About a month ago, I schlepped all my worldly belongings from my old apartment in New York City’s East Village to a walk-up exactly 80 blocks uptown. One “amenity” of this new abode came in the form of a new challenge: For the first time in my life, I found myself fruitlessly trying to sleep in a bedroom sans air-conditioning.
Murphy’s Law being in full effect, the city was subject to a hellish heat wave that week, and my efforts to cool myself down without investing hundreds in an AC turned desperate, fast. I bought two fans. I took a freezing-cold shower before crawling into bed. I slept au naturel (no sheets, either). I even tried visualizing myself in tundra-like climates. But still, I clocked four to five hours of fitful half-sleep per night at best.
Then, on night five, the saga came to a (very melodramatic) climax as I had a literal meltdown. Near hysterically, I sprung up from my sweat-soaked sheets, dashed for the freezer, and emptied two trays of ice cubes directly into my bed. And let me tell you, it was pure, frigid bliss. I actually managed to get a sub-par six hours of shut-eye that night, despite feeling kind of nuts about my methods. (Full disclosure: I admitted defeat against the elements and ordered an AC unit the next morning—and sprung for the overnight shipping-fee premium).
The takeaway here—other than the brutality of the dog days of summer? Ice deserves way more wellness cred than it currently gets. No, it won’t work as well as temp-controlled air in conditions of 90°F and 100 percent humidity, but it can help in oh-so-many other ways.
Keep reading to find out 5 reasons frozen water is really, well, cool for your health.
1. Ice works wonders for treating acne
“Ice is so cold that it acts like a slight superficial burn, AKA exfoliation,” explains Jennifer Kramer, a paramedical esthetician and founder of Corrective Skincare LA. “This natural exfoliant allows better penetration for your current skin-care products, which gives you faster results,” she adds.
To try it yourself, just glide an ice cube over your face for 20 to 30 seconds after washing your it, making sure to keep it moving. Then, pat your face dry and apply your serums, oils, moisturizers, and acne-dotes. “You’ll notice a difference in your skin within three to four days of icing two times a days,” the skin maven says. Pro tip: Freeze the water with a squirt of aloe for even more anti-inflammatory benefits.
2. You can use the stuff as an a.m. eye de-puffer
Wake up feeling like your under eyes look a bit puffy? Well, go ahead and pull out your ice tray again because according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist, “applying ice can help constrict blood vessels and encourage drainage from of the excess fluid below the eyes.” So before slathering on your dime-size morning dose of SPF, ice just below your bottom lashes.
3. It really does cool you down
In retrospect, my attempts to cool down weren’t as strategic as they could have been. The real key? Applying ice to your pulse points. The reason you can feel your heartbeat in these spots is because your blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin, Lifehacker reports. Thus, treating those areas cools off your blood and body temp faster. (Who knew?)
While well-known pulse points include your wrists, ankles, and neck, you can also situate an ice bag on less evident places, like your inner thighs, the crown of your head, and the back of your knees.
4. Ice reduces bug-bite swelling and makes you way less itchy
When it comes to treating bug bites, two common pieces of advice tend to prevail: “Don’t scratch!” or cross an “X” over the bumps so they won’t itch. Ask a derm though, and you may get a freezing tip. “Bug bites are essentially allergic reactions in the skin caused by the bite itself,” explains Dr. Zeichner. But luckily, “ice can help calm inflammation and reduce the itch associated with bites,” he adds.
So next time you strike out for a hike, pack a few extra multipurpose bags of ice that’ll keep your veggie sandwiches cool and help mitigate the inevitable itchiness from an inevitable bug bite or two.
5. Freeze out migraines with it
Early studies have shown that in the midst of splitting migraine, cold therapy can significantly diminish the amount of pain that sufferers feel. One even found that patients who expressed their migraine’s severity based on criteria known as the visual analogue scale (VAS) both before and after a cold compress was placed on their neck reported experiencing reduced pain within 20 to 30 minutes of consistent applications.
Pretty, cool, right?
As it turns out, unfrozen water also deserves a spot in the beauty hall of fame. Just sip it to see for yourself.
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