I Did A Skin-Clearing Cold Plunge Every Day for a Week—Here’s What I Learned

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It’s a funny thing, keeping a skin diary; by the time you actually get around to write it up a day or two later, your (or, at least, my) skin has already returned to its oily, dry, acne-prone status quo. Am I being too hard on my natural, God-given face here? Possibly, but you have to understand: Once you get used to drinking a Hailey Bieber skin glaze smoothie every day for a week, only to have that life-giving juice cruelly stripped away from you once it’s “no longer reimbursable by Condé Nast,” it’s mildly difficult to look at yourself in the mirror without thinking “Damn, imagine how much more subtly luminous and hot I would be if I were still quaffing vast quantities of $20 strawberry glaze, collagen and sea moss every day.”

I realize that this cognitive dissonance on my part is a huge part of what the beauty industry hopes to capitalize on in its ideal consumer, and I’m trying really hard not to engage in what Sonya Renee Taylor calls “detriment buying” (i.e. spending money on beauty and/or fashion items I may feel like I need but that bring me zero joy and a ton of hassle, like Spanx or even razors, TBH.) That said, when an opportunity presented itself to spend another stretch of time immersing myself wholesale in a beauty-based routine, I couldn’t have said yes faster; first of all, as a Cancer, I thrive in water of any kind, so the idea of ritually plunging myself into the coldest liquid I could find every day for a week appealed to me. (Oh Lord, how young and naive I was a week ago.)

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While the Erewhon adventure wasn’t exactly something I could replicate on my own (nor would I want to … that strawberry glaze gets to you, man), I was curious about trying a range of cold-plunge options that had developed out of different cultural and spiritual traditions, from a repeated immersion at my favorite Korean spa in L.A. to an extremely West-Hollywood-girlie infrared sauna/cold plunge “experience” to a good old-fashioned bath at home in tepid water made colder by a couple of bags of ice from the gas station. Below, find all the details of my (mostly) chill week of cold plunges :

Day One: Monday, August 7

Reference photo of skin before Cold Plunge #1:

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