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The Icy Secret to Glowing Skin, According to Top Skincare Experts

Discover how this $9 tool can depuff, refresh and rejuvenate skin in seconds

Ice facials have been around for a very long time — in fact, Joan Crawford was known to be a devotee. So perhaps it’s not surprising that ice rolling, meaning gliding a chilled tool over your skin for myriad skincare benefits, is slowly taking over social media. Inspired by cryotherapy and hailed as a way to depuff, temporarily shrink pores and help give skin a youthful glow, it’s no longer a red carpet secret — it’s a well-known go-to! 

And with the holidays upon us, you might find yourself reaching for one now more than ever. Says celebrity aesthetician Renee Rouleau, who incorporates ice rolling into her facials, “When people eat a lot of sodium or drink copious amounts of alcohol, the skin can look particularly puffy.” That means they may suddenly be looking for a way to shrink that it away — something ice rolling is particularly known for.

Ready to get in on the trend? Here’s what to know.  

What is an ice roller?

ice roller for face
Svetlana Monyakova/Getty Images

Often made from plastic or silicone, ice rollers are usually filled with either water or a gel-like substance that can be frozen to retain cold temperatures. Sandy Skotnicki, MD, board-certified Toronto-based dermatologist and author of Beyond Soap, explains that they “often have a surface that can be put into the freezer and holds the cold for a time period.” Once chilled, you simply glide it over your skin.

The benefits of ice rolling

woman using ice on face
Getty Images

Ice is a well-known treatment for inflammation,” says Dr. Skotnicki. Consider this: “If you sprain your ankle, you ice it to reduce swelling, which is essentially decreasing inflammation,” she says. “It can also result in an increase in blood flow, which is one of the ways it reduces inflammation by bringing anti-inflammatory mediators to the injured or inflamed area.”

That means you can get that same benefit on the skin on your face, meaning it can help ease puffiness under your eyes, on your cheeks and along your jawline.

What else can ice rolling do?

1. It depuffs

Ice can help reduce inflammation and depuff the skin by constricting blood vessels and pushing the excess fluid out of the tissues,” explains Dr. Abram. The massaging action may also help facilitate the draining of lymphatic fluid, further helping your depuffing efforts.

2. It minimizes pores and acne bumps

While nothing can actually shrink your pores, ice can temporarily constrict openings as well as pimples to make them less visible thanks to those same vasoconstrictive benefits responsible for its depuffing action, explains Dr. Skotnicki.

3. It increases glow

As Dr. Skotnicki points out, ice rolling can exfoliate your skin to increase cell turnover, which can help unveil more radiant skin. The massage element is also important in upping your glow. According to a 2018 study, even non-chilled massage rollers were found to increase skin blood flow to the skin, helping to encourage skin rejuvenation and leaving behind a healthy-looking glow. 

Related: How a Face Massage Roller Can Improve Your Skin’s Blood Flow

4. It eases headaches and other pains

Cold therapy has been used for years to ease the pain of headaches, including migraines. And ice rollers are a quick and easy way to get in on the action! But that’s not all — you can also roll over your quads, calves, biceps or other aching muscles throughout your body, much like cryotherapy.

Who is ice rolling good for?

Anyone can do ice rolling, whether it’s to help with puffiness, to jump-start your day or as part of a self-care routine,” says Dr. Aya Ahram, board-certified dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery. However, she says, “It’s important to note that too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.” Because ice — or anything frozen — can actually irritate the skin when held directly on it for too long, you’ll want to limit your rolling sessions to just a few minutes (think five to 10 max). And Rouleau insists that anyone with rosacea should skip it altogether, as cold temperatures can make its symptoms worse. 

Related: The Trending Treatment That Leaves Skin Looking Radiant In Just 10 Minutes

How to use an ice roller

Your basic how-to: Up to once a day, take your ice roller out of the freezer and let it sit for five minutes. Then glide it on your skin — either immediately after cleansing or after you apply your serum — from the center of your face upwards and outwards. Then, if you haven’t already, apply your favorite serum, and top with moisturizer. 

You can do it in the morning as a way to wake your skin up for the day, so to speak, but Dr. Skotnicki suggests doing it when you apply your serums (which, for a lot of people, is at night). “The increased circulation can possibly increase the absorption of active ingredients into the skin,” she says.

Want to get your body in on the cooling action? You can also glide it over tired legs and achy arms for a post-workout treat! Consider it handheld cryotherapy that may help you bounce back faster. 

Watch this video from @HelloJoyus for an easy tutorial:

Can you DIY ice rolling?

While having an ice roller on hand is incredibly easy and convenient, you don’t necessarily need to invest in one to test out the benefits. Here, a few easy to-dos from our experts:

Use wrapped ice: If you’re wondering if you may get similar benefits from simply using an ice cube, the answer is yes! However, placing a cube directly on your skin can be irritating and uncomfortable. Instead, Dr. Abram says, “To be safe, I [recommend] wrapping it in a cloth or a paper towel and moving it around the face, and not letting it sit in one place for too long.”

Try frozen essence: Rouleau’s trick to getting more of out your at-home icing sessions? Simply pour 1 oz. of a toner or essence like Rouleau’s own Moisture Infusion Toner (Buy from Renee Rouleau, $39.50) or Naturium Hyaluronic Acid Essence 2% (Buy from Amazon, $15.99) into an ice tray, and allow it to freeze for at least three hours. Then cleanse your skin before rolling the essence-infused cube (covered with a cloth or paper towel) on your face for 20 seconds. The essence or serum will melt through the towel so you’ll still get the benefits.

Chill away undereye bags: Rouleau suggests slipping an eye gel in the freezer for a few minutes to allow it to add cooling benefits to your daily application. If you happen to use one with a metal cooling tip like Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Anti-Puff Eye Roller (Buy from Amazon, $12.99), you’ll get even more benefits! 

Freeze your jade roller: Already have a jade roller? You can use is as an ice roller by putting it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before use.

The best low-cost ice rollers 

Looking to add an ice roller to your tool kit? These get the job done without breaking the bank!

1. Best for slippery hands

Doré Le Glaçon Facial Ice Roller

Doré Le Glaçon Facial Ice Roller (Buy from Doré, $40)

What to love about this tool: It features an antimicrobial silicone cover, a slim head to get into nooks and crannies and an incredibly easy-to-grip handle. 

2. Best for on-the-go use

I Dew Care Rolling With It Facial Massage Tool
I Dew Care

I Dew Care Rolling With It Facial Massage Tool (Buy from Ulta, $12)

This lightweight tool is tiny so you can take with you, and the little handle makes it easy to hold, so you can even roll your cares away at stop lights.

3. Best for tight spaces

Real Techniques Cryo Sculpt Facial Roller and Skincare Tool for Benefits of ice rolling
Real Techniques/Amazon

Real Techniques Cryo Sculpt Facial Roller and Skincare Tool (Buy from Amazon, $6.50)

With two heads (one for wide areas like your forehead and a slimmer one to get under your eyes and around your nose), this roller packs a lot of bang for your buck.

4. Best for sensitive types

Kitsch Ice Roller for Face for Benefits of ice rolling

Kitsch Ice Roller for Face (Buy from Amazon, $18.99)

Made from recycled plastic and medical-grade stainless steel, this tool gets bonus points for extra-smooth glide across your face.

5. Best ultra-budget buy

Finishing Touch Flawless Facial Massage Ice Roller for Benefits of ice rolling
Finishing Touch/Amazon

Finishing Touch Flawless Facial Massage Ice Roller (Buy from Amazon, $8.21)

Your skin and your wallet will thank you for this little cult-favorite wonder that gets the job done for under $10. 

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