Featured Posts

To top
25 Aug

I Did A Skin-Clearing Cold Plunge Every Day For

I Did A Skin-Clearing Cold Plunge Every Day For

It is a funny thing, keeping a skin diary; by the point you really get around to put in writing it up a day or two later, your (or, at the least, my) skin has already returned to its oily, dry, acne-prone establishment. Am I being too hard on my natural, God-given face here? Possibly, but you could have to know: When you get used to drinking a Hailey Bieber skin glaze smoothie daily for every week, only to have that life-giving juice cruelly stripped away from you once it’s “not reimbursable by Condé Nast,” it’s mildly difficult to have a look at yourself within the mirror without considering “Rattling, imagine how far more subtly luminous and hot I could be if I were still quaffing vast quantities of $20 (£16) strawberry glaze, collagen and sea moss daily.”

View more

I realise that this cognitive dissonance on my part is a large a part of what the sweetness industry hopes to capitalise on in its ideal consumer, and I’m trying really hard not to interact in what Sonya Renee Taylor calls “detriment buying” (i.e. spending money on beauty and/or fashion items I could feel like I would like but that bring me zero joy and a ton of hassle, like Spanx and even razors, TBH.) That said, when a chance presented itself to spend one other stretch of time immersing myself wholesale in a beauty-based routine, I couldn’t have said yes faster; to begin with, as a Cancer, I thrive in water of any kind, so the thought of ritually plunging myself into the coldest liquid I could find daily for every week appealed to me. (Oh Lord, how young and naive I used to be every week ago.)

While the Erewhon adventure wasn’t exactly something I could replicate by myself (nor would I would like to… that strawberry glaze gets to you, man), I used to be interested in trying a spread of cold-plunge options that had developed out of various cultural and spiritual traditions, from a repeated immersion at my favourite Korean spa in L.A. to a particularly West-Hollywood-girlie infrared sauna/cold plunge “experience” to a great old-fashioned bath at home in tepid water made colder by a pair of baggage of ice from the gas station. Below, find all the small print of my (mostly) chill week of cold plunges:

Day one: Monday, 7 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #1:

I’m fresh off every week of skin-glaze smoothies and my skin mostly looks prefer it, apart from a weird red pimple-ish splotch above my upper lip that clearly didn’t get the “we lack imperfections now, sweety” memo. I’ve been going to Wi Spa in L.A.’s Koreatown since I used to be 22 and still deathly afraid of the semi-public nudity that the 24-hour spa’s pool area requires, but lately, it’s a special vibe: I do know I’m going to see every kind of bodies cold-plunging and hot-tubbing and getting massages throughout me, which makes me feel way less stressed about revealing my very own. My partner and I headed over after work, disrobing and stashing our stuff as they assured me the cold tub wouldn’t be that cold.

There are three communal tubs in the ladies’s spa area — a medium-hot one, a very hot one, and a chilly one — and it’s the last of those that I set my sights on, forsaking the coziness of the medium-hot tub I normally spend a full half-hour in to slowly and miserably dip one inch of my body in at a time, shaking, although I recognise that it’s not freezing — it’s cold, to be certain, nevertheless it would probably feel good if I just gave into it. I refuse! One inch at a time! I finally get my whole body underwater, my teeth chattering like they’re about to sprint out of my head because the clique of ladies next to me absolutely humiliates me by submerging themselves with nary a shiver.

Once I’ve spent just a few freezing minutes within the cold tub, I rush back to the protection of the medium-hot one, already feeling (am I crazy?) like my skin is softer as I subtly brush my cheek.

Day two: Tuesday, 8 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #2:

And lo, on the second day of my Wi Spa journey, I break down and spend $30 (£24) on beauty items I don’t need (but desperately want) on the spa gift shop, including a Dr. Jart face mask and a restock of my beloved Kahi Collagen Mist. This has all the time been my skin M.O.; I won’t take 30 seconds to wipe off my make-up once I’m actively breaking out, but when my face happens to look good on any given day, I’ll spend a fully unsanctioned amount of cash on products designed to reinforce its glow.

I exploit the face mask after my cold plunge, which, I even have to say, feels even less cold today — excellent news for my poor ailing body (which continues to be attempting to work a marriage weekend’s value of debauchery out of its system and is used to being met with the sweet caress of nachos and rom-coms it normally receives in this case), bad news for my story. I head to Wi Spa’s “ice room,” where the temperature hangs around 40 degrees, in an try to compensate, but quickly realise that my rapid-fire chatter with my friend Julie — who kindly accompanied me on today’s tour — is making everyone else within the ice room wish to lock me inside until I freeze to death, so I hustle out before the nippiness really has a likelihood to do its thing. Still, my skin is legit glowing and my lungs do feel a bit of more … clear or something once I breathe deeply. Is that anything?

Day three: Wednesday, 9 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #3:

I arrive at Wi Spa for the third day in a row, only to learn from a bit of sign at reception that the cold plunge pool is closed for cleansing. (Sabotage by a rival publication??? Too soon to inform at this juncture.) Undaunted, I get back in my automotive and Google “Russian banyas LA cold plunge,” only to grow to be extremely daunted by the place that comes up first, Voda Spa, an “updated” banya that’s so hip and City of Angels-y that it’s… membership-only? I debate calling to elucidate my situation and see if I can wrangle a press visit, however the considered trying to elucidate myself to an uninterested Russian тётя (loosely translated: auntie) and ask for special treatment makes me immediately sweaty, so I forgo it and pick up a bag of ice from the food market to dump in my bathtub once I get home.

I don’t last very long in my makeshift plunge pool; the swimsuit-clad photos I try to take as proof come out as blurry and grainy as security footage, but just trust me that unlike Hailey from Stick It, I do not look cute in an ice bath. I do, nevertheless, look cute after; my cheeks are pink, my eyes look brighter, and even the above-the-lip pimple that dominated today’s selfie appears to be scared into begrudging submission.

Day 4: Thursday, 10 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #4:

Okay, I look … shiny as hell in a great way today, right? I feel just like the cartoon-baby-deer version of myself; clear-skinned, glowing, and I swear to God my eyelashes have someway grown over the past 4 days. (Fantastic, possibly I forgot to remove last night’s mascara after an evening of sweating it out at emo karaoke and recovering with midnight In-n-Out, but whatever.)

I call Wi Spa and learn that the cold-plunge pool is working today, but just today, so I’ll must figure one other cold immersion plan out for the weekend. I head back to Koreatown for a final frigid dunk in the ladies’s spa, noticing that it’s quite a bit easier this time around than it was earlier this week; is the cold water truly on the fritz, or am I … learning endurance? Some very nice women I don’t know include me of their chatter a few bachelorette party they’re dreading (I suppose I just have certainly one of those faces that claims, “No, I don’t wish to go to your bachelorette party”?) and before I realize it, I’m climbing out of the cold tub after a full five-minute plunge.

Day five: Friday, 11 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #5:

Okay, folks, strap in, because today is a very big day I prefer to check with as The One Where Emma Tried an Infrared Sauna/Cold Plunge Combo and Ended Up Puking Up Electrolyte-Infused Water Outside Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts on Santa Monica (a bit of wordy, perhaps, nevertheless it’s true). Let me back up: the nice people at LIV Infrared Sauna and Cold Plunge in West Hollywood were kind enough to ask me and my friend Jocelyn to check out their facilities so I could precede my cold plunge with a sauna session.

I said yes, obviously, as I, like Shoshanna Shapiro before me, love products, and I really can’t recommend the experience enough (although I used to be obviously a coward who only lasted a second within the cold tub, whereas Jocelyn smoked me by lasting six entire minutes). What I also recommend, though, isn’t eating too directly beforehand and/or not being “still extremely hungover from karaoke and cheese fries on Wednesday”; I felt high-quality through the sauna and plunge, if a bit of queasy from the “rosé all day, next day okay”-branded electrolyte powder I’d accepted and dutifully sprinkled into my water, but half an hour after I left, I discovered myself making a frantic left in L.A. weekend traffic to (forgive me) hurl my guts out in front of the aforementioned Mr. Trejo’s doughnut shop. My dazed, nauseous post-puke automotive selfies were kind of fireplace, though, I’ll give myself that.

Day six: Saturday, 12 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #6:

We drive to Orange County within the afternoon to have an early dinner with my partner’s grandparents, and I determine to make use of the occasion to wear actual make-up, in addition to my brand-new Mara Hoffman shirt from the 80%-off sample sale, and force my beleaguered partner to take one million pictures of me of their driveway. Still, it’s the selfie I soak up the automotive that really stuns me; I’ve deeply pared down my beauty routine over the past few years, so the mix of brushing on some mascara and seeing how clear the week’s cold plunges (or my brand-new array of K-beauty products, or another unknown force) have made my skin have me marvelling at my very own beauty, Narcissus-like. Unfortunately, soon after dinner, I discover I even have a not-small amount of steak in my teeth, which dims my light somewhat.

My cold plunge for the day is type of a cop-out, I’ll admit; I slot in a chilly shower between getting home from dinner and meeting up with our friends at a gay bar in North Hollywood, and truthfully, it’s unpleasant and I don’t think it made my skin any higher than a warm shower would have. Nevertheless, we persist within the name of science! I’m the J. Robert Oppenheimer of skincare!

Day seven: Sunday, 13 August

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #7:

And similar to that, the experiment of the week ends with me hurtling my Ganni-swimsuit-I-paid-too-much-money-for-clad body into the Pacific Ocean. It’s not actually freezing water, after all; the temperature is somewhere around 40 degrees, nevertheless it still feels ridiculously cold once I park at my usual favourite spot near Cholada Thai on the Pacific Coast Highway and trek my way right down to the water; I attempt to psych myself up by blasting “Speed Drive” by Charli XCX, which must look extremely sad to onlookers, but type of works, in that I do eventually get within the water.

Being within the ocean has all the time lit me up with a type of feral joy, but I don’t think I might have quite literally taken the plunge today if I wasn’t doing my cold immersion week; I prefer to bob around like an attractive cork on really hot days when the ocean appears like bathwater, rigorously smoothing my brain away from fascinated by the climate impact that such warm water should have on the ocean ecosystem. (I’m very fun at parties.) Once I get home and exfoliate, though, I notice that the day on the beach has brought out my freckles, and when paired with the smoothest complexion I’ve seen in weeks, I can actually appreciate them for once.

As a purely skin-enhancing experiment, I can provide a hearty endorsement to the cold-plunge lifestyle, but from an as-aforementioned coward’s perspective, you is perhaps higher off just getting a very expensive moisturiser or something. Sure, it’s very fun and manic-pixie-ish to seek out a option to submerge yourself in cold water each day, but can I be honest with you guys? My boobs are pissed at me. They never asked to be flash-frozen daily for every week! Mammals seek warmth for a reason!

Recommended Products

Beauty Tips
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.