People Are Freezing Their Faces for Good Skin
by Freya Drohan
Before I treated myself to my first ever cryo facial (merci beaucoup, Classpass) the only thing I associated with cryotherapy was the freezing of Austin Powers in the 1997 classic, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
While the Austin Powers franchise may be entertaining, it unfortunately reveals next to nothing about what cryotherapy actually entails. For the uninitiated, cryotherapy is basically a treatment involving targeted blasts of extremely cold air to various parts of your body.
Sure, I’d read about its numerous physical benefits, and sometimes I need more than just a swipe of Cooling Water to de-puff my tired complexion. Ergo, I and my fatigued, sweaty face decided to take the icy plunge after one of those particularly grueling spin classes that I love/hate.
I’m not in the business of BS’ing you – but after my cryo facial, I looked brand-new. To be sure it wasn’t in my head, I delved into the philosophy behind the process and even spoke to a dermatologist who maintained that cryotherapy changed her own life while dealing with arthritis. All things considered, I feel like I found modern MAGIC (read: medically-proven magic) for a mere 13 ClassPass credits.
Let’s recap: I headed to popular Los Angeles spot CryoCafe seeking the mental and physical chill I needed. While I lounged in the sun-soaked, Instagram-friendly waiting area, some brave souls had their whole bodies blasted with cold air in a chamber while loud music pulsed through the room. It was, as they say, “very LA.” I’m not sure if I will ever be bad a$$ enough to submerge my entire self in the subzero air (apparently it’s brrrrr-illiant for a hangover) but after seeing the immediate benefits of the facial… watch this space.
A cryo facial involves a stream of liquid nitrogen being sprayed on a targeted area. It claims to help tighten the skin and increase collagen production. CryoCafe’s General Manager and Partner Steven Cusimano explained that because of the cold, the treatment also helps kill bacteria topically and close pores – ideal for after my sweaty workout.
“The process of cryotherapy cools the skin about one-to-two millimeters deep and doesn’t reduce the body’s internal temperature,” he explained. “This allows blood to circulate around the face, breaking up inflammation and irritation. This effectively gives your skin a noticeable glow and clears up blemishes.”
Inflammation is somewhat of a buzzword in both the wellness and beauty industries these days. If you believe what you read, apparently everything from our gut to our toes is at risk of inflammation! But hold up, what even is this “inflammation” that we’ve been seeing on skincare labels and reading about in the media?
Turns out, inflammation ain’t all bad. Our immune systems need an inflammatory response for some vital functions, like fighting off infection and healing injuries. However, it’s the chronic, bad inflammation in the body that becomes problematic as it essentially causes the body to attack itself. This is according to Dr. Alejandro Junger, who refers to himself as the ‘Father of Detox’ and is best known for creating the celebrity-approved Clean Program.
Inflammation is often caused by our diets: dairy, alcohol, fried and processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats, and external factors: stress, lack of sleep, secondhand smoke, too much sun, and polluted air. AKA, do you live in the modern world? Hi, hello, you’ve probably got some inflammation going on.
Our skin is often the first external sign that something is wrong internally – itching, burning, and discoloration are all indicators that inflammation is occurring on the inside. Chronic inflammation reportedly goes hand-in-hand with conditions like eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and psoriasis, and while unfortunately you cannot always completely avoid skin inflammation, you can try to reduce it.
Cusimano confirmed that cryo facials are a *legit* good option for those with skin that is inflamed and angry. You see, during the treatment your blood flow will circulate rapidly as it “runs away” from the cold, thus breaking up inflammation and irritation under the skin. For ultimate results, he recommends being consistent and frequent with treatments. He added that cryo facials will reduce puffiness while delivering envy-inducing radiance.
Like with any new, trendy procedure, it’s easy to get blindsided by the good reviews, so I asked Cusimano about any potential dangers or side effects.
“There can be dangers to the skin if the targeted stream of vapor isn’t moved around the face,” he warned. “You can be burned due to the severe cold temperatures. Our staff are trained on how everything works properly to ensure that that can never happen,” he promised.
Alexandria Charles, Spa Manager at Chill Space in New York, agreed that cryo facials are key to reducing skin inflammation.
“With repeated use, cryo facials can help to restore firmness and radiance to the skin as well as improve skin texture, and soothe inflammation,” she dished, as she mentioned pleasing words such as Refreshing! Invigorating! Glowing! and Rejuvenating!
While CryoCafe uses liquid nitrogen, Charles said that Chill Space opts for carbon dioxide cooled air applied in a very focused area (versus the nitrogen misting technique).
“It is applied to all regions of the face and forehead with emphasis on areas that are developing or have developed wrinkles. Exposure to the subzero air leads to vasoconstriction, which helps to flush toxins from the skin, encourages collagen retention, and helps to leave your skin looking restored,” she said.
Charles noted that as well as fighting that pesky inflammation, cryo facials are helpful for those who have acne, puffiness under the eyes, and post-operative bruising.
Dr. Marguerite Germain, a South Carolina-based dermatologist, infinitely praises the benefits of cryo for both facial and full-body treatments (citing how much it helped with her own arthritis). Like Charles, she notes that cryo facials help to “calm things down.” She has no qualms about this procedure but agreed that it is imperative that staff are fully trained in what they are doing. Do your research, people!
“Cryo facials are a great option as they help increase circulation and tighten the skin,” she confirmed. “It’s a great option post-procedure and for those with inflammation and rosacea as redness will be decreased.”
“You can really see it and feel it,” she said. “If someone has painful nodules from cystic acne, the pain decreases right away. My patients always say that they feel and see the difference from a cryo facial more quickly than any other procedure.”
In their description of the treatment, CryoCafe claims that their signature 15-minute facial will deliver a “just back from Tulum glow”. It’s been two weeks, and while I have not been to Mexico thanks to both my bank account’s limitations and my workload, I haven’t had to wear makeup either. Seems like it was the cheapest vacation my skin ever took!
To prolong the Tulum-iness, I started delving into what else would help reduce inflammation of the skin. Because I like to indulge in some Gwyneth Paltrow vibes every now and then, I read up on functional foods and supplements that are reported to keep inflammation at bay.
Everything sounded fairly mystical, so I reached out to LA-based holistic health coach/nutritionist Vanessa Fitzgerald, who glows enough to make me want to do every single thing she says. My parting gift for you all is her custom-created smoothie that promises to ward off inflammation while boosting overall skin health. ~ New glow, who dis?
DIY: Berry Beautiful Blend Smoothie
- 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup frozen organic strawberries
- 3 tbsp Tocos: a bioavailable source of Vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin and connective tissue while helping to remove toxins from the body.
- 1 tbsp Pearl Powder: this is anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, has a high concentration of amino acids and promotes clear skin, healthy hair, and strong nails.
- 2 scoops Collagen Peptides: we lose collagen as we age, so taking collagen peptides helps to improve the elasticity of our skin and restore moisture to slow the aging process. It also enhances your inner glow and is excellent for hair and nail health as well.
- 1 tbsp Schizandra: lowers inflammation, improves the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue, and helps to support the adrenal glands, which makes it a stress reducer. Stress is a big cause of skin damage!
- 1 tbsp goji berries: superfood high in antioxidants, making it anti-inflammatory. It’s also high in vitamin C, which is the glue that holds the body together.
- 1.5 drops of flavored stevia
- 1 tbsp unsweetened, raw almond butter
- 1 tbsp mesquite: a low glycemic sweetener that contains high levels of essential minerals that help with hydration, which is essential for skin health.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil: fat is essential for brain health, skin elasticity, weight loss, and proper vitamin absorption.