The air we breath is comprised of 20.98 per cent pure oxygen. Not surprisingly, with the increase in environmental toxins, our oxygen supply is showing signs of depletionÑdipping to as low as 12 or 13 per cent in severely polluted urban areas.
The face is one of the first physical areas to show the signs of oxygen deprivation. Complaints include grey, pallid skin, fine lines and wrinkles. A lack of oxygen, combined with daily exposure to pollutants and UV light, prohibits facial tissues from receiving the necessary nutrients for healthy cellular production. As the collagen and elastin fibers in the facial tissues break down, skin begins to show the signs of premature aging.
To help combat this aging process, the esthetics market has introduced pure oxygen skin treatment systems which claim to boost the skinÕs ability to receive nutrients and help revitalize damaged cells.
“Pure oxygen applied directly to the face at the cellular level helps increase the elasticity of collagen, fights UV exposure and accelerates the cell production of skin,” says John Gardner, a respiratory therapist and founder of the ECHO2 skin treatment system based in El Paso Texas. “Oxygen adheres directly to the collagen in the skin, increasing the strength and elasticity of the fibres.”
During an oxygen facial, skin is thoroughly exfoliated and cleansed, then prepared with a nutrient-rich solution containing a blend of vitamins, enzymes and amino acids.
Medical grade oxygen (99.9 per cent pure) is then airbrushed over the entire face for five to seven minutes. You are requested not to smoke or apply makeup for at least 45 minutes after the treatment so your skin can fully absorb the oxygen and nutrients.
Because of its regenerating capacities, oxygen therapy is used to treat topical skin problems such as severe acne and age spots, and to help speed the healing process of post-operative patients. If skin is treated within 96 hours of surgery or trauma, oxygen therapy can dramatically speed up the healing time and reduce scarring.
In addition to oxygen facials, some spas have taken the concept of oxygen therapy one step further, offering clients a sniff of oxygen, straight up, in a trendy lounge atmosphere
“Oxygen bars have been popular in China and Japan for the last few years but have just recently started popping up on this side of the world,” says Lissa Charron, co-owner of the O2 Spa Bar in Toronto, Ontario. “The treatments give people a chance to escape from the pressures and pollutants of daily life by breathing the cleanest, purest air possible.”
The O2 Spa Bar offers clients a 20 minute hit of pure oxygen (plain or organic fruit flavored) administered through a disposable tube with double-pronged tips which fit into the nostrils. Treatments occur at the spa’s main bar while sipping fresh vegetable cocktails, or in the privacy of a separate room while relaxing on a chaise lounge.
According to Charron, pure oxygen is effective in the treatment of migraine headaches, hangovers, fatigue and stress-related disorders. Oxygen also helps increase staminaÑathletes and rock stars have been using it for years to gear up for a big event.