Do ice facials actually work? We asked experts.

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The popular treatment purports to reduce wrinkles and eye bags. We asked dermatologists whether there’s science to back that up.

Would you plunge your face into a bowl of ice-cold water for beauty? So-called ice facials have exploded in popularity but there's been very little clinical research to understand whether the practice truly makes a difference.Anyone who has sprained an ankle knows how ice packs can relieve pain and swelling. But a growing number of people are icing their faces, claiming it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as under-eye swelling and pores.

When you get an injury, your body usually responds by sending specialized cells to the area to halt any bleeding and begin repairing the damage. As a result, blood flow to that area increases dramatically as blood vessels dilate, causing pain and swelling. An injury can also feel hot to the touch, thanks to that surge in warm blood. Ice, however, causes the opposite phenomenon: vasoconstriction, which causes blood vessels to narrow.

Nor are puffy eyes the only area in which ice therapy has a reasonably sound scientific backing, Kiracofe says. It might also temporarily reduce pain and swelling associated with pimples or minor sunburns, she says, also by constricting blood vessels. However, Kiracofe stresses it’s important not to leave ice on your skin for more than a few minutes at a time so that it doesn’t cause frostbite or otherwise damage your skin.

 

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