DEAR FRIENDLY FORMULATOR: I keep hearing about Oxygen Facials. Are they worth it and should I get one? — UP IN THE AIR

DEAR UP IN THE AIR: Oxygen Facials are painless, not known to have any side effects, and there is usually little to no downtime after one. That makes them pretty safe (and great for a pre-event treatment). But what are they?

First, let’s talk about what oxygen and Oxygen Therapy is–and isn’t. Oxygen is the “life-supporting” component of the air we breathe (and the third most abundant element in the universe). As a gas, oxygen is clear, but its color is pale blue as a liquid. Oxygen is vital for breathing: When we breathe in, oxygen molecules enter our lungs and pass through the lung walls into our blood. This blood carries oxygen to the cells of the body, where it takes part in a chemical reaction with glucose (called respiration, or the act of breathing).

Oxygen Therapy is performed using a machine that applies pure, pressurized oxygen to the skin. The theory behind this type of facial is that pressurized oxygen can speed up the skin’s absorption of moisturizing agents. The treatment is done using an airbrush-like wand. The wand applies oxygen (and sometimes anti-aging serums or moisturizers as well) onto your face. . It can take approximately an hour to cover your entire face. While not as expensive as some luxury facial treatment options, a session can easily cost as much as $500.

Other (Cheaper) Ways to Oxygenate Your Skin

Luckily, if you don’t have access to a spa that offers Oxygen Therapy, there are things you can do at home. Warm steam facials increase your perspiration, helping the blood vessels in your face to dilate which in turn improves blood flow, oxygenating your skin. Moist heat brings dry, tired-looking skin back to life due to the fresh, oxygenated blood.

NOTE: Most estheticians performing spa facials already INCLUDE a warm steam component, either at the “cleanse” portion (also called “Cleanse Under Steam”) or throughout much of the entire facial. Steam is crucial because it helps soften the skin and loosen tight or clogged pores. Steam also allows your skin to absorb active ingredients more effectively. So, most facials already have an oxygenating step as part of their service.

TIP: Read about setting up your own DIY DAY SPA with steam here.

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