Not long ago, I interviewed Victoria Beckham about her glowing skin routine. Her top tip for reducing puffiness came from renowned facialist Melanie Grant, who told her to dunk her face into a bowl of ice water, or to take some ice cubes and roll them around on her face. Victoria told me that she swears by the surprising quick fix after travelling or having a glass of wine and although it sounded a little unusual at the time, it looks like it might have caught on.
Lately, all beauty experts can talk about is skin icing. The technique does exactly what it suggests and consists of rolling ice or facial tools fresh from the freezer over skin to reduce puffiness and to bring down redness. It's huge on TikTok, with beauty lovers filming themselves grappling with slippery ice cubes in a bid to make skin glow, or storing their trusty jade roller and gua sha tools at sub-zero temperatures. Something everyone's talking about in particular is the Nicole Caroline Luxury Ice Facial Set. Now shipping to the UK, it boasts facial ice spheres, which Irina Shayk recently reviewed and loved.
With celebrities like Victoria and Irina on board, and videos racking up thousands of likes on TikTok, the craze isn't to be sniffed at. But is skin icing a step really worth including in your AM to PM skincare routine?
What is skin icing or cryotherapy for skin and how do you do it?
"A professional skin icing treatment involves liquid nitrogen (dry ice) being applied to the skin," says celebrity skin expert Nicola Russell aka The Skin Geek. "An at-home treatment involves the use of a tool which is kept in the freezer beforehand."
Dr Mariam Adegoke, skin expert and founder of Adegoke Wellness Clinic, says that cryo-sticks, ice globes or even ice cubes can be used on areas of skin. "In the same way ice is used for injuries to help reduce the body's natural response to inflammation (redness, swelling, pain and heat), icing can be used to improve the appearance of inflammatory conditions such as acne," she says.
What are the benefits of skin icing?
Dr Adegoke mentions that there is no hard scientific evidence behind the benefits of skin icing, and a lot of it is anecdotal, so results will be variable and temporary. The idea is that the cold temperature causes blood vessels to constrict. This reduces redness, pain and swelling, and improves the appearance of spots. "Blood vessel constriction also means a reduction in the amount of fluid, which is particularly useful in under-eye puffiness," adds Dr Adegoke. "The gentle massaging action helps to increase lymphatic drainage, further removing excess fluid that causes puffiness. Skin icing is also thought to reduce excess oil production and increase absorption of other skincare products."
There's more. "Ice stimulates circulation and will add a flush to the face," says Eva Nydal Abildgaard, technical product researcher at health and beauty brand, New Nordic. If you imagine how you might look fresh-faced and rosy after a cold winter walk, skin icing has a similar effect. Desi Valentine, aesthetician and founder of Skinned App, agrees. "I always use this phrase with my clients: cold in treatment is your friend," she says, "as it will give you a bit of a glow."
While pores can't open or close, Eva mentions skin icing can minimise the appearance of enlarged pores, much like if you were to splash your face with cold water after cleansing.
Does skin icing actually work?
It does. Every morning, I wake up with a puffy face from sleeping either on my side or my front. My cheeks, nose and lips are often pretty swollen; add bad hay fever into the mix and my face takes a good while to go down. I've tried cooling, gel-textured moisturisers and invigorating cleansers with ingredients like mint and arnica (often said to aid bruising and swelling) but to no avail. Instead, I decided to try the 001 Skincare CRYOpress. At £78, it's one of the more expensive skin icing tools on the market but it did give me the effect I was after.
The tool is essentially an ice massage roller. Tiny little spheres are suspended in the roller itself and freeze when placed in a chiller. The brand advises using the Alpha Glow Flash Facial, £96, alongside the roller but my skin doesn't get on too well with exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids so I used The Inkey List Symbright Moisturiser, £10.99, to provide enough slip. It took a few moments to adjust to the freezing cold sensation, which I have to admit took my breath away at first, but as my skin got used to the cold and the pressure, it actually felt relaxing. I started on my cheeks and moved to the sides of my nose and lips, which are the puffiest parts of my face in the morning. According to the instructions, rolling upwards helps lift and contour and pressing in a certain area de-puffs.
After a couple of minutes, my skin looked facial-fresh and I was impressed. It was ever so slightly flushed and glowy, like I'd just used a hydrating face mask. I didn't notice much difference in my large pores, though. What it did help with was my tight jaw, which is always exacerbated by stress and teeth grinding. It ironed away any knots and I felt like I'd just had a facial.
Aside from the price, my one gripe is time. When I'm not working from home, I'll have to factor the technique into my speedy morning routine and as a lazy person, I'm doubtful I'll keep it up. Still, it really does work to dissipate puffiness and it's great if you're headed to a special occasion. The Skin Geek Cryo Roller, £39, is a great affordable alternative. It reduces muscle tension when rolled along the jawline, improves skin firmness and helps fade inflammation or redness. "I call this the sub-zero hero," says Nicola. "It's a handy gadget which applies freezing cold temperatures to the skin and triggers vasoconstriction," where blood vessels constrict. "Although it is pulling away the blood flow to the skin, this is just temporary, and oxygenated blood will flow back to the area soon after, leaving your skin brighter and fresher-looking, exactly what you want from a facial," Nicola adds.
While there's nothing stopping you from using actual ice cubes like TikToker Enny above, or even a jade roller if you already own one, brands have jumped on board the skin icing trend to produce tools which aren't as slippery or messy and can be used over and over again. You might have seen SKN Rehab's Facial Ice Globes, £40, or similar on Instagram. Often made from glass, they look like a pair of maracas and contain a freezable liquid. You gently pass the globes over your skin for a soothing, calming and de-puffing effect. According to SKN Rehab, the Facial Ice Globes are also known to soothe skin post-treatment (perfect if exfoliating face masks leave you a little flushed), reduce redness and boost skin circulation. Dr Adegoke also recommends Fraîcheur Ice Globes, £95. They work better when used alongside skincare, such as serums and moisturisers. Just be sure not to press too hard, as lots of ice globes are made from glass.
If you'd rather not spend any money at all, skincare and beauty expert Nichola Joss (known for her game-changing facials) recommends using two teaspoons and dessert spoons, one in each hand. When kept in the freezer overnight, the back of the spoons can be passed over your skin for a cooling, de-puffing effect. The smaller spoons can help de-puff under-eye bags.
Are there any side effects of skin icing?
Skin doesn't mind a little cold, says Desi, so it would be difficult to over-ice. It's likely that after around 10 minutes, your tool will adapt to your body temperature anyway. "The only caution is to not leave the roller on the same area for too long," adds Nicola. "Skin can appear pink and flushed temporarily but this will diminish. Out of all the lockdown facials that people are doing at home, I'd rank this as one of the easiest and safest," she adds. Dr Adegoke hits home the importance of not holding extremely cold tools in one spot. "Rather, gently massage," she says. "Most importantly, don't use them for too long," she adds. "Each area only requires a few minutes and as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be icing for any longer than 10 minutes."
Another thing to remember is that if you're using a tool, whichever one you choose, be sure to combine it with your favourite skincare product. This will make it a lot easier to sweep the tool across your delicate skin, without pulling or dragging. Again, ice globes made from glass should be used carefully.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.