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Oxygen Facials: Red-carpet Services or Serious Skin Care?

By: Craig Wenborg
Posted: April 29, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The oxygen facial is often marketed as being a red-carpet service, but is there more to it than that? The benefits of topical oxygen extend well beyond just the plump-me-up, blush-me-out, short-term look-good effect, and has its roots in serious skin care.

Skin penetration

Studies reveal that dermal cells receive oxygen from both the inside and the outside; there is a dynamic balance between both systems of oxygen availability.1 That balance can be shifted to either side of the availability equation. Oxygen facials shift the equation toward oxygen from the outside.

For example, when you purchase a helium balloon, it floats initially, but is on the floor the next morning. What happened? Within the balloon, pressurized helium molecules were retained by the balloon wall. Pressure gradients allowed the helium atoms to escape by diffusing across the balloon wall barrier.

Providing dermal cells with oxygen involves breaking the barrier created by the epidermis. Just like with the balloon, pressure gradients allow for diffusion. Topical oxygen increases the number of oxygen molecules and increases oxygen pressure against the skin. The net result is increased partial pressure and diffusion throughout the epidermis.

So how can you tell that this is actually happening? The dynamics of the blood vessel are such that when oxygen is applied from the outside, there is vascular bed constriction. Oxygen penetration of the epidermis can result in whitening of the skin. Conditions such as rosacea respond favorably to topical oxygen for this very reason.

Oxygen facial equipment