What Is an Ice Facial, and Does It Have Skincare Benefits?

December 05, 2023
Claire Rodgers
By: Claire Rodgers | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Person smiling and holding her face in her hand

If you feel like there is a new, buzzy skincare product or trend popping up every week (or maybe even every day), you’re not alone. Even as beauty editors, we can sometimes get overwhelmed by all of the skincare tips, tricks and hacks that go viral on TikTok and Instagram. But we’re here to help you determine which trends are worth your while. 

For example, have you heard of the ice facial? It’s a popular Korean beauty trend that’s said to minimize the look of pores, reduce puffiness and make the skin look smoother. While the alleged benefits sound great, we consulted the experts to find out if the face icing trend is truly worth trying, or if there are better ways to shrink the look of large pores

What Are Ice Facials?

“An ice facial, also known as skin icing or cryotherapy, has become increasingly popular due to its many benefits, as well as its recent trend on TikTok,” says Kristine Kellner, BABOR Expert Esthetician and Educator. “It is a simple technique of applying ice to the face that is a low budget treatment to do at home that targets puffiness.” To do an ice facial at home, all you have to do is rub a piece of ice wrapped in a thin cloth all over your skin. Think of the flush you get after you walk outside on a cold day — icing your face can help mimic that.  

What Are The Benefits of Ice Facials?

According to Kellner, icing your face can help minimize puffiness — especially around the eyes. “When waking up a little puffy or if your skin is looking a bit lackluster due to the activities of the previous evening or not getting a restful night's sleep, facial icing is the perfect ‘pick me up,’” she says. Kellner also notes that icing your face can soothe irritation and temporarily minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. 

What Causes Enlarged Pores?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), pores are the tiny holes in your skin where hair grows. They secrete sebum, the natural oil that keeps our skin feeling soft and smooth, and play an important role in the health of our skin. But a few triggers, from oily skin to the products you use and even genetics, can cause your pores to appear larger.  

Can an Ice Facial Minimize Pores? 

You can’t get rid of your pores or permanently change their size, but you can help visibly reduce their appearance with an ice facial. But while the cooling effect of ice or chilled skincare products can cause blood vessels underneath the skin to constrict making pores appear smaller and tightened, the reaction is only temporary. According to board-certified dermatologists and Skincare.com consultants Dr. Dendy Engelman and Dr. Joshua Zeichner, shortly after the ice is removed, any benefit will soon subside and your pores will look the way they once did. In fact, both Dr. Engelman and Dr. Zeichner say the concept of pores “shrinking” is a total myth. “There are no muscles around your pores, so ice will not do much,” Dr. Zeichner says.

Are There Downsides or Risks to Ice Facials? 

What’s more, rubbing cold ice on your face or dunking your face in a bath of ice water could actually cause more trouble than it’s worth. “Applying ice onto your skin for too long can burn the skin,” says Dr. Engelman. 

Kellner echoes this concern. “As with most at-home treatments, it is advised to consult with your skincare professional [such as a board-certified dermatologist],” she says. “When performing a skin-icing treatment, it is not recommended to apply ice directly to your face on its own, as it could cause irritation and redness.” If you’re not constantly moving the ice around your face in flowing motions, holding the ice to one area of skin for too long can cause a burn, both Dr. Engelman and Kellner advise. If you do decide to try this technique, be sure you always wrap the ice in some kind of cloth before applying it to your face or handling it with your hands.

To minimize these potential risks, Kellner recommends using a designated tool for at-home cooling treatments, such as the BABOR Cryo-Sculpt Gua Sha Tool. This tool, which you soak in a bowl of ice water prior to use, “combines the benefits of cold therapy and sculpting gua sha to help reduce puffiness, firm and tighten skin,” — without having to apply ice directly to your face — she says.  


If you want to target specific concerns like enlarged pores or puffiness, you can always reach for skincare products formulated with ingredients to help address these issues. Keep scrolling for our picks for products to try instead of icing your face.

Our Favorite Products For Enlarged Pores

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Toner

Using an exfoliating toner, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Toner, can help remove excess oil and exfoliate dead skin cells that can accumulate in the pores and cause them to look larger. Formulated with 5% glycolic acid, this toner leaves your skin feeling smoother and looking brighter. It also contains aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. 

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Toner

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser

If you struggle with enlarged pores, oily skin or breakouts, a salicylic acid cleanser may be the product that’s missing from your skincare routine. In addition to salicylic acid, the CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser is formulated with hectorite clay to absorb excess oil and niacinamide to soothe the skin. Use this cleanser to help clear up breakouts and blackheads and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.

CeraVe Acne Control Cleanser

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum

As the name suggests, the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum is an exfoliating serum formulated to target enlarged pores and refine the skin’s texture. Incorporate this serum into your skincare routine if you’re seeking smoother, more supple skin. Bonus: It’s also formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and give it a softer feel. 

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser is another breakout-fighting cleanser we like. With a lightly foaming consistency, this cleanser penetrates deeply into your pores to reduce impurities,  keeping blackheads and breakouts at bay, according to the brand. It’s said to thoroughly removes makeup, dirt and oil without leaving the skin stripped or dried out.

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Our Favorite Products for Puffiness

Youth To The People 15% Vitamin C + Caffeine Energy Serum

Just like your AM coffee, the Youth To The People 15% Vitamin C + Caffeine Energy Serum is an instant wakeup for your skin. It works to hydrate and brighten while reducing morning puffiness. You’ll love the refreshing lightweight feel. For the best results, apply two to four pumps to your face and neck after cleansing, then follow it up with a moisturizer.

Youth To The People 15% Vitamin C + Caffeine Energy Serum

Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream

Do your under-eyes get puffy in the morning when you haven’t gotten a great night of sleep? Make sure you’re using an eye cream in the morning and evening. We love the Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream because it gives a boost of energy to tired eyes, minimizing puffiness, improving brightness and smoothing the skin. The best part? It helps prevent early signs of aging by keeping the delicate skin around your eyes hydrated.

Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensifies 2.5% Hyaluronic Acid + Caffeine Under Eye Serum

If you prefer an eye serum to a cream, try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensifies 2.5% Hyaluronic Acid + Caffeine Under Eye Serum. This anti-aging eye serum brightens and hydrates while also reducing puffiness and dark circles to give your eyes a younger, more energized look. It also helps target crow’s feet and wrinkles around the eyes.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensifies 2.5% Hyaluronic Acid + Caffeine Under Eye Serum
Photo: Anisha Sisodia

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