Should You Ice Before or After Skincare? We Have the Answer

Should You Ice Before or After Skincare? We Have the Answer


Icing your face is a popular skincare technique that many people use in their routines. The purpose of icing your face is to reduce inflammation, constrict blood vessels, decrease puffiness, and promote lymphatic drainage.

This helps to achieve several skincare goals:

  • Reducing acne and breakouts by calming inflammation
  • Decreasing facial puffiness and under eye bags
  • Tightening pores
  • Soothing irritation from treatments like chemical peels or laser
  • Depuffing eyes to look more awake
  • Draining fluid buildup and reducing facial bloating

Icing gives skin an instant boost of radiance and vitality. It is often used right before important events when people want their face to look its best. Including regular facials icing in your routine can support longer term skincare goals as well by decreasing inflammation that leads to signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

What Does Icing Your Face Do?

Applying something cold like ice to your face causes the blood vessels under the skin to constrict. This helps with reducing any inflammation, swelling or puffiness. The cold from the ice essentially works to calm down irritation and any enlargement of the blood vessels that can lead to swollen eyes, cheeks or other areas of the face.

Using an ice cube, ice pack or even a cold spoon from the fridge can temporarily help minimize and tighten sagging skin or puffy eyes. The cold temperature causes the constriction while also slowing down circulation. This combination leads to a firmer and tighter appearance of the complexion and youthful plumpness is restored.

Icing your face is an easy and natural way to achieve a radiant glow and more defined facial structure. The effects are temporary but can be helpful right before a big event or when you want to look your best. Just a few minutes of icing can dramatically transform the look of your skin.

Using Ice Before Skincare Products

Icing your face before applying skincare products can help the products absorb better by tightening pores. When you apply something cold like ice to your skin, it causes the blood vessels to constrict. This tightens your pores, which allows skincare products to penetrate deeper into the skin rather than sitting on the surface.

Some dermatologists recommend icing before applying certain products, like serums or creams with active ingredients such as retinol or vitamin C. The cold from the ice can help drive those ingredients into the skin more effectively. That deeper absorption leads to better results.

If you have enlarged pores or oily skin, icing before applying products can be especially beneficial. The pore tightening effect helps prevent products from penetrating too deeply and potentially causing irritation. Icing ensures the products remain in the upper layers of skin where they can work most effectively.

Some skin experts advise applying ice before products containing hyaluronic acid too. The cold helps to plump up skin with moisture so the hyaluronic acid can pull in even more hydration. This leads to maximum moisture retention.

The only caution with icing before products is to avoid very sensitive areas. If you ice right before applying something like retinol too close to the eyes, it could cause irritation. But using ice strategically first can really boost your skincare regimen.

Using Ice After Skincare Products

Applying ice to your face after your skincare routine can help seal in moisture, enhancing the effects of your serums, creams, and other products. When skin is warm, it expands, allowing skincare ingredients to penetrate deeply into the pores. By icing the face after applying products, the cold causes the skin to contract and tighten slightly. This helps prevent the products from evaporating too quickly or absorbing excessively into the deeper layers of skin. The cooling effect forms a light seal that keeps the ingredients in the upper layers of the epidermis, where they can provide the most benefits.

Some dermatologists recommend icing after applying certain products, like vitamin C serum or retinol cream. The cold can reduce irritation that is sometimes caused by these active ingredients. The chilled temperature also slows down the oxidation process, helping keep vitamin C stable and effective for longer. Applying ice after moisturizers or oils can boost hydration, giving a dewy, glowing look to the complexion. As the skin warms again to its normal temperature, it will absorb the extra hydration trapped by the cooling effect of the ice.

Dermatologist Recommendations

Dermatologists have different opinions on whether it's best to ice your face before or after using skincare products. Here are some of the key considerations:

Icing before skincare

  • Can help reduce inflammation and redness, preparing skin for better absorption of products
  • Constricts pores, which may prevent products from penetrating as deeply
  • Potentially "shocks" the skin, making it more receptive to active ingredients
  • However, could also numb the skin, reducing ability to feel stinging/irritation from products

Icing after skincare

  • Allows products to fully absorb without pore constriction or numbing effects
  • Can help close pores after they've been opened by products
  • Helps cool irritation if products cause redness or inflammation
  • May reduce efficacy of products by constricting pores and blood vessels after application


  • Many dermatologists recommend icing both before and after skincare routine
  • Icing before helps with absorption, while icing after calms and soothes skin
  • Best to avoid icing right before/after acids, retinoids to prevent sensitivity
  • Consult your dermatologist to see what works for your specific skin type

Which Products Work Best

Icing your face can help maximize the benefits of certain skincare products. The cold temperature causes vasoconstriction, which reduces blood flow to the skin's surface. This can help active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin. Using ice before applying products can also help soothe inflammation.


Applying ice before serums containing peptides, vitamin C, retinoids, or hyaluronic acid can improve absorption. The cold constricts blood vessels, allowing these actives to better penetrate the skin rather than sit on the surface. This leads to enhanced effects.


Using ice before moisturizers seals in hydration more effectively. The cold causes the pores to close up. When you apply your moisturizer to the chilled skin, it's better able to trap water in the skin rather than letting it evaporate. Thicker moisturizers tend to benefit the most from icing beforehand.

Eye Creams

Icing around the eyes helps eye creams absorb better, decreasing puffiness and dark circles. The cold also helps de-puff by constricting blood vessels. Gently massage the eye cream into chilled skin for optimal effects.

Face Masks

Applying an ice cube over a face mask pushes the ingredients deeper into the skin. The cold temp maximizes penetration of the active ingredients. This leads to more pronounced results.


Using ice before oils helps them absorb faster. The cold causes the pores to close up. When you apply the oil to chilled skin, it's better able to penetrate rather than sit heavily on the skin's surface.

How to Ice Your Face

Icing your face is simple and only requires a few tools. Here are some tips on the proper techniques:

  • Use an ice pack, ice cubes, or a cold spoon. Ice packs are ideal since they conform to the contours of your face. Wrap ice cubes in a paper towel or cloth so they don't directly touch your skin. Metal spoons can be placed in the freezer or fridge to get cold.

  • Focus on problem areas. Apply the ice to specific areas like breakouts, irritated skin, or puffiness under the eyes. Don't ice your entire face unless directed by a dermatologist.

  • Use light pressure and massage. Gently glide the ice over the skin in circular motions. Don't vigorously rub or press too hard. Massaging improves circulation.

  • Ice for 5-10 minutes per session. Icing any longer can damage skin. Limit icing to once or twice daily at most.

  • Allow skin to fully dry first. Do not apply ice to damp skin after cleansing or wetting your face. Make sure your skin is completely dry so the cold doesn't shock your skin.

  • Rinse with cool water after. Rinsing removes any ice residue and brings your skin temperature back to normal. Pat dry gently.

Proper icing techniques will help maximize the benefits while avoiding potential frostbite damage to facial skin. Always monitor for adverse reactions.


When icing your face, it's important to use caution and avoid overdoing it. Applying ice directly to your skin for too long or too often can actually cause damage. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Don't ice any particular area of your face for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Taking breaks will help prevent frostbite or irritation from developing.

  • Limit icing sessions to once or twice per day. Icing too frequently can disrupt the skin's natural processes.

  • Wrap ice in a towel before applying to skin. Direct contact with bare ice can be damaging. The towel helps moderate the temperature.

  • Pay attention to your skin's signals. If the area becomes numb or painful, take the ice away immediately. Redness, swelling, blisters etc after icing indicate damage.

  • Be very gentle. Don't rub or press ice forcefully against the skin. Apply with light pressure only.

  • Avoid putting ice directly on top of skin abrasions, cuts or broken areas. The cold can impede proper healing.

  • Don't ice if you have certain medical conditions like Raynaud's disease which affect circulation. Consult a doctor first in such cases.

  • Don't fall asleep with ice on your face! Melting ice can drip and cause tissue damage.

Using ice properly and in moderation can provide real benefits for your skin. But be aware of these precautions to avoid potential harm from excessive icing. Always listen to your skin and discontinue if any adverse reactions develop.

Other Tips for Using Ice on Skin

Using ice cubes on your skin can provide benefits beyond just prepping it for your skincare routine. Here are some other ways to take advantage of icing your face:

Reduce Acne - The cold temperature from an ice cube can help shrink enlarged pores and reduce inflammation and redness caused by acne. Wrap an ice cube in a soft cloth and gently rub areas of acne breakouts for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soothe irritation. Be sure not to rub too vigorously or this could damage skin.

Depuff Eyes - Applying something icy cold can constrict blood vessels under eyes and decrease puffiness or bags. Wrap ice in cloth and gently press under each eye for about 15 seconds at a time. Doing this can help you look more awake if eyes are swollen when you wake up.

Soothe Skin Irritation - Have a rash, sunburn, or irritation from a cosmetic procedure? Lightly running an ice cube over the area can temporarily numb and relieve discomfort. Just be careful not to press too hard.

Refresh Skin - Some people enjoy rubbing ice over their face as a way to give their skin an instant refresh. The cold sensation can make your complexion look more toned and awaken your senses.

Gently massaging with ice can offer many perks before or after your regular skincare routine. Just take care not to overdo it, and listen to your skin's needs.


Using ice on your face can provide numerous skincare benefits when done properly. Whether you choose to ice before or after your skincare routine, be sure to follow some key guidelines:

  • Use clean ice to avoid bacteria - either purified ice cubes or an ice roller work best
  • Move the ice around continuously to avoid frostbite
  • Limit icing sessions to 5-10 minutes max
  • Always follow with a moisturizer, as icing can dry out skin

Icing before your skincare routine helps products absorb better by constricting pores and reducing inflammation. It's ideal for acne-prone or inflamed skin. However, don't over-ice sensitive skin beforehand, as this may worsen redness.

Icing after applying serums and moisturizers can help "seal" in the products and prolong absorption time. It also helps de-puff eyes. But avoid icing very water-based or light gel products afterwards, as they may freeze and feel uncomfortable.

The ideal approach is to listen to your own skin's needs. In general, icing before heavier creams and after water-based serums tends to provide the best results. Always monitor for irritation and inflammation. When in doubt, consult a dermatologist for personalized guidance on maximizing your skincare routine with proper icing techniques.