Oxygen facials are all the rage now. Apparently, celebrities like Madonna and Gwen Stefani swear by them. But, just because celebrities endorse them, doesn’t mean they work. We need to look at the science to figure that out. So, what’s the deal with oxygen facials?
What are oxygen facials?
Oxygen facials are treatments that claim to infuse the skin with oxygen. They are performed with a machine that uses a stream of pressurized oxygen to deliver a hyaluronic acid serum or other hydrating moisturizer into the skin.
The treatment was inspired by hyperbaric oxygen treatments that are proven to help treat wounds. These treatments increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs, which then delivers it through the blood to injured tissue. This process generates growth factors and stem cells that help it heal sooner.
But, this is so NOT what’s going on when you have oxygen blasted onto your face.
What the science says
Placing a person in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber isn’t the same as spraying oxygen on the skin. In the first case, a person can breathe the oxygen in. In the second, she can’t.
How can I be so sure? Easy. Oxygen can’t penetrate the skin. You see, skin doesn’t have lungs. It can’t breathe. It can’t absorb oxygen. When you spray oxygen on your skin, it stays on the surface.
So, why do oxygen facials seem to plump skin?
There are two theories:
1. It’s all in the serums
The machine that performs oxygen facials sprays a serum on your face. This usually contains hyaluronic acid, which is well-known to plump and soften skin even when comfortably resting on its surface.
2. It’s an inflammatory response
There may be an even more sinister explanation. After claiming “the concept that high-pressure oxygen would do anything to help the skin is such nonsense as to be laughable”, Dr Christopher B. Zachary, professor and dermatology department chairman at the University of California, suggests this plumping effect could be an inflammatory response caused by the blast of oxygen. And that’s NOT good for the skin.
What about free radicals?
Free radicals are those nasty little things that cause premature wrinkles. Too much oxygen can generate them. So, even if oxygen could penetrate skin, I’m not sure why you would want it to.
The Bottom Line
I don’t know about you, but I think that splurging up to $200 on a treatment science and experts say it doesn’t work and could potentially cause more problems than it solves is a waste of money. If you want to increase the levels of oxygen in your skin, simply take fast, deep breaths. And, if you’re concerned about wrinkles, stick to these proven-to-work anti-aging superstars.
Have you ever tried an oxygen facial? If so, how did it work for you?