Where Kate Moss goes in beauty, I’ll follow. When I heard she got her hair highlighted by Nicola Clarke at John Frieda, I booked in. When she said her chosen moisturiser was Creme de la Mer, I bought in (and almost had to remortgage my house in the process). And when the great Kate proclaimed that she was a fan of Cryotherapy – which for her meant dunking her face in a sink of cold water containing ice cubes and finishing her shower with a blast of cold water to invigorate, I naturally followed suit.
But before I did, I spoke to the experts about Cryotherapy and the whole ice thing, to justify all the shivering I was planning to do in the hope of more glow and greater tone. Turns out, Moss may be onto something – a little ice daily will, according to skin guru Cherry Woods ‘slow the inflammatory cascade that’s at the root of ageing – the more inflammation you have, the more likely you are to age faster. Conversely, steam is singularly the worst thing you can apply to your skin as it speeds the ageing process and damages cells.’
The big guns all agree that a reduction in inflammation equals a reduction in problems on the skin’s surface. Nicholas Perricone of Perricone MD feels so strongly that inflammation is the first step to anti-ageing that he wrote the 28-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet, in which he decries sugar, processed foods and high GI carbs, suggesting that they’re substituted with fresh, whole foods and quality proteins; Georgie Cleeve, founder of Oskia, concurs: ‘inflammation becomes majorly problematic when it isn’t caused by an ‘injury’ and spirals out of control, causing cellular damage on all levels. This results in eczema, dermatitis, rashes, general redness and irritation, which all cause the skin to become damaged and accelerate the natural ageing process. Diet is key, as is tackling stress and looking at internal factors such as gut health. Topically, vitamin B3 (Niacin/Niacinamide) and Vitamin D are amazing.’
So why the ice? In essence, it’s a good tool because it causes vasoconstriction, shocking blood vessels at the surface of the skin into shrinking and causing a (temporary) localised reduction of blood flow to the area. This is useful because inflammation on the surface of the skin is a pesky thing to deal with. Usually detectable in the form of redness or heat (aka spots/rashes/general irritation), traditional advice has included applying aloe vera or turning to a wardrobe of unguents designed to reduce the redness. Turns out, dialling down the heat may also reduce the visible signs of inflammation – and press pause on the ageing process. These benefits are at the root of the current cryotherapy vogue that’s spawned hundreds of treatments in salons.
Armed with the knowledge that I’d be suffering for good cause, I decided to try an at home version; the instant benefits of icing skin are – as Cherry emphasises – only temporary, and to get a cumulative results, it has to be done daily, so home seemed the only option. First, I tackled my body and hopped in the shower, where I started with a jet of icy water aimed at my ankles. It took some courage to work the stream upwards, but I persisted. I’m glad I did: after a week of chilly morning showers, my legs looked a little more toned and veins less pronounced.
But it was my face that really reaped the most remarkable results. I’ve always been an advocate of toning waters, despite knowing that those of the floral water variety do little for skin aside from refresh. But, for me, that was always enough. I sit in front of a computer for hours. I drink the odd glass of wine. I need refreshing. Turns out, ice would do the job more deftly – first, in the form of ice cubes wrapped in a muslin cloth and glided over skin in the morning. The effect was immediate in the form of less puff, more tone, more glow. My make-up slipped on easily and I looked visibly less furrowed on my forehead.
Buoyed on by those positive results, I decided to take things a step further and got a bit fancy, making a Jalue Skincare Ice Cone (you have to mix them yourself, which I found enormously fun) and running that over my face instead to get both the benefits of the cold and of the herbs contained in the mix. At the weekend, I had a heavy night out, so gave Anne Semonin Express Radiance Ice Cubes a whirl, running them around my sore, shattered eyes. The hit of cool plus the blend of mineral salts, evening primrose oil and red micro-algae worked wonders, and nobody could tell I was suffering by brunch o’clock. Side note: I suspect this may be how Kate Moss discovered the benefits of ice.
As far as skincare trends go, I’d say this one’s a keeper – the sensation of having your skin shaken awake by ice is pretty addictive, but it’s also reaps real physical results: I’ve been icing daily for about a month and have had countless people ask if I’ve been on holiday (alas, no), if I’m pregnant (NOPE), or if I have had ‘something done’ (again, no).