When you think of traditional facial treatments, the core components typically include cleansing, exfoliation, and masking. You can usually upgrade your service with “add-ons”, which could be a chemical peel to resurface and speed up cell turnover (perfect for hyperpigmentation) or LED light therapy to stimulate collagen. Non-invasive services can spice up the basic facial as well — think gua sha as one prime example, which is a face sculpting technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help reduce inflammation and promote oxygen flow to the skin all in the same breath. Another skin-boosting treatment that’s become increasingly popular? The cryofacial.
Saying “yes” to exposing my skin to negative 250 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t exactly appeal to an island gal like myself — however, as a master esthetician and facialist, I will try just about anything when it comes to matters of the skin. Cryofacials are geared towards boosting collagen production, reducing fine lines, and calming inflammatory conditions such as eczema and rosacea, making it a multi-beneficial treatment I could certainly get behind.
When I was invited to Kollectiv NYC, a wellness space in New York that offers the up-and-coming skin care trend, I had to try it. Read on for my honest review on whether or not cryofacials are worth the hype.
What Is A Cryofacial?
Before getting the treatment, I pinged Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, for the lowdown. As you’d guess, cryofacials are related to cryotherapy, a full-body wellness modality that subjects you to extremely low temperatures — I’m talking anywhere between minus 200 and minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit — for several minutes to reap health benefits. According to Garshick, cryotherapy literally means “cold therapy,” and it’s been used in dermatology for some time now. For beauty applications, you don’t have to expose your entire body to the subzero chill; it’s applied via a wand for targeted exposure. “It’s been used to help address various types of skin growths like warts, seborrheic keratosis, and actinic keratosis,” says Garshick.
In a 2008 clinical study, it was shown that cryotherapy in patients with eczema has been thought to potentially have some anti-inflammatory benefits that also aid in the reduction of itching. Also, because your skin is being exposed to such frigid temps, your blood vessels contract and you experience a boost in circulation — which increases the flow of oxygen to your skin, resulting in a more even glow with smaller-looking pores (not dissimilar to the effects of an ice bath facial).
Still, Garshick notes that further research is needed to thoroughly evaluate the modality’s benefits for the skin. Alas, I thought I would conduct my own study as a skin care professional to see just what a cryofacial could do for my complexion.
I arrive at the Kollective NYC for my afternoon appointment feeling ready for a proper cool-down on an oddly warm autumn day. My technician Shonda recommended that I combine treatments with the cryofacial, so I opted to do the full-body cryotherapy beforehand (why not go all-out with the freeze, ya know?) A couple of minutes before the treatment, Shonda handed me a cozy waffle robe, massive ski-like socks, gloves, and Croc slippers and advised me to undress and ready myself for a three-minute session. I was guided to an area of the spa with a machine that resembled a gas tank, which was lit up in blue lighting. It honestly felt like I was stepping into a time machine.
I was nervous, but my fears were swiftly put to rest as Shonda turned on my favorite song — “One Love” by Bob Marley — to get me through my session. The music helped me feel calmer and more in control; the experience is truly about mind over matter. After experiencing three minutes of negative 260 degrees from the neck down (your head sticks out of the cryotherapy chamber), I went across the room where I sat on a large lounging chair to await my cryofacial treatment on the neck and face. Unlike other facials, this one was performed upright, in a slightly elevated position, and didn’t involve a single product other than the sub-zero vaporized air. And let me tell you — it was cold. Thankfully, the cold air was gradual and lasted about seven minutes, so it was over before it felt unbearable.
Once my session finished, my technician handed me a mirror to see the “instant glow” effect. My tone was more even and bright, and my skin felt firmer. It looked refreshed and I honestly felt like it reduced a lot of the surface-level inflammation I’d walked in with. Even in the days following, my skin was more radiant and vibrant.
It’s a fast treatment, however, I truly believe it’s worth a try — especially if you need a pick-me-up right before a special event. Cryofacials are painless and truly give you that instant glow.
My suggestion: Do your research before booking an appointment. “Because one of the risks associated with cryofacials is temporary skin sensitivity, it’s best to be cautious in those with darker skin types and those with sensitive skin,” notes Garshick. While she says it can be done on all skin types, it’s important to go to a trusted professional and consult your dermatologist to see if cryotherapy is right for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend subjecting your face to the flash freeze.
Klimenko, T. (2008). Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Atopic Dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.6.806
Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City