What Does Putting Your Face In Ice Water Do?

by Jay | Posted on July 26th, 2023

Looking for a no-fuss, budget-friendly strategy to enhance your skin’s health and glow? All you need might be right in your freezer. Submerging your face in ice-cold water might seem strange or uncomfortable, but it’s a practice grounded in science and history.

In this piece, we’ll dive into the chilly waters of ice-cold facial treatments, shedding light on the potential benefits and offering you a fresh perspective on skincare. So, stick around, and let’s decipher whether this is merely a passing trend or a life-changing beauty hack.

ice cub in water

The Cold Truth: Ice Water Submersion in History

Cold water immersion holds a significant place in historical wellness practices. From the bathhouses of ancient Greece and Rome to the traditional cold water therapies in Chinese medicine, the therapeutic properties of cold water have been leveraged for millennia.

Notably, Nordic sauna culture, with its blend of hot saunas and icy dips, and Russian banyas, where contrasting steam rooms and cold soaks are favored, further illustrate the enduring relevance of cold water therapies. The recent resurgence of interest in these practices underscores their continuing role in wellness routines.

The Chilling Effects: What Happens When You Dip Your Face in Ice Water

Studies show that when you plunge your face into icy water, you trigger what’s known as the mammalian diving reflex. This automatic body response aims to conserve oxygen, leading to slowed breathing, a significant drop in heart rate, and enhanced peripheral vasoconstriction.

The slowing down of your heart rate conserves energy and communicates with the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “rest and digest” system. This interaction reduces the heart rate further and decelerates breathing, resulting in a calming effect.

The Cold Hard Benefits: Why You Should Consider Ice Water Immersion

Freezing-cold facial treatments offer a range of potential advantages for your skin. Here’s what you stand to gain:

1. Rejuvenated Skin 

The frigid temperature can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict, providing a tightening effect and enhancing the skin’s appearance. It could help mitigate signs of fatigue and leave your skin looking refreshed.

2. Reduced Swelling and Puffiness 

Cold temperatures can help deflate inflammation and constrict blood vessels, lessening facial swelling and puffiness. This is especially helpful for getting rid of under-eye bags or morning puffiness.

3. Improved Skin Texture and Tighter Pores 

Ice water can tighten pores and improve skin texture. Vasoconstriction caused by the cold shrinks blood vessels, pulling the skin taut. The skin’s surface may appear smoother, with pores less visible.

4. Temporary Changes in Heart Rate and Blood Pressure 

Studies show that plunging your face into ice water can affect your heart rate and blood pressure temporarily. The cold causes the blood vessels in the skin and extremities to constrict, decreasing their diameter. This process, known as vasoconstriction, restricts blood flow, potentially increasing blood pressure. Meanwhile, the body’s response to cold includes a heart rate decrease. As you warm up and remove your face from the water, your heart rate and blood pressure typically normalize.

Step-by-Step: How to Immerse Your Face in Ice Water

If you’re ready to brave the chill, here are some practical steps to begin your ice water facial:

  • Fill a bowl with ice and water. Make sure it’s shallow enough for your face to fit comfortably.
  • Submerge your face in the icy water for 10-15 seconds, being mindful not to inhale any water.
  • Repeat this process for a minute or two, gradually extending the time you keep your face in the water as you get used to it.
  • Dry your face gently with a clean towel after the immersion.

Repeat this process a few times weekly for optimal results. But always remember to be kind to yourself and stop if the process becomes too uncomfortable.

Striking a Cold Balance: How Often and How Long?

How often and how long you should indulge in this chilly treatment varies according to personal preference and individual factors. Start with short dips of about 5-10 seconds and increase the time as you acclimate. Some individuals may prefer longer durations, ranging from 1 to 3 minutes.

However, it’s vital to avoid overly long exposures that may cause discomfort or potential health risks. Generally, 2 to 3 times per week should suffice. This frequency allows your body to adapt while also offering sufficient recovery time. Above all, listen to your body and prioritize comfort and well-being.

Cold Feet? Alternatives to Ice Water Submersion

While beneficial, immersing your face in ice water might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately, there are alternatives that offer similar benefits:

1. Cold Compresses and Ice Packs 

An excellent alternative, these offer a cooling effect and similar benefits without the need for complete submersion.

2. Facial Massage and Exercises 

Facial massages and exercises can stimulate blood flow, reduce puffiness, and enhance skin radiance. Including facial exercises in your routine can also help tone facial muscles, minimizing sagging skin and wrinkles.

3. Cooling Skincare Products 

Cooling skincare products provide a refreshing and soothing sensation to the skin. These products often contain ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber, and green tea, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These can help reduce redness and calm irritated skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Submerging your face in icy water might sound extreme, but as we’ve discovered, it’s a well-rounded practice with numerous potential benefits. Whether you decide to take the plunge or opt for an alternative, the key is to find what works best for you and your skin.


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."