Is freezing your face the hidden secret to younger-looking skin?
As a beauty writer I know first-hand just how far we ladies will go to keep ourselves looking fresh-faced, youthful, and glowing. And while I’ve heard of my share of procedures and treatments, “freezing your face” certainly wasn’t one of them. So when I was offered the opportunity to test out a facial treatment involving frigid temperatures and beams of vaporized liquid nitrogen, I was curious. Would I walk out of the spa looking like Mr. Freeze from Batman? With a few forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet easing their way onto my face, I figured I would take the ice-cold plunge—in the name of beauty, of course. I mustered up some courage and booked my first “frotox” appointment; and I have to say, it really wasn’t that bad.
What is “Frotox?”
Whole-body cryotherapy—which involves sitting in a sauna-like, -200 degrees Fahrenheit chamber for three minutes to burn up to 800 calories— has been around for decades. Now, that same therapy is catching on in major cities across the country to work similar magic on the face.
The Cryocure Facial uses a controlled beam of vaporized liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin on the face, scalp, and neck area. It promises to tighten the skin, fill in fine lines, and reduce wrinkles. “During the procedure, liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the face skin to cool the skin surface and temperature, which causes immediate vasoconstriction (or tightening) of the vessels,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills. “This tightening is your skin’s natural reaction to maintaining body heat, which also makes your face look less red, puffy, and inflamed. It can also help encourage collagen regrowth and cell repair.” Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Upon entering SkinTology’s midtown location, I was introduced to my esthetician, Kristina Veller. She assured me that, in fact, I wouldn’t become frozen in time or have my face burned off, like my anxieties led me to believe. Instead, she said the whole process would be quick, painless, and surprisingly relaxing. Sensing my nerves were high, she led me to a room with a giant machine. Veller pulled out a tiny, pen-shaped device and lifted it towards her face. With the flip of a switch, the machine emitted controlled amounts of vaporized liquid nitrogen. Once it was my turn, I was pleased to realize it was genuinely painless. Okay, I was in.
Next stop: a tiny white room with the same big machine and a massage bed. The first part was just like your average facial, starting with a thorough cleansing of the skin to remove bacteria and dirt collected after a day of working and commuting in NYC. “This step is especially important before undergoing CryoCure Facial because it allows the skin to breathe and the pores to open up,” says Veller. After working the cleanser in tiny circular motions into my skin, she pat my skin dry with a damp cotton pad. Next, she applied a basic exfoliating scrub in that same motion across my face and neck, leaving my eye area untouched. “This step is to get rid of the built-up dead skin cells that sit on the surface on the face and block dirt and grime from exiting. It also creates a smoother, finer appearance by revealing the healthier cells underneath,” she said.
So far, everything felt like a typical facial—relaxing, rejuvenating, and refreshing. It was only about 15 minutes or so into the facial when Veller told me it was time to take out the CryoWand. Gulp. Her only instruction was to relax and not to breathe while she held the liquid nitrogen near my nose. But how? What would happen if I by accident did breathe in the liquid nitrogen? Would it get me high? Would I feel funny? Could there be any long-term consequences? Veller assured me that because nitrogen occurs naturally in the human body, it wouldn’t cause any harm.
After turning on the machine, the process began. At first, it just felt like normal air being blown onto my face in concentrated, circular motions. Veller focused mainly on my forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and chest. I started feeling the air turn colder after a few minutes, which didn’t bother me in the slightest. It still felt like refreshing bursts of air and nothing like the “freeze” effect I expected. “The purpose of the cold air is to raise the internal body temperature for a short period of time,” says Veller. “But you’re not left with any painful feeling—just tightened skin.”
Veller continued emitting the cold air for about eight more minutes before the procedure was over. That was it!? As happy as I was that I “survived” the freezing process, I was surprised at how simple it all was. Looking in the mirror, I was definitely glowing, and I felt refreshed and more awake. But I didn’t notice any crazy tightening of the skin or reduction in any lines. Veller explained that, while the procedure isn’t meant to be a one-time thing, the positive results would settle in over the next few days.
While I didn’t notice any tightening of the skin at first, the next day I did feel (and look) incredibly more refreshed than usual. Was the difference in my skin condition super significant? No. But I felt the tightness and rejuvenation for about a week or so. After about seven days my face went back to looking how it normally does. “This is a process that requires upkeep and at least three or four sessions before you notice long-term results,” says Veller. The time commitment is definitely a deterrent for me—that and the cost. A simple 30-minute mini facial, which is what I experienced, costs $85. A full session costs $155.
Who should get a cryo facial? Really anyone who’s looking for a relaxing experience and a slightly tighter face for a week. While there were really no negative effects, it’s not a procedure that’s going to give immediate or long-lasting results. In my opinion, if you’re looking to reduce lines and wake up feeling refreshed, you’re better off investing in an invigorating night cream that works while you sleep.