Although we think of ourselves as oxygen-breathing, the air that we breathe actually contains more nitrogen than oxygen (about 78 percent of the former and 21 percent of the latter), as well as argon, carbon dioxide and other gases. People who are sick or have chronic lung diseases are often given direct oxygen because they're unable to maintain adequate levels of it in their blood. So we know that oxygen is vital, but what does that have to do with facials? After all, mammals don't breathe through their skin.
An oxygen facial requires a machine that directs small sprays of highly pressurized medical-grade oxygen. This spray is used to apply moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid to the face in order to speed up their absorption. According to proponents, this technique results in skin that is immediately plumper, smoother and well-hydrated.
Of course, there's no hard evidence that oxygen facials really work. One dermatologist interviewed by the New York Times stated that "we hope that the oxygen is creating a pressure bubble that drives vitamins and nutrients into the skin […] but we have no data to support that" [source: New York Times]. Some critics argue that the plumping effect may be from skin irritation due to the oxygen blasts, or that it can even be harmful to the skin. Even fans realize that the effects are temporary; one dermatologist recommends six weekly treatments followed by monthly treatments to maintain the look. Sound expensive? It is.
So far, we've looked at unusual spa facials incorporating ingredients that we already consume in another way. Next up, we'll look at something you normally just use to adorn your neck and wrist.