Skincare is a billion-dollar business, as we all want to look and feel our best! People all over the world seek the help of beauty products to improve their skin and reverse the signs of aging, and this is far from new. Even since the time of Cleopatra and eons before, people have sought miracle plants and tinctures to reverse the signs of aging and fight skin problems.
To meet this ever-growing demand, skincare companies are getting creative! Oxygen-infused skin treatments and products is one such category that has gained popularity over the last few years, but do they work?
First, a quick science lesson on how oxygen works within our bodies:
The skin, hair, and nails receive the necessary oxygen in the same way that all of our internal organs do. Though the skin has pores, it does not breathe. Our body takes in oxygen through our lungs and distributes it to every single part of the body, including the skin.
Therefore, provided you have a properly functioning respiratory system, your skin is likely receiving all of the oxygen it needs. Supplementation from skincare treatments and products containing oxygen is not needed (and is not effective).
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a procedure used to treat decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, serious infections, and damaged tissues. The therapy increases the amount of the oxygen carried by the blood. In terms of oxygenating the body, this is the most effective and proven method.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The air pressure is increased three times more than the usual air pressure which introduces a higher concentration of oxygen to the lungs. Once inhaled, the blood carries the oxygen to the body which stimulates the release of stem cells and growth factors.
The success that patients have seen from this treatment might be the reason that oxygen treatments and products have found their way into the skincare market. However, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not an elective procedure available to anyone lusting after plump skin.
The manufacturers of oxygen facial machines have stated that their oxygen facials are similar to the hyperbaric oxygen treatments and provide "oxygen therapy" for the face -- resulting in a radiant, youthful glow.
This facial treatment uses a machine with a hose-like attachment, which discharges pressurized oxygen and hydrating hyaluronic acid serum.
And while you might leave the spa glowing, the results likely have little to do with the oxygen (and more to do with the hydrating skincare products applied during the procedure).
A study conducted in 2010 supported that dissolved oxygen could penetrate the skin and could be an aid for chronic wound healing, yet most medical experts and scientific studies say that facial oxygen therapy and the benefits it could offer are exaggerated.
It was also found that scientific research supporting oxygen facial treatments was not well-documented, but instead, was anecdotal and scarce.
An oxygen facial probably won't have negative results, but you might consider skipping the pricey treatment and opting for a traditional hydrating facial service instead.
So, if oxygen facials aren't effective, what about products containing oxygen as an ingredient?
First, a cream or lotion can't contain oxygen, because oxygen is a gas. However, you can oxygenate individual ingredients when creating a skincare formulation.
Much like the oxygen facial, however, claims that ingredients infused with oxygen will reverse the signs of aging are not backed by research. An increase of oxygen in the skin would only beneficial if an insufficient supply of oxygen is present.
Don’t be fooled by products that claim to deliver “the benefits of oxygen” or to whiten/brighten skin by the inclusion of hydrogen peroxide in the formulation. Hydrogen peroxide in diluted concentrations can have benefits with wound disinfecting or spot treating blemishes, but its not an ideal ingredient to use all over your face or on large areas of skin.
Why? Well hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent, which means it causes oxidation and the release of free radicals. This process causes oxidative stress to your skin which can lead to inflammation, early signs of aging and other skin problems.
Some labels might use “stabilized emulsions” made of hydrogen peroxide. When the product comes into contact with the skin or air, it then oxidizes,
Instead of looking for products containing oxygen, look for products with antioxidants. Think of the word itself: anti-oxidant. Now think of what happens when you cut an apple open. It oxidizes (turns brown) and will start to dry out, shrivel, and shrink - literally experiencing aging through exposure to oxygen.
It is antioxidants that hold the true rejuvenating abilities to help heal the unwanted signs of aging, including: wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dullness, dryness, loss of tone, and uneven texture.
This is another oxygen-related ingredient you might see in skincare. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that targets superoxide radicals, and is a powerful antioxidant naturally produced by the body. It is important for skin health and defending against oxidative stress.
Initial studies have shown that SOD applied topically offers potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, helping soothe conditions like atopic dermatitis. Its method of action is different than common antioxidants like vitamin C and CoQ10, which means its a good addition to your skincare routing for fighting oxidation.
Other antioxidants that are useful for combating signs of aging include:
Ingredient Spotlight: Our Revitage™ Antioxidant Transforming Night Cream combines a powerful combination of superoxide dismutase, green tea, squalane, and vitamins A, B3 and E along with cucumber and watermelon extracts.