There has been so much buzz around cryotherapy (the use of extreme cold temperatures to stimulate tissue repair and healing) among celebrities and athletes with touted benefits, such as improved tissue repair/recovery, reduction of inflammation and boosted collagen, I decided to check it out for myself.
I’ve experienced cold in my lifetime. I mean, real cold – MINNESOTA cold – where I spent my childhood years making snow angles in 20°F weather and trick or treating in blizzards. Cold is just a way of life there. You toughen up and get on with it even if it means shoveling your car out of two feet of snow when it’s -5°F outside or walking your dog in freezing temperatures. So needless to say, I know cold. But the -167°F degree temperature I experienced for barely three minutes in a “cryosauna” last month at CryoZone made Minnesotan winters feel almost tropical in comparison.
Yes, it’s that uncomfortable, not to mention you have to stand in the “cryosauna” naked (or in your underwear) except for wool socks, boots and mittens to prevent frostbite.
How does cryotherapy work
The premise of cryotherapy is simple. The body stands in a completely enclosed room or an enclosed chamber where everything is contained except for the head aka a “cryosauna” where nitrogen vapor cools the area to around -167°F degrees. The extreme cold temperatures trigger the body’s survival response causing blood to be pulled from the extremities to the vital organs. When the body reheats, the freshly oxygenated blood moves back to the tissues, muscles and skin.
What are the health benefits
The list is long and includes: increased blood circulation, increased energy, pain management, faster sports injury recovery, improved sleep, improved skin tone and texture due to increased oxygenation of small blood vessels near the skin’s surface, increased metabolism and overall wellness from a boosted immunity.
What does the experience feel like
It’s uncomfortable. Let’s just say that. Thankfully, while I was suffering in my chamber of death the front desk attendant was kind enough to chat with me in my room to help distract me from the mind-numbing cold. She told me about the time Justin Bieber came into CryoZone and could only handle two minutes in the cryosauna, which made me feel pretty proud of myself for lasting nearly two and a half minutes. Three minutes is the max amount of time each $40 session is allocated at CryoZone, which seems almost implausible to me that someone could stay in there for that long!
The immediate results
Upon exiting the cryosauna I noticed right away how taunt my skin was and I experienced a jolting surge of energy akin to the feeling you get after you have your morning coffee. I walked out of there with a serious high and flushed, glowing skin. As for the long-term effects, I can’t speak to those since $40 per session is a little stiff for my budget, but I can see why people love it. You feel naturally energized and alert all day long.
For an at home cryotherapy experience, minus the cold…
Try renowned British skincare brand 111Skin’s recently launched line of cryo inspired skincare, which mimics the positive effects of cryotherapy on the skin, like tightening, smoothing and a refreshed appearance.
What to try: 111Skin Cryo Activating Hydra Gel
Main ingredients: Lotus Extract, Aloe Juice, Sweet Almond Oil, Ginseng Root
Why we love it: Intensely hydrating while ultra lightweight. The gel texture sinks right in leaving no trace of product, just supple, plump skin. And it comes with a dual scooper/cool metal applicator to massage the product in.
Tip: Use before bed and while laying down massage into skin for five minutes to further increase circulation.
111skin.com, 1.7oz – $210
-by Amy Chang
Main image photographed by Wing Ta
Product image sourced from brand