People do some pretty crazy things in the name of beauty. From Kim Kardashian’s infamous blood facial, to the snail slime and snake venom skincare that took Korea by storm, to freezing your entire body in a nitrogen-filled pod – aka cryotherapy.
In May 2016, Nawfel Oussedik opened Polaris, the first cryotherapy clinic in Hong Kong. Housed in a sleek 2000 square foot space, Polaris uses only the top machines and technology available in its treatments. It is also the exclusive partner in Asia Pacific of Impact Cryotherapy machines, which are used and trusted by athletes in major league teams in the US including the NBA, NFL and NHL.
Totally non-invasive, Cryotherapy uses freezing cold temperatures to shock the body into releasing specific hormones and natural responses that result in a plethora of health benefits. It's also widely used by athletes in place of ice baths for faster recovery from intense workouts.
“When faced with such extreme temperatures, your body’s natural fight or flight response is activated,” Oussedik explains. So, as a result, blood circulation is stimulated, and the endocrine system - the collection of glands that secrete hormones to regulate metabolism, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood – is activated.
“All of your blood then centralizes around your key internal organs in order to protect those important organs from the extreme cold. The blood becomes super-oxygenated, and this enriched blood will run through your body to your muscles, your joints, everywhere,” says Oussedik. “This process flushes out toxins in your body, leaving you to feel better and feel more energized. Your brain will start releasing hormones of happiness – endorphins and serotonin – and adrenaline is rushed to boost brain power and psychological efficiency, as well as reduce inflammation in the body.”
When I got to Polaris, I was given a big fluffy robe, warm socks and gloves. I was then led to the treatment room and into the cryosauna chamber, which was filled with dry nitrogen gas in a slow, controlled pattern for three minutes.
The treatment is overseen by a trained technician who, aside from controlling the equipment, helps to distract you from the fact that you’re standing stark naked and exposed to freezing temperatures between -90 to -140 degrees Celsius. You’re probably wincing at that thought right now but, honestly, it wasn’t at all as bad as it sounds.
After the full body treatment, it was time for my ‘Cryo Facial’ – a 15-minute treatment in which beams of cold air are applied to specific sections of the face, scalp and neck. Cryotherapy’s cell rejuvenating and collagen-boosting functions have made it a popular beauty treatment to tighten and improve skin tone, as well as reduce signs of ageing.
“During the session your body produces 4-5 times more collagen than usual. Collagen is a popular topic these days, but it’s important to know that our skin cannot actually absorb collagen,” Oussedik tells me. “The only way to increase collagen is for your body to produce it. Any advertisements for collagen creams and the like are pulling your leg.”
Not only does this invigorating facial tighten the skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles, the aforementioned anti-inflammatory properties of cryotherapy have also been proven to reduce puffiness, swelling and acne.
As far as my personal experience goes, the minute I left Polaris I felt lighter and felt an instant mood and energy boost. The next morning, I noticed subtle but evident changes in my skin from the facial: my skin was radiant and visibly tighter, as puffiness around my cheeks and eyes had been reduced.
It may all sound too good to be true, but the numbers speak for themselves – 80% of people who have tried cryotherapy have reported a softening of lines, while 75% reported improvement in the softness and smoothness of their skin.
Go on and give it a shot, BISHES!
Photos by: Alex Maeland