If you've ever sipped on a bottle of juice—or looked, at least, at the label of one in the grocery store—you're probably familiar with the term "cold-pressed." Now the beauty world is adopting the trend too. And just like that $12 cold-pressed juice, it comes at a high price.
Recently, the term has been plastered all over some of our favorite skin-care products. Indie brands like Odylique (who teamed up with Moon Juice on a cold-pressed line a few years ago), Kat Burki, and Fytt Beauty are all touting their own "cold-pressed" products, equating this with the utmost quality level of ingredients.
As a beauty writer, I've been lucky enough to test some of these "cold-pressed" skin-care products—which is probably a good thing, since I don't really like cold-pressed juice and want to get in on the trend somehow—but I wasn't sure what the point of them was. We talked to an expert to see if they're worth the hefty price tag.
What Does "Cold-Pressed" Even Mean?
"Cold-pressed" refers to juice that's been made with the use of a hydraulic press. At your local juice bar, they'll use a centrifugal juicer, which extracts juice by rapidly spinning pulp around in its chamber. The main difference between the two kinds, aside from the differing machinery, is what happens after you've made the juice. Normally, you pour and serve, but with cold-pressed juice, the juices are bottled, sealed, and put in a large chamber, which fills with water and applies a crushing amount of pressure, approximately equal to FIVE times the pressure found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Being treated this way enables juices to stay on the shelves for several days, rather than spoiling right away.
Cold-pressing is nothing new: The technique has been used for decades, but only recently became part of popular vernacular with the rise (and subsequent fall) of juice cleanses, specifically in looking for a new way to market them. Now national brands BluePrint, Suja, and Evolution Fresh plaster the term "cold-pressed" across their bottles, along with the claim that cold-pressing juice preserves more nutrients because you need more produce to make high-pressurized juices, and less fillers (like water or sugar) are used.
How Beauty Has Taken On the Juice Trend
Beauty products are now being dubbed "cold-pressed," with ingredients for serums, facial oils, and creams all being created by pressing and grinding fruit or seeds with stainless steel presses. The benefit? "Cold-pressing allows you to use natural oils extracted directly from botanical sources, which helps maintain the natural benefits of the oils," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City–based dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
But Dr. Zeichner notes an important difference between cold-pressed juices, which have shelf lives of no more than a few weeks max, and cold-pressed skin care, which you can have for months: "Despite the extracts being naturally obtained, the skin-care product still will require a preservative so that it can sit on the shelf without contamination."
Because of the cold-press processing, more of the actual extracts are used as opposed to filler, which can be in the form of a totally innocuous ingredient, like water, or more offensive ones, like thickeners, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. Now, indie brands like Kat Burki, Captain Blankenship, and Fytt Beauty have all rolled out cold-pressed products.
FYTT Beauty is one of the brands embodying the trend, perhaps no product more so than with its Hit Restart Detoxifying Body Scrub ($54). It looks like a nutrient-dense green juice you'd pick up at Whole Foods, but the ingredients cleanse, purify, and smoothing the skin. When used on the face, it can also purifies pores while tempering any inflammation. With a blend of spirulina, kale, cucumber, and flaxseed, the scrub is full of promises, including that of a veritable facial with one treatment.
Then there are brands like Kat Burki, who offers a smattering of face products including eye gels, brightening facial serums, and gel cleansers at an even higher cost: Their cult-favorite Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream retails for $100 (for a 1.7-oz jar), and their new Complete B Illume Brightening Serum, which can be used as a dark-spot treatment or all over the face, retails for a steep $240.
So Are Cold-Pressed Products More Effective?
Unfortunately, the efficacy of these products compared to regularly blended ones without cold-pressed, high-pressure technology hasn't really been studied. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King compares it to cooking fruits or vegetables: "When you cook them, some nutrients may get lost." But eating cooked vegetables is still great for you too! So while it's true that more of the raw extract is indeed in the product when it's cold-pressed, the actual skin benefits of that are minimal at best, King and Dr. Zeichner agree. And since, like Dr. Zeichner mentioned, these products (unless required to be refrigerated, of which there are very few currently available) all need preservatives to make them shelf-stable, that takes away from the organic, all-natural appeal.
Bottom line: While cold-pressed ingredients might provide some additional skin benefits, there's no conclusive evidence to say it's worth the higher price tag. But if you're an ingredients junkie and like to know what you're rubbing on your face, in your hair, or on your body, cold-pressed skin care may be the fit for you.