Whenever I’m hungover, I take my brain to the Arctic. I crack one eyeball, open Instagram, and peep a video I've had saved since 2020 of unbothered Adélie penguins swimming in the ice-cold ocean. I let it play on loop, and imagine what it would feel like to have my throbbing head awash in the instant, sweet relief of those glacial waters.
I know what I need when I feel like shit, whether it’s because I’m under the weather or because I had too many martinis the night before: this baby gotta have her saltines, tiny Coca-Cola (in a glass bottle), and at least six hours of Desperate Housewives. But I’ve also started noticing room for improvement in bridging that gap between those initial moments—hours, sometimes—of a pounding headache and/or nausea with the point at which I’m ready to slam a sammie from Knickerbocker Bagel. And the TheraICE Rx appeared to be my missing link.
I first saw the headache relief mask on TikTok, where it’s gone viral with over 290,000 views under the #theraicerx hashtag. Reviewers praise its ability to provide instant relief to your pounding temples. A user named @darbystreehouse say, “I can’t wait until I get my next headache. I know that sounds so dumb. [But] this TheraICE Rx [mask], you can stick it in the freezer and wear it [...] and the pressure is amazing.” Another TikToker, @aanders111, says that it worked better than your average headache relief cap thanks to its face-engulfing shape, which really brings all-over sinus relief. “It is so cold,” she explains, “and it’s like this wonderful gel… I highly recommend it. You can just put it on and relax.”
Even over on Amazon, where the reviews are famously unbridled, I saw that the mask (head cap?) had garnered a 4.5-star average rating from over 9,100 reviews, which was a strong indicator that it (probably) doesn’t suck. So, with nothing to lose except for my post-night-out fuggo feels, I decided to test out the TheraICE Rx and see if it could truly make me feel like a silky, refreshed penguin.
Unpacking the TheraICE Rx felt like holding a slab of Wagyu beef. I grew up with the fantasy/cartoon trope of having a luxurious slab of meat to swathe around my face like a spa cowboy, so I was jazzed about the thickness, and I realized that the even density of the gel was a great indicator for how the mask would feel once it was chilled in my freezer and hugging my face. TheraICE Rx recommends chilling it for about two hours (minimum) in the freezer, so I slipped it in and waited for the moment when I would need it. As a New Yorker, that moment came fast; a few days later I found myself waking up with a puffy face, a pounding headache, and a hankering for a burrito. I slipped the TheraICE Rx on my head like a ballerina sliding into a tutu, and waited for the instant relief I’d heard so much about.
What was rad
At first, I was disappointed. The pressure of my gel slab was definitely all-encompassing, but where was the ICEE-level blast? Then, before I could take any more mental notes, I felt a wave of pleasant chills trickle from the nape of my neck down my spine—and I had no more words in my gummy bear brain, which made what felt like an internal sigh of relief. I mean, this thing gets cold. So cold, that at some points I had to gradually pull it up and down to adapt to the big chill. After about 20 to 30 minutes the icy temp began to diminish, my headache calmed down, and I texted my coworker, “Holy [redacted]... it actually works.”
It took over an hour for the TheraICE Rx to actually feel like it was room temperature, and even then I kept it on because the pressure felt so nice on my forehead. But the real icing on the cake was sliding my face out of its new favorite tube, and seeing how much the puffiness had gone down on my eye and cheeks. I wasn’t just chilled out. I was reborn.
What was tricky
My only complaint is that I wish it could last forever. It’s that simple. The TheraICE Rx is odorless, smooth, easy to store and straightforward to use; just keep it in its freezer bag until you need it, or read the instructions for heating it up (another rad option for colder months when your face is frozen after schlepping home from work). But right now, it’s 80 degrees in Brooklyn and rising. And while I savor every one of those truly frozen 20 minutes I get with my headcap, I dream of a day when they can stretch even longer.
You know those gratifying, animated ASMR videos you’ll find on Instagram of different shapes and forms getting stretched? The TheraICE Rx is what I imagine those would feel like in real life. In the words of a coworker I’ve also shared the headcap with, “It’s perfect for people who get bad hangover headaches. The gentle pressure and cold temperature stave off that icepick-between-your-eyes feeling until your Gatorade/Advil combo kicks in.”
When I don’t sleep or eat well, I get visual or “ocular” migraines, and in those moments all you can do is close your eyes in a dark room. After about a month of use, I’ve found that not only can the cold of the TheraICE Rx stave off my petty hangover headaches and cure the plight of my fuggo, tired/puffy face, but it has also helped me stop migraines from going off the rails and ruining my day, thanks to its ability to get glacially cold and apply an even pressure around my entire head—kind of like a weighted blanket for your face. I know they say there’s no fast track to feeling less crappy after a night of drinking/poor sleeping/crying to that Lord of the Rings scene. But have ~they~ tried the TheraICE Rx?
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