Oxygen Treatments: Fad or Fab?

Oxygen Treatments: Fad or Fab?
Featuring Dermatologist Adam Friedmann, this post was commissioned by DoctifyUK.

Oxygen is the element of survival, feeding every cell in our body with the breath of life. However it is simultaneously one of the most destructive elements on earth, causing cellular injury through free radical damage – one of the primary causes of ageing. The health and beauty industry is awash with products that are marketed to prevent ageing and environmental damage. Yet there has recently been a boom in the number of oxygen bars, facials and skincare products available on the market. This begs the question – when it comes to such treatments, is oxygen our friend or foe?


Letting Skin Breathe

The word anti-oxidant means anti-oxygen and the beauty industry is full of such serums. Examples of antioxidant ingredients include vitamin C, selenium, plant extracts and Vitamin E. Why is it then that we are now being sold products that claim to deliver oxygen to the skin? ‘Oxygenating’ creams tend to contain hydrogen peroxide, or some other oxygen-releasing molecule, which is supposedly activated upon contact with the skin. The theory is that oxygen-depletion of the skin is concurrent with ageing, the mechanism of which is unknown but is believed to be related to the reduced blood flow and lung volume associated with increased age.


Oxygenating Acne

Recent research has also linked the formation of acne to a lack of oxygen in the skin. Excess sebum from the skin reduces the amount of oxygen available, creating a fertile breeding ground for bacteria to multiply. In the process, these bacteria produce more fatty acids that further contribute to the formation of acne by blocking pores. This could be why treatments that increase blood flow to the skin such as IR Saunas are becoming a popular part of anti-acne routines.


Lack of Solid Evidence

Nevertheless, there does not seem to be any solid evidence that delivering oxygen to the skin in the form of creams and serums is effective enough to treat acne or prevent the aesthetic effects of ageing. We reached out to leading Dermatologist, Dr Adam Friedmann, who stated that “the evidence is pretty much non-existent for oxygen therapies as such” and advised that the best way to keep skin healthy is to adhere to the following:

  • avoid sunlight and use a high factor SPF on a daily basis
  • moisturise regularly
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • refrain from smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
  • get plenty of sleep


Oxygen Bars

Exercise also helps to improve circulation to the skin, as well as reducing the effects of stress. As for oxygen bars, can breathing in more oxygen help the skin? The air around us is 21% oxygen and at that level the blood is almost completely saturated with it, meaning inhaling pure oxygen has no added benefit. Perhaps unless you live somewhere highly polluted.

Breathing pure oxygen for too long can be harmful and is usually only administered for a short period of time to those who are critically ill in hospital. Although 30 minutes at an Oxygen Bar shouldn’t have any negative effects in fit and healthy individuals, the FDA has ruled it unsafe for those with heart or lung conditions such as emphysema.

It would seem that as with many areas of scientific interest within the beauty industry, the evidence leaves much to be desired and is still an area of great uncertainty. There may not be any harm in trying such treatments, but the only thing you may be cleansing is your wallet.