Chill and Rejuvenate: Everything You Need to Know About Cryofacials

Chill and Rejuvenate: Everything You Need to Know About Cryofacials

We have all taken part in cryotherapy in one way or another. From applying  an ice pack onto a sprained ankle to using a freezing-cold facial roller to depuff the under eyes, the concept of exposing the skin and body to extremely cold temperatures comes with its fair share of benefits. For skincare enthusiasts, a relatively new treatment coined cryofacials has been gaining popularity for its ability to enhance skin radiance, promote collagen production, reduce the look of enlarged pores and calm inflammation.  Keep in mind, though, that the benefits this dramatic cooling of the skin provides are temporary, meaning it is better for achieving plumper, glowing skin for an important event versus relying on it to provide a long-term fix. 

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Expert Tip: Cryotherapy does not involve any pain, downtime or redness, but to minimize the risk of skin sensitivity, you should avoid using any harsh cleansers or moisturizers post-treatment. To give your skin ample hydration, apply the Zensa Healing Cream afterwards — it is gentle, made with skin-nourishing ingredients and can be used on the body as well as the face. The formula consists of calendula oil to further aid in inflammation reduction as well as grapefruit oil to support a healthy-looking complexion. Zensa Healing Cream is also made with super-hydrators like shea butter and soothing cucumber extract to provide deep moisturization.

Curious about all there is to know about cryofacials? We spoke to Dr. David Li, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Boston Derm Advocate to learn about the coveted treatment's benefits, who it is best for and what to expect.

Woman getting a cryofacial

What is a Cryofacial?

A cryofacial, or a cryotherapy facial, is a skincare treatment that exposes the skin on the face to liquid nitrogen in a controlled way, says Dr. Li. Liquid nitrogen, which can have a temperature ranging between −270°F to −320°F, has been frequently used in dermatology for treating skin cancers and skin pre-cancers as well as warts. "Cold temperature therapy has also been used to cause destruction of fat cells, known as cryolipolysis," says Dr. Li. When used as part of a facial, the vaporized liquid nitrogen can help address skin concerns relating to redness, dullness and enlarged pores.

Cryofacials fall under the umbrella of cryotherapy, which involves "super cooling" the skin or body for therapeutic benefits. Ice rollers, ice baths, and even cooling skincare masks may be considered cryotherapy, but for those looking to reap more advanced inflammation-reducing benefits at the hands of a professional, a cryofacial may be an appealing treatment. This facial is often displayed as an add-on item on a service menu, but it can also be performed on its own.

What Are the Benefits of a Cryofacial?

Data on the benefits of cryofacials is continuing to evolve. That said, exposing the skin to extremely cold temperatures is said to constrict blood vessels and temporarily minimize inflammation, tighten pores and give the skin an overall healthier appearance. 

  • Reduces inflammation: "Colder temperatures can mediate the release of inflammatory mediators," says Dr. Li. "This may be related to the constriction of blood vessels after exposure to cold, though keep in mind this effect would likely be temporary." This process is known as vasoconstriction, which occurs when the skin is exposed to extreme cold and the blood vessels of the skin constrict, leading to a decrease in blood flow on the skin's surface. Though scientific evidence is limited, one study found that cryotherapy helped reduce the severity of intense inflammation in participants.
  • Tightens pores: The vasoconstriction that occurs during a cryofacial is also what can help give the appearance of tightened pores. Again, note that this is a temporary fix, and that once the skin's temperature re-acclimates and warms, the pores will too.
  • Smoothes texture: Cryofacials can help tighten pores, and when pores are smaller, they typically appear less noticeable, giving the skin a smoother-looking appearance. In addition, Dr. Li notes that cryofacials exfoliate the surface skin cells as a result of the extremely cold temperature, leading to cell turnover and a more even skin texture.
  • Promotes collagen production: The cold temperatures used in cryofacials can trigger the body's natural "cold shock response," a healing response that can stimulate blood circulation as well as increase oxygen and nutrient flow to the skin cells. This can help support collagen synthesis, which ultimately improves skin health, youthfulness and appearance. Also, inflammation can inhibit collagen production and lead to collagen degradation, but because cryofacials help reduce inflammation, it creates a more favorable environment for collagen synthesis to occur.

What to Expect During a Cryofacial

Cryofacials are quick, easy and painless. To prepare the skin, your practitioner will cleanse away any dirt, makeup or residue. You will be asked to remove any jewelry and may be given goggles to wear for comfort. The practitioner will then pump a handheld device containing a small amount of vaporized liquid nitrogen onto the face and neck. In a cryofacial, the hose is held several inches away from the skin and is moved around constantly to avoid freezer burn. Most people feel relaxed and comfortable during the duration of the "cold" part, which typically lasts about two to three minutes.

Who are Cryofacials Best For?

Since cryofacials help improve skin radiance, they are best for those with dull, lackluster skin. Though the results are temporary, the treatment may also be helpful for those struggling with rosacea or inflammation. The treatment does not involve any major side effects aside from potential redness, irritation and mild swelling, but Dr. Li says to avoid getting the treatment if you have severely sensitive skin or have any areas of broken skin.

Woman touching skin


A cryofacial is an in-office beauty treatment performed by a professional that involves applying vaporized liquid nitrogen to the skin on the face. The extremely cold temperature helps the process of vasoconstriction, which decreases blood flow and results in reduced inflammation and overall skin rejuvenation. The treatment is loved for its temporary glowing benefits, low cost and efficiency.


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