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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.
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Providing higher numbers of oxygen molecules with greater-than-one atmosphere of pressure requires either an oxygen concentrator or tanked oxygen. Tanked oxygen can provide high-concentration oxygen with pressure, but it has the drawback of being an explosion hazard, and it also requires filling and is generally unavailable to the esthetician.

Oxygen concentrators separate oxygen out of room air. To do this, room air is pressurized within a chamber filled with a natural porous rock called zeolite. Zeolite has pores that are the size of the nitrogen molecule. Room air is approximately 21% oxygen and 4% inert gas, with the rest being nitrogen. When the chamber containing zeolite is pressurized, nitrogen is bound within the zeolite, allowing oxygen to pass by. When the pressure is released from the chamber, nitrogen comes out of the zeolite and is discharged from the machine.

The oxygen facial concentrator is a hybrid from standard oxygen concentrators. Attached to the concentrator is the application tool, which requires pressure to do its job. Of primary importance is to match the pressure needs of the application tool with the oxygen concentrator.

There are two types of application tools used in an oxygen facial: the air brush and the nebulizer. Fundamentally different methods of operation exist between these two devices. Air brushes use pressurized oxygen to propel a liquid solution out of the air brush. Contact between the oxygen and the liquid only occurs in the form of back pressure.

Nebulizers were developed for medical purposes with the goal of spinning a liquid within the nebulizer in what is called the Venturi effect. When liquid is spun at a high rate of speed, oxygen is mixed with the liquid, making it an oxygen-carrying medium. When oxygen-rich liquid is applied to the skin, suspended oxygen is released at the dermal level. Nebulizers create consistent, micronized particles that are highly effective at penetrating the epidermis.

The business of the oxygen facial