It’s a no-brainer to reach for a cold glass of ice water in the summer to quench your thirst, or to take a cold shower to cool yourself down after a smoldering day. But short of sticking your head in the freezer in the middle of July, there’s no surefire way to cool yourself down from the neck up in an instant. Still, the beauty industry is never far behind, and the recent onset of cooling beauty products — eye creams, moisturizers and masks with ingredients like aloe, peppermint and menthol — are ubiquitous. But do cooling beauty products even work? And if so, which ones are the best investments? We turned to the experts to find out.
“Some of the most common ‘cooling’ effect products use cucumber, peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus and aloe vera,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. “The ingredients don’t lower the temperature of your skin; they instead work by creating a cellular response that sends a signal to your nerves responsible for regulating temperature that the skin is not hot, thus feeling cooler.”
Clinical cosmetic chemist Joyce de Lemos, who co-founded cult-favorite beauty brand Dieux, reminds us that cooling products aren’t exactly a new phenomenon: “In higher doses, they can be used therapeutically like in Vicks Vaporub or Biofreeze,” she says.
Still, the basic principles of putting something cold on your hot skin hold true: It’ll probably feel good. That’s why so many people turn to cryotherapy tools like ice rollers, which work by causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels, minimizing redness and decreasing puffiness, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brian Hibler, who practices at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “The benefits are most pronounced when you’re hot or flushed, and they feel better to use during the warm summer months. They can be used to reduce early morning under-eye puffiness; however, the effect on the blood vessels can be temporary if you get warm and flushed again during the day.”
Still, he warns against leaving anything frozen on the face, lest you risk actual injury to the skin: “It often feels soothing to apply something that is chilled to the skin, but I wouldn’t directly apply anything frozen to the skin to reduce risk of skin injury and discoloration.” Instead, he recommends putting moisturizers or masks in the refrigerator, especially if you have dry skin. “The cooling effect can reduce the itch sensation.”
Fellow Dieux co-founder and SkinTok legend Charlotte Palermino agrees — but with a caveat. “Some products may not be for the fridge and it can change the texture,” says Palermino. Still, “water-based products are deeply satisfying to apply cold, especially when it’s hot out. I like to keep eye products in the fridge because it feels nice — but not because there’s a huge effect or benefit,” she says, mentioning that she uses Dieux’s Forever Eye Mask, a pair of reusable silicone gel eye pads, after they’ve been in the fridge. “I pair it with a cold eye cream, then I roll some ice over the area for a little eye massage.”
Ahead, find 16 cooling sprays, masks and more to soothe and satisfy your skin this summer.
$12.99 at Amazon
Hibler recommends keeping this face mist on hand to cool down during a hot summer day because “it contains selenium, a potent antioxidant, is free of fragrance, preservatives and is great for sensitive skin.”
$25 at Sephora
Hibler recommends storing this hydrating gel stick, made with caffeine and seawater, in the refrigerator for “an enhanced cooling sensation.”
“This provides a quick burst of cooling to your face when applied with its key ingredients, cucumber, green tea and aloe,” says Hartman. “You can use it anytime during the day to help cool, or spritz the face right before you apply moisturizer in the morning or evening.”
$58 at Violette_FR
Palermino says this “comforting face spray is almost a moisturizer — which is perfect throughout the day this summer.”
$2.29 at Ulta
“My favorite product is … water,” says de Lemos. “In the summer, I keep a small spray bottle filled with water in the fridge and mist myself when I’m out and about. If I’m at the beach, I keep one in the cooler.”
$34 at Ulta
Menthol adds an invigorating cooling effect to this gel cleanser that gently exfoliates and preps the skin with AHAs, red algae and sea kelp extract.
$69 at Dieux
Palermino doesn’t like products that trigger cold receptors like menthol but instead recommends Deliverance because its “soothing and calming ingredients keep my skin in check so I don’t have irritation, which leads to a hot, inflamed feeling.”
$25 at Dieux
Ditch single-use masks, thanks to Dieux’s Forever Eye Mask, which is made to be used (and reused) for at least a year. Palermino (and just about everyone else on TikTok) recommends keeping them in the fridge.
$130 at Dr. Rossi Derm MD
“This has a cooling effect on the skin by reducing TRPV1 receptor activation from environmental triggers and contains hyaluronic acid to retain moisture,” says Hibler. In other words, it’ll help reduce under-eye puffiness, skin irritation and fine lines.
$23 at Younique
“Filled with nourishing ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E and plant-based oils, the Younique Weekend lip butters provide a splash of hydration and a cooling effect your lips will love,” says Hartman, who notes that the peppermint-infused formula offers a relaxing chill without leaving behind a sticky residue.
$60 at Dermstore
“I like this mask a lot for anyone with dry skin,” says Hartman. “Hyaluronic acid adds hydration to the skin, while cucumber, thyme and olive oil extracts soothe the skin and concurrently make it feel cooler. It’s also a good choice if you’re sunburned, as dipeptides will reduce some of the heat in the skin.”
$18.99 at Amazon
“I also love using my fancy round ice cube maker for my boulevardiers as an ice roller for my face,” says Palermino, who says it wakes her up like a second cup of coffee. If you’re not into ice itself, an ice roller is a solid second. This gel and water roller is an Underscored favorite, and also has a number of celebrity devotees.
$59 at Dermstore
“The skin around the eyes can benefit from using a cooling product to help depuff and appear smoother,” says Hartman. “I like this product, as it has antioxidants to help protect against free radicals, niacinamide to reduce the appearance of dark circles and hyaluronic acid to add moisture to the skin.”
$14.50 at Everyday Humans
Containing skin-soothing aloe and cucumber, this face and body mist calms and cools the skin while also delivering a dewy look.
$41 at Sephora
“When applied to the skin, this mask feels cool and it helps calm inflamed acne-prone skin with eucalyptus, green tea, algae and Irish moss extracts,” says Hartman. “Salicylic acid and lactic acid loosen dead skin and sebum on the skin to clear out clogged pores.”
$11.49 $8.03 at Ulta
This two-ingredient face mist smells and feels lovely on the skin, especially after you keep it in the fridge.