While there’s no time like the summer to cool off, putting ice on your face is a year-round skincare strategy. From functioning as a natural makeup primer to taking cheekbones to new heights, ice cubes are a secret weapon for many top facialists and makeup artists.
YouTube star Lisa Eldridge swears by ice facials to combat early set times and jet-lagged models. Is redness your problem? Just bring a frozen block to the roof of your mouth, where receptors for your face’s blood vessels live. And for flare ups, they also act as spot-on treatments for breakouts says Austin-based aesthetician Renée Rouleau. No matter what state your face is in, experts weigh in on how fresh-out-of-the-freezer cubes, especially when blended with green tea, caffeine, or milk (!), can help increase blood circulation, minimise pores, and soothe inflammation for clear, radiant skin.
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Jumpstart a healthy glow
For as long as he’s been performing transformative facials, celebrity facialist Ole Henriksen has incorporated ice cubes into his treatments. “They dramatically improve circulation in the skin for that healthy glow we all want,” he says. To boost results, he’ll brew and freeze rosehip seed tea, which is high in Vitamin C, as well as antioxidant-packed green tea. For application, Henriksen suggests wrapping an ice cube in a thin cotton handkerchief and massaging it across the skin.
The age-old ice-cold trick can also enhance the hero products of your regimen. “If you apply a serum to the skin and put ice on it afterwards, the capillaries restrict and it creates a pulling effect that helps ingredients penetrate deeper,” explains Rouleau. Celebrity facialist Joanna Czech is also a fan of the extra icy step—particularly when masking. After using La Mer’s The Brilliance Brightening Mask, she seals in the illuminating and skin-softening ingredients by gliding gauze-wrapped cubes along the planes of the face.
To get the glow in one quick step, however, take a page from the supermodel playbook and make like Kate Moss. Inspired by Joan Crawford’s no-holds-barred approach to vanity portrayed in Mommie Dearest, the 45-year-old model has been known to submerge her face in a sink of icy water to counteract morning-after puffiness. A fellow runway regular that also swears by the trick? Bella Hadid, who often utilises the powers of an ice facial for a picture-perfect glow on set.
Sculpt your cheekbones
For more sensitive skin, and souls, Henriksen suggests a slightly modified alternative to the face plunging technique: After filling a bowl up a third of the way with whole milk, which contains cell-regenerative Vitamin A and naturally exfoliating lactic acid, add ice cubes before drenching a face cloth in the bone-chilling blend. “Hold it across the entire face for 15 seconds and repeat up to five times,” he says. Or, tap into the global beauty trend of face sculpting and work a frozen milk cube from the center of the chin along the jawline to the earlobe, then upward towards the highs of the cheekbones, under eye region, and across the forehead, he says. Repeat the massage for 5 minutes to get the firming, contouring effect.
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Chill angry breakouts
While the underlying cause of blemishes and cystic acne is bacteria, a dose of chill can help relieve pain and decrease inflammation by constricting the blood vessels. For Rouleau, the trick is to alternate ice cube application with a warm compress on the flare-ups for about six cycles. “This stimulates circulation, allowing the body’s immune system to calm down and clear out blemishes and cysts,” she says. To bolster this kind of spot treatment, Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City, dissolves an aspirin into warm water before freezing, as the acetylsalicylic acid helps to dry up breakouts.
If you struggle with redness or rosacea, experts caution against applying anything that’s too hot or cold to the face. However, you can still reduce the flushing of the skin by applying an ice cube to the roof of your mouth. It’s a receptor site that constricts blood vessels in the face when cooled, says Dr. Fusco.
Banish under-eye bags
According to Czech, ice cubes can be used as an eye treatment in one of two ways. “Use a cold compress made out of cotton and chamomile tea and rest it on your eyes for a few minutes,” she says. “Or, wrap ice cubes in gauze and slide the cubes from the inner eye corners up towards the brow in a circular motion.” Either way, the drainage of excess fluid will dramatically improve the appearance of tired-looking under-eyes. Another trick? Dr. Fusco freezes iced coffee squares as the caffeine’s constrictive properties help with swelling.
This story originally appeared in British Vogue.