ATB Beauty Reads: Oxygen for the Skin

I've been reading "The Original Beauty Bible" by Paula Begoun these days. By the time I finish one chapter, it has shattered some 3 beauty myths I had.

In today's Beauty Reads, I thought I'd share with you what Paula has to say about Oxygen treatments for the skin. I know that a lot of products in India, esp bleaches, actually tout this as their USP. But is it really as good as it claims?

The cosmetics industry is overflowing with people who have no clue what they are doing, and the issue of oxygen in skin-care products demonstrates that perfectly. After selling us products to ward off oxygen’s effects on the skin (the word antioxidant means anti-oxygen), the beauty industry then turns around and sells us products that claim to provide oxygen to the skin. Doesn't the beauty industry have anything better to do? (No, it doesn't, especially if there is an interested consumer willing to make a purchase.)

Many cosmetic products contain antioxidants, ingredients that keep oxygen off the face, such as vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, selenium, curcumin (turmeric), plant extracts, and vitamin E, among dozens and dozens of others. 

At the same time, the cosmetics industry also sells products that contain hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or some other oxygen-releasing ingredient that supposedly delivers an oxygen molecule when it comes into contact with skin. 

So why the concern about supplying more oxygen to the skin? 

Oxygen depletion is one of the things that happens to older skin, regardless of whether it’s been affected by sun damage or any other health issue. Why or how that happens is a complete unknown, though it is thought to have something to do with blood flow and a reduction in lung capacity as we age.

Nevertheless, delivering extra oxygen to the skin doesn’t reverse it. After all, there is plenty of oxygen in our environment. The earth’s atmosphere is 21% oxygen; the oceans, lakes, and rivers are about 88% oxygen. Oxygen makes up 60% of the human body, and is in every cell and organ. 

However, oxygen is utilized by the body almost exclusively through respiration. 

How much extra oxygen does skin need? Again, no one knows. 

Can it be absorbed? No. 

Plus, none of this addresses the issue about oxygen generating more free-radical damage, which is one of the processes that makes the veins and capillaries of the body stop working efficiently. 

That brings us to this question: How did the caprice of oxygen booths get started? Oxygen booths (hyperbaric chambers) are used medically to repair skin ulcers and wounds that have difficulty healing. According to the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast (June 1993, page 57), “When you have a stubborn [wound] that won’t heal, the white blood cells that fight the infection in the [wound] use 20 times more oxygen when they’re killing bacteria. Also, the more oxygen your body has to work with, the more efficiently it lays down wound-repairing connective tissue. Yet just when you need more oxygen, you may have less. But sitting in your living room and breathing in 100% oxygen won’t do the trick. Under normal circumstances, only so much oxygen will dissolve in your blood.” 

Pressure is needed to allow the oxygen to be used by the body; and sitting in a hyperbaric booth serves that purpose. The article continues, “But it is the inhaled oxygen, which is then absorbed by your blood after you breathe it, that speeds wound healing, not the oxygen drifting past the wound - your skin doesn't absorb oxygen that way.”  

The notion that oxygen treatments affect aging, wrinkles, or any other skin malady is a joke. Nary a study exists anywhere to support those ideas, though there is a ton of research showing that the oxidative process generated by oxygen is partly responsible for wrinkles and skin aging in general.

Phew, that was a long read. But I hope it made the point clear. Just to summarize:

1. Yes your skin needs oxygen, and as we age the oxygen supplied to it decreases
2. Your skin cannot absorb oxygen from creams, in fact such creams may cause more harm by releasing free radicals and causing oxidation damage to this skin.
3. Extra oxygen does help the skin, but it needs to be inhaled and absorbed into your blood to do any good.
4. Between the two, antioxidant creams are better for your skin, not oxygen-releasing creams.

So if you are looking for supplying some extra oxygen to your skin, I think you are better off either going to a place with little to no pollution for a holiday or else exercising - which will get your blood pumping to your skin.

So how many of you use Oxy-rich creams? I once used a oxy-bleach, just a week before my wedding. It was the first time I used a bleach and the last. It caused my face to turn red like I was sun burnt and I spent the next two days just calming my skin back to being normal. 


  1. even i am a big fan of Paula begoun ... i read her website however where did you get her book from ?

  2. I loved reading this and I am so glad someone is doing the hard work. :D

    Definitely informative. And what struck me is , this knowledge, lot of us probably already have, we just dont analyise and apply to daily life.Its only after I read this post that the light bulb went 'tang!'. Aha! :P.

    I dont think I use any oxy rich products, but then I hardly ever read much product info. I wish I would!

  3. @Zee Bee: From flipkart. It is available there for Rs.929/-

  4. I have been told a large number of times that I should get oxy blasts to get rid of acne,thank god I did not give in!

  5. Oh this seems like a very interesting book, i wanna grab a mug of hot cocoa and curl up on my couch with this book!! Btw guilty as charged I use oxy bleach & thankfully it works great on my skin, never had any issue with it so far & not sure about the mumbo jumbo science behind the oxygen releasing products but; fact is no amount of oxygenating / anti oxidant products will work unless one is into healthy eating and exercising

  6. Oh thanks a lot for this post, i have ordered for oxygen boost cream from oriflame this month, dont know what to do!

  7. no wonder oxy bleach doesn't do anything for me and just breaks me out!

  8. well bleaches work because of hydrogen peroxide...and cause harm because of it too!!! and these big cosmetic brands make such baseless for how much oxygen is your body gets depends on you haemoglobin...lets just not be anaemic by eating right!!!

  9. At last some of my confusions are cleared out Tanz. Even I used to wonder, if anti-oxidants are good for the skin, why would I want to 'add oxygen'? Plus, oxygen, if it has to be absorbed, must come in a definite proportion. Even out body cannot absorb pure oxygen. it is to come in a diluted and proportional amount!

    I really feel why the cosmetic brands could not be a bit more responsible. At least, a good awareness program for me would develop certain amount of trust

  10. I use Shahnaaz oxygen cream, it says it releases oxygen , now what do i do. 300 BUCKS down the drain!thanks for sharing the finds.


Post a Comment

Hey! Thank you for taking the time out to add your valuable comment. I will revert as soon as possible.


I delete blatant self-promotion and comments where it is clear the post material was not carefully read. If you are not going to bother to engage with the post, I am not going to bother posting your comment.

I also delete ALL comments with links - even if the link is to your blog.

Don't be mean to other commentators - it serves no purpose other than showcase your own personality in a bad light.

Popular Posts