Health care

Are Cold Showers Good For Your Skin? Ice Bath Benefits

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Are we entering the ice age in skin care? If TikTok trends are any indication, it’s getting cold in here. And while cold therapy isn’t a new practice, we seem to be warming up to the idea of putting our wellness routines on ice. Read on to explore this cool skin care concept and decide whether it’s right for you. 

What Is Cold Therapy? | Cold Therapy Benefits For Beauty | How To Ice Your Skin | Is Cold Therapy Safe For Everyone?

What Is Cold Therapy?

Cold therapy is the use of cold water or ice for therapeutic purposes. If you’ve ever placed a bag of frozen peas on a sprained ankle or soothed a headache or sunburn with a damp, cool washcloth, you’ve tried a version of cold therapy. The practice is probably most commonly used to manage pain and swelling, but there are many other health and beauty benefits associated with subjecting your body to this type of climate control.

Frosty temperatures have physiological effects on the body that can be very helpful in managing everything from pain to puffy eyes. On a very basic level, applying cold to the body lowers skin temperature, eases pain by dulling nerve activity and reduces swelling by limiting blood flow, all contributing to less inflammation and muscle soreness. If you’ve ever seen an athlete hop into an ice bath or cryotherapy chamber, it was probably with the goal of speeding up muscle recovery. According to Dr. Dominic King, a sports medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic: “When you submerge your body in cold water, the result is a constriction of your blood vessels, mainly those blood vessels in your legs and your arms and away from your core where most of your heat is held. When blood vessels are constricted, blood doesn’t flow as quickly to those areas and, in turn, may reduce inflammation temporarily.” 

Cold therapy brings a range of health benefits such as increased metabolism, enhanced immune response, better sleep quality, higher energy levels, improved focus and endorphin release. With hundreds of years and lots of science to back up the benefits of ice baths, maybe plunging your body into frigid water isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Cold Therapy Benefits For Beauty 

The tradition of cold therapy, tracing back to 3500 BC, involved more than just physical health for Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. These civilizations used cold baths not only for their therapeutic effects but also as a vital part of their social and communal life. In Egypt, Greece and Rome, public bathhouses were hubs for social interaction and community bonding, in addition to being places for health and hygiene​.  With centuries of evidence about the perks of cold therapy, it was only a matter of time before social media discovered the beauty benefits of plunging your body into sub-zero temperatures. From calming irritated skin to tightening the look of pores, this cool “new” beauty craze seems to be the next big wellness trend. Let’s plunge a little deeper into some of these benefits:

Helps Reduce Puffiness

In the same way applying cold compresses to injuries lessens inflammation and swelling, applying ice under your eyes can banish those bags. Puffiness happens when the blood vessels under your skin dilate, or when your lymphatic system isn’t draining on its own. The cold from the ice cube (or ice roller, frozen cucumber slices or cold spoons) reduces blood flow to the area, which can decrease the puffiness. Cold can also reduce swelling by “constriction of superficial blood vessels and encouraging lymphatic drainage,” according to Brendan Camp, MD, board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist.

Helps Reduce Inflammation 

Ice can help calm skin that’s red, irritated, sensitive or itchy from skin conditions like rosacea, sunburn, bug bites and allergies. In the same way it helps with puffiness — by constricting blood vessels — the cold compress can soothe the pain or discomfort that accompanies these skin irritations. This also explains why doctors often recommend keeping ointments and creams in the refrigerator to achieve double duty from a remedy. Aloe vera right out of the fridge has been long known to help soothe the pain and heal the dry, irritated skin caused by a sunburn.

Helps Calm Acne Breakouts

Acne is a form of inflammation, so it’s no surprise that using ice can help with breakouts. Healthline notes that those who recommend skin icing for acne believe it can lessen inflammation and minimize pores, thereby decreasing the production of excess oil​. Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, ice is most effective at helping calm inflammatory acne such as cysts, pustules, papules and nodules. 

Many also believe that ice can close pores. But despite what you’ve probably heard, pores can’t open and close. In fact, they’re always open — and that’s a good thing. Pores play an important role in skin health, helping your skin stay moisturized. Without them, your skin would completely dry out. That said, pores can shrink and enlarge. As Christopher W. Robb, MD tells Reader’s Digest, “They dilate like a camera lens and can go from narrow to wide or wide to narrow.” In other words, though ice won’t close your pores, it could help dilate them, making them appear smaller and tighter and possibly staving off future oil clogging.

Creates A Healthy Glow

Remember the Cold Girl Makeup trend? A quick refresher: Using makeup to emulate the flushed, wind-chilled cheeks you get from a brisk walk in the cold or a day on the ski slopes (without ever leaving your warm apartment). Rosy cheeks are a result of your body rushing blood to your face (when you’re out in the cold) to help regulate your temperature. This healthy-looking, rosy flush is easily created with ice (no makeup required). The red can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, giving your skin a boost that looks fresh and glowy.

Reduces The Look Of Fine Line And Wrinkles

The jury is still out on this one but it’s safe to say that the temporary boost you get to your complexion can minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles temporarily. The improved blood circulation to the area creates a short-term plumping to the skin that can help blur their appearance.

Improves Skin Health

Unlike hot water, cool water doesn’t dry out the sebum layer of your skin. Since the sebum layer provides protection for your skin, using cold water to wash your face could potentially improve the health of the epidermis if done consistently.

How To Ice Your Skin 

The best way to use cold therapy depends on what benefits you’re trying to achieve. Ice baths and cold showers are great options for the overall physiological results like improved mood, metabolism, energy levels and sleep quality. 

When it comes to icing the skin to achieve some of the beauty benefits, there are several approaches. A good old-fashioned ice cube can work wonders, as can frozen vegetables like cucumber slices under the eyes. There are ice rollers filled with water or gel available online, as well as silicone gadgets that look like popsicle molds, gel-filled masks and traditional ice packs. One warning about putting ice or frozen metal directly on your skin is that it could stick to the skin and cause damage. Wrapping the ice in a paper towel or a thin cloth is recommended. Another option is to apply a moisturizing barrier cream to your face before icing the skin. Try the Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream or Blueberry Soy Night Recovery Cream. And make sure you read the instructions if you’re using a gadget — some recommend leaving them at room temperature for a few minutes before applying them to your skin. 

Another option that is becoming popular is making ice out of other liquids for added benefits. By freezing milk into cubes, you can provide a gentle exfoliation to the skin thanks to the lactic acid found in milk. Frozen coffee is both a natural exfoliator and packed with antioxidants. Green tea and black tea are also rich in skin-nourishing compounds like caffeine which is often used in skin care to help reduce the look of puffiness under the eyes

An ice bath can be carried out in a number of different ways. From filling up your bathtub with cold water and adding a few bags of ice to taking a cold shower, setting up a metal trough or barrel in your backyard in the winter and even spending thousands of dollars on special equipment. As long as your body is being exposed to cold enough temperatures for the right amount of time, benefits can be achieved. 

After a cold plunge is a great time to replenish the skin on the body with a cream or lotion. The Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Body Lotion delivers intense hydration deep into the skin and helps to support the moisture barrier. If you’re cold plunging before bed, the Monoi Age Corrective Night Body Cream will provide hydration while plumping and smoothing the look of skin while you sleep. 

Is Cold Therapy Safe For Everyone?

A blast of cold water in the shower or icing the skin for the recommended 5–10 minutes is a fairly simple (and free!) way to get the benefits of cold therapy, but there are a few scenarios that could pose some potential hazards. Those with sensitive skin or skin conditions like rosacea should consult their dermatologist before giving the trend a try. If you have open sores or wounds on the face, steer clear of adding ice and potentially causing irritation or introducing bacteria. 

We don’t recommend cold plunges for anyone with heart or blood pressure conditions, diabetes and other health issues, as the temperature shock can cause dangerous side effects, including heart failure. Please consult your health care provider before engaging in any cold therapy activities, especially if you have any of the following: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart disease
  • Lung conditions
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes 
  • Raynaud’s or any vascular issues associated with diabetes

Some other negative side effects that could occur from ice baths include hypothermia, hyperventilation, cardiac arrhythmias and potential drowning. Cold plunging alone is also not advised.

Are you interested in trying cold therapy? Many spas and wellness centers offer the treatment. Visit your nearest Eminence Organic Skin Care Spa Partner to find out more about cold therapy for the skin and body. 

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