Cold Plunge: How This Simple Treatment Has Amazing Research-Backed Results

You only need to go as far as your favorite social media platform to learn about the latest trends in skincare and wellness. As a professional in the industry, however, it’s important that you be able to identify the trends that are backed by science and those that are nothing more than a fad.

From brushing your teeth with charcoal to DIY scrubs made from coffee grounds, some of the trends making the rounds may seem sound in theory but they aren’t grounded in much scientific evidence. One of the latest trends in skincare is cold therapy and, you’ll be glad to know, it’s one that comes with strong clinical evidence to back it up.

The cold plunge, or ice water facial, is a form of cold therapy that’s become very popular as of late. Here’s what you need to know about it and how cold therapy might be a treatment you want to incorporate into your spa menu.

What is Cold Therapy?

Countless clients walk through the doors of their local spa seeking tighter, brighter skin. Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is an excellent tool to help achieve firmer, more glowing skin. Cryotherapy triggers a process called vasoconstriction in which the blood vessels in the skin contract, giving the skin a firmer appearance. Cryotherapy may also boost production of collagen and elastin while increasing circulation in the skin, providing long-term skin-firming benefits.

Here are some of the potential noted benefits of cold therapy:

  • Improves circulation to the skin, giving it a healthier overall appearance.
  • Eases swelling and inflammation, especially for conditions like rosacea and acne.
  • Soothes sunburn and irritation.
  • Stimulates skin regeneration by helping remove dead skin cells.
  • Minimizes pores to help counter excessive oil production.
  • Reduces the visible signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Refreshes the eye contours and temporarily relieves puffiness and dark circles.
  • Increases the absorption of skincare products, enhancing their effects.

What makes cold therapy such a popular treatment is the fact that the results are noticeable almost instantly. This treatment lifts and tightens the skin, constricting the pores and boosting blood flow to give the skin a natural-looking glow. Cold can also reduce redness and inflammation and it can even help brighten a dull complexion. By constricting the blood vessels under the eyes, cold therapy can also temporarily reduce the appearance of undereye puffiness and dark circles.

How Does the Cold Plunge Work?

This treatment goes by many names. Some call it a cold plunge and others call it an ice bath or facial icing. Whatever you call it, the practice is nothing new. Kate Moss has said she submerges her face in a bowl of ice water to brighten her complexion. Hollywood actress Jane Crawford does the same.

The practice may even date all the way back to the 18th century when Russian Empress Catherine the Great is said to have applied ice cubes to her face and neck every morning.

The practice of cold therapy is quite simple and there are many ways to apply it. The key is to expose the skin to a temperature around 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit with a fluid or instrument to stimulate a nervous system response. One of the simplest methods is the cold plunge.

The cold plunge simply involves filling a bowl with ice water and plunging the face into it. For the best results, the treatment should be carried out over the course of 15 minutes, plunging the face into the ice water bath for 10 to 15 seconds per minute. It may also be necessary to replace the ice cubes every 5 minutes to keep the water chilled to the ideal temperature.

Other Types of Cold Therapy for Skincare

While the cold plunge is a simple method for cold therapy, it may not be appropriate in a spa setting. Fortunately, there are a variety of other types of cold therapy for skincare.

One of the simplest methods is to use an ice roller. These devices often look similar to your standard beauty roller, but they are designed to be stored in the freezer. The chilled device can be gently rolled over the skin to reduce redness and inflammation while also firming the skin and tightening pores.

A more advanced option would be to invest in a cryotherapy facial machine. These machines pump liquid nitrogen onto the face in the form of pressurized vapor. The intense cold has an immediate tightening effect on the skin because the blood vessels contract and the pores tighten. As the skin returns to normal temperature, the blood vessels dilate which increases the flow of oxygenated blood to the face, giving it a natural glow.

Before administering any cold therapy treatment, it’s important to understand and inform your client of the potential risks. While cryotherapy can certainly yield visible results in a short period of time, there is some risk for irritation, so it’s best to start out with shorter sessions to see how the skin reacts.