This Skin Trick Feels Crazy-Amazing — & It Works!

ILLUSTRATED BY Elliot Salazar.
Last week the FDA announced that cult beauty treatment cryotherapy had not, as many assumed, been deemed safe or effective by the organization. Furthermore, while it's certainly "cool" (the FDA's joke, not ours), it actually poses serious health risks, asphyxiation among them. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the ice-cold bathwater.
While the merit of spending time in what is, essentially, a walk-in freezer is being called into question, adding a little chill to your beauty routine is actually an incredibly beneficial way to reduce puffiness, calm irritated skin, and increase the efficacy of your products. Plus, it just feels so damn good during a summer heat wave or the morning after a night of little sleep and too many adult beverages.

The best part? It's really simple to incorporate this tried-and-true anti-inflammatory technique into your routine. According to renowned aesthetician Joanna Czech, DIY "cold therapy" goes much deeper than just icing a blemish or applying a cold spoon to puffy eyes — it can deliver a serious anti-aging boost, too. Czech is a La Mer global skin-care advisor who has looked after the complexions of Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, and Uma Thurman, so naturally, we're inclined to take her advice as gospel.

Ahead, Czech walks us through an easy at-home facial technique that will de-puff and calm skin wherever you are. Chill vibes ahead.
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Step 1
Czech is one of many aestheticians who avoid heat (like steam, hot water, or warm compresses) in most of her treatments because “heat causes inflammation, which causes aging,” she explains. But it is an important first step for this facial. “First, you must relax the skin and open the pores, then apply your product, then seal it with the ice,” she says.

To start, remove your makeup and wash your face with cleanser and lukewarm water, then pat your skin dry. (You can also do this in a warm shower to really open up your pores, Czech notes.)

So fresh and so clean (clean)? On to step two...
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Step 2
Next, apply a mask or serum with potent active ingredients.

If you go the mask route, make sure that the one you select is not clay-based or acidic — so no fruit acids, retinoids, or anything in the AHA/BHA family. Since a mask helps the actives absorb better, Czech points out that "you wouldn’t want to push retinols or anything acidic deeper into the skin," which might cause irritation. Instead, choose sheet masks, cream masks, balm-y masks, and any that contain hyaluronic acid or peptides.

If you go the serum route, heed the same no-acids rule. "My favorite to use in this treatment is the Illuminating Gel or The Concentrate by La Mer," Czech says. No matter which product you select, "warm it up in your hands to activate it, then press and release deeply over the face to apply," she says.

Got your active on? Great, keep clicking.
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Step 3
Allow your product to do its thing while you prepare your source of cold.

Czech often uses Biologique Recherche's Cryo-Sticks ("They’re crazy-amazing — I love them!" she says) and ice rollers, but you can just use ice or spoons right out of the freezer.

If you're using a sheet mask, you can apply the cold source right over the sheet — just be sure to rinse the ice or spoon first to avoid a sticky situation. If you're using anything else, it's important to prep the ice to avoid too-cold temps. Czech recommends putting very thin compresses, like cotton gauze, over the ice to avoid discomfort: "Simply dip it in water, wring it out, and wrap it around the ice or spoon."

Tip: "I always love working with two ice cubes," Czech says. Treating both sides of your face simultaneously is faster, feels therapeutic, and ensures you don't forget anything.

Ready? Let's do this.
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Step 4
Allow your serum or mask time to fully sit and soak in before applying your ice. Then, seal it in with the ice cubes by massaging using the technique Czech recommends here:

With one ice cube (or other cooling device) in each hand, start in the center of the forehead and run the compress over the skin from the inside out. Repeat on the bottom of the face, going up over the cheeks and jawline, then move to the center of the face, and spend a bit of extra time under the eyes. Lastly, "Don't forget the neck and chest," she adds.

Note that this shouldn't be uncomfortable (pain is not beauty in this case) and should take no more than three minutes. Any longer than that and you risk irritating your skin or freezing the water in your pores, which can cause redness by irritating the capillaries, Czech says.

All refreshed? Time to finish up.
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Step 5
Remove the mask and rinse with tepid water, if needed. If you're using serum, feel free to skip this step.

Now, lock in all your hard work by warming your regular face cream between your palms and pressing or massaging it into the skin using upward strokes (you never want to pull down on your skin).

Voilà — you're done!
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