From using excessive foundation to create a flawless, porcelain doll-like finish to deliberately creating dark undereye circles as a makeup look, there’s certainly no shortage of unorthodox trends that have gone viral on TikTok.
Heck, there was even a time not too long ago when a TikToker used erection cream to make his lips look fuller – yup, you read that right. Along with weird beauty trends, TikTok has also blessed us with some noteworthy beauty hacks – and the latest craze – called skin icing – involves rolling ice cubes on your face.
So, what is it all about and more importantly, is it safe for your skin? Read on for the full lowdown, including opinions from trusted experts.
What is skin icing?
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The “skin icing” trend is huge on TikTok, with beauty lovers filming themselves grappling with slippery ice cubes in a bid to make skin glow, or storing their trusty jade roller and gua sha tools at sub-zero temperatures to bring down redness.
But it’s not just TikTokers who are buzzing about getting an #icefacial. Supermodel Irina Shayk gushed over ice spheres that are part of a particular Nicole Caroline Luxury Ice Facial Set in a recent video for Vogue.
Fashion mogul Victoria Beckham is also a fan, who dunks her face into a bowl of ice water or take some ice cubes and roll them around on her face at the behest of renowned facialist Melanie Grant.
She’s shared this as her top tip for reducing puffiness in an interview with Refinery29 about her glowing-skin routine and added that she swears by the surprising quick fix “to take down the puff” after travelling or having a glass of wine.
How to do skin icing?
According to the skin experts at Porcelain, professional skin icing treatment involves vapourised liquid nitrogen, or dry ice, that’s applied onto the skin by a specialist.
An at-home treatment involves the use of a tool that’s kept in the freezer prior to usage – said tool can come in the form of an ice roller, cryo-sticks, frozen metal spoon, and even ice cubes, all of which can be used to similar effect on areas of skin.
So with celebrities like Beckham and Shayk on board and videos racking up thousands of likes on TikTok, the skin icing craze certainly has real legs.
But is it an additional step really worth including in your daily skincare routine? We check in with our trusted skin experts to find out.
What are the benefits of skin icing?
In general, icing can be used to improve the appearance of inflammatory conditions such as acne and redness, says Adren How, co-founder and CEO of The Only Group which manages Only Aesthetics.
While there’s no hard scientific evidence behind the soothing benefits of skin icing, you can think of the way that ice is used for injuries to help reduce the body’s natural response to inflammation (redness, swelling, pain, and heat) and the same probably applies for the skin as well.
Adren is also quick to add that skin icing is capable of promoting blood circulation and even tightening the skin as well, but only when it’s done in-centre by a professional.
With a professional skin icing treatment, “the idea is that the cold temperature causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing redness, pain, and swelling, and improving the appearance of breakouts. Blood vessel constriction also means a reduction in the amount of fluid, which is particularly useful in under-eye puffiness,” says Jermaine How, co-founder of The Only Group.
Meanwhile, the DIY method is effective in depuffing skin and giving it a temporary glow and flush to the face, thanks to a mild boost in circulation.
While pores can’t open or close, skin icing can temporarily minimise the appearance of enlarged pores too, similar to what you will get if you were to splash your face with cold water after cleansing.
Does skin icing actually work?
The short answer? No. Unfortunately, the effects are short-lived as our skin is usually not exposed to cold temperatures for very long, says Porcelain’s skin experts.
Jermaine further adds on that the DIY skin icing method has to be done regularly (read: daily) in order to see any desired results but even then, “results may not be as visible or effective as the temperature in the at-home technique is not low enough to achieve any substantial improvements,” she says.
The same sentiment is echoed by Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, who also says damaged skin barrier is one of the obvious downsides to rolling ice cubes on your skin.
Dr. Teo further adds that it’s more common for dermatologists to recommend storing your skincare creams and masks in the refrigerator instead – a practice that she often instils in patients with rosacea.
If you’re heeding Victoria Beckham’s advice and want to try dunking your face into a bowl of ice water, you can rest assured that it is safe – so long as you don’t expose your skin to the iced water for a prolonged period of time as doing so may cause skin irritation, says Dr. YX Lum, a medical doctor at IDS Clinic.
A better option, according to the Porcelain experts, would be to gently massage ice cubes on your skin to induce a radiant glow – albeit temporal. However, it’s worth repeating that you need to use this method with caution because you may end up dealing with ice burns if you place the ice cubes on the same area of the skin for too long.
Those who are budget-conscious would have probably heard of the inexpensive way of freezing metal spoons overnight and using the backs of the spoons to glide over your skin or eye area to cool and de-puff.
However, the Porcelain experts say that you are better off with alternatives like ice rollers since metal tends to warm up quicker and thus would not be able to produce results in such a short span of time.
Are there any side effects of skin icing?
Skin doesn’t mind a little cold, says Dr. Lum, so long as you ice your skin in moderation and don’t mind reaping just temporary effects.
The only caution, she emphasises, is to not leave your preferred cold tool in the same spot for too long – this can lead to skin irritation or worse, ice burns.
“It’s also best not to place the ice directly on your skin. Ideally, wrap the ice cubes in a piece of clean cloth first before you glide it across your face,” Dr. Lum adds. In addition, she advises using ice cubes from a dedicated tray that’s meant for the skin to prevent a bacterial infection.
As a general rule of thumb, Porcelain’s skin experts say that each area of your face only requires a minute and you shouldn’t be icing for any longer than 10 minutes for the entire face.
It’ll also help to combine your cold tool, whichever one you choose, with your favourite skincare product – this will make it a lot easier to sweep the tool across your delicate skin without pulling or dragging.
Additionally, the Porcelain experts expound that individuals with more sensitive skin or who are experiencing conditions that cause the skin to be more reactive to temperature changes (such as rosacea) should be more cautious when trying the home remedy.
Final thoughts about the skin icing trend
From the insights that we’ve gathered from our skin experts, it’s clear that icing your skin at home offers only a temporary glow which is to be expected from an inexpensive, convenient method.
However, the benefits certainly don’t seem to outweigh the disadvantages which include everything from the wet mess you’ll get on your pyjamas (and the floor) to the risk of burns, frostbite, and nerve damage.
For safer alternatives and also longer-lasting effects, you’d be wise to leave it to well-trained professionals to tailor a suitable cryo-based treatment for your skin and get the job done with safe equipment instead.