oxygen facials

Madonna is big on oxygen facials. I am reliably informed that she has her own machine at home. On numerous occasions I have been told she has the greatest skin ever.

I should also confess that my own monthly microcurrent facials are finished by a few minutes of oxygen mist. Its cool and refreshing. Nevertheless, I've secretly thought that it might be the most snake-oilish part of my treatment.

In addition to Madonna, oxygen's proponents are prestigious. Dr Paul Herzog of the Nobel Institute in Stockholm says that "the basic reason for early aging of the skin of the face lies in a decreased oxygen supply from the capillaries". His prescribed intervention is a cocktail of oxygen, water, vitamin A and glucose.

Since the 1930s, oxygen chambers have been used to treat the wounded or patients recovering from cancer. However, here oxygen to the cells is increased via the pulminary vascular system. In other words, oxygen is taken in by breathing. The idea that oxygen can have the same effect via the dermis is, according to at least one doctor (Dr Christopher Zachary of the University of California), "snake oil".

If that wasn't controversy enough, there is the issue of free radicals. Oxidation, caused by free radicals, contributes to the aging of cells and wrinkles. Oxygen is the conduit for free radicals to the skin's tissue. So shouldn't oxygen facial treatments make matters worse? Logically, yes. However, there is no evidence one way or the other.

In the meantime, the FDA has still not approved oxygen facials.

My verdict is that my two or three minutes of cooling mist is neither good or bad for me, but I certainly won't be increasing it.