Benefits of icing skin is it safe or harmful?

Face Icing Trend: Why You Should Not Ice Your Skin

Introduction

Skincare trends spread quickly through social media, often outpacing scientific scrutiny. Lately, there’s been a rise in influencers using ice as a tool to achieve various skin benefits. From reducing dark circles to shrinking pores, the claims about the benefits of icing skin have been widespread. In this blog post, we'll explore the reality behind these assertions, debunk myths, and provide guidance on safer and more effective skincare products that can help achieve the desired results.

What Are People Claiming Ice Does For The Skin?

Influencers and social media users alike have made several claims about the potential benefits of using ice on the skin.


Some of these claims include:


  • Reducing dark circles and puffiness around eyes by constricting blood vessels.
  • Shrinking pores for a smoother complexion.
  • Soothing inflammation and pain.
  • Treating acne breakouts.
  • Hydrating the skin


Are these claims about icing skin exaggerated or false? Keep reading to find out why these promises about ice in skin care are not fully informed.

What Does Ice Actually Do For The Skin?

While ice does have some effects on the skin, many of the claims made on social media platforms, like TikTok, are exaggerated or inaccurate. Here's what we know about the actual effects of ice on the skin:


  • Vasoconstrictor: Ice can temporarily shrink blood vessels where applied, which can reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness around the eyes in the very short term. However, this effect is only surface level and does not address the underlying causes of dark circles.
  • Pore Shrinking: Research does not suggest that icing skin has any long term impact on pore size. Pore size is primarily determined by genetics and hormones, and while ice may temporarily tighten the skin, it is unlikely to have a lasting effect on pore size. There are a number of skin care products that actually affect pore size, with research to support them.
  • Soothing Inflammation and Pain: Icing skin can definitely help soothe inflammation and pain due to its cooling and numbing effects. However, it is important to use ice cautiously and for a limited time to avoid tissue damage or frostbite. Holding ice in the same place for too long can cause serious redness and damage on the skin. Redness can also occur if you use any kind of face ice pack or ice face mask for too long.
  • Hydrating the Skin: Ice itself does not hydrate the skin. Icing skin may provide a temporary cooling sensation, but it does not contribute to long-term hydration or moisturization. In fact, pure water (or ice in this case) strips oils and other moisturizing compounds from the skin through osmosis. Think of it this way: you don‚Äôt use water to moisturize your skin anyway!

Can Ice Treat Dark Circles and Puffiness?

Icing skin can only provide temporary vasoconstricting effects and has no long-term benefits. There are safer and more effective ways that can help reduce the appearance of dark circles and reduce puffiness, such as eye creams and treatments.  For example, eye products with caffeine, vitamin K, oxymetazoline, or other ingredients known to constrict blood vessels. These ingredients work by directly interacting with receptors in the skin that produce compounds like adenosine that dilate blood vessels. Products containing these ingredients have a much longer lasting effect than ice does in reducing dark circles under the eyes.

Eye Creams For Dark Circles

Is Ice Bad For Dry Skin?

Using ice directly on the skin can be harmful for those with dry or sensitive skin types. Icing skin can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to further dryness and irritation. Instead, consider using a gentle, hydrating moisturizer, such as Zerafite Soothing and Calming Moisturizer. Adding water to the skin doesn’t help it retain water. Instead, the skin’s barrier needs to be repaired with lipids like ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids so water is less able to evaporate off the face.

Can Icing Skin Treat Acne?

Some people also claim that using ice on the face can help treat acne breakouts. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including excess oil production, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. While the cooling sensation of icing skin may provide temporary relief, it does not change the bacteria on your face or replace a good cleanser.


Instead of using ice, it is better to opt for skincare products specifically formulated to treat acne. These may include ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids, which can help unclog pores, reduce oil production, and fight acne-causing bacteria. Additionally, gentle cleansers and moisturizers that are non-comedogenic (meaning they don't clog pores) can help maintain a healthy skin barrier without aggravating acne.


By following a consistent acne-fighting routine with the right products, you can effectively manage breakouts and promote clearer, healthier skin in a safe and scientifically-backed way.

Cleansers For Acne-Prone Skin

Does Ice Help Shrink Pores?

Again, icing skin only provides temporary vasoconstriction but does not shrink pores. If you're looking to minimize the appearance of pores, astringents and toners containing ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), witch hazel, or retinol can be more effective options than icing skin. Astringents directly interact with the way proteins are arranged on the skin, temporarily shrinking pores and making the skin feel tight.

Toners For Minimizing Appearance Of Pores

How Can Ice Damage The Skin?

Yes, icing skin can cause both short term and longer term damage to the skin- especially sensitive or troubled skin (skin with acne, dermatitis, eczema, and similar conditions). Here are a few ways that applying ice directly to your skin can damage it:


  • Broken Capillaries: The extreme cold from the ice can cause the small blood vessels under your skin to burst, leading to broken capillaries and visible redness. This damage is usually temporary but can be permanent if done repeatedly.
  • Loss of Elasticity: Ice applied directly constricts the blood vessels rapidly. The constant cycle of constriction and dilation can overstretch the blood vessels and cause them to lose elasticity over time. This leads to sagging skin.
  • Irritation and Redness: The cold temperature of the ice can irritate the skin, causing it to become red, inflamed and sensitive. This inflammation can worsen skin issues like acne, rosacea and eczema.
  • Disrupts Skin's Protective Barrier:¬†Icing skin can damage the skin's natural oils and lipids that keep moisture locked in. This impairs the skin's protective barrier, making it more prone to moisture loss and environmental damage.

A Better Way To Practice Facial Cryotherapy

While icing skin directly is not really the best choice, some skincare products harness the benefits of cryotherapy (the use of cold temperatures) in a controlled and safe manner. The key is to not apply ice directly to the skin. Instead of rubbing an ice cube directly onto your skin, opt for tools you can place in the freezer that safely cool the skin, such as facial rollers, gua-sha, and other innovative tools.

Conclusion

While icing skin may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution for various skincare concerns, it is essential to approach its use with caution. Many of the claims made on TikTok and other social media are either exaggerated or inaccurate, and using ice directly on the skin can lead to tissue damage and further irritation. Instead, we recommend exploring regulated skincare products that are designed with science-backed ingredients and safety in mind. By choosing the right products and following proper skincare routines, you can achieve your desired skin goals while avoiding the risks associated with using ice on your face.

Emily at Exclusive Beauty

The Author: Emily Gervais

As a skincare, hair care, and personal wellness enthusiast with a decade of experience in the skincare industry, Emily is dedicated to sharing unbiased education on skincare and wellness. With a knack for writing and a passion for empowering others, she strives to provide valuable insight to help others understand and navigate the ever-changing beauty and wellness world.

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