No one has ever accused me of being trendy. I rarely try new recipes, or venture to unchartered heights; I still wear sweatpants I purchased in my 20's. So imagine my surprise to learn an ancient skin care routine of mine has been trending on tik tok! Did it make me feel cool?? Well...no...but you all saw that pun opportunity right?? Couldn't pass it up!
What am I babbling about? A facial ice bath. We've all seen those heart wrenching moments where professional athletes lower themselves begrudgingly into a tub of ice after an intense practice, but ice baths date back even to ancient times to help ease muscle fatigue and reduce skin irritations. The benefits of this seemingly simple routine go beyond skin deep- so let's dive in!
The visible benefits of a facial ice bath? Lots. A quick dunk will result in reduced redness, reduced swelling and overall reduced puffiness. The low temperature of the water will temporarily cause the capillaries to constrict, and, in time will open up again giving you a refreshed look. The temporary restriction on blood flow is most effective in reducing those pesky under-eye bags and helps to minimize our pores and fine lines. Because of the reduction in swelling, painful acne inflammation is lessened. Facial ice baths also help to enhance the absorption of products when applied directly after the process, allowing for better penetration of serums, moisturizers and treatment masks.
Ok-but an even better benefit to facial ice baths? The mental benefits. The cold exposure increases the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which helps our focus, attention and mood. Studies have also shown regular icing to result in increased dopamine production. How can this be? Once the nerves in your face are stimulated by the drop in temperature, your body sends a message to your vagus nerve to calm your body and begin to conserve your energy. Your vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body, and the main nerve in your parasympathetic nervous system. Simply put it's your bodies "rest and digest" control center, the exact opposite of "fight or flight" control centers that are activated during times of stress. The instant snap of cold will reduce blood flow to all non essential organs, focusing blood flow to the brain and heart. Let's think about what happens when you jump into a cold pool on a hot day: an immediate shockwave followed by, hopefully, a refreshing and relaxing cool. Ultimately your left with improved clarity, reduced depression and reduced anxiety.
Are you ready to take the plunge?? Start by double cleaning your face (which we all do already-right??). Once your ice water bowl is ready, submerge your face for approximately 10-30 seconds, 4-5 times. Water temperature should be comfortably cold- NOT painfully freezing. Pat your face dry gently with a clean towel and follow with your fave toner, serum and moisturizer. Facial ice baths are best done in the morning, but making it part of your nighttime routine will tout all the same benefits. A longer submersion time does not equal more or quicker benefits, and can actually cause irritation to your complexion. Migraine sufferers and those with heart conditions definitely proceed with caution, as vagus nerve stimulation can effect both of these conditions.
What more cost effective spa treatment can be done in the comfort of your own home? And in the comfort of your 20 year old sweatpants??