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A woman icing her skin


Does Icing Your Skin Have Real Benefits? A Dermatologist Weighs In

Skin-icing is a big skincare trend, but we spoke to expert Dr. Papri Sarkar to learn if it has real benefits. Here, with Kiehl’s, find out what it really does.

Fill up a glass with ice and it refreshes. Hold it against your skin to ease an ache, crush it and top with syrup for a summer treat: these are (some of) the uses of ice. Recently, there’s been one more on our radar: skin icing. This beauty trend has been taking over on TikTok, and it’s certainly caught our interest. Why are influencers smoothing icy tools over their visages? Is ice good for your skin? That’s what we want to find out and why we spoke with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar. Read on to learn all about icing your skin, from how to do it to whether you should.

What Is The Skin-Icing Trend?

As you might have been able to guess, skin icing involves rubbing ice—or a skincare tool kept in the freezer—over your skin. This skincare trend is popular on social media with Instagram posts and TikTok videos dedicated to showing off the process. Not only does it look cool, but there are also quite a few purported benefits.

Is Ice Good For Your Skin?

While skin icing is said to have many uses, only some of those hold substance. Let’s start with what ice can do. Most notably, it can be good for your skin if puffiness is a concern. Use it to help de-puff your under-eye area after a night of too little sleep or before a special event. Dr. Sarkar shares, “Models used to talk about this all the time in their ‘get ready with me’ routines.” Ice can also be used to give skin a natural-looking glow and calm blemishes.

As for what’s pure myth, Dr. Sarkar notes, “There are a lot of other things it’s supposed to do that science doesn’t show.” These include making pores smaller and causing wrinkles to disappear. Don’t expect skin icing to address every skin concern.

In addition to the benefits of skin icing, Dr. Sarkar also warns that the trend is not completely without risk. If ice is left on the skin for too long, it can cause damage. This makes it important to be cognizant of how long you ice your skin.

What Should You Ice Your Skin With?

There are a few different ways to ice your skin. Some people use tools while others grab an ice cube from the freezer. Each option has its pros, which we’ll dig into.

Ice rollers and globes: There are various different tools, like ice rollers and ice globes, that can be smoothed over your skin, delivering that sought-after chilly temperature. They don’t get overly cold and allow you to apply gentle pressure to your skin. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re usually perfectly Instagramable.

Ice cube: Dr Sarkar says, “I generally prefer people not to use ice cubes, in particular, because they get colder than an ice roller or ice globes.” Ice cubes also have the unfortunate side effect of melting and dripping all over the place—not bad for your skin but not great for ease of use. With that said, ice cubes are super convenient because of their accessibility. Another potential plus is that ice cubes melt fairly fast, which helps prevent you from icing your skin for an extended period of time.

If you opt to use an ice cube, Dr. Sarkar recommends putting it in a plastic bag. This may cause extra drag against your skin (which you want to minimize), but it allows you to avoid directly touching the ice and keeps the melting contained.

Frozen spoon: Even if using ice cubes on your skin isn’t for you, you don’t need anything fancy to try this skincare trend. A spoon that’s been stowed in your freezer is a great option because, as Dr. Sarkar says, “it’s around [your] house anyway, so it’s not expensive.” The shape of a spoon is also perfect for addressing puffy under-eye bags. Another reason Dr. Sarkar recommends using a chilled spoon is that “it heats up quickly so [you] can’t do it for hours,” whereas some devices can stay cold for much longer.

How Should You Prep Your Skin For Icing?

Regardless of what you ice with, the best way to prep your skin remains the same. In fact, the first step is consistent with how you should begin almost every skincare trend. You guessed it, to start, you’ll cleanse your face. Dr. Sarkar comments on the importance of cleansing and removing your makeup, saying, “I like them to start with a clean palette.” She continues, “If you think about it, if you’re waking up from sleeping, some people sweat while they sleep, or if you’re sleeping face down on your pillow, you might have [hair] products on your face.” Then, when you start icing your skin, you press and rub the sweat and product all over your face. For the same reason, if you’re using a tool of some sort, it’s a must for it to be clean.

For gentle cleansing, try Ultra Facial Cleanser. The formula for all skin types contains squalane and glycerin and is pH-balanced to maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier. It effectively cleanses, helping to dissolve excess oil, dirt, and debris, without over-drying or stripping skin of its essential oils.

To make sure icing your skin is a smooth experience, Dr. Sarkar recommends applying a face oil or moisturizer next. This is helpful because “there’s less friction and traction, so [you’re] not causing skin damage without meaning to by exfoliating or rubbing.” She notes that this can be particularly important for darker skin tones as rubbing the skin could lead to discoloration.

Apply a few drops of Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil, which calms the feeling of stressed skin while helping balance hydration. If you’re icing at night, we also love Midnight Recovery Concentrate Face Oil, which is formulated with lavender essential oil and evening primrose oil. It boosts essential moisture and helps smooth and firm your skin’s appearance. As mentioned above, you can prep your skin with moisturizer, too. Try Ultra Facial Cream or Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer, both of which contain glycerin. The former provides lasting hydration and balances even skin’s driest areas while the latter hydrates and keeps skin shine-free all day.

How Long Should You Ice Skin?

Duration is a key factor when it comes to skin icing. You want to do it long enough to see benefits but not so long that it’s bad for your skin. According to Dr. Sarkar, finding the correct amount of time will depend upon whether you’re icing just one spot (like a blemish) or your entire face. To ice your face all over, she says about 15 minutes is an appropriate amount of time. You won’t overdo it because “you’re moving it around so much that you’re not concentrating on one specific area.”

When you are focusing on a singular spot, she says to stop once the skin is really cold. How long this takes depends on the particular area. “Under your eye, that area gets colder faster,” says Dr. Sarkar. Other spots, like the middle of your cheeks, where skin is thicker, will take longer to get cold.

What Do You Do After Icing Skin?

After skin icing, Dr. Sarkar says your skin will be ready to accept products. Take advantage by applying a serum, like Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum, which instantly boosts radiance. It also visibly reduces fine lines and wrinkles with time. For your eye area, complement the de-puffing powers of skin icing with Avocado Eye Cream. This eye cream visibly improves puffiness and offers all-day hydration. If you’re using icing as a way to get ready for an event or occasion, Dr. Sarkar says to follow with applying your makeup. Alternatively, if you’re in for the night, apply face oil and moisturizer.

How Often Should You Ice Your Face?

“There’s no tried-and-true timeline for this,” shares Dr. Sarkar. You could ice your skin once a week, twice weekly, or once a month. It’s also okay to do daily. Find what works for you. She encourages you to pay attention to your skin and how icing benefits it. “If it feels good, do it every day,” she says. “It’s not expensive, it’s easy to do, and you don’t need many tools.”

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