Ice Water Facials: The Benefits Of Dipping Your Face In Ice Water

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Cold water immersion has been a popular “fitness hack” for quite a few years, with purported benefits ranging from burning fat and supporting weight loss to increasing energy.

Recently, ice water facials have become all the rage, sweeping through TikTok and other social media sites as a great way to improve the health and appearance of your facial skin.

But is an ice water face dip just a silly viral TikTok trend, or are the real benefits of submerging your face in ice water?

Is an ice water facial challenge something you should try?

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of ice water for your face and how to take on a 14-day ice water facial challenge.

We will cover: 

  • What Is An Ice Water Facial?
  • Benefits of Ice Water for Your Face
  • How to Upgrade Your Ice Water Facial
  • 14-Day Ice Water Facial Challenge

Let’s get started!

A person splashing water in their face.

What Is An Ice Water Facial?

An ice water facial can involve different methods of applying ice to the face.

One common method of an ice water facial involves submerging your face in a bowl of ice water. 

Another option is to roll a handful of ice cubes in a hand towel or soft cotton cloth.

Then, after some of the ice has melted and the cold water and cold from the ice cubes have begun to penetrate the soft cloth, you can bundle the ice cubes together so that they are inside the cloth, gathering the ends of the towel or cloth together so that you have a little sack of ice.

Next, gently massage your face by performing small circular motions around your entire face, paying particular attention to the areas under your eyes, along your jawline and chin, above and around your lips, as well as your cheeks and forehead.

A bowl of ice.

The final way that some people give themselves an ice water facial is to make up a bowl of cold water with several ice cubes in it. Stir the ice around to drop the temperature of the water. 

Then, submerge a washcloth or small cotton cloth into the water. Ring out excess water and then gently drape the cold cloth on your face, pressing down along the contours of your face. 

Make sure that you leave your mouth area open so that you can breathe or that the cloth is thin enough so that you can comfortably breathe through it.

The first method of submerging your face in ice water is certainly the most aggressive and often the most unappealing, particularly if you’ve never done an ice water facial before. Starting with one of the other two methods and then progressing to an ice water face dip can be a more approachable way to start with an ice water facial challenge.

Benefits of Ice Water for Your Face

There isn’t much evidence about the benefits of putting your face in ice water specifically, although there are several purported benefits of ice water facials. Here are some of the potential benefits of ice water for your face:

A person with their hands cradling another person's cheeks.

#1: Ice Water Facials May Decrease Eye Puffiness

Many people experience puffiness under or surrounding the eyes or dark under-eye circles, often referred to as “bags under the eyes.“

To help reduce bags under the eyes and puffiness under the eyes, the American Academy of Ophthalmology actually recommends applying a cold compress to the area for 15 to 20 minutes. 

A cold compress usually refers to an ice water-soaked cloth applied with mild pressure; therefore, this is essentially a mini ice water facial focusing just on your under-eye region.

Cold therapy reduces swelling by decreasing circulation to the treated area. 

Although even a passive cold compress or submerging your faith in ice water can help reduce facial swelling or under-eye puffiness, massaging the area with an ice cube wrapped in a thin cloth may be especially effective.

The small circular massaging movements will help flush out excess fluids, encouraging pooled blood and lymph back into circulation.

#2: Ice Water Facials May Decrease Redness

If you are prone to facial flushing, or redness of the skin, you can potentially temporarily reduce redness by splashing ice water on your face or draping a cold compress on your face.

Facial flushing is often caused by increased blood flow to the surface of your skin, resulting in a face that may feel hot and red. The ice water on your face will help constrict the tiny capillaries in your face to reduce blood flow, decreasing redness.

A person splashing water in their face.

#3: Ice Water Facials May Help Reduce Acne Discomfort 

There are different types of acne, but an ice water facial can potentially reduce the discomfort, redness, inflammation, and excessive oil production associated with inflammatory acne. Inflammatory acne typically presents as cysts, pustules, nodules, or papules.

Because ice has anti-inflammatory effects, icing acne cysts may help decrease the redness and inflammation associated with the outbreak. Additionally, ice water on your face may help slow the activity of oil-producing pores.

By closing up overactive pores, less oil will be secreted onto your skin, potentially decreasing the likelihood of additional acne cyst eruptions.

One important thing to keep in mind is that if you are using one of the methods for an ice water facial that involves applying a cloth to your face rather than dunking your face into a bowl of ice water, make sure that you are doing spot treatments or not moving the cloth around different areas of your face that do not have cystic acne eruptions.

You do not want to spread the oil and bacteria that cause acne onto other vulnerable but currently healthy areas of skin. Also, make sure that you practice good hygiene and wash the towel you use immediately after use rather than reusing it.

A person splashing water in their face.

#4: Ice Water Facials May Wake You Up

Almost everyone has experienced the burst of adrenaline and energy you get from jumping into cold water or taking a freezing cold shower.

If you are feeling sluggish in the morning and struggling to wake up or find that your energy is lagging during an afternoon slump, you can stick your face into ice water for a quick, caffeine-free pick-me-up.

Even just splashing cold water on your face can help reinvigorate you and can be a good substitute for a full-on ice water facial when you’re on the go.

How to Upgrade Your Ice Water Facial

Although you will certainly derive plenty of benefits from using regular ice cubes, some proponents of facial ice massages also recommend freezing other fluids and using those as “ice cubes“ for further benefits.

The most common alternative to regular water for ice facials include caffeinated drinks such as green tea, black tea, or coffee, or aloe vera.

Bottles of aloe.

There is some older research that suggests that caffeine can penetrate the skin, helping to increase circulation to an area.

If you have puffiness, this may not necessarily be the result you are looking for, but if you are looking to help heal and rejuvenate your skin, increase cell turnover to facilitate new healthy skin growth, and bring more blood to the surface of the skin to nourish your skin cells, a caffeine ice facial might amplify your results.

Because blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, increasing blood flow to your face may help enhance access to nutrients that will improve the health and appearance of your outermost skin cells. 

This isn’t to say that an ice facial with green tea ice cubes is enough to eliminate all fine lines and wrinkles, but it may help rejuvenate dull skin and support new skin turnover for a “healthier glow.“

Additionally, studies have suggested that the catechins in green tea confer antibacterial and antiviral properties.

A bowl of ice.

Thus, it’s possible that using green tea ice cubes on your face may help decrease the risk of acne by combating acne-causing bacteria.

Aloe vera is also thought to have antibacterial and skin-healing properties, helping soothe and nourish the skin.

You can add aloe vera gel to your water before you freeze your ice cubes, or you can apply a thin layer of aloe vera to your face before giving yourself an ice water facial. Then, if you use the method where you massage an ice-filled cloth around your face, you will help work the aloe vera into the topical layers of your skin.

14-Day Ice Water Facial Challenge 

There isn’t an official ice water facial challenge, but if you’re intrigued by the idea of ice water facials, try doing one every day for 14 days.

Take a “before” picture and “after” your 14-day ice water facial challenge, and note if you see and feel differences!

Let us know how it goes!

After you’ve tried the ice water facial challenge, what about cold showers? Check out the benefits of taking a chilly rinse in our article: Here’s Why You Should Take A Daily Cold Shower.

A running shower head.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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