Rejuvenation with oxygen

New O2 treatments promise major anti-aging benefits

Oxygen-based products have seen celebrities flocking to endorse the latest fad but these treatments might have some staying power. Oxygen has proven to be a powerful treatment in the effort to stave off the visual effects of aging.

"I think it started off with Madonna," says Giovanna Manchisi, senior manager, spa service at Elmwood Spa in Toronto. "But it's not so much a trend—it does actually give the results that it says it does and continuous use of it really does show results."

When oxygen enters the skin it enhances cell respiration which helps slow down the aging process, oxidizes toxins, and promotes cleaner, softer, and rejuvenated skin. With such effective results, a number of oxygen-based treatments are now offered in spas across the country, and new technology is hitting the market promising even greater results.

The O2 facial

An oxygen facial delivers a mixture of high pressure, pure oxygen, and a serum to the face. Elmwood Spa offers the treatment, which takes 15 minutes. The facial can be geared to any skin type because of the different serums on offer.

"The serum is what's going to give you that benefit for that targeted area so when we do an oxygen facial the aesthetician will target the area you're needing," Manchisi says. "So if it's anti-aging we'll infuse a serum into the machine through the oxygen to target the anti-aging process."

Manchisi recommends the facial once every couple of months with a different type of facial in between. "(The oxygen) facial gives you an exfoliation but it's not as intense as other facials would be." However, the oxygen facial helps heal sun damaged skin and fight acne.

The O2 massage

While these massages are popular in the United States they haven't really caught on in Canada yet. The practitioner massages the client while she is inhaling oxygen administered through the nose.

"(The oxygen) is doing an inside healing while we're healing from outside," says Manchisi, adding customers enjoy how they feel during and after. "They love it. They were really on board with the concept of healing from the inside out," Manchisi says. "There's a different feeling that comes with the massage. When you have the massage you feel very invigorated and very light and airy."

Manchisi recommends the massage once a month mixed in with other massage styles.

New O2 technology

Gerry Merz might not have found the fountain of youth but he thinks he's got the next best thing with Oxygen Pur Spa Systems and Serums.

Oxygen Pur is a new technology that removes nitrogen from water and replaces it with oxygen and has been scientifically proven to have anti-aging benefits, among other beneficial properties.

"I certainly don't want to take anything away from Ponce de Leon and all the historic tales of finding the fountain of youth," says Merz, president and CEO. "I don't think we've so much stumbled on the fountain of youth as we've finally broken through to be able to harness oxygen and put it in a stable format that can be applied."

InVentures, the manufacturers, started the developing and testing process in 2008, with the brand being re-launched commercially in early November 2012. The two breakthroughs that allowed the creation of Oxygen Pur were researchers proving that skin can absorb oxygen and the creation of equipment that would highly oxygenate water and create a sustained effect for upwards of 40 minutes.

Once the increased oxygen enters the dermal layer, it creates an increase in blood flow up and into the capillaries. As people age their systems wear out. The vascular system is not as strong and circulation suffers. That is why there is a link between capillaries shutting down and visual signs of aging. The body does not deliver enough oxygen and the result is less cellular respiration, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, less collagen, and age spots.

The greater availability of oxygen results in greater cell respiration, which in turn produces greater levels of CO2. This causes vaso dilation allowing the body to be able to deliver more oxygen to the extremities for greater removal of toxins to the lymph system.

"Instead of masking that, what we're doing is from underneath, that blood flow is naturally coming up to the surface and it's having a positive effect on the skin from an inside-out versus outside-in process," says Merz.

Oxygen Pur offers spas a treatment system for any therapy that uses water, such as Vichy Showers, body wraps or facials. It also offers a serum that is applied in pea-sized amounts to the face and neck in the morning and evening.

"All we do is highly oxygenate the water flowing through the system," says Merz. "We don't pump the water, we just simply oxygenate it is as it passes through. Theoretically our equipment could oxygenate an Olympic-size pool. That's the big stuff. The smaller stuff—Vichy showers, smaller bathing water treatment systems—we could easily power that to infinity."

A typical treatment system starts at about $7,000 but systems can range up to $30,000 "for some of the top end custom built stuff."

The spa systems have been in the development and testing stages for a few years now with customers including companies in Germany and England, the New York Knicks and Complexions Spa in Albany, New York.

Denise Dubois, owner of Complexions Spa was one of the first to employ the equipment when she installed it after hearing about it through various industry contacts.

Complexions uses the oxygen system to enhance treatments, such as the steamers when doing facials, in acne treatments, hydrotherapy tubs, and Vichy showers.

"I've never done a survey but do I think it helps people choose to come to our spa?" asks Dubois. "Absolutely. It's a unique selling point."



by Nicolas Heffernan | Winter 2013