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Have you ever stashed your jade roller in the fridge before using it or splashed your face with cold water? Well, there are actually several physiological mechanisms that are activated when facial skin is exposed to cold temperatures. This signalling cascade can provide some amazing benefits to your skin and overall health.  Read on to learn about the science behind cold therapy.

What Is Cold Therapy?

Cold therapy isn’t rocket science. Simply applying any cold fluid or instrument (usually around 0-5 degrees Celsius in temperature) to facial skin is all it takes to reap the aesthetic rewards. The body’s reaction to this cold can stimulate numerous systems that can improve the look and function of your skin.

What Does Cold Therapy Do?

When exposed to cold, facial blood vessels constrict to decrease the amount of blood going to the affected area [1]. This can reduce redness and can cause fluids to pull back from the skins' surface, creating a vacuum-like effect [1]. In turn, this can decrease puffiness and inflammation as well as pull serums and other skincare products deeper into the skin, allowing your products perform better. Once the skin returns to its normal temperature, the subsequent dilation of blood vessels that follows cold therapy can increase circulation and bring more nutrients to the skin [1]. The result is calmer, glowing, and more sculpted skin.

In addition to cosmetic benefits, cold therapy can also help calm the body and mind. Research shows that applying cold water or tools to the face can trigger what called the mammalian dive reflex [2]. This is an innate human response that is thought to have developed to conserve oxygen when submerged in water [2]. Interestingly, this reflex can be stimulated simply from applying cold to facial skin [2]. When facial nerves sense a cold stimulus, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, decreasing stress hormones and increasing calming neurotransmitters [2, 3]. The result is a decrease in heart rate and a reduction of anxiety and stress [4, 5].

How Can I Incorporate Cold Therapy Into My Regimen?

Cold therapy is a simple step to add to any routine. Practicing cold therapy at home can be as easy as splashing your face with cold water in the morning or storing your facial tools in the fridge. To take your skin care practice to the next level, check out the Consonant Cooling Globes for the ultimate at-home cold therapy experience. 

So, whether it’s a cold shower or a luxurious at-home-facial, cold therapy is another way you can take your daily skin care practice from regimen to ritual.


[1] Chesterton, L. S., Foster, N. E., & Ross, L. (2002). Skin temperature response to cryotherapy. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation83(4), 543-549.

 [2] Michael Panneton, W. (2013). The mammalian diving response: an enigmatic reflex to preserve life?. Physiology28(5), 284-297.

 [3] Brown, C. M., Sanya, E. O., & Hilz, M. J. (2003). Effect of cold face stimulation on cerebral blood flow in humans. Brain research bulletin61(1), 81-86.

 [4] Hurwitz, B. E., & Furedy, J. J. (1986). The human dive reflex: an experimental, topographical and physiological analysis. Physiology & behavior36(2), 287-294.

 [5] Aktaş, Y. Y., & Karabulut, N. (2019). The use of cold therapy, music therapy and lidocaine spray for reducing pain and anxiety following chest tube removal. Complementary therapies in clinical practice34, 179-184.

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