Ice, Ice Baby

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When I think of an iced face I think of Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. But it’s also done (less fatally) for beauty’s sake, and is a frequent practice of the people whose skin is already famous (e.g. Kate Moss; Jasmine Tookes). And it’s really, truly free. Turns out, icing’s been around for awhile. Googling “history ice face' will get you Gucci Mane, but it will also get you an Ayurvedic and ancient take on the practice by beautiful women in myriad cultures.

What icing gives you is that post-sleigh-ride glow. You know how people talk about the “afterglow' of a sexy interlude (rhapsodize, really), and how many product names are all in this theme— Orgasm Blush, Naked Palette, O-Glow? Well, I never look sexy after sex. I look like I just spent a few hours waiting at the DMV—a little frazzled, emotionally drained, and slightly damp all over. And the back of my head is a total rat's nest. So when I see products that claim to give me a “post-O glow,” I’m like, why would I want to look like that on purpose?

But I do look glowy after a brisk walk/run/cycle through a chilly breeze. The rest of your body heats up and circulation invigorates your complexion and your pores sort of open and constrict in rapid succession when you step into a warm room. I’ve often come out of the cold, nose running, face pinched with cold, and run into a bathroom, feeling like I must look like a beaten mule, and am surprised to find myself briefly poreless, skin cleared, pale, and cheeks and lips glowing pink. Surprisingly beautiful, even though I feel ragged (contrasted with a post-coital situation, in which I feel beautiful, and look ragged).

Of course, those conditions of freezing temperatures are, mercifully, not always available. So to get that came-out-of-the-cold look, consider massaging your face with ice. Here’s what happens. You begin your day in the usual way. Perhaps you wash your face, perhaps you shower—steam open those pores. Now you get an ice cube from the freezer, wrap in in a fine handkerchief, wait a minute for the cube to start melting into the fabric, glide it over your skin, and tighten those pores up. Like lacing up a corset on your face—constriction, tightness, and slight tingling is what this is about.

I did this all through last summer to try to constrict the single enormous pore that is my face. And to cool down. I would wash my face and then spray myself down with rosewater and ice away. It’s messy. An additional hankie or towel is necessary to catch the little droplets that run off your face. It’s alleged to alleviate everything from acne, wrinkles, excess oil, and enlarged pores. It's sort of a dramatic process, so don’t expect to do this in front of someone and think they’ll take no notice. You might get a funny look, but your skin will have that serious glow that only a brush with an arctic temperature can give—a gentler kind of shining.

—Trace Barnhill

Photographed by Tom Newton.

Embrace the chill: Read ITG's guide to winter makeup here. Or, how to care for your hair when the temperatures drop.

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