Cold Comfort: How (and Why) to Give Yourself a Cryotherapy Facial

Tackle any skin problem with ice ice baby.

Asia spa wellness Cryotherapy facial hero

You’ve probably seen them while endlessly scrolling through Instagram, those bulbous glass wands filled with brightly coloured liquid and loved by beauty influencers the world over. The so-called ice globes are the latest beauty gadget inspired by the growing craze in cryotherapy, defined as “treatment by means of applications of cold”.

"One of the reasons why cryotherapy is gaining such popularity is because it offers a wide range of benefits,” says Marie Belouir, beauty advisor for Fraîcheur Ice Globes. “This treatment can be used for stress reduction, pain management, wellness and, of course, beauty and anti-ageing. The other reason is that it uses a natural source, cold. Beauty experts have used ice for years because of its incredible de-puffing, calming and contouring effects.”

Indeed, even supermodel Kate Moss has been known to submerge her face in a sink filled with ice and cucumber to reduce puffiness. Celebrity facialists such as Ole Henriksen, Renée Rouleau and Joanna Czech also use ice cubes, frozen tea, and even milk and ice baths to soothe inflammation and reduce bags under the eyes.

But as refreshing as rubbing an ice cube over your face may sound, doing so can leave you messy and dripping. Which is why the beauty industry has come to the rescue with all manner of cryotherapy tools. There’s Teresa Tarmey’s Cryo-Ball, made from surgical-grade steel with freeze-retaining fluids inside; 001 Skincare London’s roller-shaped Cryopress; and the Fraîcheur Ice Globes, the original glass wands made with unshatterable Pyrex glass housing anti-freeze liquid in a variety of colours.

While the tools may differ in shape and material, they all provide the same beauty-enhancing benefits.

Asia spa wellness Cryotherapy facial

Boosting circulation and lymphatic drainage

“You know how rosy-cheeked and flawless you look after stepping in from a bracing winter walk?” Belouir says. “Well, that’s because the cold acts on the skin by constricting blood vessels and your body then works overtime to boost circulation and bring more oxygen to the skin. The effect is a brighter, more youthful and rested look.”

The combination of cold and massage also helps to encourage lymphatic drainage. “More blood means it’s delivering more oxygen, more nutrients to the area. It’s also flushing away toxins and excess fluids,” explains Ada Ooi, founder of 001 Skincare London. “It’s almost like you’ve just been to the gym where all this oxygen is pumping.”

Asia spa wellness CRYOPRESS

Calming, cooling and healing inflammation

“Whether your concern is acne, rosacea or post-treatment redness, [cryotherapy] can help. The cold is great for chilling out any angry breakouts and reducing swelling and inflammation. It also helps to minimise pore size and reduce oil production that causes pimples, blackheads and other blemishes,” Belouir says. “The Ice Globes are also incredible after more intensive skin treatments to calm and cool the skin, and they can even speed up healing. Because they’re completely natural, and lack harsh chemicals, they’re great for sensitised, easily irritated skin.”

Tarmey, who has used cryotherapy in salon treatments for many years, also notes the massaging action helps to bring new skin cells to the surface which in turn speeds up renewal.

Sculpting, lifting and tightening

Another benefit of constricting blood vessels? Immediate skin tightening, says Ooi. When combined with massage, the cold also helps to release muscle tension that leads to fine lines and wrinkles.

“If your face is fatigued or your skin is saggy, [cryotherapy] can offer you a ‘Botox effect’ without the needles!” Belouir exclaims. “The ice tightens your pores, making skin appear more refined and toned, and the increased blood flow restores your skin’s vibrancy and bounce so you’ll be giving great glow in no time.”

Tarmey uses the treatment after flights and on celebrities before red-carpet appearances, focusing on the jaw, cheekbones and forehead. “You can literally lift the cheekbones,” she says.

Asia spa wellness Cryo Ball

Cryotherapy at home

Belouir and Ooi recommend five to 15 minutes of cryotherapy massage per session, as often as desired. “I first intended for it to be used before big events or to save stressed or problematic skin,” Tarmey says of her Cryo-Ball, “but it’s so effective, I actually use it every morning.”

Massage in all directions, allowing the cold to do its work. You can add more pressure upwards to lift the muscles and stroke downwards to promote lymphatic drainage.

Because the circulation boost leaves skin feeling “thirsty”, it can be used in combination with masks, creams and serums for added skincare benefits. And while the risks of cryotherapy are very low, slight redness is to be expected. “The most common side effects of any type of cryotherapy are tingling, redness or irritation of the skin,” Belouir says. “These are almost always temporary.”

Fraîcheur Ice Globes are available online with free shipping to Hong Kong. Teresa Tarmey’s Cryo-Ball Cryotherapy Kit is available in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford. 001 Skincare London is available online with free shipping over £150 and at The Athletic Club and Spa at The St. Regis Hong Kong.

Asia spa wellness Cryotherapy facial hero