Whenever the Well+Good beauty team calls out for editors’ skin-care picks, I’m not usually one to throw in new product suggestions. See, I have an extremely sensitive and reactive complexion, which means that I never stray from the same set of serums I’ve been using for years. (That would be Marie Veronique and Kristina Holey’s microbiome-balancing collection, ICYWW.) Recently, I added a new step to my regimen that I can’t stop talking about—and it involves a $9 set of silicone ice pop molds that I bought on Amazon.
No, I haven’t been making collagen-peptide popsicles in my kitchen. I’ve been using the molds to freeze water and ice my face. My new esthetician, Hannah Land at Corrective Skincare in Los Angeles, turned me on to this technique a few months ago. She explained that ice can help minimize the effects of inflammatory skin conditions, and once I tried it, I was instantly hooked on how perky and poreless this DIY cryotherapy made my complexion.
My facialist isn’t the only one who believes in icing your face. According to board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche, MD, applying ice to the skin causes blood vessels to narrow, resulting in a few key benefits. “The cool temperature of the ice will restrict blood flow to the area and minimize excess fluid accumulation or swelling that presents with inflammation,” says Dr. Guanche, author of Seven Days to Sexy. “This can help with inflamed acne lesions. Local vasoconstriction will then send signals to the body to increase blood flow to the area to warm it up, hence improving circulation. This improved circulation can help promote and enhance healing of the skin. It can also bring more nutrients and oxygen to the skin’s surface for a more youthful and radiant appearance.” She adds that ice may also make pores appear smaller and can help skin-care products penetrate into the skin, due to the subsequent increase in blood flow.
The main downside? As you can imagine, holding an ice cube in your hands while you rub it over your face isn’t exactly a fun time. Not only does the ice start to burn your fingers after a few seconds, but its melty drips end up getting all over your sleeves and countertops. That’s why the ice-pop hack is so brilliant—it’s far more ergonomically sound than the alternative, and all the ice runoff ends up going back into the tube to be refrozen for the next round. Now that I’ve switched over to this method, I actually look forward to my twice-daily icing sessions.
If you want in, there are a few more things you should keep in mind. For one thing, I have rosacea on my cheeks and forehead, and I learned the hard way to avoid icing these areas directly. (Extreme temperatures can cause this skin condition to flare up, says Land.) Dr. Guanche stresses that it’s important to keep the ice moving around your face in a circular motion, as holding it in one area for an extended period of time could damage the skin. She also suggests putting a protective barrier between the ice and your skin—a soft cloth, for instance—or using an ice roller to eliminate the mess factor. While some people might prefer that option, I’m staunchly on Team Frozen Water. Nothing else has made my minimalist skin-care routine quite as complete.
Icing your face isn’t the only way to calm skin inflammation. You can also use a sunscreen with zinc and choose one of these soothing drugstore moisturizers.
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