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A Breath of Fresh Air: Does Your Skin Really Need Oxygen?


New skin care ingredients are always being developed but the latest buzz word on the block is none other than good old regular oxygen. From encouraging the skin’s oxygen uptake to boosting its oxygen stores, skin care can’t get enough of this substance but how effective is oxygen on the health and quality of the skin? Exploring both sides of the argument, here is what you need to know about oxygen and your skin.

The Basics

Every cell in the body goes through a golden period of optimum health, where it performs all its necessary functions at the highest level, kind of like hitting its prime. During this time in a cells life it breathes, communicates, grows and reproduces regularly which means it needs to consume a vast amount of oxygen to perform these tasks effectively. However, when the cells are exposed to external pollutants and environmental stressors, they become suffocated and struggle to receive enough oxygen from the blood stream to function properly.

In terms of skin cells, this disruption to the flow of oxygen causes problems at every level. On an epidermal level, oxygen loss can affect cellular nourishment and reproduction, leading to slow cell turnover. If we go deeper, the lack of oxygen can be felt on a dermal level as it hinders the fibroblasts’ ability to make and replace collagen, elastin and Glycosaminoglycans like Hyaluronic Acid. This leads to a weakened epidermal barrier and a complexion that looks dull, sallow and blotchy.

The Pros

When scientists in the 1930s discovered that cellular respiration was higher in younger skin than older skin, the idea of upping skin’s oxygen intake was thought to help hold back or reverse the visible signs of ageing. Oxygen releasing skin care products soon became a ‘thing’ with everything from revitalising facials to healing topical creams going into production. Further research discovered that oxygen not only encouraged the skin to produce more collagen and stay looking youthful for longer but it was also found to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which could boost the healing process of damaged skin.

Further research has led some to believe that including oxygen in the formula of topical skin care can also aid in the absorption of the other ingredients, helping them reach the deeper layers of the skin more effectively. Popular cosmeceutical products like the Crystal Clear Oxygen Serums help to revitalise ageing skin and treat acne-prone complexions while specialist make-up like the Oxygenetix Breathable Foundation include an innovative complex to increase the amount of oxygen taken in by the skin following a cosmetic procedure to help speed up the healing process and combat visible scarring, redness and flaking skin.

The Cons

Although the amount of praise for oxygen-boosting skin care is vast, there is always another side to the story. Many skin care experts and scientists are sceptical of its true benefits, as the success rate of topically applied oxygen-infused products is a little more complicated than first thought. Firstly, skin has the wrong surface conditions to effectively absorb oxygen because otherwise it would take it in from the air as part of its daily maintenance. While many think that the pores act like mouths, drinking in oxygen and skin care products from the surface like a drain, they in fact work the other way round, releasing sebum onto the surface in order to prevent the skin from drying out. As the skin tends to be relatively thick and dry, it isn’t that good at absorbing oxygen relying instead on the blood supply to transport the substance to the cells.

Scientists also argue that while keeping the amount of oxygen uptake at a constant level is good to maintain healthy skin, the by-product of using this substance is a little less positive. When cells use oxygen they produce free radicals as a form of waste which, if not completely neutralised by the immune system, can wreak havoc on the collagen stores within the skin. This leads many to believe that trying to add oxygen topically to the skin can prove both pointless and detrimental to overall skin health.

The Verdict

In our opinion, upping the skin’s oxygen uptake can prove beneficial if the right lifestyle steps are taken alongside such treatments. Smoking, going without sunscreen and a poor diet can all affect the amount of oxygen used by the skin cells so the more you can do to help your skin function properly from the inside, the better your complexion will look on the outside.

Oxygen-boosting skin care tends to work well for most skin types but it can prove to be particularly effective at improving prematurely ageing complexions and treating problematic skins that are prone to breakouts. The benefits of encouraging the skin’s oxygen uptake far outweigh the negatives so if you want to try something different then this is a great alternative to harsher skin care ingredients as the risk of causing any irritation is significantly less.

You can view all our oxygen-infusing products here.

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