The Refreshing Power of Cold Therapy, Ice Facials to Whole Body Cryotherapy

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I met cold therapy on Instagram and I am so grateful that I did. In a series of pics and videos, Bella Hadid posted a clip of her dunking her face into a bowl of ice. The curiosity had me dunking my face literally ten seconds later and I’ve never felt more refreshed first thing in the morning. My verdict: we should all be doing it a lot more. Dare I say it feels better than a cup of coffee?

There is a reason rinsing your face with cold water feels so rejuvenating and why some people go as far as the Arctic to take invigorating dips in it’s icy waters. It seems like the cold possess some magical property to make us feel alive! Since my first dunk, I have researched, practiced and learnt that there are many benefits to cold therapy from boosting recovery after a tough workout to banishing inflammation like a boss, to providing a good wake up call in the morning, and even easing stress. Don’t just take my word for it; we spoke to experts and here’s what they had to say. 

What exactly is cold therapy?


Cold therapy has its roots in various ancient cultures around the world. The Greeks and Romans, who believed in the powers of hydrotherapy, frequently immersed themselves in cold plunge baths to relieve pain and heal their body, and as a result, they also discovered it’s powers of relaxation. In Ayurveda, they believe the cooling action on the body makes these therapies an effective tool for balancing our doshas (bioenergies) boosting our immunity and emotional well-being by lowering inflammation and calming an “overactive” mind.

Essentially, cold therapy involves the use of very low temperatures to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance physical and mental well-being. It can be experienced in myriad ways and can range from a simple ice facial at home to whole-body cryotherapy chambers. 

How does cold therapy work on the skin?

Celebrity Dermatologist and CEO of Kosmoderma Clinics, Dr Chytra V Anand, explains that cold therapy works by constricting blood vessels which, in turn, reduces inflammation like acne by controlling oil production and calming irritated skin and decreases puffiness after our late nights and dehydrated days. It also has the power to tighten our pores, giving the skin a firmer appearance, which is why you are absolutely glowing after. 

Can cold water therapy reduce stress and anxiety?

Do we think it can benefit our mental health? The Romans and Greeks witnessed its relaxing powers and so does Ayurveda. We spoke to, Dr. Lajya Nayak, a clinical therapist and psychologist, and she had something very interesting to say. Bear with me, we’re going to learn some new terms. She brought up a concept in psychology called the, window of tolerance, which is our “optimal level of stimulation for functioning well in daily life”. If you are above the window, you’re in “hyperarousal”—triggering the fight or flight response so you are anxious and jittery and if you’re below it, you’re in “hypoarousal” and you feel spaced out, and low. Cold therapies work like magic to regulate these levels and relax your parasympathetic nervous system so you’re within the window of tolerance and super ready to take on your day! 

Of course, this is not a one stop solution and no mental health experience has a one stop solution but it is an important coping strategy and intervention that have shown psychological benefits in treatment of depression or anxiety. Looking for your daily dose of dopamine? You don’t need to look any further.

Cold showers

Running out of hot water might just be a good thing. A cold shower — even just for a few minutes — can work as cold therapy to help you heal, recover and generally feel good. Dr. Anand explains, “the shock of cold water can also release endorphins, boosting mood and reducing stress levels.”  

It’s not just ideal for your morning routine, it works great for your post workout routine, it reduces inflammation and prevents muscle soreness as taking cold showers after a workout can enhance circulation, promoting faster muscle recovery. With a a bathtub and some bravery, you might even consider a cold plunge. 

Ice Facials

Inspired by Bella Hadid, I’ve been practicing it for years, finding it particularly effective for early morning calls— it’s truly the highlight of my morning routine. All you need is a large bowl and around 6-8 ice cubes. Simply dunk your face into the water for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat.

This is of course not a one-size-fits-all approach; we must all experiment and determine what works best for us. I find it a refreshing and fun way to begin my day!

Cold skincare tools

If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up during the day with minimal effort, cooling skincare tools are perfect for you. Whether you’re working or enjoying your favourite Netflix show, options like ice globes and ice rollers are convenient. Incorporating these tools into your skincare routine can temporarily soothe your skin, offering a refreshing boost.

Ice Globes

Ice globes are a modern rendition of the traditional ice cube treatment. Featuring a spherical end, they offer a convenient alternative to messy ice cubes while delivering similar benefits for skin elasticity.

Since directly rubbing ice on the skin can lead to heightened sensitivity and, in severe cases, trigger conditions like rosacea, inflammation and even ice burns, so ice globes are your way to go. They are typically maintained at temperatures between 1-3 degrees, mitigating these risks, and ensuring a safer and more controlled application.

Ice Facial Rollers

Face rollers are typically made of jade or other precious stones, and are used to massage the face. The stones themselves have healing and cooling properties. I personally use a ice facial roller because I’m a huge believer in facial massages as it helps with lymphatic drainage. Two birds with one stone! Literally. 

A pro tip: you can even use your spoons at home! Refrigerate them overnight and you’re all set.

Whole Body Cryotherapy


Whole body cryotherapy isn’t just for professional athletes, if you’re a regular gym go-er or someone that just experiences body pains like me (I’m 22 and constantly in back pain), this is a great choice for you. I’ve tried it and it feels great.

This involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures as low as – 85 to – 140 degrees celsius for a few minutes. You know who else was recently spotted at WBC, Samantha Prabhu, a huge believer in holistic wellness.

Localised Cryotherapy

Localised Cryotherapy focuses on specific areas and can target inflammation and accelerate healing. It works like this—the blood vessels narrow, and then they dilate and the treated part sees a gush of new blood flow return to the area. This fresher blood which returns brings with it more oxygen and nutrients, resulting in skin that instantly looks fresher and plumper. It is the perfect way to relieve local tension and pain and help nurse muscle or tendon injuries. Dealing with a sport injury? Please do sign up for this at your local wellness clinic. 

Cryo Facials

Cryo facials are a non-invasive technique that can rejuvenate the skin by boosting collagen production that uses gentle bursts of pressurised, hyper-cooled air to rapidly lower the surface temperature of your scalp and your skin on both the face and the neck. The temperature instantly causes your skin to tighten, which helps fill in wrinkles and fine lines. This facial combines cooling of the skin with antibacterial blue light. How fun! 

Whether you’re looking for some easy at-home options or you’re in the mood for full on wellness rituals, I hope we’ve helped you find ways to cool you down.

- Intern, Elle India

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