Oxygen for Your Skin?
Several of my friends are raving about oxygen facials and what they do for the skin and the psyche. Anything to it?
I understand that oxygen facials are being heavily promoted by cosmeticians and spas. This is really just a variation on traditional facials: After the usual scrubbing, the cosmetician applies a layer of hydrogen peroxide cream. Then your face is exposed to steam or covered with plastic wrap for about ten minutes, and more hydrogen peroxide is then applied as a mask.
Enthusiasts say this new twist on facials is revitalizing, relaxing, speeds up cell regeneration, stimulates circulation, and even kills bacteria. Sounds good, but there's no scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, dermatologists maintain that the oxygen is more likely to hurt you than help you. Your skin is much more likely to benefit from skin care products containing ANTIoxidant vitamins: Retinoids, for example, are derivatives of vitamin A and form the basis of effective anti-aging skin creams. Vitamin C is vital to wound healing because it helps stabilize the collagen in skin. Creams containing vitamin E have been proven to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and help relieve sunburns. Dermatologists are also beginning to use niacinamide, a derivative of niacin, for acne treatment. It also seems to have anti-tumor properties and may be useful as a treatment for skin cancer.
I recommend taking antioxidant vitamins to counter damage that can be caused by oxidative stress in the body. So the notion that chemically reactive forms of oxygen are bad for some cells but good for others just doesn't make sense.
Of course, our bodies need oxygen, and there is such a thing as hyperbaric oxygen therapy which involves putting a person in a special high-pressure chamber to treat burns, AIDS, and other serious illnesses. But I've seen no scientific evidence to substantiate any of the hype put out by promoters of oxygen facials or those newly popular oxygen bars where you pay $20 for a 20-minute shot of pure oxygen.
In fact, too much oxygen can be dangerous: While one or two of those 20-minute "shots" at oxygen bars probably won't hurt you, breathing pure oxygen for an extended period of time can irritate the respiratory system and cause fluid buildup in the lungs. It can also can be deadly for people with severe lung disease. Remember that one of the reasons for taking antioxidant vitamins and minerals is to prevent oxidative damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases. If you feel you need periodic facials, I would stick to the old fashioned kind, which focus on massage, cleansing, and relaxation. I'm willing to bet that the oxygen facial is just a fad and will soon fade away.