First I should point out there is a big difference between oxygen facials and products that claim to be infused with oxygen – these are two completely different animals and I will address each separately.
In a FutureDerm interview with Dr. Leslie Baumann she stated that “many active ingredients that are used as buzz words in skin care cannot penetrate the skin, leaving them useless, for instance: Oxygen, Stem Cells, ...”.
Dr. Ellen Marmur of Mount Sinai Medical Center goes on to say that:
“Of all the amazing things the skin can do, breathing is not one of them. Oxygen, as a topical ingredient, is completely ineffectual. Although I’m sure that an oxygen 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 have 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 pressurized 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 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 (free 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.”
Manufacturers of oxygen facial machines claim that because they are blowing oxygen under pressure onto the face the treatment resembles a hyperbaric treatment and thus will produce the results of hyperbaric therapy. This is an exaggeration since they aren’t fully recreating a true, hyperbaric environment. There is simply NO WAY that applying hydrogen peroxide to the skin in any way creates a hyperbaric environment.
What’s more, hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber where the air pressure is raised up to three times higher than normal air pressure, which allows your lungs to gather up to 3x’s more oxygen. Your blood then carries this oxygen throughout your body, stimulating the release of growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing (Mayo Clinic). This is a far cry from what is actually going on during an Oxygen Facial.
My research into products claiming to be “oxygenating” led me to put them into two categories, the first of which includes products that claim to be “breatheable” but since skin does not breathe this makes absolutely no sense. Here is one example of an ingredient list form an “oxygen-rich, breatheable moisturizer”:
Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cetyl Esters, Decyl Oleate, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (yeast) Extract, Stearic Acid, Sodium PCA, Vitus Vinifera (grape Seed) Extract, Triethanolamine, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherols (vitamin E), Lecithin, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, O-cymene 5-ol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Potassium Sorbate, Camellia Sinesis Oil.
Some nice ingredients [some not-so-healthy ingredients], but no oxygen here…
“When hydrogen peroxide meets the skin, it always breaks down to water and oxygen. Instead of the oxygen being released on the skin, [it escapes] back into the atmosphere..."
There is a whole lot of additional controversy surrounding the use of hydrogen peroxide. According to Wikipedia, hydrogen peroxide is a significant oxidizing agent. In fact, the oxidizing capacity of hydrogen peroxide is so strong that it is considered a highly reactive oxygen species – a free radical! This might make you ask, “How can this be good for your skin?” Wikipedia goes on to say that “Hydrogen Peroxide…destroys newly formed skin cells.”
But there’s more…this from Paula Begoun: “There is a great deal of current research showing that hydrogen peroxide is problematic as a topical disinfectant because it can greatly reduce the production of healthy new skin cells (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery).
A review of the scientific data supporting oxygen facial treatments was found to be scarce, anecdotal, and not well-documented (Aesthetic Plastic Surgery journal, 2011). While glowing results are typically reported these results are temporary in nature and have nothing to do with oxygen and far more to do with what else is present in the products and facials. So, if you’ve got a special event & you want your skin to look its best an oxygen facial is not a bad idea.
On the other hand, “oxygen-infused” skin care products require much more critical investigation as there are myriad unsubstantiated claims, supporters, and detractors. My suggestion: Spend your money wisely by looking instead for products that contain ingredients which are scientifically validated, like Vitamin C, Retinol, and/or CoQ10.Need oxygen? Just breathe…[My professional opinion on "Oxygenating" skincare products and Oxygen Treatments: We have to remember that oxygen can cause cellular 'rust' or oxidation, producing free radicals, which cause a path of destruction in their wake. -Nancy]
Article excerpted from: FutureDerm.com
Contributing Writer Leah Argento has spent more than 15 years in sales and marketing of luxury consumer products, with an emphasis on both OTC and professional skin and hair care. Currently, she serves as the Midwest Regional Account Manager for Sothys, a premier French skin care manufacturer. Prior to Sothys, Leah spent time at Skin 1 in Chicago, where she conducted research and wrote web content, brand, and product descriptions for more than 200 beauty brands. She has also worked for Premier Beauty Supply, Phytomer Corporation, and Truefitt & Hill. Leah'sr goal is to help debunk myths and rebut media-induced hysteria surrounding cosmetics, ingredients and spa therapies by providing factual and well-researched information. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from DePaul University and is currently pursuing formal esthetic training in Chicago, where she resides with her daughter.