While exfoliation is a common denominator, the type of cryotherapy used for facials is different from what’s used for removing warts. “An in-office cryofacial is a cryotherapy treatment in which vaporized nitrogen is used to cool the skin of the face, scalp and neck area,” says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King. “Liquid nitrogen (around -200 degrees celsius) vaporizes — making it no longer as cold — and is pumped out of a hose and onto your skin.” Meanwhile, the type of cryotherapy used on warts is liquid nitrogen, which is colder and can be more uncomfortable than the vaporized variety, Dr. King says. While OTC liquid nitrogen kits exist for wart removal, Dr. King advises against them. “Liquid nitrogen should not be used at home because of possible risks of burns, frostbite, and nerve damage,” she warns.

Now, a few years back, when cryotherapy was first becoming popular for everyday folks (as opposed to just professional athletes accustomed to submerging themselves in tubs of ice), no skin-care devices harnessing the technology were FDA-approved, or even cleared. (FDA-cleared products and treatments are those that have undergone a 510(k) submission that’s been reviewed and accepted with the conclusion that it won’t cause harm, while FDA-approved products and treatments have been rigorously tested for effectiveness.) That’s still true for whole-body cryotherapy, but now there’s one FDA-cleared treatment for the face: GlacialRx.

“GlacialRx uses precision cooling technology [in the form of ice-cold air blown onto the skin] to reduce inflammation and redness, brighten skin, and accelerate exfoliation,” says Dr. Engelman. On its own, it can be used to treat redness and inflammation (as well as benign lesions and dark spots), but it can also provide cooling relief following other aesthetic treatments.

How does whole-body cryotherapy work?

Whole-body cryotherapy treats the entire body at once in an effort to reduce inflammation throughout, and it can include the ice baths we mentioned earlier or specialized chambers. “The whole-body cryotherapy chamber is a full, walk-in [closet] that the guest spends roughly three minutes inside of at around -150F,” says Kyle Jones, cofounder and chief innovation and branding officer of iCRYO, which has over 250 locations nationwide.

“Unlike ice or an ice bath, the dry cold provides a cold but comfortable feeling during the session,” says Jones. Personally, I’ve tried a cryotherapy facial as well as a cryotherapy treatment on my foot after a sprain and at no point was I in pain from either treatment. But a full-body experience can feel anything from slightly-strange to downright unbearable, depending on who you ask — at a recent industry event, one beauty editor had to step out before the full three minutes.

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