I recently had the privilege of meeting Gina Brooke, a legend in the beauty industry who has collaborated on no fewer than five of Madonna’s world tours and several of her music videos, including “Hung Up,” for which she won the Music Video Production Association (MVPA) award for best make-up. She’s the person who first told me about oxygen facials, and I figured if no less a figure than Ms. Brooke was championing the treatment, it was something worth finding out more about.
Looking your best at all times
The first thing you should know is that oxygen facials don’t come cheap – one treatment can easily set you back $200. According to Brooke, Madonna indulges in this lavish beauty treatment before every concert, and is often seen carrying around her own oxygen facial device. And Madonna isn’t the only A-list celebrity who does the treatments, either – apparently Justin Timberlake is doing it, Miranda Kerr is doing it, Naomi Campbell is doing it… they’re all doing it!
“For celebrities who have to be prepared for photographs and public appearances on a moment’s notice, keeping their skin looking its best is a priority,” says New York board certified dermatologist Dr. Kally Papantoniou. “That’s why so many of them are getting regular oxygen facials. At $150-$300 per session and results that only last 4-7 days, you can see why these treatments are out of reach for the average person. But for a wealthy celebrity, they can become a necessity. Frequent plane rides really dry the skin out. One quick oxygen facial will dramatically rehydrate and bring back the dewy youthful look that they need to be camera-ready.”
How oxygen facials work
Oxygen facials were first introduced to consumer markets in 2002 by Intraceuticals, an Australian beauty product company. Over the years, Intraceuticals and other companies have developed various serums to be used in conjunction with the treatment, depending on the patient’s skin type, complexion, and skincare needs. These infusions commonly contain hyaluronic acid, select vitamins, anti-oxidants and peptides.
After a gentle exfoliation has been performed to allow for better penetration of the ingredients and oxygen, a handheld device is used to blast a stream of cold air onto the face.
“Oxygen facials are performed with a machine that delivers pressurized oxygen at 90-95% concentration to the skin,” explains Dr. Papantoniou. “The oxygen is antibacterial and purported to expedite the delivery of the serums’ ingredients into the skin. The treatments are painless and take approximately 30 minutes.”
Dr. Papantoniou acknowledges there’s still some debate over whether the oxygen really penetrates into the skin, and if it truly enhances the delivery of the serum. “There may not be any scientific proof yet,” she says, “but the treatment is harmless and those who’ve had oxygen facials all swear by them.”
An alternative to fillers and injections?
Plumping up and hydrating the skin cells can help minimize the appearance of fine lines. “Oxygen facials firm the delicate skin around your eyes. It’s a great treatment to look into if you have a special occasion to attend or want to really boost the overall health of your skin. Virtually everyone is a candidate,” remarks Dr. Papantoniou. “The only prohibitive factor is the cost, since the benefits of oxygen facials are temporary.” For longer-lasting results she recommends fillers and Botox, which cost significantly less on the long run.
Mylene Archambault of Beautymark Solutions, the Canadian distributor for Intraceuticals, says that while the treatments can’t entirely replace Botox, they come pretty close to it. “They make the skin plumper, firmer and more hydrated,” she explains. “Fine lines and wrinkles disappear instantly. Plus, we can add atoxelene to the oxygen and hyaluronic acid mix, which does almost the same thing as Botox.”
Oxygen treatments can even be used on the lips, according to both Brooke and Archambault. “Hyaluronic acid, in conjunction with oxygen and upward movements for the upper lip and downward motions for the bottom lip, really does have a plumping effect,” says Archambault. “We always use hyaluronic acid and combine it with various ingredients to infuse the skin: vitamin A, C, E, green tea, aloe vera. We can treat the décolleté, the back of the hands, and other areas. We also have the Opulence serum to treat hyperpigmentation. One treatment will sometimes last for weeks. And if you do one treatment weekly for 6 weeks then we call it a cure: the results are there to stay – your skin will never be the same again.”