I Tried "Frotox", a Skin Tightening Treatment Using Freezing Temperatures, and This Is What Happened...
WHAT IS FROTOX?
Frotox is essentially a cryotherapy facial, but has been given its nickname due to its tightening and smoothing abilities. Alongside cleansing, massage and extractions, the facial treatment involves using targeted jets of dry ice (liquid nitrogen) onto the face to gradually lower the temperature of the skin from around 35°C, to around 7°C. This process causes vaso restriction, where the blood vessels to the skin shrink, allowing a reduction in redness, inflammation and puffiness. While all can benefit from the soothing effect, the treatment is especially effective on skins with inflammatory conditions like acne and rosacea.
Lottie Winter, beauty editor
I have breakout-prone but sensitive skin, meaning that skincare ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid and Vitamin C, that would ordinarily be useful to treat blemishes, easily and quickly cause irritation and redness. It would be brilliant to find a treatment that was able to alleviate my breakouts and open pores without causing further flare ups!
I book in for the Ice Clear Facial at skincare brand Sunday Riley's treatment room within Hershesons - the one-stop shop for all your beauty requirements with offerings from The Light Salon, Ministry Of Wax, Suman Brows and DryBy nail bar on top of their signature cut, colour and blow dries.
The treatment room is tucked away towards the back, and once inside, you wouldn't have a clue you were in the midst of a busy salon. The room is small but captures all the tranquillity of a spa, along with the added merit of some seriously impressive medical devices and skincare machines.
My facial begins with a thorough cleansing and facial massage to aid lymphatic drainage, moving along all the toxins and tension in my facial muscles. Next, steaming and extractions to unblock and deep clean my pores and address any existing breakouts. Next, a light treatment using a multitude of light frequencies to treat all manner of ailments (red light to boost collagen, blue light to target bacteria, and yellow light to aid repair). While it's not the most relaxing experience, this is exactly what I want from a facial - something that will actually improve my skin health and quality, and something that I couldn't do myself at home.
Now for the moment of truth - the cryotherapy machine. It's a bulky machine that displays all kinds of figures on its screen - the one jumping out being "-162°C". Yep, that's how cold the liquid nitrogen that's about to be pumped over my skin is. It is pumped through a tube an out onto my skin through a nozzle, which is also fitted with lasers that are able to measure skin temperature in real time.
My therapist ensured me that I won't get frostbite (!) because she keeps the tube continuously moving, so no one area ever gets too cold. Plus, that's exactly what the lasers are for - to measure the skin and make sure it doesn't get too cold.
And it really doesn't feel too cold. I mean, it's cold but it's not in any way painful or too uncomfortable to bear. The application continues for around 10 minutes, so there's a lot of time to get used to the sensation, but after about three minutes I had to get under the covers and tuck myself in up to the chin. After about minute five, my skin surface temperature was down to 10°C and my muscles were involuntarily twitching, but not in a bad way. I could feel my eyebrows getting higher and higher as the muscles became colder and started to understand why the treatment was dubbed "Frotox".
Immediately after the treatment, my face feels frozen but my skin looks radiant. I have to brace the windy and rainy weather outside and the combination of even more coldness means my eyes are streaming and my nose is completely numb.
Over the next few days, the immediate radiance is met with incremental improvements - my pores are invisible, the under-the-skin spots I get have vanished, and there's a definite glow. The improvements are so impressive that I venture out without any foundation or concealer for the first time in about 10 years. I mean, it's very impressive.
After about a week, my skin begins to revert to its usual, congested self and I promptly book back in for a top up. While the benefits are significant, they are fleeting, and I'd recommend a series of treatments to enjoy the full benefits. But if I ever had an event where I needed my skin to look the best it could ever look, this is the treatment I would book for.
This article first appeared in Glamour.