By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Yoga teachers tell us about the importance of breathing deep; personal trainers claim exercise benefits the whole body thanks to increased oxygen levels infusing our cells – and now oxygen therapy is the latest craze in anti-ageing techniques, too. Popular already with celebrities including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Megan Fox, Nicole Kidman, and even men like Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake, this is a fully natural skincare technique with medical roots.
Initially, oxygen was used to hasten the healing of burn victims, based on the premise that stable, natural oxygen increases skin cell metabolism. In the 1990s oxygen bars became extremely popular when this Japanese urban trend quickly spread around the globe. Eventually a number of companies started offering personal oxygen tanks for use at home.
What is Oxygen Facial Therapy?
The benefits of oxygen are now applied to the skin with cosmeceutical ingredients to make the skin look more radiant and rejuvenate it. This therapy delivers oxygen to your skin in the form of a mist, mask, gel or facial cream. The theory is that by helping restore O2 levels, you can help improve the health of your skin and delay the signs of ageing. This way the expression lines are made less obvious, since the facial tissues are levelled in through the improved blood circulation and the colour of the complexion generally improves. This occurs because by providing your cells with oxygen they can carry out their metabolic functions with more ease.
Most oxygen facial treatments use the actual oxygen as the delivery mechanism to enhance the absorption of ingredients that are beneficial to the skin. In addition, oxygen can be used to kill bacteria and help give the complexion a clearer look–it works a treat on skin disorders such as acne.
How does it work?
Usually the facial is carried out with hyperbaric oxygen, which is an airbrush that blasts pure oxygen on the upper layer of the skin. Sometimes the airbrush may contain numerous ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants, nutrient extracts, botanicals, minerals, moisturisers which will be blasted on the skin with the oxygen. What you actually feel on the skin is a delicate tickle, as if someone were using a mini-pressure washer to spray cool liquid on your face. Naturally, this treatment must not be carried out if previously you recently underwent microdermabrasion.
There are loads! Obviously, it improves the overall appearance of your face by reducing redness and irritation, but there’s more. Oxygen facials:
-Kill acne and spot-causing bacteria
-Boost collagen and elastin synthesis and formation
-Help increase oxygen and moisturise levels in skin
-Increase plumpness and smoothness
-Fade fine lines, wrinkles and expression lines.
-Deliver skincare cosmeceuticals deeper into the skin
-Increase moisture levels of skin
-Work as an antioxidant and helps restore hyper-pigmented skin
Since you are oxygenating your body, the health and appearance of your skin will improve immediately. Your facial skin will feel plump, hydrated, and smooth, especially if you opted for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid in your serum. This will help to fade away fine wrinkles and expression lines naturally, contrarily to what would happen with Botox.
Unlike the majority of beauty treatments you can apply make-up right after. That’s why often an oxygen facial is used just before big events, like weddings, red carpet events and catwalk shows. Makeup artists love this kind of facial since it helps enhance their work and gives their clients an immediate beauty boost. Even the Duchess of Cambridge had an oxygen facial before the royal wedding, apparently!
Results speak for themselves–this works and very effectively. Madonna was so enamoured by the treatment that according to her facialist, Los Angeles-based Michelle Peck, she gets an oxygen facial before every show when she’s on tour; she even purchased oxygen machines from Australian company Intraceuticals for each of her three homes.
Tried and Tested
I personally tried out the Intraceuticals treatment in New York at Janis Chakler Skin Care, an intimate studio tucked in the heart of Manhattan. Janis Chakler has developed a highly advanced and personal approach to what she does. She began her career as an aesthetician in San Francisco where she catered to celebrities, top athletes and an overall high-end clientele, and the growing demand for her services led to the opening of her successful skin care studio in the Big Apple.
“The lightweight oxygen sends the ingredients deeper into the skin,” Chakler explained to me, “The Oxygen Boost hydrates and pumps up the skin, it helps to stimulate the collagen and will help to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, because of the antioxidants and the hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin by a thousand times its weight. The effects last, the treatment keeps working because you fuse into the skin.”
Before giving me my first oxygen facial, Janis thoroughly cleansed my skin, gently massaging as she did so. Then, she applied the oxygen with a gun-like contraption. The sensation of the oxygen wasn’t what I was expecting: it felt a bit cool and ticklish on my skin, and it wasn’t like the typical ‘relaxing’ facial I was used to, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, either. After this, she applied a gel-like cream and left this on for a spell before patting it into my skin, and viola! I was done.
I didn’t expect to say this, but this was possibly the most effective facial I’ve ever had–I was left with visibly plumper, glowing skin. The benefits of the treatment lasted about a week, but what is extraordinary is the fact it is cumulative: the more treatments you get the better your skin will look over time. Usually a weekly oxygen facial for a period of six weeks is recommended. This way the effects could last up to three months.
Prices for the treatment depend on the serums used and whether there is extraction and massage too within the oxygen facial treatment. Usually the price range is of $80-$125–a small price to pay for skin that looks like a breath of fresh air.
You don’t need to be in NYC to get an oxygen facial – there are plenty of practitioners in London, such as Dermavita or Lisa Franklin, or you can check here or here for a place anywhere in the world to give your face the ‘breath of fresh air’ it so deserves.
Nicole Kidman image: Wikicommons