Cryotherapy is well known for its use by athletes for pain management but the realm of this treatment has now extended to the world of beauty.
The so-called ‘cold therapy’ can not only be used for facial treatment but also to repair damaged and lackluster hair.
Essentially, cryotherapy (for the body) involves entering a chamber of liquid nitrogen at temperatures below minus 80 degrees and is said to bring a wealth of benefits, including the reduction of inflammation, healing of sports injuries, and improvement of mental health and wellbeing.
However, in haircare the entire body does not need to be submerged and the procedure can be simply conducted on one’s tresses.
“Cryotherapy for hair is used to seal the hair cuticles with nutrition and also to stimulate collagen. This has to be done in coordination with other ingredients and products,” says Vandana Luthra, founder, VLCC Group, who has recently launched a cryotherapy-based hair treatment called Perfect Finish Ice Cold Treatment.
It uses cryo in combination with hyaluronic acid and anthocyanin (in form of açaí berry).
“This treatment will help reconstruct the cortex damaged by chemical agents and the hair is given further protection with a super sealing of the cuticle through freezing. Sub-zero temperature is used to infuse the ingredients to the deepest layer and to lock them in without exposing hair to further heat damage,” adds Luthra.
Sankalp and Manisha Chopra of KeraSoul who provide a similar cryotreatment for hair at beauty centres in Chennai say, “We have an activator serum that has to be applied; all the nutrients from the serum are locked into the cuticles through the cryo process.
"The process uses fumes as cold as –196 degrees Celsius to detox the scalp and stimulate collagen, apart from a number of other benefits.”
Hair expert Dr Kaveri Jaiswal points out that most treatments use heat that rips the hair of the essential nutrients.
“Hair spas and other hair-boosting procedures all use heating tools and devices which in the long run cause damage. However, with cryotechnology there is no usage of heat, instead the freezing temperatures provide instant relief,” she explains.
But how exactly does cryotherapy work for hair? After application of chemicals and ingredients to boost hair health, a cryo-iron or a cryo-fume generator is used to lock nutrients in.
The treatment, however, needs repetition, similar to using cryotherapy for aches and pains. On the benefits of using the procedure for hair, Luthra explains, “The treatment with negative temperatures is a revolutionary technology where we use hair ironing with a chilled iron at 16 degrees centigrade. It gives immediate relief to traumatised hair. It increases the absorption power of the antioxidants and the repairing elements in the nano particle formulation that we use. It helps the ingredients reach the inner most core of the cortex of the hair to increase and maintain the collagen level, repairs cuticle and modifies the lipophilic shield of sebum and provides a protective shine and shield.”
While cryotherapy is still nascent in India compared to the West, its benefits cannot be undermined. Dr Jaiswal points out, “India is a tropical country and we face heat, humidity and the sun on a daily basis. The natural pigment content in our hair is high. Once the dark element, also known as eumelanin, found naturally in Asian hair gets depleted, the hair looks lifeless. This leads to rapid surface oxidation, reducing hydration and leaves the hair dry and dull. Hair is stripped off its natural lipophilic protective layer due to natural damage and pollution factors. Cryotechnology can help lock in some of these missing elements through the process of freezing. Studies have shown that cryotherapy is known to have aided hair and nail growth especially for chemo patients.”
According to several studies, cryotherapy can stimulate hair growth for alopecia and chemotherapy related hair loss in patients
It can aid in weight loss by speeding up metabolism through cold thermogenesis
Cryofacials use nitrogen in a small directed stream on the face to create constriction and dilation of blood vessels. This increases collagen production and quality of the skin.