So what are oxygen treatments? What are oxygen creams? And above all – should you try one or the other or even both?
Why Our Skin Needs Oxygen
Skin that lacks proper oxygen flow looks dull and sallow. Look at a smoker’s skin: their skin is wrinkled, dull, and even yellowish which results from not enough oxygen being delivered to skin cells and a lack of circulation. But oxygen does so much more for the skin than just make it look vibrant and healthy. According to Dr. Peter T. Pugliese writing in Skin Inc. magazine:
Oxygen revitalizes the epidermis and stimulates cellular growth by increasing cellular proliferation. It will kill surface bacteria, deep anaerobic bacteria and fungus. Oxygen will supply energy to the epidermis and to the dermis, helping to heal any small wounds and irritations. In the dermis, it will help produce collagen and elastin and help restructure the extracellular matrix. Oxygen is a micronutrient and it will assist with many metabolic processes in the skin. Lastly, it is critical for many enzyme reactions, and the presence of oxygen can often accelerate these reactions.
What Conditions Benefit from Oxygen Treatments?
Three skincare conditions that respond well to oxygen treatments are: acne, rosacea, and aging skin.
Acne responds well to oxygen treatments since oxygen is anti-inflammatory, kills acne-causing bacteria, and even reduces swelling. The same characteristics help treat rosacea since there appears to be a bacterial component to this condition. Aging skin benefits from oxygen treatments because of oxygen’s ability to boost cell production and strengthen collagen and elastin. Following a oxygenation treatment your skin will feel very soft and look plumped.
Oxygenation Treatments in Spas
There are a number of different oxygenation treatments available that are administered by professionals. These treatments are effective because the skin has been properly prepared and by that I mean the skin’s protective barrier has been temporarily removed in order to allow for proper ingredient penetration.
There are three-step oxygen treatments that help deliver oxygen deep into the epidermis so that clogged pores are cleaned out and circulation is stimulated. These treatments can temporarily turn you very red because they are stimulating, but by the next day you should have a great glow to your skin. If you suffer from acne you should see an improvement in your condition after this type of oxygenation treatment. These type of treatments are recommended before a big event such as a wedding so that you have a healthy glow on the day of the event. Just don’t get the treatment the same day as the event since you will probably turn very red from the treatment.
There are also oxygen facials that in involve a pure oxygen mist being sprayed on the skin. A mask is applied afterwards to help seal in the oxygen that was just sprayed on the skin. This is usually the type of treatment that you hear celebrities have received.
Oxygen in Home Care Products
Home care products that contain oxygen claim that their products contain a stabilized form of oxygen that can penetrate the epidermis. Companies that use oxygen in their products claim that their products can either flight acne or aging.
So getting an oxygen treatment sounds great, right? Truthfully I’ve seen great results from professional three step oxygenation treatments, but the whole issue of oxygen treatments and oxygen skincare products is quite controversial actually.
According to Dr. Ellen Marmur is her book Simple Skin Beauty (page 298):
Oxygen, as a topical ingredient, is completely ineffectual. Although I’m sure that an oxgyen facial makes your skin glowing and radiant, the effect has nothing to do with oxygen. The machine used for this facial treatment has a hose-like attachment that discharges pressurized oxygen along with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum. The moisturizing mist is what plumps the skin and makes it temporarily look and feel dewy. The use of oxygen cosmetically claims to a wound-healing effect on the skin. This may stem from the fact that hyperbaric oxygen treatment has been proven to help heal wounds, but placing a patient in a hyperbaric chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs, which in turn delivers it through the blood to injured tissue, is not the same as having air and water sprayed onto your face. It is impossible to infuse skin cells with oxygen from the outside. It cannot purify or moisturize the skin, although too much oxygen has been known to generate toxic oxygen radicals that damage skin. For that matter, I have no idea how a cream or lotion could contain a stabilized form of oxygen, which is a gas. … In this case, the science behind oxygen as a skincare ingredient is pretty easy to see through.
While Dr. Marmur makes a pretty compelling argument there is another side, of course. Writing in Skin Inc. Jeffrey Lapin explains that:
Some new product and treatment technologies are increasingly designed to put the proper level of oxygen, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients back into the skin. There are currently many creams, lotions, masks and sprays available to clients to put oxygen onto the skin. Because of the multitude of choices available, it is important to teach your clients that oxygen placed on the surface of unprepared skin will not penetrate beyond the epidermis. Yet, oxygen placed on the surface of the skin is a good thing. Oxygen is a natural antibacterial agent that effectively fights bad bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. This can help with surface acne and helps to fight infection from open wounds.
Conclusion – Decide for Yourself – Keep Reading
Personally I am torn on this issue since, as I already stated, I’ve personally seen great results from professional oxygenation treatments, but I also feel that speculation about oxygen as a skincare ingredient is warranted. Below you’ll find many sources for further reading to help you make up your mind for yourself:
Oxygen for the Skin Paula Begoun
The Esthetic Benefits of Oxygen Skin Care by Craig Wenborg, MD Skin Inc. April 2006
A Breath of Fresh Air by Jeffrey Lapin Skin Inc. February 2010