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An Esthetician's Opinion on Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen facials were once a luxury of the rich and famous…
Celebs in designer dresses on all the red carpets of the world would swear by them as a non-negotiable must-do before standing in front of the flashing bulbs at a glamorous event.
Today, they’re more of an everyday luxury, available at all your local spas.
Less exclusive perhaps, but still wildly popular.
More women than ever swear by them, and many will tell you they offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to seeing immediate results.
And they’re still a go-to for looking and feeling fabulous on your biggest days or most glamorous nights.
Weddings, big interviews, moments in the spotlight – that’s when oxygen therapy does what it does best.
The biggest questions I hear the most?
What in the world is oxygen therapy for your skin? And why do people love it so much?
Oxygen Therapy – the Facts
Not all info is good info, beauties.
One of the “facts” behind this therapy in the early days was that doctors routinely used it for treating wounds and serious skin injuries – what’s good for doctors must be good for salons.
There’s a tiny problem with that…it’s not the same thing.
The type of oxygen therapy used by doctors is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves breathing almost pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube in order to bring a massive amount of the substance into the bloodstream where it can help heal wounds, etc.
Very effective, but a whole different process.
While the principle of introducing pure oxygen may be the same, it’s otherwise not the same at all.
So, with that myth out of the way, let’s look into the facts about what oxygen therapy actually is and does.
Oxygen is definitely important to your skin’s appearance and health, no doubt, and some of that oxygen can come from the outside.
Oxygen facials deliver 98% pure oxygen infused with nutrients and antioxidants to the outside of the skin through a jet-spraying process.
This is a non-medical procedure that doesn’t require injections of any sort.
Unlike fillers, which are injected beneath the surface, here the substance is gently pumped into the skin of your face from the outside.
It’s quite possible for the living cells of the epidermis (outer layer) to be oxygen deprived, and the effects of the facial are based on that premise.
Oxygen won’t have any effect, of course, on dead skin cells, and the procedure usually begins with an exfoliation process to remove those.
Does Oxygen Therapy Work?
If you’re wondering whether or not oxygen therapy can rescue neglected skin – probably not.
It’s not a substitute for a healthy diet, adequate hydration, and a proper skincare routine.
It can’t make up for smoking, alcohol consumption, or unprotected sun exposure all by itself, though it probably won’t hurt.
Your lifestyle and your skin care habits will have the greater effect here.
Like all facials, the oxygen facial is meant to be a supplement to the regular care you give your skin, and it can provide an added boost.
I think of it as a nice little health burst…like adding a quick sprint to the end of the day’s workout.
Or adding a shot of protein to your smoothie.
Oxygen is needed by skin cells, they don’t always get enough, and applying it directly to the skin along with other vital nutrients creates the healthy conditions under which skin cells thrive and do their best work.
Another analogy for you…
Think of the way a day at the spa can affect us busy moms. The whole atmosphere puts us more at peace.
It’s deliciously quiet.
We get to relax, receive all that pampering and attention we sometimes sorely need, our cups are filled, and we leave feeling rejuvenated and at the top of our game again.
That’s what oxygen facials provide for your skin.
So, the answer to the question of “do they work?” is they do provide good things to the skin, temporarily.
The evidence is anecdotal, not scientific, but your skin will probably have that same glow and fresh feeling that you have after a day of being pampered.
The oxygen is being applied to the outer layer of skin, where cells are constantly being shed, so of course, the effects will fade over time.
That’s why some say oxygen therapy has the best benefits as a regular practice.
My advice is to try several sessions if it interests you, look for results over time, and judge for yourself.
The practice definitely has its detractors, let me be clear on that.
Back in 2006, a doctor and professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine went so far as to call oxygen facials “snake oil.”
He’s not a fan.
Another doctor in the same article said, "We hope that the oxygen is creating a pressure bubble that drives vitamins and nutrients into the skin.”
He went on to explain that we don’t have hard scientific data to prove that, while the CEO of Intraceuticals at the time said, “the results speak for themselves.”
If You Decide to Try it, Here’s What You Need to Know
The proposed benefits to your skin from this type of treatment are many.
Oxygen helps along the vital processes going on with your skin daily.
Here are just a few ways that oxygen helps the skin to look and feel its best:
- Promotes collagen production.
- Helps the skin remove toxins.
- Speeds up the regeneration process.
- Helps heal skin damage.
Every vital function that a skin cell performs is aided by oxygen because it’s a necessary component in the cell.
The added nutrients combined with the oxygen in this facial all act together to create the healthiest environment possible for your skin cells.
While delivering to them many of the tools they need to function optimally.
Those are the benefits; now on to the procedure.
What to Expect During Oxygen Therapy
Much like any facial, your esthetician or spa staff member (the therapy doesn’t require specialized training) will probably begin by exfoliating your skin.
The oxygen and other nutrients are usually applied with a wand attached to an oxygen compressor.
The good news:
- The procedure is painless.
- You won’t experience any of the side effects associated with other treatments like microdermabrasion, such as itching, or mild stinging.
- It’s safe to expect zero recovery time from this gentle treatment. Apply makeup or lotion directly after the treatment without concern for reversing its effects or irritating your skin.
The gentle nature of oxygen therapy makes it appealing to people with sensitive skin especially.
That lack of recovery time carries less risk before an important event, too, so that’s a plus.
Oxygen Therapy and Your Skin Type
When it comes to skin type – the important thing to keep in mind about oxygen therapy can be summed up in one word…
This is one of the gentlest facial treatments available that people still love for its immediate results.
I don’t have many warnings around skin type for this because it’s not introducing any real irritants to the skin.
Pure oxygen is already present in your skin, just not always enough of it.
Oxygen carries zero risks even to allergy-prone skin or acne.
The pressure from the compressor is enough to be effective but should never be enough to cause a reaction.
If you do have acne prone skin or you’re prone to breakouts or reactions, just be certain to find out what other substances will be infused into the air flow.
That’s where the only possibilities for issues may arise.
Otherwise, this therapy is suitable for any skin type.
There aren’t really any safety measures that come into play with oxygen therapy, either, as it’s not a medical procedure.
For that reason, the only protective measures involve your expectations…be realistic and avoid false claims about the miraculous healing powers of oxygen.
It’s a facial, it’s not a treatment in a specialized air chamber or health facility.
Lots of women and men look and feel fabulous after a facial; your skin cells are probably very happy, and that shows.
I believe when you treat yourself well, your whole body responds favorably. I can’t recommend that enough.
But, I don’t like to see women who struggle with skin issues such as acne, and already dealing with the emotions that come along with that struggle on a daily basis, have hopes of a miraculous solution waved in front of them.
The word “healing” can be misleading.
The words I would prefer to see applied to oxygen therapy are “happy” and “healthy,” the way a great workout can make you feel happy and healthy even if you don’t transform your body in one session.
Oxygen therapy can provide a healthy boost of vitality for your skin.
It’s beloved as a gentle but visible pick-me-up facial before a big event when you really need to feel refreshed.
It’s not “healing” in the medical sense of the word, and shouldn’t be confused with the true medical therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
It’s cosmetic, and as such can have the desired effects we all look for in a facial – plumper, more hydrated, more vibrant complexion.
You know my philosophy by now, beauties, anything that makes you feel good and feel good about the way you look – and does no harm to your health – is a yes for me!
Self-care isn’t just a trend, it’s a necessary component to life as a woman in this sometimes-crazy world we’re living in.
We deserve it.
And I’m a spa girl… that kind of “me time” is essential to your well-being.
You can’t even underestimate the effects on your home life and work life of feeling at the top of your game.
If you want to add therapy to that picture, do it!
If you haven’t tried it yet, you may want to give it a go.
You’re certainly worth it!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried oxygen therapy, what you love about it, or anything you don’t like. And if you decide to try it for the first time, report back here with the results!