You probably know about Botox… but how much do you know about frotox? Well, skin aging might be inevitable, but even if we can’t freeze time, it turns out we can freeze signs of aging in their tracks—with a little help from “cold therapy,” otherwise known as “cryotherapy.” Cryotherapy has been used for many years in various capacities within the medical field to reduce swelling, encourage circulation, and promote healing. And it just so happens it works the same kind of magic when it comes to anti-aging skincare. Allow us to introduce you to... the cryo facial.
What Is a Cryo Facial?
Simply put, a cryo facial (short for cryotherapy facial) generally refers to a professional treatment in which a technician blows a colder-than-ice stream of air all over the face and neck, in the name of youth and beauty. What’s colder than ice? We’re talking a pretty serious -200 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit breeze in the form of vaporized liquid nitrogen. But before you run for the hills, know that it’s not as scary as it sounds—it only lasts a few minutes, and the air is constantly moving over the skin so as not to blast any one spot. Most people are surprised to find it’s actually pretty refreshing and relaxing. But it’s the results that will have you running back for more.
Cryo Facial Benefits
Cryotherapy boasts quite a few perks, from boosting the nervous system to smoothing the skin’s texture. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the anti-aging effects—and believe us, they are legit.
You probably learned way back in science class that heat expands and cold contracts. Well, your pores are no exception to the rule. We commonly use steam and heat in order to loosen up and soften the sebum (aka the waxy gunk that builds up inside them), but to keep them trim and taut in the first place, nothing beats the cold. In a cryo facial, colder-than-ice liquid nitrogen cools the skin surface for immediate vasoconstriction, or tightening of the blood vessels—and with them, those pesky pores. It’s actually the body’s temperature-regulating response that causes the skin cells to contract, but lucky for us, that means firmer glassier-looking skin.
Diminishing the Appearance of Wrinkles
Subzero temperatures not only shrink the appearance of pores, but they can also soften lines—partly due to the tightening effect that occurs, but also due to an increase in blood flow. Sudden exposure to cold air tricks your body into thinking it’s freezing, so it triggers your blood to rush towards the vital organs in order to maintain body heat. The capillaries expand, white blood cells get to work protecting you, and the brain releases adrenaline to stimulate the organs—all of which help to facilitate cell turnover and stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms. When the cryo session is over and your temperature goes back to normal, the blood vessels re-dilate, flooding the face and extremities with fresh, nutrient-rich blood to repair and awaken tired, saggy skin, while smoothing wrinkles and folds.
Soothing Inflammation and Puffiness
Cryotherapy is a well-documented solution for relieving swelling in various parts of the body. It works by stimulating lymphatic drainage, meaning it can reduce fluid buildup in the body that causes puffiness. When it comes to the face, this means a slimmer shape and less inflammatory response (which can manifest as redness, irritation, and even acne). Lymphatic drainage has a really positive impact on the immune system, which not only repairs cells but also fights bacteria and toxins for a clear, calm complexion.
Brightening the Under-Eye Area
Do you know that age-old frozen spoon under the eyes trick? Well, the old wives might have been onto something. Dark circles appear below the eyes thanks to blood vessels being exposed through thin skin. Because frigid temperatures constrict those blood vessels, a cryo facial can improve the shadowy look of under-eye bags and even minimize swelling for an under-eye area that’s smooth, bright, and ready to face the day.
Cryo Facial Treatment Options & Costs
Whether you’d like to spring for an in-office experience, or you’d rather try your hand at a more cost-effective DIY version, you can reap the benefits of cold therapy just about anywhere. Here are the options:
See a Professional
When it comes to liquid nitrogen-powered cryo facials, leave it to the experts. Not only are they trained in safety and proper use of this powerful substance, but licensed professionals also have access to the kind of machines that can tailor the experience to your needs and desires. For example, they can adjust pressure, temperature, and airflow to make sure it’s as comfortable and effective as possible.
You can expect an in-office cryo facial to set you back an average of $40-$100, varying based on the location and breadth of service. The actual cryo part is generally only performed for ten minutes or less, but a longer service may also include cleansing, masks, massaging, and more.
Do It Yourself
There are a number of tools and devices you can use to enjoy the benefits of a cryo facial from the comfort of your own home—although don’t be surprised that you can’t find anything as strong or as cold as the liquid nitrogen offered by an esthetician. Still, you’ll come pretty close if you can get your hands on an ice roller, ice globes, or cryo sticks—which range widely from $15 to upwards of $125—or even some good, old-fashioned ice cubes. (Keep in mind, if you’re using straight ice, you may want to wrap it in some thin gauze to protect your skin.) Then, with a clean face and a cube, stick, or roller in each hand, make your way from the center of the forehead out to the rest of the upper face, spending a little extra time around the eye orbit. Then repeat on the lower half of the face, cooling the skin from the center of the chin upward and outward through the cheeks and jawline, then down to the neck and chest. For added benefits from an at-home cryo facial, you can try ice-rolling on top of a hydrating face mask, which boosts product absorption.
If you really want to take your DIY cryo facial to the next level, SiO’s Cryodrop ($115) is in a league of its own. The breakthrough skin-toning tool uses the power of cold therapy combined with massage to visibly sculpt facial contours, harnessing dual-action diamagnetic- and cryo-technologies in one. If you haven’t heard of diamagnetic technology, it’s time you got on board. Diamagnetic applicators help to enhance the absorption of skin-nourishing ingredients, strengthening the skin barrier for deep, long-lasting results.
SiO designed the Cryodrop to work in tandem with their ultra-nourishing and healing Energy Serum. It’s a hydrating formula with built-in polymers that release water droplets as they break apart, resulting in a cooling sensation. As if that wasn’t enough, hyaluronic acid, green tea, and hydrolyzed collagen peptides create a moisture shield to support the skin barrier and stimulate visible rejuvenation for fresher, smoother looking skin.
For the full experience, massage SiO Energy Serum onto clean skin. Then, with light pressure, move the Cryodrop tool over your face and neck in even, gentle strokes for about a minute. Voila!
Cryo Facial FAQs
Your most burning (er… freezing?) questions, answered.
How long do cryo facial results last?
After one professional treatment, results are pretty immediate and may even peak over the course of a couple of days, tapering out at the one-week mark or so. To see longer-lasting benefits, you’ll have to keep up with regular treatments for at least a few months.
How often should you get a cryo facial for the best results?
There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but most spas that offer cryo facials recommend starting strong with 5-10 treatments in the first month, then following with maintenance appointments once or twice a month. It’s a good timeline for at-home cryo facials, too.
Do cryo facials help with acne?
They do! In fact, a study on mice found that oil glands in the skin actually minimize oil production when exposed to a temperature of about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures also reduce inflammation and redness, which of course, go hand-in-hand with acne.
Are cryo facials safe?
The simple answer is yes; cryo facials are safe for healthy individuals. It’s worth noting that in 2015, the FDA released a consumer update on whole body cryotherapy, which indicated risks of oxygen deficiency, frostbite, and eye injury. But in the case of cryo facial treatments, where your eyes are protected and an esthetician continuously moves the wand over only the face and neck, these concerns are not as relevant. Still, you should always make sure the person treating you is a trained professional, and consult your primary doctor if you are pregnant or have any underlying medical conditions such as respiratory issues, cardiovascular issues, or anemia. And if you have any skin conditions, like rosacea or atopic dermatitis, you would do well to check with a dermatologist first, as sometimes cold temperatures can be aggravating.
If you’ve spent enough time in chilly weather, “cold therapy” might sound like a bit of an oxymoron. But before you write it off, you should know that it is not only a highly effective wellness treatment, but it’s also pretty relaxing. There’s a reason that the cryo facial is one of the trendiest, celebrity-favorite beauty treatments out there. Not only does it flush toxins and reduce inflammation, but it also improves skin tone and smooths away wrinkles. So, bask in that glow, ice queen!