The Best Cryotherapy Tools For At-Home Tightening

Ice, Ice Baby!

Chilly conditions can reap seriously cool skin benefits in the form of tightening, depuffing, soothing and radiance.

Even after a diligent pm routine, some mornings our skin can look as tired as we may feel. If attempts to conceal the fatigue the next day aren’t working, your visage may require an extra jolt. As a mum of two-year-old twins, I know these mornings well. But there’s a new way to perk up: cryotherapy – the beauty equivalent of a venti-sized cold brew.

At its most basic, cryotherapy is the employment of cold for the treatment of skin conditions. The oldest application by doctors, dating back to at least the 1950s, is the use of liquid nitrogen to treat issues such as warts or sun spots. You may have heard of it recently because your favourite athlete or influencer took a turn in a full-body cryotherapy pod. The technology has been gaining popularity as a way to help enhance recovery after injuries – just spend a few minutes in a chamber of dry air at temperatures lower than -110°C. (However, a 2019 paper in Scientific Reports found whole-body cryotherapy to have no significant effect on athletic performance.)

Cryotherapy has evolved over time, along with skincare. So it’s no surprise the beauty industry is now tapping into the practice’s powers. The entire cryotherapy market is projected to reach $US392 million ($562 million) by 2030, according to Allied Market Research. “Consumers will always be interested in the next big promise for great skin and love quick fixes,” says Dr Rachel Maiman, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. “[Cryotherapy and these chilling] devices capitalise on being short treatments.”

cyrotherapy, ice treatment
Finishing Touch Flawless Ice Roller, $35; Charlotte Tilbury Cyro-Recovery Eye Serum, $95; Cold Bath Co Cold Bath Salts, $12.95; Aceology Aqua Ice Spoon Facial Massager, $69; IS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque, $138. Photography: Edward Urrutia, Styling: Rachel Clark. (Credit: Edward Urrutia.)

For the face there is cryofacial, a service offered by dermatologists and medispas, in which vaporised liquid nitrogen – cooled to a sub-zero temperature – is pumped from a hose-like device onto the face, neck and décolletage. Colloquially known as frotox, the painless (for most) procedure could help to temporarily depuff and tighten the skin. The reason? Reduced inflammation, says Maiman. “The extremely cold temperature [about -196˚C] of the liquid nitrogen constricts blood vessels, which in turn helps to alleviate redness [or puffiness caused by a late night],” says Dr Macrene Alexiades, associate clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine.

“In the golden days they used to say, ‘Pinch your cheeks, it’ll make you look pretty,’ so perhaps that’s what consumers find appealing [about cryotherapy and cooling treatments]. When you get that reactive vasodilation after the cold therapy, evaporative cooling occurs but you also will get some swelling to the skin.” The temporary result is slightly rosy skin, which gives the appearance of a more youthful, rejuvenated complexion.

But if you want to skip the spa, there’s many cryo-inspired options to give you that fresh-faced effect, no appointment required. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve already experimented with cryotherapy without even realising it. If you’ve ever stashed your eye cream in the fridge or relaxed with cool cucumber slices over your eyes, that’s right, you’ve tested the icy cryo waters. Here are some ways to get a quick, frosty pick-me-up from the comfort of home.

OG Rollers

Make room in your freezer to store an ice roller – the cryo-inspired tool that basically kicked off the entire trend as a levelled-up version of the jade roller. Its cooling effects are short-lived but fans swear the results are noticeable. “Ice rollers can help boost the appearance of skin [first thing in the morning] to look more awake and alert, as the cold temperatures can help reduce superficial inflammation,” explains Dr Bruce Katz, a board certified dermatologist at JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York.

What ice rollers are made from varies. Some – such as the Finishing Touch Flawless Ice Roller at Priceline – come with a long handle and either a water- or gel-based substance encased in plastic.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, stow any facial roller in the freezer for at least an hour or two. Then, once it’s super-cold, massage your face using gentle pressure. To maximise any lifting and firming benefits, Katz suggests you “rub in an upward motion to avoid tugging down on the skin”. But roll downwards on your neck and décolletage to help reduce the look of any puffiness or swelling.

Ice therapy cyrotherapy
Charlotte Tilbury Cryo Recovery Mask, $90. Combining cryotherapy and facial acupressure, this reusable mask helps skin feel more lifted and firm. Photography: Edward Urrutia, Styling: Rachel Clark. (Credit: Edward Urrutia.)

Ice Globes

Ice globes are another cryo-inspired at-home tool you may have spotted while scrolling through Instagram or TikTok. In December 2021, searches for the term “ice globes” jumped 194 per cent from the month prior, according to global search platform Stylight. The hashtag #Iceglobes has more than 57 million views on TikTok.

Simple in concept, just fill a set of two plastic orbs with water and pop in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before using them like other facial massagers. If you’ve seen any of your favourite influencers singing the praises of ice globes, there’s a solid chance they’re talking about Aceology’s The Original Blue Ice Globe Facial Massager.

Cool-as Skincare

For the tool-averse, Charlotte Tilbury and 111Skin are among the brands that have jumped on the frosty bandwagon, offering new skincare products with cryo-like benefits. The lines contain different items for different treatments – a  Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum and Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask, respectively – but both contain forms of caffeine, which purportedly mimics the effect of at-home cryotech tools and devices. Menthol is another cryo-inspired skincare ingredient that you’ll find in some cooling masks.

“Caffeine and other methylxanthines constrict the vessels, thereby reducing flushing and edema [swelling] and reducing skin temperature,” explains Alexiades. But what’s important to note, she adds, is that these ingredients only work on abnormally dilated vessels – think puffy under-eyes after a big night.

DIY Cold Therapy

As with any good beauty trend, there’s a way to mimic an at-home cryofacial without spending a single buck. Your secret weapon? An ice cube.

“Start by wrapping your ice in a piece of soft gauze to avoid potential frostbite,” explains Maiman. “Same goes for keeping the ice in one place for too long. Move the ice cube along the underside of the jawline from chin to ear; trace the orbital bone [under eye] from its innermost portion outward; work in upward motions on the cheeks and speed over the forehead to finish, for about five to 10 minutes.” These movements will assist lymphatic drainage, helping to address puffiness.

Regardless of the tool you use, it’s the physiological evaporative cooling and consequential rebound of skin after exposure to cold that leaves it looking temporarily tightened, depuffed, and glowy. Pro-level results can last a week or two but expect your DIY version to last less. As with nearly everything, consistency is key. The more regularly you massage your face, the better the results you’re going to see.

Cyrotherapy facial
Cryofacials and at-home tools can aid in enhancing the appearance of skin, but extreme cold can have its downsides.. (Credit: Getty Images)

Worth the effort?

Wondering if taking the plunge is worth all the frosty feelings? Cryofacials and at-home tools can aid in enhancing the appearance of skin. But extreme cold can have its downsides – frostbite being the most well-known and common whether from a spray of liquid nitrogen or massaging an ice cube into your face. Frostbite causes damage to blood vessels, which in turn gives skin that abnormal reddish-purple tinge. What’s more, frostbite takes a while to recover from, given the potentially extensive capillary damage. “If somebody’s [frequently overusing cryo technology, it’s possible] they could permanently damage the capillaries in their face,” says Alexiades.

Those who deal with rosacea (a skin condition that causes blushing or flushing and visible blood vessels in your face) should avoid any type of cryotherapy at-home or in-clinic, says Alexiades. “While the cold may constrict the blood vessels temporarily, blood vessels ultimately rebound worse … the minute the cold is removed, the rosacea flush returns even more.”

As for me, I’ll be carefully taking the cryotherapy plunge by stowing some of these cool tools in the fridge to help depuff my perennially bagged under-eyes. After a middle-of-the-night wake-up from my twins, there’s no cooler reassurance than knowing there’s an ice roller ready to rescue me before starting my day.

Try These

Chilling out at home? These tools can help soften and smooth.

FaceGym Multi-Sculpt, $86, MECCA

FaceGym Multi-Sculpt, $86. (Credit: Edward Urrutia)

Like a workout for your face, this six-sided tool works facial muscles to help depuff and soften the look of lines. Keep it in the fridge for the calming benefits of cryotherapy.

111Skin Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye mask, $129, MECCA

111skin, eyemask
111Skin Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye mask, $129. (Credit: Edward Urrutia)

With Tetrapeptide-5 and collagen, these cooling eye masks can help reduce puffiness and signs of fatigue in one 20-minute session.

Lux Skin Hot & Cold Face Wand, $180, Lux Skin

Lux Hot and Cold Face Wand
Lux Skin Hot & Cold Face Wand, $180. (Credit: Edward Urrutia)

The cooling mode of this high-tech piece of kit aims to help depuff skin.

Nurse Jamie Super-Cryo Massaging Orbs, $103.38, Net-A-Porter

Designed for head-to-toe cooling, these stainless-steel rollerballs help to reduce the appearance of swelling.

Nurse jamie. Massaging orb, cold therapy
Nurse Jamie Super-Cryo Massaging Orbs, $103.38. (Credit: Edward Urrutia)

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