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There’s a new trend, known as Intraceuticals treatments or oxygen facials, beloved by celebrities including Madonna and Ashley Graham.

Oxygen facials are supposed to:

Do these facials actually work? This article will cover the benefits and side effects of oxygen facials, how much they typically cost, and how they compare to at-home oxygen kits and other similar dermatologist treatments.

An oxygen facial is a procedure typically done by an aesthetician in a spa. It’s considered a “nonmedical” procedure since nothing is injected into the body and no chemicals are used.

How it reportedly works

The body needs oxygen to thrive, which is why we breathe. The theory behind oxygen facials — which isn’t scientifically backed — is that skin cells that are fully oxygenated via an oxygen facial will look bright and healthy.

The procedure

During the procedure, an aesthetician will first cleanse and exfoliate your face. Every spa has its own process of administering an oxygen facial, but typically, a wand is used to deliver a stream of high pressurized oxygen to the skin’s surface.

Serums, usually containing hyaluronic acid which is known to plump the skin, are also applied to the face with the wand or after the oxygen portion of the facial.

Length of treatment

The length of oxygen facials varies depending on the spa, but you can expect the treatment to take at least 30 minutes to an hour. Bliss Spa, for example, offers a “Triple Oxygen Facial” that’s 75 minutes long.

Recovery time

Unlike more invasive treatments, there’s no downtime or healing after an oxygen facial. You can even apply makeup directly after if you choose.

Research on the efficacy of oxygen facials is mixed.

Anecdotally, many people report that their skin looks healthy and bright after the procedure, and before-and-after pictures support this. However, there’s little scientific research behind these claims.

Purported benefits of oxygen facials

  • Added radiance. Some think the main benefit of oxygen facials is that they allow the pores to more easily absorb hyaluronic acid and other powerhouse ingredients from serums. Depending on what serums are used, benefits will vary.
  • Hydrated skin. Oxygen helps infuse the serums into the skin. You can think of the oxygen wand like a little hose that delivers ingredients. Your skin will likely look and feel hydrated, especially if hyaluronic acid is a component.
  • More even skin tone. Oxygen facials may deliver a large quantity of vitamins or botanical ingredients to your skin, which can result in bright, glowing skin.
  • Reduction in fine lines. Oxygen facials are said to help improve blood circulation to the face, which can help skin look bright and plump.
  • Calming of acne. Oxygen is known to accelerate wound healing and may also kill certain bacteria. This is why places with low levels of oxygen, such as airplanes, can cause skin issues. For these reasons, oxygen facials may help calm acne and kill Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, which causes certain types of acne.

How often do you need to get an oxygen facial?

Many dermatologists recommend getting facials once a month, though oxygen facials aren’t quite as exfoliating as other kinds. Ask a dermatologist or aesthetician for their recommendations.

Oxygen facials are a good way to maintain skin that’s already healthy and youthful. Some dermatologists recommend the procedure as maintenance for people in their 20s.

Of course, you can get an oxygen facial at any age, but as you age, you may want to consider stronger treatments like lasers or microneedling.

While many swear by oxygen facials, some are skeptical of the benefits.

Dr. Christopher B. Zachary, a professor and dermatology department chairman at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, told The New York Times in 2006 that, “the concept that high-pressure oxygen would do anything to help the skin is such nonsense as to be laughable.” He also called the procedure “snake oil.”

Potential side effects of oxygen facials

  • Temporary skin redness. If you have sensitive skin, the serum and the oxygen may cause your skin to become red, which should fade within a few hours of the procedure.
  • Puffiness or facial swelling. Oxygen facials can cause inflammation because of the intense blasts of oxygen to the face. This can cause skin to look plumped or swollen.
  • Allergic reaction to a serum. If you know you’re allergic to any skin care ingredients, be sure to tell your aesthetician. Discontinue use of any products that cause itching, swelling, pain, or prolonged redness.

The price of an oxygen facial varies depending on where you live and what spa or clinic you have the procedure performed. It generally hovers between $75 and $150. Although some news articles report that the average cost is between $200 and $500.

Keep in mind, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you’re seeing a reputable, trained professional.

Are oxygen facials covered by insurance?

Oxygen facials are generally not covered by insurance, as they’re a cosmetic procedure. However, if you have certain skin conditions, your provider may cover facials if they’re considered a skin care treatment.

Where can I find a spa who does oxygen facials?

You can use a resource like SpaFinder to find spas that offer oxygen facials near you. This tool lets you sort by rating to find a place where others have had positive experiences.

There are many over-the-counter oxygen facial kits that won’t break the bank. However, these kits won’t deliver the same intensity of results as a spa procedure.

Products that contain oxygen may aid in “cell metabolism,” meaning they may help shed dead skin cells. Make sure to read the instructions to ensure you’re using the products appropriately.

Facial products containing oxygen include:

There are other treatments that offer similar results to oxygen facials. These include:

  • Microdermabrasion: a generally safe exfoliating treatment that can improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, acne scarring and more
  • HydraFacial: a three-step treatment that removes impurities in pores through a “vacuumlike” process that starts with a cleanse and peel, then extraction and hydration, then fuse and protect

Anecdotally speaking, oxygen facials help reduce fine lines, even out texture, add radiance, and help maintain bright, youthful looking skin.

There isn’t conclusive research on the subject, and some dermatologists adamantly disagree that there could be any benefits to oxygen facials. They believe the procedure may actually cause unnecessary inflammation, redness, or general puffiness.

Always be sure to find a safe, well-respected spa before getting any procedure done.

There are many OTC products that contain oxygen. While these products are well-marketed, there’s little research to support that oxygen can even stay in a skin care product.

Although some people think these products yield great results, their main benefit could be hydration, which comes from moisturizing serums, regardless of whether they contain oxygen.