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lESSONS:

how to do
an at-home
fire & ice facial

Warming up and cooling down isn’t just for your at-home workout — incorporating extreme temps creates a pro-worthy facial that fights maskne, boosts radiance, and more.


Written By JANNA JOHNSON O’TOOLE

Photography ByGUY AROCH

The skillful hands of an esthetician can brilliantly transform lackluster complexions and restore radiance, but that experience requires close touch — something that’s, shall we say, fallen out of favor in our current climate of social distancing. But skin shouldn’t suffer; an at-home facial, especially one that delivers seriously radiant results, is easier than you think. Enter the fire and ice facial: a multi-step protocol that exfoliates, tones, and hydrates by both warming and cooling the skin.

“Steaming the skin thoroughly prepares it for a deeper, cleansing treatment,” says LA-based naturopathic doctor, Nigma Talib. “It also dilates blood vessels, increasing circulation to the face and flooding it with oxygen-rich blood.” But what goes up, must come down. “When you cool the skin for at least two minutes, it works to return to its normal temperature which causes those blood vessels to constrict quickly,” says celebrity esthetician Georgia Louise. “This decreases inflammation and swelling, which helps the skin appear more vibrant, tight, plump, and radiant.” And who can say no to that? Follow along, below:

START FRESH

A clean slate is essential to maximize results. Prep skin with a cleanser that melts away any traces of dirt and makeup while dissolving oil buildup — a crucial step that primes for the forthcoming active ingredients. Shani Darden Skincare Cleansing Serum suits all skin types and nourishes with hyaluronic acid. Prone to breakouts? Dr. Talib recommends incorporating a cleanser laced with gently exfoliating salicylic or glycolic acid to purify pores. Another gentle option: Reflekt Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Wash, which simultaneously buffs away impurities and hydrates with a powerhouse blend of eco-friendly jojoba beads, hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory B5.

GET STEAMY

Relaxing under a warm cloud of steam is the hallmark of any professional treatment, so don’t skip it at home. “Steaming the skin loosens any build-up of dirt and oil, making it easy to remove,” says Dr. Talib. A pot of boiling water will do, but consider something more sophisticated to make the most of this crucial step. The Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer delivers a steady billow of hot (but not too hot) micro-mist to effortlessly clear pores and rev-up circulation. And often with steam comes a little perspiration, the skin’s natural way of detoxifying.

ACID TRIP

While the steam is the literal heat, now comes the figurative heat — an acid-based peel. Selecting the right formula is key to avoiding irritation, so err on the side of caution if you’re not an avid acid user (you can always repeat this facial a few days later). Omorovicza Copper Peel is a great place to start: the non-abrasive two-step process uses copper gluconate to boost collagen production, while the thermal activator employs gentle lactic acid to break down surface pigmentation and soften uneven texture. Plus, it delivers a dose of the brand’s famed Hungarian thermal water to soothe. The result is a firmer, brighter complexion. 


Looking for deeper exfoliation? The derm-formulated blend of AHAs and BHAs in Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Packettes uses glycolic, salicylic, lactic, citric, and malic acids to break down pigment on the surface of the skin while also loosening debris and oil deep into the pores. The combo also encourages collagen production to plump fine lines, and the healthy serving of antioxidants — vitamins A, C, E, and resveratrol — protect from free-radical damage. Enjoy a gentle warming sensation after swiping the first pad across the face, which subsides as soon as you neutralize the acids with the second pad.

CHILL OUT

“Cooling the skin helps to calm, soothe, bring down inflammation, and reduce swelling,” explains Louise. “And doing it after using an exfoliating product helps pores tighten faster and reduces the risk of any possible side effects.” Her own Georgia Louise Cryo Freeze Tools are the same used in her professional ateliers. Just pop them in the freezer and roll over the skin to contour, de-puff, and sculpt anytime. 

If you’re a loyal fan of GloPro’s clever microneedling tool, consider investing in the Cryo Rollers Skin Icing GloPro Attachment Heads for Eyes + Face/Body, which is exclusively available at Violet Grey. They pop onto your trusty base and carefully cool skin to a precise temperature. "When skin is chilled to that critical 45°F our collagen engines start upping production, pores tighten, and toxins and oils begin to detox from the skin’s surface, minimizing breakouts,” explains Jamie O’Banion, BeautyBio’s co-founder and CEO. And the different sizes offer a targeted cool-down approach. “Use the narrow roller under and around the eyes and the wide roller for larger areas of the face and body.” Bonus: the larger head is great to relieve muscle or joint discomfort. 

For a lo-fi version, try Dr. Talib’s DIY trick: freeze pureed cucumber, aloe vera, turmeric, and water into soothing ice cubes. “The ice shrinks capillaries, which diminishes the appearance of redness,” she says.

LUXE LAYERS

Acids aren’t suited for the eye area, so enlist the luxurious Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Hydrating Mask, to treat the delicate area with firming peptides, moisturizing hyaluronic acid, and soothing licorice root extract. Pro tip: Rolling over your eye masks will help boost the absorption of actives. Once removed, lock-in hydration all over and reinforce the skin barrier with a luscious hydrator. Sisley-Paris Velvet Sleeping Mask with Saffron Flowers is packed with a bevy of skin-loving ingredients (saffron flower extract, macadamia oil, and kokum butter to name a few); the perfect final step to top off your hot (and cool) handiwork.

FIRE & ICE
ESSENTIALS

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540 ultra-fine needles of the highest-grade surgical stainless steel plus red LED light work synergistically to stimulate collagen and elastic production and boost your natural glow over time.

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The ideal follow-up to a GloPro microneedling session (or quick de-puff before a Zoom call), these roller attachments are cooled in the fridge or freezer to an icy 45 degrees F — the ideal temp to increase collagen production, reduce inflammation, plus tone and tighten skin.

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Offering a one-two punch against dull complexions, this foaming dual-action peel uses blue copper paste and lactic acid to polish, smooth, and reduce pore size for a supple, glowing complexion.

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Laced with ultra-hydrating ingredients such as saffron flower extract, macadamia oil, cottonseed oil and kokum butter, this indulgent mask soothes and replenishes parched skin while you sleep.

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Designed to lift, tighten, depuff and awaken tired complexions, these freezer-friendly massage wands provide an instant cooling sensation to calm inflammation on contact, while the gentle rolling massage promotes lymphatic drainage and boosts blood circulation. The result is brighter, perkier skin in seconds.

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The gentle blend of moisturizing hyaluronic acid, barrier-boosting oat bran extract, and soothing olive and chicory leaf extracts instantly melts makeup, dirt, and oil for a thorough cleanse that never leaves skin feeling dry or tight. 

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Dry, tight skin will no longer be on your list of complaints post-cleanse with this gentle yet effective daily exfoliating wash. It dislodges dirt and oil while leaving skin feeling soft and moisturized with a powerhouse blend of eco-friendly jojoba beads, hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory B5.

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These derm-formulated peel pads have amassed a cult following thanks to the highly-effective tonic of skin care superstars. AHAs and BHAs combat uneven tone and texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and enlarged pores; vitamins A, C, and E and resveratrol act as potent antioxidants to protect from free-radical damage.

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Treat the delicate eye area to this cooling mask, which floods skin with firming peptides, moisturizing hyaluronic acid, and soothing licorice root extract, for an overall brighter and firmer effect.

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Worthy of a spa, this steamer takes your at-home facial to the next level thanks to micro-steam technology that softens, hydrates, and purifies skin during this relaxing ritual.