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The Real Story Behind Cool, Cold, and Frozen Skin-Care Products

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I tend to run warm, or as my husband would say, I turn into a "hot water bottle" at night. So when all things cool, cold, and downright frigid became a popular trend in the beauty world, I was more than just intrigued—I had to learn everything. Because what more could the sweatiest beauty writer want than products that would help me cool down and look amazing at the same time?! Nothing, you guys, nothing.

It all began with stashing eye cream in the fridge, on the recommendation of a former beauty editor boss who told me it would help constrict blood vessels and reduce late-night puffy bags. (Clearly, I was having a few too many late nights.) But cut to a decade later, and an entire shelf in my refrigerator is dedicated to a collection of eye creams, nail polishes (to purportedly keep the polish from thickening over time), and wrinkle serums that feel especially refreshing during the summer months. However, when I asked Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist in New Jersey, whether using the fridge would boost the benefits of my skin-care products in any scientific way, she shut me down pretty hard. "It's more of a sensorial pleasure than a way to boost skin-care efficacy," she tells Shape. So those hydro-gel eye patches (looking at you, Tarte Pack Your Bags 911 Undereye Rescue Patches) won't work any better if you stash them in the fridge, but they'll feel amazing upon application if you do, especially in the warmer weather, says King. 

Then there are those self-declared "cooling products," or skin-care infused with technology to help bring down the surface temperature of your skin. Two of my favorites right now, unequivocally, are the Milk Makeup Cooling Water ($24) and the Sephora Collection Tinted + Cooling Eye Primer ($14). Starting with these cooling products feels ~wonderful~ and helps me chill out (literally and otherwise) post-blow-dry, pre-makeup application. But does this cooling technology really make my skin any smoother or more prepped for makeup application, or is it all placebo effect? "Both [of these products] use the same technology—a water-dispersing, low-temperature melting silicone that releases water upon contact, known as a water break," says King. Again though, you're not earning extra skin-benefit bonus points. It just feels really damn good. (Which I'm not mad about.)

As the French do, though, they one-upped my love of cooling products by introducing a frozen serum this summer. It works like a push pop, as in the Flintstones kind, but for your face. The serum, Votre Vu Les Sorbet ($112), comes in a glass vial which you pour into the push-pop dispenser and stash in the freezer. Designed to help firm and lift the face, Les Sorbet contains collagen and peptides to help plump and fill lines, while the frozen temperatures purportedly help minimize the appearance of lines. However, King says the science doesn't back up the claim, and the serum would be just as efficacious if it were left in the bottle itself. "Although it may be delightful on warmer days, it's likely just a marketing ploy for the 'Sorbet' name," she says.

So is there any reason to store the rest of your skin-care goodies in the freezer? King warns against it: "Using the freezer can affect the integrity of the product as the compounds may separate." The fridge is your best bet. "The fridge is best for storing gel- or serum-based formulas, as you may see a bit of a de-puffing benefit and feel a greater cooling sensation," she says.

And as for the ultimate new kind of cold—cryotherapy, a treatment once reserved to treat muscle soreness in athletes—it turns out the frigidity does have topical, although temporary, benefits. The theory behind cryotherapy is that extreme cold makes your body churn out more blood and oxygen than usual to promote healing. Experts are now localizing the freezing treatment to your face with a cryotherapy facial, aka "frotox," which blasts the area with a stream of minus-250-degree liquid nitrogen to rejuvenate skin. Leaving you with noticeable de-puffing and temporary tightening effects, a $45 session (the average price of one cryofacial) may be the kind of quick skin fix you're looking for prior to a big event or night out. 

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