Home Science and Nature Do ice facials actually work? We asked experts.

Do ice facials actually work? We asked experts.

by News7

Anyone who has sprained an ankle knows how ice packs can relieve pain and swelling. But a growing number of people are icing their faces, claiming it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as under-eye swelling and pores. Aficionados claim it makes the skin look younger and healthier.

But although ice facials and other forms of cryotherapy have surged in popularity, thanks largely to social media influencers, their benefits have yet to be validated in clinical studies.

And while rubbing an ice cube on your face may seem harmless, New York University dermatologist Jessica Garelik cautions that these treatments aren’t for everyone.

“Ice coming into contact with the skin can potentially damage the skin barrier due to its freezing temperature. This can be problematic for patients whose skin is already dry and sensitive,” Garelik says.

Here’s what you need to know.

Ice and inflammationPart of the reason it’s so hard to study the purported benefits of ice facials is because they are so subjective, explains dermatologist Elizabeth Kiracofe, owner of Chicago’s Airia Dermatology. How do you measure how “glowy” your cheeks are, or how much under-eye puffiness you have?

(Cold plunges are popular too. Here’s what to know about them.)

The other challenge is in the sheer variety of ice therapies for your face. They range in cost and complexity from simply rubbing an ice cube on your face to expensive, in-office treatments that can only be performed by a licensed healthcare provider.

But scientists do understand how ice affects your body.

When you get an injury, your body usually responds by sending specialized cells to the area to halt any bleeding and begin repairing the damage. As a result, blood flow to that area increases dramatically as blood vessels dilate, causing pain and swelling. An injury can also feel hot to the touch, thanks to that surge in warm blood. Ice, however, causes the opposite phenomenon: vasoconstriction, which causes blood vessels to narrow.

The bags under your eyes might not be the result of an acute physical injury like a bruised shin, but they, too, are the result of vasodilation and swelling. So whether you’re applying ice to a banged-up knee or your face, the principle is the same, Kiracofe says.

“The primary goal is to reduce inflammation,” she says.

So what do experts make of popular treatments?Cold compresses may help relieve occasional under-eye puffiness, says Hadley King, a New York City-based dermatologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, by shrinking blood vessels in the affected area.

“It generally makes skin look less red and puffy,” she says.

(Inflammation isn’t always bad. Here’s how we can use it to heal.)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology also recommends the approach, saying that 15 or 20 minutes with a cold compress can make your eyes less puffy. (Allergy meds and other pharmacological approaches can also provide more lasting relief.)

Nor are puffy eyes the only area in which ice therapy has a reasonably sound scientific backing, Kiracofe says. It might also temporarily reduce pain and swelling associated with pimples or minor sunburns, she says, also by constricting blood vessels. However, Kiracofe stresses it’s important not to leave ice on your skin for more than a few minutes at a time so that it doesn’t cause frostbite or otherwise damage your skin.

“While I am okay with, for example, using an ice cube on a specific pimple for a limited time, I wouldn’t suggest rubbing ice all over the face as a mainstay of treatment,” Kiracofe says.

King says that another benefit of ice facials might stem from their exfoliating properties. “Anytime you’re getting exfoliation, it gives you nice fresh skin that looks brighter, healthier, and less discolored,” King says.

(Hot sauna, cold plunge. Here’s where to try contrast bathing.)

Some dermatology practices offer cryotherapy treatments, which use extreme cold from liquid nitrogen to freeze off skin lesions such as warts, skin tags, and some superficial skin cancers. It’s a very effective, targeted strategy for treating specific skin problems but not something you can or should do at home, Garelik says. Other practices offer cryofacials, which use vaporized liquid nitrogen to super-cool the skin. It’s not an official treatment like cryotherapy, but it offers a more intense cold than you can get at home.

But before you drop hundreds of dollars on these professional treatments, experts have some words of caution.

What to know before you tryWhether you opt for a simple DIY method or something more involved, Garelik says the most important thing to keep in mind is not placing ice directly on your skin. You can buy an ice roller for your face, or even just use a paper towel or washcloth. The layer should be thin enough to allow the cold to penetrate, but not allow the ice to touch your skin. This will help prevent redness, dryness, and skin irritation from the freezing ice, Kiracofe says.

King recommends that people with dry or sensitive skin, as well as those with rosacea, stay away from ice facials, as the cold can be irritating and cause flaking and redness.

All three dermatologists emphasized that ice therapy hasn’t been tested in formal clinical trials, which means that scientists don’t know if or how it works. Kiracofe calls it more of a “feel-good” therapy rather than a formal medical treatment. “If you enjoy it and it’s not harming you, then keep going,” Kiracofe says.

Source : National Geographic

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