particularly angry pimple. If you’re using a cryo roller, you may notice a more sculpted appearance following your session, as the tool can help to encourage lymphatic drainage 

How Should I Practice Skin Icing at Home?

There are likely a variety of methods you’ve seen grace your feed, ranging from but not limited to rubbing an ice cube on your skin, using a cold cryo roller or gua sha tool, applying a refrigerated sheet mask, and even dunking your face in a bowl of ice water. Our favorite way to practice skin icing is with a cryo roller, like CurrentBody’s stainless steel-equipped model, which can be stored in your freezer. 

After removing the tool from your freezer, allow it to sit for a few minutes as you cleanse your face and apply your favorite serum or moisturizer. Starting from the middle of your face, gently roll the tool in an outward motion towards your ears, then follow by rolling the tool onto your neck to encourage lymphatic drainage. Repeat the motions for about five to ten minutes, then clean your cryo roller and store back in your freezer. 

Are There Any Risks to Skin Icing?

While working with a cryo roller is relatively safe, according to Yoo, putting ice directly onto your skin may cause more harm than good for sensitive complexions. “If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, rubbing ice cubes directly on your face will damage the delicate skin capillaries, causing more redness and inflammation,” she says. “Additionally, applying ice directly to skin can actually damage your skin barrier, and when your barrier is compromised, there is increased transepidermal water loss, causing your skin to become more dehydrated and more prone to dermatitis or eczema.” 

Prolonged and direct contact with ice can also cause ice burns or frostbite, she notes, so if you’re using ice in its pure form, make sure to have a protective layer against your skin, and limit exposure to 10 to 15 minutes at maximum. And before trying any new treatment, it’s a good idea to check in with your dermatologist. 

How Often Should I Practice Skin Icing? 

While many choose to use an ice roller every day (especially in the mornings to reduce puffiness), this answer depends on how well your skin can tolerate the colder temperatures, so like any new technique you want to incorporate into your beauty routine, start slow by practicing a few times a week, then see how your skin reacts before increasing to a daily cadence. “An even better alternative would be to simply use skincare products or tools that have been chilled in the refrigerator, not frozen,” Yoo adds. 

Again, a dermatologist will be able to help you determine if skin icing is right for your skin type. 

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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