Experiencing a CRYO session

Ever wondered how a Harvey Nichols CRYO session goes? Beauty Journalist Greg Allen explains bit by bit.

On an overcast Saturday afternoon, the kind that should be spent at flower markets or browsing the interiors department at Harrods, I found myself walking – no, skipping – up Sloane Street. Fresh out of my first 111CRYO session, I felt light and incredibly sharp.

The kind of sharp that, for me, only happens post-latte. Was this going to replace my coffee addiction? Was it going to become a substitute for my poor attempts at exercise?

Founded in 2016 by Dr. Yannis Alexandrides (of 111 Harley Street & 111SKIN fame), 111CRYO was born through the surgeon’s commitment to find treatments which have a positive effect on the body, mind and soul.​ ​After experiencing cryotherapy in the US, he was enticed by the holistic health benefits of the technology and sought to seek the most efficacious and safe method of delivering the wellness therapy to the UK. Having launched at Harvey Nichols in 2017 and more recently at the Wellness Clinic at Harrods, 111CRYO has seen the likes of superstar Ellie Goulding, supermodel Winnie Harlow and superman Bear Grylls become avid fans, with the jet-set and it-crowd alike becoming loyal #chillseekers. Was I about to join the club?

Tucked away in Harvey Nichols, the spa is white and modern, possessing the kind of sterility associated with medi-spa’s that mean business. I was greeted by an engaging receptionist and energetic P.T. Nick, both of whom patiently waited while I filled out an extensive form of medical history. After being given the all-clear, Nick showed me to a changing cubicle and talked me through the protective wear. I emerged, borderline naked but fully accessorized, wearing shorts, gloves, a face mask, ear protectors, socks & slippers (from North Face, no less – trés chic). The more skin directly visible, Nick explained, the more thorough and penetrative response to the

The room I was led into was cool, but the shower-like cubicle were the treatment took place was cold. -90℃ to be exact. After some gentle encouragement from Nick and the beginning of an up-tempo Rihanna song (he knows all the tricks), the door sealed. Blasted from all angles with freezing air, I didn’t know whether to laugh or tap out, but after a few moments I acclimatized and began following the exercises Nick was demonstrating. The first two minutes were actually fun, full of laughter, dancing and just marveling at the bizarre nature of it all. During the third and final minute, I really felt my body temperature dropping, unable to stave off the cold climate any longer.

The hairs along my arms and legs began to crystalize and the gentle tingling that had been present from the start was now evolving into a numbness. Just when I was about to check the clock, the door was opened for me and I emerged, frosty but absolutely elated. Whether that was the endorphins released from the session or my sheer relief at having made it, I still do not know.

So why did I take my body temperature from 28℃ to 12℃ in just three minutes? Extreme exposure to the cold works on several different levels – internal and external. On an internal level, when the body dips below 17℃ thermoreceptors in the skin notify your brain, which triggers a ‘flight or fight’ response in the body, essentially releasing a cocktail of hormones. Among these are endorphins and adrenaline, which simultaneously make you euphoric, energised and completely focused – a happiness and clarity that lasts the day.

Cryotherapy has also found ground in pain relief and muscle rehabilitation, with the sub-zero temperatures heavily reducing inflammation in a more effective way than the traditional and rather crude ice bath technique. In terms of weight control, the increased energy used by the body to climb from the post-treatment temperature back to the normal 28℃ will simultaneously increase the metabolic rate, allowing one to burn calories at a significantly faster speed-up to 800kcals can be expended from just one session. Externally, the benefits on the skin are ample. “Extreme cold tightens, tones and smooths skin", explains Dr. Yannis.

“It stimulates circulation and provides a boost of oxygen, which encourages collagen and elastin synthesis, reviving the complexion. Skin is retextured, with the appearance of pores diminishing, and feels firmer. We believe in the aesthetic benefits so much, we created a range of products which mimic the effect of sub-zero conditions on skin, the 111SKIN Regenerative Collection, and we have developed a facial which is available at 111CRYO that utilises the potency of these formulations with locally-administered cryotherapy for a truly transformative treatment."

Dr. Yannis Alexandrides MD

Fundamentally the cold constricts the blood vessels beneath the skin, firming, toning and tightening. Once out of the glacial temperatures, blood rushes back in, filling the blood vessels more fully for heightened function and a rosy, energised appearance. I wasn’t suffering from inflammation, pain or any kind of physical stress, but Nick told me the treatment was very popular with sportsmen, particularly bodybuilders and professional athletes. What I did notice immediately was an elevated mood, clearer mind and glowing, revitalised skin. My under eye area, which looked tired and grey prior to the session was now plump and blush, enjoying the renewed circulation, while my skin felt taut and firm. The next few days I noticed a brightened, clearer complexion, with a reduced visibility in fine lines and wrinkles. I also (forgive me) urinated a lot, so I expect there is something to be said for the treatment in eliminating water retention.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. Pre-detox, during detox or post detox is when I would utilise cryotherapy, allowing it to instigate and encourage me towards a healthier path. A friend of mine uses it every time she flies, convinced it is the perfect remedy to jet-lag and fatigue while my own mother combines the treatment with the 111CRYO facial for all it’s generous anti-aging properties. I think I, and everyone I have introduced to the treatment, have all become #chillseekers.


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