If you’re a believer that “beauty is pain,” you’ll believe less if you don’t like hanging out in subzero temperatures (specifically, 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit) -- nearly naked. But not Hailey Baldwin. In fact, freezing is the model's favorite beauty treatment. “They basically put you in a giant freezer — it’s weird, but it feels so good,” she told HelloMagazine.com, referring to whole-body cryotherapy (WBC).
Said giant freezer is a chamber typically filled with liquid nitrogen. You walk in, withstand the chill for two to four minutes, and you’re done. According to Fort Lauderdale Cryotherapy’s website, the idea is that submerging your body in these way-worse-than-arctic conditions stimulates your immune system, which activates the cells that help combat disease.
Initially touted as a remedy for sore muscles, WBC is now credited with delivering other health and beauty benefits, such as skin toning, reducing cellulite, improving sleep problems, alleviating chronic pain, managing asthma, and even easing anxiety and depression.
And if the chamber isn’t enough iciness for you, some places also offer cryotherapy facials which are performed after the whole-body experience. U.S. Cryotherapy, for instance, offers a “Facial Rejuvenation” treatment — gusts of subzero air for six to eight minutes — that they claim can “target cellular activation and turnover, clearance of toxins, and enhance collagen activation for a fresh tightening look of radiance.”
Baldwin, who spurns traditional facials and their painful extractions, prefers the frosty facial.
So what do the experts think? Integrative medicine doctor Andrew Weil, MD, isn’t a cryo-champion despite the fact that Baldwin’s in some hot company. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derek Hough, Demi Moore, Mandy Moore, and Lindsay Lohan have also dabbled in cryotherapy. But on his website, Dr. Weil reminds us that athletes and celebrities are in extremely great shape, so their robust bodies can handle the cold shock a lot better. The rest of us should take heed.
Aron Yustein, MD a medical officer at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health, doesn’t support it either. “Based on purported health benefits seen in many promotions for cryotherapy spas, consumers may incorrectly believe that the FDA has cleared or approved WBC devices as safe and effective to treat medical conditions. That is not the case.” The FDA likely won’t get behind it since there’s no meaty evidence that demonstrates its advantages. In fact, a 2015 scientific review concluded that cryotherapy doesn’t even help post-exercise recovery or muscle soreness, the two benefits that made the practice so popular in the first place.
If you’re facing a mental dilemma at this point because the ever-radiant model favors cryotherapy while credentialed experts are shooing it away like a gnat in your face, start by taking Baldwin's other beauty advice: Slather coconut oil all over, drinks lots of water, and cleanse, moisturize, and use sunscreen every day. It's a lot less intimidating -- and you should only try something if it feels completely safe, right?
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